My genesis as a constant reader really came into full bloom just before high school. Before that I enjoyed reading, but wasn’t constantly reading. What really changed that was the discovery of the genre of Science Fiction. The Apollo program and the landing of the moon had me convinced we were living in a new age and SF fed that for me. The books of Isaac Asimov were my first real book-love and from there moved to all the other authors of the golden age of SF and beyond. I actually skipped classes to read books from Asimov and others. I don’t regret that at all as no doubt I probably made out on the deal. For decades the likelihood of the current book I was reading being SF was almost certain. It was only much later that I branched out into Fantasy, mystery, military fiction, thrillers, etc.
So I certainly consider myself a SF fan. While a fan though, I have never been much involved in fandom. I am sure I would love to go to one of the conventions and converse with other fans. Well at least I like the idea of it. I would describe myself as a gregarious introvert. I really like being around others and hearing what others have to say. If perhaps I have spent six months among such a group I might even be comfortable contributing to conversations. I mean other than making comedic cracks since for whatever reason being the class clown was the more gregarious part of my nature. Although this aspect I have found is not uncommon among introverts and jesters.
Mostly when it comes to fandom I find it interesting, but mostly would just rather read than participate in fan sites and other fan related activity. When I read someone as knowledgeable as Maureen at Aliens in This World on conventions and other aspects I wish this was otherwise for me.
So mostly I was unaware of much that was going on in the SF/Fantasy world in regards to political correctness. Still I was picking up more regarding this from some publishing site blogs along with the limited number of author blogs I read. In the last year the nonsense has been much more apparent to me. Last year there was this article on Tor.com Post-Binary Gender in SF: Introduction. The introduction gives you a taste of the this:
I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories.
What do I mean by “post-binary gender”? It’s a term that has already been used to mean multiple things, so I will set out my definition:
Post-binary gender in SF is the acknowledgement that gender is more complex than the Western cultural norm of two genders (female and male): that there are more genders than two, that gender can be fluid, that gender exists in many forms.
As far as I am concerned this is total idiocy. All I want to do is read is a good well-written SF story. I have certainly read very good SF where such topics were explored and was never put off if alien reproductive abilities were totally different than humans. Just as long as it was a good story. But now I have seen more and more of articles of this type demanding agenda driven message fiction.
Then there were articles like I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year. This article which included a picture of the finger-waving author would have been awesome if printed by the Onion. Although I guess self-parody is a form of parody.
I thought: What if I only read stories by a certain type of author?
Well I thought knock yourself out if that is what you want to do. Strangely I couldn’t care less about the race, sex, or political persuasion of an author. There have been many times after reading a book I happened to find out more about an author and that they held views contrary to my own. This never stopped me from buying another of their books if I enjoyed their previous ones. Sure there is a special delight to find that an author you love does share your views. If I decided to boycott authors with different views then my own I would save a lot of money and Amazon’s stocks would probably slide.
Today I saw Maureen had written a response to a study coming out about author Lois Mcmaster Bujold.
Acclaimed science fiction scholar Edward James traces how Bujold emerged from fanzine culture to win devoted male and female readers despite working in genres–military SF, space opera–perceived as solely by and for males.
She puts the idiocy in context regarding all the women writers who have written both military SF and space opera. Not just written in this genre, but creating classic books in these SF sub-genres.
Bujold is remarkable because she is a Darned Good Writer.
Exactly. I’ve read 22 of Bujold’s books in the last two years and look forward to more.
Last year I picked up Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia due to a recommendation by a Facebook friend. I really enjoyed his first book and soon read everything he has written. I enjoyed that series along with totally loving his The Grimnoir Chronicles. The audiobook versions with Bronson Pinchot are phenomenal. I knew nothing about him other than I really liked his books. I started finding references about him and that apparently he was pissing off all the right people (in my opinion). So I added his blog to my small selection of author blogs.
One author blog I have followed for several years is that of SF author John C. Wright. Mark Shea had once linked to a post of his critiquing the so-called technological singularity when AI will surpass human intelligence. I enjoyed that post and picked up his Golden Age trilogy which was already on my wishlist to read. He quickly became another author where I quickly read everything they had and whose new books were instant preorders. Plus his blog posts are a wonder to behold in their rhetoric and philosophical discussions. His back and forth with readers of his blog and especially critiques keeps me coming back for more. Instead of the “shut up” of the left he engages in more of a “explain yourself” and questioning tone. Certainly polemical, but the target is always ideas and not persons.
I was rather thrilled when Larry Correia started linking to John C. Wright’s posts and vice-versa. Three years ago Larry Correia was fed up with Hugo nominations that were all agenda driven and tongue-and-cheek started the Sad Puppies campaign. He attempted to get his own book nominated along with books from other authors. Such campaigns were not nothing new to the Hugo’s, just that a hated conservative would are to do the same thing. This is the third year of the campaign and this time it is being run by Brad R. Torgersen. I read his book The Chaplain’s War last year and highly recommend it. He also came up with the sample slate of books for Sad Puppies 3. What caught pretty much everybody by surprise is actual Hugo nominations announced was obviously heavily influenced by the Sad Puppies sample slate.
Not surprising is the freak out over this and the total slandering of the campaign. Would you be surprised to find that the Sad Puppies campaign was orchestrated by right-wing conservative, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, straight white men? Yes the typical punch-card of epithets was invoked. Funny how the actual sample slate was actually politically and racially diverse along with including both men and women. While last years winners were hardly diverse at all. There has been some truly awful reporting on this. Typical agenda journalism with no fact checks or even attempts at talking to members of the campaign.
Larry Correia was not personally involved in the campaign this year and he also turned down a Hugo nomination when called by the committee. He has a great post on the subject. A post I admire a lot since it was funny, self-deprecating, and addressed the common criticisms about the Sad Puppies. I especially liked how he was actually reaching out in this post and spelling out areas where disagreements are just fine. John C. Wright has also been writing a good deal on the topic and his post In Which a Morlock Chides Me gives a very good overview of the lack of quality in previous nominations that were hardly even SF. There is also a lot of outrage over the number of nominations that he received. In my opinion the stories of his that were nominated are well-deserved and his novella One Bright Star to Guide Them is easily one of the best things I read last year.
The best thing about the Hugo nominations this year is that I have actually read some of them and others look well-worth reading. It is hard to believe that Jim Butcher has never even been nominated before. His latest book Skin Game part of the Dresden Files series has almost 3,000 reviews with the large majority being five stars. It is not as if the previous books were not as popular.
But as I said in the title of this post, political correctness ruins everything. Everything it touches is lessened – The Minus Touch. PC did not give us better SF and Fantasy, it promoted approved message driven propaganda over storytelling.
Sorry for the long post which I doubt few will read. It is that when you try to mess with my beloved genre I get my dander up a bit.
Oh by the way one of my absolute favorite podcasts is A Good Story is Hard to find with Julie Davis and Scott D. Danielson. They discuss books and movies and whatever else interests them and this week they discussed Isaac Asimov’s classic SF book “Foundation”. Their tagline:
Two Catholics talking about books, movies and traces of “the One Reality” they find below the surface.