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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

An addition to my platform

[Redacted due to a violation of SFWA Forum policies, which forbids both quoting and paraphrasing of Forum discussions.  Also, I should mention that I was in error in assuming that a question on the Forum was directed at me; it was directed at another individual's post that I did not see.  My apologies to the questioner.]

If I win I will form a committee consisting of one author from each major publisher, who will be charged with discussing the issue with their publisher and receiving either a confirmation or a denial that the publisher has engaged in "bestseller campaigns" via bulk-buying or other methods.  What will be done with that information will be up to the membership, but at least they will be informed as to the facts of the situation.

Anyhow, it struck me that the problem of the appearance of corruption in science fiction and fantasy might have an easy solution.  Since Tor and its authors appear to be inordinately focused on seeing their names on bestseller lists and being nominated for awards, why not give them exactly what they want?  The SFWA can give out two Best Novel awards, one for Best Novel and another for Best Tor Novel.  That way, all the Tor writers can take turns giving each other awards, which is pretty much what they already do anyhow, and all the other books published in the genre can be considered on their literary merits. This would likely result in the genre's best writers, such as Neal Stephenson, Charles Stross, and China Mieville, finally having a reasonable chance of winning and thereby legitimizing the Nebula awards again.

The alternative is for the organization to continue to hand out Nebula awards for Best Science Fiction Novel to parodies of Regency romances and thereby looking increasingly insane, until McRapey finally wins one for his historic "reboot" of John Norman, Cisgenders of Gor.

As for the bestseller campaigns, I have a solution there too.  Because the NYT is desperate for cash, it can surely be convinced to create a new SFWA Bestsellers category to which the various SF/F publishers can subscribe and be charged a moderate subscription fee.  Different slots will be sold each month, and the publisher can place whatever title he wants each week in the slots he owns that month.  Everyone can become a "New York Times Bestselling author" whether their books come anywhere close to the top 100-selling books or not, and the publishers can slap "New York Times Bestseller" on every book they publish.  Everyone is happy, everyone wins!

Two brilliant solutions.  Frankly, I'll be shocked if they don't elect me dictator-for-life.  Also, given what I am told about the vital importance of these lists, I should appreciate it if every reference to me in the future includes "TwoThree-time Billboard Top 40 Recording Artist".

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90 Comments:

Anonymous TheExpat February 26, 2013 5:32 AM  

"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it." -Voltaire.

Anonymous Peter Garstig February 26, 2013 6:13 AM  

Benelovent, you forgot benelovent.

Anonymous Krul February 26, 2013 6:29 AM  

When is the election?

Blogger Rantor February 26, 2013 6:30 AM  

@ David

In the WSJ article it appeared the author expended the effort to get his book sold to companies and groups he knew. The publisher only spends money marketing what they think will be really hot.

Blogger hadley February 26, 2013 6:46 AM  

"The alternative is for the organization to continue to hand out Nebula awards for Best Science Fiction Novel to parodies of Regency romances and thereby looking increasingly insane?"

Ouch!

I don't know about you, but I look forward to my first Rosemary Rogers/VC Andrews SF novel.

What's not to like about a soft-core dwarf bodice ripper or elvish incest?

Just imagine the kinky cover art.

Its probably the closest that the fat SCA females who read this stuff will ever get to true love (or fornication with anything other than their electric Wonder Wand).

Anonymous VD February 26, 2013 6:48 AM  

On a more serious note are authors and publishers both hiring these companies to get their books on the best seller lists or is it mostly or all publishers? It isn't clear to me.

It is not known. We know some authors do, and that one publisher, John Wiley, endorses the practice. We also know that some SF/F books, particularly those published by Tor/Forge, fit the pattern identified by the WSJ editor, Trachtenberg. And we also know that he contacted every major publisher and none of them were willing to talk about it, or even to deny using such tactics.

The record companies were quite blatant about it. We knew we'd have at least one Billboard Top 40 hit before we even recorded the song at Chicago Trax; the only thing we didn't know was a) what the single would be, and b) how high it would chart. The publishers appear to be considerably more reticent.

Even the music system wasn't entirely fake, though. If the song was good enough, as ours were, they'd stay on the chart for several weeks. Silicon Jesus was on it for five weeks, Welcome and It Has Begun for 10 apiece, and Unlearn for 11. I wasn't involved with It Has Begun, but I wrote the other three with the guys.

Anonymous realmatt February 26, 2013 6:57 AM  

Vox, do you plan on changing anything or attempting to, if you win? Or is this entire campaign driven by your desire to troll low rank nobodies in your trademark thorough fashion?

Anonymous VD February 26, 2013 7:00 AM  

Vox, do you plan on changing anything or attempting to, if you win? Or is this entire campaign driven by your desire to troll low rank nobodies in your trademark thorough fashion.

Of course. Surely you've realized by now that I don't bluff. It's all win-win, as far as I'm concerned. But I'm not going to take the responsibility seriously until I am actually saddled with it. And if the morons prefer to simply destroy themselves, well, at least they'll have provided us with some amusement.

Anonymous Roundtine February 26, 2013 7:17 AM  

Well played.

Anonymous Heretofore Anonymous February 26, 2013 7:18 AM  

Is there a problem with the link towards the end of your post? It just links to the Blogger homepage.

Anonymous VD February 26, 2013 7:26 AM  

Is there a problem with the link towards the end of your post? It just links to the Blogger homepage.

Corrected, thanks.

Anonymous Koanic February 26, 2013 7:45 AM  

AWCA FTW

Anonymous Outlaw X February 26, 2013 7:49 AM  

Can I be your chief of staff if you win? Don't know a damn thing about it and don't want to have to do anything, but I will do it for free, just would like the title.

Anonymous JartStar February 26, 2013 8:16 AM  

It's interesting to see how man's fallen nature slowly slithers its tendrils into and corrupts the most innocuous of things. Something which was designed to celebrate good writing has become a tool for the corrupt to line their pockets.

Anonymous Ridip February 26, 2013 8:27 AM  

The same thing happens with the various App, Play, and Software stores. If you can get onto their Top 10 or Featured lists you're pretty well golden.

Anonymous Internet Search n Rescue February 26, 2013 8:42 AM  

Krul February 26, 2013 6:29 AM

When is the election?



In 2010 it was April 23th.

Anonymous VD February 26, 2013 8:49 AM  

careful, Vox. you'll max out his contribution limit too soon if you keep this up.

Sweet Darwin, I forgot! My apologies, corrected.

Anonymous Incurvatus February 26, 2013 9:02 AM  

"If everyone is special, then no one is."

Anonymous Luscinia February 26, 2013 10:11 AM  

"The alternative is for the organization to continue to hand out Nebula awards for Best Science Fiction Novel to parodies of Regency romances and thereby looking increasingly insane"

Are you butthurt about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell or something?

Anonymous Crispy February 26, 2013 10:40 AM  

Here's a "novel" idea: Auction off one or more of the Nebula Awards as follows: anyone can vote with their wallet. All proceeds go to the Sci-fi Widows and Orphans fund or some such, and the work with the highest contribution wins the prize. You could call it the "Honest Abe Nebula" since there is no pretense of the award being related to quality. Oh and none of this McRapey "pledge" stuff. Cash on the proverbial barrel head!

Anonymous Daniel February 26, 2013 10:52 AM  

Are you butthurt about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell or something?

"Assbag," Luscinia. The McRapey-approved gay slur is "assbag."

I know, honey. Someone ought to provide a glossary.

Anonymous Daniel February 26, 2013 11:28 AM  

Squeeology:

assbag - someone who disagrees with you, likely because he's gay, but you don't want to be mistaken for a genderneuterphobe

squee - an expression of gleeful submission

WIN - Abject defeat

FTW - Something involving a sporting activity where one always wins a trophy, and numbers are used to produce non-relevant statistics

Laughing with you - laughing. nervously. with impotent rage

To pledge - To type a number on the internet to increase one's store of smugness.

victimized - success, to varying degrees of failure

dickbag - someone who disagrees with you who you hope is at least a little gay. for you. even if you refuse to let him sleep with you, should such opportunity arise.

fart - a complex foundational principle of applied humor. According to Aristotle, humor's purpose is for a man to exercise the pleasure of superiority over one less intelligent, attractive or fortunate. Yet Cicero makes it quite plain that restraint is a critical element of jesting: one will win no laughter by lampooning the greatly beloved, nor by laughing at the wretched and doomed, but between those poles is a general base of territory, neither adored nor despised, that is ripe for laughter. That territory where humor holds sway is referred to, in more philosophical circles, as the "fart."

Anonymous VD February 26, 2013 11:31 AM  

Are you butthurt about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell or something?

Not in the slightest. I think it is the greatest science fiction novel since Dune. I do think it had a slight dearth of spaceships and lasers, that was its only real flaw. But the science was spectacular!

Blogger Markku February 26, 2013 11:40 AM  

But the science was spectacular!

I'm already a bit blinded by this science from your description. Can you give an example?

Anonymous Daniel February 26, 2013 11:45 AM  

Seriously, Betty, you know what this meteor could mean to science. If we find it, and it's real, it could mean a lot. It could mean actual advances in the field of science.

Anonymous VD February 26, 2013 11:55 AM  

By the way, can anyone remember the name of the "science fiction" novel where the superwoman got paid to eat cabbage and fart in someone's face? I think it was a Tor book, if I recall correctly.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 26, 2013 12:41 PM  

VD February 26, 2013 11:55 AM
By the way, can anyone remember the name of the "science fiction" novel where the superwoman got paid to eat cabbage and fart in someone's face?




*jaw on floor*

ummm, what?

i would think that any right-thinking feminist superwoman would eat cabbage and fart in men's faces on general principle.

taking money for the act just makes it sound like prostitution. really hinky, 'use the whole chicken' kind of prostitution ... but if it wasn't weird and perverse you wouldn't need to hire a woman to do it.

so, that's it then: the right thinking feminist superwoman of the future will be a bondage whore/mistress! sorry, "Mistress".


anyways, that sounds like something Mary Gentle would write. that's about the level of her humor.

Jacqueline Carey writes novels about courtesans ( fancy dancy word for whore ), could be one of those as well.

Anonymous Shut up Daniel February 26, 2013 12:54 PM  

Shut up

Anonymous James May February 26, 2013 12:58 PM  

SF is in big trouble, and has been for a long time. "Snowcrash," a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlization of SF, was considered a "breakthrough."

Two of our best authors, Jack McDevitt and Peter Hamilton, are self-plagiarizing their own work - "Echo" and "Great North Road."

Moron's humor that doesn't rise to the sophistication of Mad Magazine of the '60s is in vogue - Pratchett, Scalzi.

"Ender's Game" is considered a better novel than "The Mote In God's Eye," "Dune," "Fahrenheit 451," "To Live Forever," "The Demolished Man," "The Weapons Shops," and about a zillion other more worthy novels.

Obsessive OCD alt-history pedantry is the order of the day, Flint's 1632 stuff, Regency Harlequin Romance novels, where "good" is measured in how right you get some minor detail of a Napoleonic soldier's backpack.

Identity politics wins Nebula nominations for average books - "Throne of the Crescent Moon, "The Killing Moon."

SF novels are more influenced by the art direction of Blade Runner, Penelope Pitstop cartoons, video games, zombies, TV, vampires and film then its own history.

Getting attention for an SF novel is a combination of blogging, pandering to the lowest common denominator, identity tokenism, self-promotion, "I'm okay, you're okay" back-scratching, writer's workshops that produce cookie cutter prose and stereotype factories that work overtime to churn out garbage.

Eccentric artistry and authoritative writing are very low on the list of priorities. In fact, consensus on what constitutes a good novel of fantastic literature is at an all-time low. That's because the vast majority of SF and fantasy could be created with a software program plugged into Netflix and because the new writers don't know any more about creativity than a jackass.

Everyone's competing with everyone to turn out YA that will be the next Harry Potter.

The middle class invasion of SF and fantasy has destroyed it, as each author seeks to prove how middle class they aren't, even while displaying the tattoos dedicated to trends that makes The Old Outer Limits, E.C. Comics and Thriller look like introspective Shakespearean theater.

Everyone's cutting edge and a genuine motor cycle gang iconoclast and blah, blah, blah. Edgar Rice Burroughs, a nobody from nowhere with no pretensions, looks more like a bright genius every day. Don't tell that to today's crowd. To them, Burroughs was a racist, colonialist who hated women and probably gays too. We're so much less ignorant now, 100 years later, but can't make something that appeared in a Munsey magazine back then.

The Housewives of Science Fiction County is a trainwreck that's not all that fun to watch.

Anonymous Anonymous February 26, 2013 1:00 PM  

Why are you even running? By your own admission, you feel the membership is comprised of idiots who you would happily let hang themselves. It's all well and good to say you won't start taking the responsibility seriously unless you are actaully given said responsibility, except it's a huge copout considering your criticism of the current leadership. Can you detail, in seriousness, what you would actually do differently, and why you are the better choice.

Blogger Markku February 26, 2013 1:10 PM  

And if he hadn't run, people would be asking "if you're complaining about it so much, then why didn't you do something about it?"

Anonymous Daniel February 26, 2013 1:10 PM  

He already has Annie. See his platform. He is the only candidate who has presented one.

Anonymous Shut up Daniel February 26, 2013 1:18 PM  

Shut up

Anonymous Anonymous February 26, 2013 1:24 PM  

After searching I now see Vox's platform, although honestly that does nothing to answer my other questions. Also, of the two candidates he's certainly not the only one to offer a platform, although Goulds so called platform is even less satisfactory.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 26, 2013 1:29 PM  

Anonymous February 26, 2013 1:00 PM
Can you detail, in seriousness, what you would actually do differently, and why you are the better choice.




hey, you! yeah, you, Mr. Too-short-for-this-ride. that's right, i'm talking to you, don't pretend you can't hear me when i tell you, "Here, Let Me Google That For You."

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2013/01/sfwa-platform-first-five-points.html

Anonymous kh123 February 26, 2013 2:02 PM  

"...the "science fiction" novel where the superwoman got paid to eat cabbage and fart in someone's face..."

So the animation arm of Dreamworks apparently publishes as well.

Anonymous Outlaw X February 26, 2013 2:07 PM  

http://www.ibtimes.com/colorado-college-advises-vomiting-or-urinating-stop-rapists-after-lawmakers-pass-gun-control-bills

By the way, can anyone remember the name of the "science fiction" novel where the superwoman got paid to eat cabbage and fart in someone's face? I think it was a Tor book, if I recall correctly.

That's not a fiction novel it is Colorado.

Anonymous Daniel February 26, 2013 2:09 PM  

By the way, can anyone remember the name of the "science fiction" novel where the superwoman got paid to eat cabbage and fart in someone's face? I think it was a Tor book, if I recall correctly.

You are going to have to narrow it down. That's a whole sub-genre. Maybe Nebula nominees only or something.

Anonymous DS February 26, 2013 2:19 PM  

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=vox+day+sfwa+presidency+platform

Anonymous VD February 26, 2013 2:41 PM  

Why are you even running? By your own admission, you feel the membership is comprised of idiots who you would happily let hang themselves. It's all well and good to say you won't start taking the responsibility seriously unless you are actaully given said responsibility, except it's a huge copout considering your criticism of the current leadership. Can you detail, in seriousness, what you would actually do differently, and why you are the better choice.

Because I'm about to do something that will destroy science fiction and fantasy publishing as it presently exists and I would like to mitigate the effects on those who currently write it. My platform spells out what I would do differently; the main thing is a rapprochement with the game industry. I am not only the better choice, I am the only choice because my opponent has literally no idea what is in the process of happening and has no ability to do anything about it.

Anonymous Daniel February 26, 2013 2:55 PM  

Campaign slogan: My Death Star Has No Exhaust Port

Anonymous bob k. mando February 26, 2013 2:55 PM  

oh gosh.

actually googling the term returns a Jim Hines commentary on Vox's candidacy for the 2nd result.

i wonder what he thinks of you? do you think i should go to his blog in search of validation?

Anonymous Anonymous February 26, 2013 3:03 PM  

What are you going to do that will destroy sf/f publishing as it presently exists? Honest question, not trolling or making a point.

Anonymous James May February 26, 2013 3:06 PM  

I agree the awards should be split. Nominations should still be done without regard to fantasy or SF or the pedant factory opens up. A randomly selected SFWA committee of five would then say which nominees go into fantasy or SF to streamline things and stifle useless debate over minutia.

No written definition of what constitutes SF or fantasy cuz that'll lead to chaos, pedantry, endless debate and a rules sheet a mile long. The committee simply goes by their instinct and generally accepted norms. With a tie-breaking set up there's no debate, just a vote, and the works are chosen.

Probably at least 95% of the work will end up in the proper category.

Anonymous Porky February 26, 2013 3:16 PM  

Because I'm about to do something that will destroy science fiction and fantasy publishing as it presently exists and I would like to mitigate the effects on those who currently write it.

LOL! Vote for me or bad things will happen!

Sounds familiar!

Anonymous Daniel February 26, 2013 3:19 PM  

Look at the platform, Annie! It is right there, but the destruction and decay has already occurred. Vox's platform is first steps to cleaning up and prepping for the future. The other guy is for saying that collapse is great and whee! let's do it again, but this time from a lower height.

Anonymous Shut up Tad, er I mean Daniel February 26, 2013 3:21 PM  

Shut up

Anonymous Daniel February 26, 2013 3:24 PM  

It doesn't work the other way around, Tadannie. But it's nice of you to think of me.

Anonymous VD February 26, 2013 3:32 PM  

LOL! Vote for me or bad things will happen!

Oh, they'll happen anyhow.

What are you going to do that will destroy sf/f publishing as it presently exists?

You'll find out before the end of the year. I am a game designer, as you may recall.

Anonymous James May February 26, 2013 3:34 PM  

Jim Hines is an almost unbelievable idiot. There is no politically correct thought he is not on board with. That means I can predict his stance on virtually any issue since reason and independent thought have little to do with his concerns.

He chides VD for using the term "McRapey" but fails to mention the much more vulgar terms Scalzi uses for VD. Is that balance? It is to Hines.

Hines is a guy who thinks Godwin's Law represents some kind of actual thought, rather than what an ATM machine might "think."

The bottom line is that you cannot debate "stupid" or gentle fascists and trying to do so is like throwing pennies out a window and then slamming that window on your head.

I prefer an honest person I disagree with over a smiley face in front of an empty brain full of pre-chewed narratives without a sign of original thought.

What can you say about people who actually thought a recreation of a Flandry cover starring themselves was funny and not only that, funny enough to still be talking about.

There's little doubt in my mind that these people regularly got their hind ends kicked when they were kids, since they take up any cause as long as it has a history of finishing in second place, even if it's anti-Semitic, gay-hating, women-oppressing wahabbi Muslims or racial advocacy groups, as long as they don't advocate for whites. Then it's hood-time.

Anonymous James May February 26, 2013 3:41 PM  

So the SFWA forum is like a Star Chamber? What's the deal there? Also, if a writer wanted to be on TV or a movie for free, the Screen Actor's Guild would jump down their throats in an instant.

So how come those same actors take bread out of writer's mouths by writing for the Huffington Post for free? Will the SFWA boycott Pravda-lite? Not likely. Identity trumps principle.

Anonymous Porky February 26, 2013 3:56 PM  

I am a game designer, as you may recall.

Get ready - "World of McRapeycraft" is coming to XBOX 720.

Anonymous tertullian February 26, 2013 4:04 PM  

You'll find out before the end of the year. I am a game designer, as you may recall.
 
For some reason, a picture of a petulant deck lackey on the sinking Titanic, jumping up and down on her raised stern, yelling “I’m making this MF sink!!!” comes to mind. 

Anonymous bob k. mando February 26, 2013 4:05 PM  

Anonymous February 26, 2013 3:03 PM
What are you going to do that will destroy sf/f publishing as it presently exists? Honest question, not trolling or making a point.




first things first: pick a name. anything will do, it just needs to be distinctive.


on to the answer:

seriously? you expect him to answer this?

let me give you a hint about how the real world works:
whatever he's going to do, it's a business practice / concept. it will be patented / copywrited / trademarked as needed.

TELLING people what / how he's going to do something BEFORE doing it would do nothing but alert competitors and give people an opportunity to try to rush something to implementation before him.



IS he correct, that what he intends WILL "destroy science fiction and fantasy publishing as it presently exists" OR is he going to fall on his face? only time will tell.

just from my viewpoint though, i have to say that it appears obvious that mass distribution of paper books looks doomed within <50 years. and i would apply that to ALL publishing.

this from someone who prefers to read fiction on paper.

don't you think it odd that an organization which presumes to call itself the Science Fiction Writers of America doesn't have the wit to see this coming?

Anonymous VD February 26, 2013 4:22 PM  

For some reason, a picture of a petulant deck lackey on the sinking Titanic, jumping up and down on her raised stern, yelling “I’m making this MF sink!!!” comes to mind.

Fair enough. But if it helps, the destruction will be totally incidental, it's just a byproduct of the direction in which we're headed. And while we may be the first, whether we fail or not is irrelevant. The direction is inevitable.

Anonymous JartStar February 26, 2013 4:30 PM  

I think the decline in SF writing is the writing talent moving to gaming and the disillusionment of the idea of the shiny scientific future and the rejection of naturalism for quasi-paganism.

For instance, anyone remember these types of paintings and the feelings they invoked? For better or worse kids don't dream for a future like this.

Anonymous Jack Amok February 26, 2013 4:44 PM  

I think the decline in SF writing is the writing talent moving to gaming and the disillusionment of the idea of the shiny scientific future and the rejection of naturalism for quasi-paganism.

For instance, anyone remember these types of paintings and the feelings they invoked? For better or worse kids don't dream for a future like this.


I agree it's a decline in talent. I'm hopeful the explosion in indie\Kindle publishing will help. I think a lot of the decline came about because of the rotten-borough (how's that for a regency reference?) nature of the traditional publishing house model. The editorial decisions picked crappy writers writing about crappy subjects leading to an industry that only appealed to crappy readers. Swirl around a bowl a few times and then go down for the count.

Vox, how about this as a platform plank? Amend membership rules so that to remain in good standing, an author cannot claim to be a "Best Seller" unless the work remained on the list for at least three weeks. If SFWA is going to be a useful guild, the most important thing to do is defend the integrity of the brand.

Anonymous realmatt February 26, 2013 5:11 PM  

The decline in writing,. I believe has a lot to do with the fact that today's sci fi writers are complete loser worthless pieces of crap who grew up as outcasts

The new Star Trek movie is funner and more accessible for the same reason.

Have any of you ever seen the scene from "Space Seed", the first appearance of Khan in Star Trek, the Original Series?

do you imagine a modern day Trek writer could write such a PIMP?

HELL NO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKnttwx0P6I

Vox, I know you're not a Trek fan, but watch that scene, it's Game Gold.

There were a few others from that episode on youtube but I can't find them. That scene really is the best though.

Anonymous realmatt February 26, 2013 5:13 PM  

And yes I realize Vox didn't grow up a loser outcast piece of crap, but by his own admission, his emerging looks and athletic ability saved him from it.

I was just about to say I realize not all the writers are total crap, including Vox, but then it struck me that after 8 years on this blog I actually have never read any of his fiction.

Anonymous Daniel February 26, 2013 5:48 PM  

I believe has a lot to do with the fact that today's sci fi writers are complete loser worthless pieces of crap who grew up as outcasts.

Interesting theory, but:

H. Beam Piper - Impoverished unskilled laborer who died alone by suicide, 1960s
H.P. Lovecraft - Impoverished semi-recluse, died alone by ice cream cancer or whatever
Robert E. Howard - Suicide outsider momma's boy.
Samuel Delany - Happily semi-married to a hobo for half a century
Philip K. Dick - do I need to go on?

Now, perhaps by "loser outcast piece of crap" you mean "cushy middle class liberal of middling intelligence" I might agree.

But I believe that, despite the Asimovs and Clarkes of the sci-fi world, the absolute best material in sci-fi often is the domain of omega man - or, in your words, loser outcast pieces of crap.

I'm not saying you can't write great sci-fi if you are a normal, content mob-dweller, just that when you look at who does the best work out there, a lot of those cats are going to be...off.

Blogger tz February 26, 2013 6:27 PM  


Because I'm about to do something that will destroy science fiction and fantasy publishing as it presently exists and I would like to mitigate the effects on those who currently write it. My platform spells out what I would do differently; the main thing is a rapprochement with the game industry. I am not only the better choice, I am the only choice because my opponent has literally no idea what is in the process of happening and has no ability to do anything about it.


You are doing God's work (and I do not say that lightly for anyone who has read my posts).

Sci-Fi/Fantasy was originally a way of expanding minds. Trying new ideas and adapting things to very unusual situations.

Today it is bad parody.

Or put differently, "choice" means an abortion.

Anonymous Red Comet February 26, 2013 7:01 PM  

Sci-fi's ideas have gotten small is the problem. That and everyone wants to write pure character driven stuff that ultimately becomes a riff on either Star Wars or Aliens.

It's the kind of writers and readers that think a cyberpunk setting and cyborg characters are themselves cyberpunk themes and philosophies.

I blame most of these writers' problems on their dogmatic and unquestioned devotion to generic American and European style liberal thought. They tend to have a hard time with characters or belief systems that are not in lockstep with their own.

For example, though I am not an Objectivist I actually understand the philosophy and have yet to see any writer who criticizes it that actually demonstrates understanding of it.

Blogger mmaier2112 February 26, 2013 7:08 PM  

I don't read much sci-fi, but come on. To be fair, how much original, plot- or thematically-driven stuff can be LEFT to write?

Blogger Markku February 26, 2013 7:43 PM  

Again I recommend the Finnish sci-fi book Quantum Thief. Even if you don't like it, you can't deny that it is HARD sci-fi in the old tradition.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 26, 2013 8:42 PM  

i wonder why my buggy whip union membership doesn't bring me any benefits? i make perfectly acceptable buggy whips.

Anonymous WaterBoy February 26, 2013 9:11 PM  

JartStar: "For instance, anyone remember these types of paintings and the feelings they invoked? For better or worse kids don't dream for a future like this."

They're still out there -- only the medium has changed.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 26, 2013 9:30 PM  

ah, God, why do i visit the Hines blog? he's such a little bitch.

http://www.jimchines.com/2013/02/nebula-voters-hate-white-penises/
ETA: Changed the title because penis =/= dude. My apologies. Dammit, I’m supposed to be smarter than that.



evidently he's not smart enough to change the html page title.

because, HEY GIRLS, it still says "penises" at the top of the page. that's right. Jim Hines is oppressing you by putting 'his penis' above you.

just don't suck it. because that would be sexist and objectifying.

Anonymous The other skeptic February 27, 2013 12:13 AM  

Holy smokes, I just came across Rappy McRapperson

Anonymous Gx1080 February 27, 2013 1:04 AM  

Without vision, Sci-fi is hollow. And there's no being more blind than the modern leftie.

Also, Howard, Dick, etc, they all went to unexplored territory. Those who just write derivative work simply aren't as interesting. Finally, there's the Comic Industry Syndrome aka choking on a cloud of Neopotism.

Anonymous Anonymous February 27, 2013 7:49 AM  

>The decline in writing,. I believe has a lot to do with the fact that today's sci fi writers are complete loser worthless pieces of crap who grew up as outcasts/

Like these guys below. I'll concentrate on the men, but I'd note that Ursula LeGuin, to name but one, is hardly an 'outcast.'

Al Reynolds: doctorate in physics and astronomy, research astronomer for the ESA, now freelance due to a £1 million advance. Happily married for 22 years.

Charles Stross: degrees in pharmacy and computer science. Multiple award nominated best-seller. Also happily married.

David Brin: degrees in astrophysics. Best seller: books have been filmed. Happily married, several kids.

Orson Scott Card: best-seller. Movie in development. Committed Christian.

Greg Bear: multiple novels, multiple award nominated. Married for 30 years, several kids.

Stephen Baxter: degrees in mathematics and engineering. Multiple successful novels. Stable family life.

Neil Gaiman: enough said re sales and awards. Married to a rock star.

William Gibson, Chris Priest, Bruce Sterling, Lucius Shepherd.... None of these people are exactly 'losers.' On the contrary, they're highly functional, successful, and not infrequently wealthy, members of society.

A touch of the green-eyed monster here?

Anonymous Fail Burton February 27, 2013 8:26 AM  

Not necessarily green eyed. While I don't truck with this outcast theory, naming a politically correct author like LeGuin hardly bolsters your case. Take LeGuin's anti-male PC sheen away and you'd never have heard of her. Or Brin with his PC prancing dolphins, Card, a moron, Baxter, an expert on coat-tails, or Gaiman, the most overrated author we currently have. And before you start talking rock star, have a gander at that woman's music videos, which are among the worst examples of music that coasts largely on PC I've ever seen. If anything rocks in the SF community, it's political correctness, which trumps art at the Leftist SFWA like an ace trumps a deuce.

Anonymous Anonymous February 27, 2013 8:38 AM  

Since the post related specifically to the outcast theory, with which you don't agree, your views on the PC-ness of the above authors isn't relevant to the point at hand. Whether you like it, or them, or not, they're hardly social losers by contemporary economic or literary standards. Neither are Peter Hamilton or Neal Asher, both of whom are right wing.

Blogger Markku February 27, 2013 9:33 AM  

Since the post related specifically to the outcast theory, with which you don't agree, your views on the PC-ness of the above authors isn't relevant to the point at hand.

Actually it is evidence AGAINST the outcast theory from his own perspective, if it was the non-outcasts that wrote PC crap. And Daniel's list is further evidence for the opposite conclusion - being an outcast might, in fact, help.

Anonymous Fail Burton February 27, 2013 9:47 AM  

He said green eyed. I said their success was based on BS, and not artistic excellence. Read what I wrote, not some figures in your imagination. What artist would envy the success of people who are cynical panderers? You don't really believe half of the nice guy "don't eat kitties and dolphins" crap SF writers post do you? If I were a writer, no way I'd envy Gaiman, whose main skill seems to be convincing everyone he's a good writer. Have you read "American Gods?" It's like reading a bawdier story in Vampirella circa 1973.

Anonymous Anonymous February 27, 2013 12:12 PM  

But your views on their artistic merit have nothing to do with it. Gaiman's a wealthy man with a strong reputation in the field. What you, or I, think about the value of what he's doing is irrelevant.

Our host appears to have a more even-handed approach, as a quick Google search will reveal previous debates in which he lauds Stross (rightly - Stross is an excellent writer and I fully agree that he should feature more highly in awards than he does), but Stross does not hold VD's political opinions. Neither, I think I am safe in saying, does Tanith Lee, whom VD has praised (also rightly, IMO) in the past. My own bias is towards male writers and hard SF, so I'm not actually a big Gaiman fan, but neither my views on his literary merit or his politics really have much to do with his levels of success.

Blogger Markku February 27, 2013 1:13 PM  

But your views on their artistic merit have nothing to do with it.

Realmatt's do, however. He made the original claim, and it was to connect "the decline in wrting" with the increase of the number of outcasts in the field, and this is the "outcast theory" to which you objected. From the counterexample he gave, we can see that it is connected with political correctness.

My argument is that it might be the exact opposite case - that the socially successful writers might be the ones mostly responsible for the decline.

Anonymous taco dave February 27, 2013 2:56 PM  

We haven’t really demonstrated that there is a decline, just that awards are being given to (apparently) undeserving works. 
 
As for real decline, I think it’s just a matter of us being in the now with the liability (yes) of hindsight.  We are affronted by the Goodkinds and Scalizi’s and Hines of the world, but have rightly purged the Fanthorpe’s, Norman’s and Hubbard’s from our minds. 

Anonymous taco dave February 27, 2013 3:40 PM  

Another issue that we must take into account when trying to identify decline is our own changing state of mind.  In literary terms, Dragonlance vs. Scalzi makes for a very illustrative example.  I recently read The God Engines.  Meh.  But, in 1984, absolutely adored the original Dragonlance Chronicles.   I reread them about 10 years ago and they are absolute rubbish, in every way.  However I still think of the Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy more positively than I do Scalzi’s God Engines, which is technically and creatively superior to anything Weiss and Hickman ever did.   The issue here is I’ve changed in the last 30 years.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 27, 2013 4:22 PM  

yes, there is that.

i re-read the first three John Carter books because of the Black Gate article series. in the 80s i thought they were great.

now?

Burroughs simply piles improbability on top of ludicrousness on top of absurdity on top of deus ex machina. and then puts a cherry on top.

now, to me, they are a great disappointment. not as painful as "Of Human Bondage" but certainly something i can no longer endorse wholeheartedly.

Anonymous James May February 27, 2013 6:26 PM  

Saying something is superior to Dragonlance isn't saying much. What you're describing is that you're more sympathetic to at least what Dragonlance failed to be, than what "The God Engines" never strove for.

It's like enjoying Steve Reeve's "The Thief of Baghdad" more than "Gone With the Wind." GWTW is much better, but not what you want, so its quality is almost irrelevant.

As for writers like Scalzi, they are incapable of creativity in any real sense. Anyone capable of believing in the racist doublethink of his white privilege limerick, is not capable of being a good SF author, or an artist.

Believing in white privilege, because of that idea's position in the liberal community, is little different from Orwell's Two Minutes Hate.

When you're an SF writer, and you have a legacy like "1984" as a blueprint screaming out at you, and you indulge in the very thing it warned against, which is a perceptual trap, you're pretty much screwed as an artist.

SF writers today have no interest in exposing perceptual traps. That's because most of those writers are on the political Left and most of the traps derive from their own ideology. What writer is going to write a scathing allegory of parents sending their 5 yr. old boy to school as a girl or Fed mandated multicult classes at the USDA complete with chants when they're sympathetic to such things?

In a very real sense, most of today's SF writers are the enemies of Winston Smith and so have little interest in writing artistic exposes of clocks that strike 13 they themselves have built.

At least for now, the challenging satirical eye of SF that cleverly surveys our social landscape is all but dead. The result is straightforward rehashes where the only enemy in any larger sense are evil corporations and non-diverse (read white, straight, male) cultures. Hardly compelling reading and in retrospect, hardly surprising that Scalzi wrote a white privilege article without the least awareness he was writing a fantasy. Liberals are intellectually empty people.

Anonymous Luscinia Hâfez February 27, 2013 8:19 PM  

" What writer is going to write a scathing allegory of parents sending their 5 yr. old boy to school as a girl or Fed mandated multicult classes at the USDA complete with chants"

Who the fuck wants to read something like that?

Anonymous James May February 27, 2013 8:44 PM  

People who like novels like "1984," "Stand On Zanzibar, "Fahrenheit 451," and "The Weapon Shops" in lieu of endless streamers of steaming crap about vampires in Blade Runner cities, shape-shifters, zombie plagues, monster hunters, obsessive-compulsive Regency alt-histories about Jane Eyre's clever thighs, steampunks in blimps and 12 yr. old apprentices-thieves who have a hidden power.

Blogger Markku February 27, 2013 8:46 PM  

Who the fuck wants to read something like that?

Yeah, allegory that is that close to the actuality, isn't much of an allegory.

Anonymous realmatt February 27, 2013 9:26 PM  

Perhaps, since the loser leftist ideology wasn't yet completely drilled into everyones brains and deemed the nicer kinder and only right way to think when those writers were alive, they weren't as saturated and didn't give in completely to it.

Today, the losers are lead right into this school of thought and have a safety net where they can lay and write their terrible books filled with barely thought out retorts to what they constantly heard in high school.

Most of these idiots are modern non-thinking snarky atheists who like to spew typical atheist crap like "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.." before walking away in slow motion.

And it seems like everyone is a writer/artist/musician/screenwriter these days. They can't learn a trade because they're going to be wealthy writers. There's no discipline. Their interests can hardly be considered varied.

None of the qualities that make a person a good writer or musician or anything else, exist in these people.

Anonymous taco dave February 27, 2013 9:33 PM  

Matt; congratulations on not being led into that school of thought or safety net.

As a rule of thumb, anyone who paints with as broad a brush as you, is guaranteed to be wrong.

I know I'm going to regret asking, but when do you think leftist ideology originated?

Anonymous realmatt February 27, 2013 9:59 PM  

Yes you will regret asking because I am now going to criticize your reading comprehension skills.

BTW that was me criticizing your reading comprehension skills.

Let it be known that I believe reading comprehension, assuming the reader understands every word he or she has read, depends almost entirely on either how lazy or eager to spew forth snark, the reader happens to be.

As for your question, leftist thinking is the natural mode for the worthless, envious and lazy. It's existed as long as Man has.

Anonymous taco dave February 27, 2013 11:06 PM  

I criticize your... um criticizing skills...

CRITICIZE!!!1!one!

Anonymous James May February 28, 2013 3:26 AM  

For those of you aware of the recent stunning video of Samuel Betances' multicult diversity Two Minutes Self-Hate chanting at the USDA, I felt there was a short SF story there for sure.

The problem is to present it in such a way where the madness is obvious but strip out any reference to the actual event so that the principle is starkly presented in such a way even a liberal would shudder at the mirror presented.

What I ended up doing yesterday was taking the entire stinking bio-doggerel off of his diversity website and placing it into an SF novel I've been working on.

The novel, which takes places 350 years in the future, already had 4 short sections from a faux book called "History of the Collapse."

I changed the bio up and made up terms like "happy pensions," (welfare) and "glee-glo-happy" community groups. Since the main language in the novel is derived from Portuguese (it takes place mainly in the mostly ruined city of Rio de Janeiro) I changed his name to "Transar" (verb 'to fuck') and at the end added an author's note that revealed he'd been hung by one of his own lecture audiences on a geo-synchronous habitat in the year 2247, just before WWIII and thrown out a space lock. I mention Prof. Transar was one of "America do North's" most famous lecturers before the collapse, a time when a future America is a second rate country.

This is what SF can do well when we aren't writing diversity-driven non-Eurocentric sword and sorcery novels about gay, black people that aren't as good as an average R.E. Howard story when you strip out the politics.

I'll tell you this, Leftist SF writers won't touch the Betances material, because they are Orwell's worst enemies.

Anonymous Anonymous February 28, 2013 5:54 AM  

>Another issue that we must take into account when trying to identify decline is our own changing state of mind.

I think that's right. I too have fond memories of Dragonlance (which, in hindsight, were terrible) and ditto David Eddings - I don't think I could go back to those without trying to recapture my teenage mentality (probably best not!) but I do remember them as great fun. A lot of people who come to LOTR later in life don't get on with, but reading it in my teenage years - wow.

>My argument is that it might be the exact opposite case - that the socially successful writers might be the ones mostly responsible for >the decline.

If you see the decline as associated primarily with a liberal agenda - and I'm not saying you're wrong - I think this is a fair point.

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