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Thursday, April 11, 2013

The cancer in SF/F, part I

Adam Roberts asks who owns the political soul of science fiction
I make no apologies for writing science fiction. I love the genre with a deep and geeky love. Becoming professor of 19th-century literature at the University of London has done nothing to diminish my capacity for that mode of enthusiasm that fans call "squee".

Being a literature professor means, in effect, the government pays me to read books; and, taking my job seriously, I read a lot, in and out of genre. I think the novel is most alive today as a literature of the fantastic: at their worst, SF, fantasy and magic realist novels can be very bad; while at their best, they're by far the most exciting kinds of writing being published.

But here's the thing: my genre divides politically in a manner unlike others. Writers of historical or crime fiction might be rightwing or leftwing, but few would attempt to define those genres as intrinsically left- or right-leaning. SF is different: the genre defines itself according to two diametrically opposed ideological stances.
Roberts didn't have to tell us which side he is on: his use of the word "squee" was all that was necessary to let us know that he was of the enscalzied left wing of science fiction.  But his question is more interesting than it might first appear, because although the answer is obvious to anyone who has paid even a modicum of attention to the world of professional, published science fiction over the last 20 years, there is more to it than simply looking at who is getting published, who is winning awards, and who has been running SFWA for the last decade.

There is no question who presently owns what would be best termed "the trappings" of science fiction.  It is the scalzied manboobs, the cisgendered queers, the obese cat collectors, the Red Diaper socialists, the female imperativists, and the professional race whiners who presently dominate science fiction, not because they have more talent to offer than those on the right, but due to a) science fiction's longtime affiliation with the secular humanist, sciencistic left and b) the long march through the publishing institutions that has gradually and methodically gone about excluding every editor and author even remotely suspected of harboring views that have been, or may be, deemed ideologically undesirable.

The long march isn't the product of my imagination. I first became aware of it when Pocket Books, to their credit, thought it would be a good idea to assign an editor who had at least a modicum of religious awareness to my Eternal Warriors novels, but couldn't find a single religious individual in house.  They finally had to hire an external editor, a Jewish woman, because the organization's collective theological knowledge amounted to zero.

So much for the heirs of the Western intellectual tradition; the reviewer at Black Gate who reviewed Summa Elvetica genuinely believed that the argument presented therein was a real one written by Thomas Aquinas.  However, having read the Summa Theologica, I can assure everyone that while the Angelic Doctor contemplated many issues, the question of whether elves have souls naturally united to them or not was not one of them.

One need only look at the increasingly mediocre works that have been nominated for, and in some cases even won, science fiction's highest prizes to realize that the genre is dominated by the ideological left and is in severe decline from both the literary and revenue perspectives.  When six of the top 10-selling SF books in 2012 are either ripped off from an Xbox game or were first published more than a decade ago, it shouldn't be difficult to observe that there is a very serious problem with the science fiction that is presently being published.

Now, some will wish to dismiss my observations as the embittered rantings of a fourth-rate fantasy author, even though the sales of one of my books, at around 41,000, would have put me at number three on the 2012 list of bestsellers.  But even if one dismisses me, the problem is that I am far from the only former Asimov and Analog subscriber who no longer bothers to even pirate, let alone buy, The Year's Best Science Fiction collections because so little of it is worth reading anymore. As an SFWA member, I have a vote for the Nebula, but at least in the case of the Best Novel category, there is simply nothing for which one can credibly vote.

It is simply impossible to call any of the novels presently up for this year's Nebula or Hugo the best novel in SF/F with a straight face. And if one of them truly does merit the description, then the genre is in even worse shape than I have observed.  It should not be controversial to suggest that it is highly unlikely that anyone from this year's class will one day be named a Grandmaster of Science Fiction.

CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, HP Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Robert Heinlein could not get published in today's SF/F publishing environment, which has ironically turned Harlan Ellison's concept of SF being a place for "dangerous visions" on its head. The fact that the Guardian chose to head the linked article with a picture of Iain M. Banks was particularly apt, as science fiction is today in much the same position as the unfortunate Scottish author, who recently announced that he was terminal with a cancer that had developed unbeknownst to him. (One has to respect his mordant wit; in response to the bad news he asked his longtime girlfriend if she would do him the honor of becoming his widow.) Science fiction is not only terminal, its professional community is still largely ignorant of that readily observable fact.

Science fiction is dying because it has been invaded by a parasitical and hostile ideology that has metastasized and spread throughout the genre. This ideology is opposed to science because science is weakening the assumptions on which it is founded. It is opposed to heroism because heroism is intrinsically anti-egalitarian. It is opposed to masculinity because its adherents are women and feminized gamma males. It is opposed to Western civilization because Western civilization is Christian.  It is opposed to free discourse because free discourse reveals its many incoherencies, contradictions, and complete flights of fantasy.

Roberts's summary of the difference between left and right is accurate, but incomplete: "Heinlein's imagined interstellar future is an environment designed to valorise the skill sets (self-reliance, engineering competence, willpower, bravery and manliness) that Heinlein prized. Left-leaning Iain M Banks's Culture novels posit a high-tech geek utopia in which the particular skill sets, ethics and wit‑discourse of SF nerds turn out to be the gold standard of pan-galactic multi-species civilisation."

But it is more than that. Roberts omits to mention that feminism, equalitarianism, cultural relativism, massive central government, unrestrained sexual adventurism, and ideological strawmen are de rigueur for the science fiction of the left.  And that is when it is more than simple romance novels in space or rewritten Regency romances with a modest sprinkling of magic.

The fact that Roberts considers the genre's greatest writers to be "Ursula K Le Guin, Octavia Butler, James Tiptree Jr, Margaret Atwood, Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Cadigan, Justina Robson" shows that he is speaking only of the genre's left and also suffices to show the inferiority of the works produced by that side of the genre. With the exception of Le Guin and Sheldon, no science fiction fan would trade a single Herbert or Heinlein novel for the complete collected works of all the others... well, perhaps some of the later Heinleins.

The fate that awaits the world of professional published science fiction is that which ultimately befell the art of Socialist Realism. Because it is imposed by a small, centralized group that happened to seize the relevant power, it will collapse and fade away once the group's power ceases to be relevant.  As it so often does, economic and technological changes have eroded the power of the gatekeeper's, which is why we can watch the collapse of Nightshade Books and anticipate the coming closure of other publishers and imprints which are infested with the ideological cancer.

SF/F's left-wing gatekeepers made the same error that the ABCNNBCBS cabal made when instead of simply reporting the nation's news, it attempted to turn itself into the propaganda wing of the Democratic Party. But there will be no singular Fox News prison-raping its competitors in the case of SF/F, instead, there will be Glenn Reynold's army of a thousand Davids, with successful independent authors like Larry Correia and Marko Kloos demonstrating to every other writer deemed politically incorrect and/or unpublishable by the gatekeepers that the gates have been torn down. They no longer exist.

More on why the ongoing collapse of the gatekeepers is not reason for despair, but promises to be very good news for fans of traditional SF/F in part II.

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230 Comments:

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Blogger Some dude April 11, 2013 5:16 AM  

You've named two authhors, do you have any other reviews of recent authors you like?


I also cant stand most of what comes out today. I used to go to B&N and read books there, I would buy the ones I liked, and the crap I left on the shelves. Over time, I found that the only books I could even tolerate were the nihilistic warhammer series, because as twisted and horrible as they were, they at least had some realism to the actions of the characters within the nightmare framework of that world.


But eventually, even that became too much. Isnt the purpose of all writing to pass over cultural concepts of life? The UberMensch concept of warhammer is OK, but there is only so much of that shit a man can take. There has to be some higher father that guides us, even if it is only in the spirit of the book and not explicitly stated. (Tolkein)


Anonymous red April 11, 2013 5:17 AM  

ABCNNBCBS where always left wing propaganda machines. They've just gotten so unsubtle about it that it's the propaganda equivalent of hitting you over the head with a 2 by 4. Fox news is much closer to the left wing propaganda of yesteryear.

In the same way a good chunk of sci-fi has always been left wing propaganda, but it was subtle and interesting. Today it's feminized horse shit that is so chocked full of propaganda and you go girl attitude that it starves out any actual story.

Blogger Rantor April 11, 2013 5:42 AM  

So what your saying Red is that the masculine, oily-muscle socialism of the past has been destroyed by feminization. The strong and heroic vanguard replaced by overweight cat-breeders. Or is it all part of their deceit?

Of course it was easy to fight against the socialists in the past. They were strong, dangerous looking and bristling with missiles. Today they live next door, drive a Prius, and try to enforce leash-laws while voting for those most desirous of radical change---so long as they can hang out with stars and eat Wagyu beef at the taxpayer's expense.

Anonymous VD April 11, 2013 5:44 AM  

You've named two authhors, do you have any other reviews of recent authors you like?

I will post a review of Kloos's Terms of Enlistment today or tomorrow. Naomi Novik's books are all right, although the most recent two have been disappointing. Despite him being an ideological dinosaur, China Mieville's Embassytown is both innovative and exceptional. Peter Brett's series isn't bad, but it is a bit disappointing. Particularly the third; it is like reading a book called "The Second World War" and discovering that it ends with the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately, that sort of thing tends to be indicative of a writer who is in the process of losing control of his plot.

Anonymous Toby Temple April 11, 2013 5:59 AM  

When did the goblin from Magic: The Gathering universe became so popular?

Anonymous Rev Righteous April 11, 2013 6:02 AM  

"On the other hand, many fans define SF as the literature of scientific extrapolation. There are those who think of "science" as ideologically neutral, simply the most authoritative picture of the universe available to humanity. The problem is that "authoritative" has a nasty habit of eliding with "authoritarian" when transferred into human social relations."

So his complaint about "Right-wing" writers of science fiction is that there is too much focus on science in their writing?

"How can SF be both centrally about the articulation and exploration of marginalised and subaltern voices, and a projection of contemporary ideological concerns outward on to a cosmos in which the laws of physics themselves tell us to vote Conservative?"

That quote is the most succinct admission of the cancer I've read. Apparently the central purpose of sci-fi has become to articulate "marginalized and subaltern voices." All my white privilege must have blinded me to this clear truth all these years.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 6:04 AM  

Anyone who could say "Ursula K Le Guin, Octavia Butler, James Tiptree Jr, Margaret Atwood, Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Cadigan, Justina Robson" are the genre's greatest writers is a blazing idiot blinded by identity and diversity.

And in what world is Orson Scott Card a giant of the genre? And SF isn't "centrally" about colonized peoples any more than it's about feminism. Who is this idiot? Making feminist SF conventions doesn't mean there is a natural intersection there. It's an expression of provincialism, faddism and trendiness.

Art is not a racial-diversity pie-chart; art is art.

At least he admits he's "dumb."

Robert's great failure here is to recognize what place an "other" has in SF. In fact SF's great virtue is that it can tear away identity by taking today's issues to a different place so that, rather than identity, we are left only with principle, and a thing can be more easily seen for what it is. Once bias is torn aside, and we have no dog in the hunt so to speak, eyes can see better. A science fiction writer can easily make us more readily identify with a bug-eyed alien with tentacles than with a human being. In such situations as these an SF writer can produce, right, wrong and principle are more starkly illuminated than in the muddle of our own trends, fads and cultural conceits.

However liberals don't see that, and don't utilize that. It is of no interest to them, as it bucks their own narrative concerning right and wrong parsed through dark skin, gays and female gender.

I agree SF has been taken over by progressive liberals, whose presence is distorted by their ability to extort silence from other authors through fear and censorship.

The last thing to be said is this: look at SF&F from 1912-42. Burroughs to the breakthrough work of Heinlein and Van Vogt. People forget how much of Heinlein's most influential and seminal work was published by 1942, and the role Van Vogt played. "The Weapon Shop" predates '43.

Now look at 1983-2013. "Nuff said. Politicize art and you kill it.

Anonymous Sigh April 11, 2013 6:07 AM  

This is something that's understood by the genre's greatest writers: Ursula K Le Guin, Octavia Butler, James Tiptree Jr, Margaret Atwood, Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Cadigan, Justina Robson.

If I made a list of the greatest SF writers, none of these would be on it.

How can SF be both centrally about the articulation and exploration of marginalised and subaltern voices

Geez how did the genre not know it was "centrally about this" for the first, I dunno, 80 or 90 years of its existence?

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 6:13 AM  

From the linked article:
Let's take the lefty stance first, since it happens to be my own. Any SF text must include something that isn't in the "real" world: starship, robot, a new way of organising society, whatever. This might be material, social or even metaphysical, but it will encode difference. Alterity is fundamental to SF: it is a poetics of otherness and diversity. Now, it so happens that the encounter with "otherness"– racially, ethnically, in terms of gender, sexual orientation, disability and trans identity – has been the main driver of social debate for the last half‑century or more. The tidal shift towards global diversity is the big event of our times, and this is what makes SF the most relevant literature today...

On the other hand, many fans define SF as the literature of scientific extrapolation. There are those who think of "science" as ideologically neutral, simply the most authoritative picture of the universe available to humanity. The problem is that "authoritative" has a nasty habit of eliding with "authoritarian" when transferred into human social relations. Rightwing political affiliation comes in many forms, but for many rightwingers, respect for authority is a central aspect of their worldview. The world, says the rightwinger, is hard, unforgiving and punishes weakness: in order to prosper, we need to be self-reliant, subordinate decadent appetites to self-discipline, know what the rules are and follow them...

How can SF be both centrally about the articulation and exploration of marginalised and subaltern voices, and a projection of contemporary ideological concerns outward on to a cosmos in which the laws of physics themselves tell us to vote Conservative?


The good prof appears to be confused.

To call the "rightwing" perspective both "authoritarian" and "self-reliant" at once suggests as much. He also seems unaware of the implications of stating that the "lefty" perspective deals with things that aren't of the "real" world while the "rightwing" perspective is based in science.

The notion that science, reason, and reality are somehow "authoritarian" or "oppressive" is an idea that I've encountered before from artsy/lefty types; I'm not surprised to see it coming from a literature prof.

What I don't get is the prof's claim that "How we treat the other is the great ethical question of our age". What does that even mean? He seems to be suggesting that we (whoever "we" are) have some responsibility toward those who are not like us BECAUSE they are not like us. How does that make sense?

All in all, I'd say the good prof's article gives a simplistic and only partially coherent picture of both SF literature and the political spectrum for no apparent reason.

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 6:29 AM  

CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, HP Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Robert Heinlein could not get published in today's SF/F publishing environment

As I read the article, I kept wondering what the good prof's reaction to HG Wells would be. No "rightwinger" was Wells, yet the brutally harsh Darwinian universe of his creation fits far better in the prof's "rightwing" stance than in his "lefty" stance.

For all his talk of "other-ism", I doubt the prof could handle something as truly "other" as Wells or Lovecraft. That's another observation I have about lefties - they're all about "diversity" and "tolerance" and the "other" until the moment they encounter something that is genuinely different from themselves. Then they become as exclusive and judgmental as any "rightwinger".

Anonymous catlover April 11, 2013 6:49 AM  

without common sense controls over the industry, this is what your wingut free market looks like:

http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/PWxyz/2012/01/31/the-worst-book-ever-is-moon-people/

Anonymous VD April 11, 2013 7:06 AM  

without common sense controls over the industry, this is what your wingut free market looks like

It's always about control with you lefties, isn't it. Anyhow, based on that link, Moon People is an order of magnitude less bad than the novel about the female lighthouse keeper and her wereseal lover. Or the novel with the flying, bazooka-wielding elves that appeared out of nowhere and took out a mobile home... just as the romantic object was walking out the door.

It was supposed to be emotionally devastating, but it was hard to cry through the explosive laughter.

Anonymous Jeigh Di April 11, 2013 7:11 AM  

Even Robert Heinlein's later stuff was increasingly femocentric.

Among more recent authors I've found some of Allen Steele and John Varley's stuff readable, which shows how long it's been since I've ever bothered to look.

Anonymous Brendan April 11, 2013 7:20 AM  

It's very true and very unfortunate. Much of contemporary SF is really unreadable for me, even in cases where the prose itself is well-done, due to the huge ideological axes that are being ground on the left side of the equation.

Anonymous LL April 11, 2013 7:24 AM  

Baen is almost the only publisher I will read because they don't care about ideology. John Ringo is a great author in the military sci fi vein. His Troy books are good. Start off with a small dude using capitalism and monopoly to get it all started. I believe it's called Live Free or Die. Anyway, Baen is a great place to start. I like Tom Kratman too. Again, military sci fi. Baen is not afraid to publish articles on their website that is very contrary to the feminist creed. That link is Tom's breakdown of women in the military. At the end is the link to his book, Amazon Legion, where he attempts to build an all female unit, taking into consideration all of the problems there are with women in the military, and he does it within the shell of military sci fi. I really liked it.

Anonymous castricv April 11, 2013 7:28 AM  

VD, perhaps this is the time to get some funds off of some of us readers to start a company of your own along these lines. We'd even read the books too.

I know the task is daunting, but I've come to believe that the only way to combat the left/democracy/etc. is by making a second popular perspective on reality through movies, news, and literature. It would be mind-boggingly expensive at first and it would be scoffed at for some time, but if the quality of the work is both high AND entertaining people would flock to it. Even if the herd moves for the entertainment value alone, the simple act of seeing another view of reality (the real one) would puncture huge holes in this Orwellian nightmare before us.

Anonymous Keeg April 11, 2013 7:30 AM  

"How can SF be both centrally about the articulation and exploration of marginalised and subaltern voices, and a projection of contemporary ideological concerns outward on to a cosmos in which the laws of physics themselves tell us to vote Conservative?"

Here, I thought SF was about telling a good story that just happened to be set in space, or in the future, and/or that involved technology we don't currently possess. How stupid and unsophisticated I am.

If you need me, I'll be in the corner, sucking my thumb and re-reading my Bradbury and Asimov and Ellison.


Blogger TJIC April 11, 2013 7:32 AM  

> China Mieville's Embassytown is both innovative and exceptional.

What Mieville was trying to do was absolutely innovative, and I guess - in a technical sense - it was exceptional.

It failed as literature, though, and it absolutely failed as an enjoyable read.

Embassytown is actually a perfect example of the academic Cathedral sneaking in to science fiction and destroying everything masculine and interesting and freedom-loving about it. It's one big academic wank-fest, the Sapir Worf hypothesis dug up from it's damp tomb and reanimated with a jolt of lightening. "Aliens don't have words for something, therefore they can't think it...except, wait, maybe their entire society can undergo a radical reengineering and their new mode of communication can create a new mode of consciousness".

It is a testament to Mieville's fantastic level of raw talent that he managed to make as almost-good a novel as he did out of it, but the result is a mess. A depressing, overly-intellectual, heir-to-the-1960s-British-New-Wave mess.

Again, my hat is off to him for trying something bold (he almost pulled off City and City, another left-wing-ontology-made-flesh), but I would never recommend either novel to anyone.

Blogger TJIC April 11, 2013 7:35 AM  

@LL:

> Baen is almost the only publisher I will read because they don't care about ideology.

The problem with Baen is that they also don't care (much) about quality. A large percent of what they publish is crap, without literary merit. It's popcorn that is eagerly scarfed up by men the same way that romance novels are consumed by a certain type of woman.

Don't get me wrong - Baen also publishes some good novels. But the average quality of Baen is - IMO - noticeably worse than, say, Tor. ...and I say that even though I love the editors at Baen and the right-wing and libertarian voices they publish, and even as I loathe the whining self-satisfied left-wing editors at Tor.

Anonymous VryeDenker April 11, 2013 7:35 AM  

To be honest, the books I like to read are almost exclusively more than 60 years old. In fact, the only books I've read as an adult that weren't written more than 60 years ago are Vox's. I'm not saying he's the best author alive today. I simply have bad experiences with Tom Clancey, Eric Lustbader, Dean Koontz and the like. I also find Jules Verne infinitely more enjoyable than McRapey.

Anonymous VryeDenker April 11, 2013 7:36 AM  

...The latter were books I read as a teenager.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 7:38 AM  

And let's not forget that, in the minds of the liberal SF community, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, HP Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Robert Heinlein occupy a default position of unapologetic racists. That's a done deal.

In fact, every white person alive in the time period of '12-'42 I mentioned is a racist according to a liberal, and far beyond each side of that era. It should be noted that, unlike some SF&F authors today, none of the above were career racialists who never shut up about race.

But here's the real telling point about such concerns: none of those authors have a world view in their work where blacks or women come out on the short end of the stick 100% of the time, nor, again, any particular interest in the subject in the first place, again, contrary to certain authors today.

Along those same lines, such old time authors are usually said to be a product of their times, and here where it gets telling again. If you asked their detractors when those times were, they would extend it back centuries and forward into today. I know that cuz Nebula nominee Saladin Ahmed, with a innate PhD on race and Arabic history picked up at birth, said GRRM's America is racist and xenophobic in his Salon article, "Is Game of Thrones Too White?" Ahmed's article met with virtually 100% support among liberals. In fact I've not seen one person challenge it.

In other words, whites are more or less permanently racist and that's the bottom line out of all this: today's non-racist anti-racists portray whites as being on the short end of Mr. Moral Stick, 100% of the time and for centuries.

So if Howard and Heinlein are racists for a few remarks in letters or stories, what the hell does that make the modern identity liberal if not a much worse and purposeful bigot who never shuts up about race and gender?

Does anyone in their right mind believe Howard or Heinlein would've had anti-Diversicons or anti-feminist Wiscons today? Put in that perspective, it shows how low the racism threshold is for any identity a liberal doesn't like and how high it is if you're a liberal.

In fact, most liberals seem to support the notion blacks CANNOT be racist. Certainly Adria Richards specifically said that on Twitter over the PyCon affair and also cited Scalzi's noxious racist article about white privilege as a learning moment.

Heinlein and Howard in no way ever made race and gender the centerpiece of their world view as do progressive liberals today, who are completely unforgiving in their racist notions that black people and women are innately more moral than white men.

No matter how you parse Heinlein and Howard on the matter of race, there is no doubt Ahmed and N.K. Jemisin, two of this year's Nebula nominees, are far harder on whites than Howard or Heinlein ever were on blacks.


That includes John Scalzi as well, the president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, among dozens others I could mention. Putting notions of identity aside and strictly working from the principle and proportion of a thing, the old school come off as saints compared to the bigot factory that comprises modern identity politics, which occupies the same intellectual and philosophical space as a neo-Nazi or KKK.

Anonymous Equals Sign April 11, 2013 7:45 AM  

Speaking of reality, it must sting that "manboobs" and socialists sell more books than you racist homophobes.

Take my friend Matthew Wood ring Stover ...total socialist, Obama supporter, makes bestseller lists. Or Ken Macleod, a Communist and friend to labour who fills his novels with the merits of socialism ...sells them like hotcakes.

It is a bitter pill to swallow by rightwing worshippers of the "free market." That just maybe ...with the stock market booming ... and ObamaCare about to become a wild success ...that progressives like Warren Buffet, Stover, and other "manboobs" know just a little more about how the business world works, how markets work and how science and reality work.

Figuring out how socialism will work with pratical success is no different than how to figure out how a telescope works. Your priests, churches and bibles were once against telescopes. You didnt stop us then. Your modern racism and homophobia stands less a chance.

Bring it. We won't be bullied by the likes of you.

PS: In additon to being a progressive and best selling author, Matt Stover is also a true martial artist. I wonder if you talk your rascism and homophobia to Matt's face? Knowing Matt's skill at fighting, you (Vox) would eat your hateful words, standing up or on the floor.

Anonymous LL April 11, 2013 7:46 AM  

@TJIC

I hear what you are saying, but I don't think any publisher out there hits it out of the ballpark 100% all the time. Also, Baen involves the readers and fans in Baen's Bar with spirited discussions and I like not having "save the earth, save the children, save the wimmens" crap shoved down my throat that other publishers seem bound and determined to accomplish.

Basically, it's like politics. The lesser of two evils. And in reading material, I'm ok with that.

Anonymous LL April 11, 2013 7:48 AM  

@Equals sign

and ObamaCare about to become a wild success

bwaaaaahahahaha *gasp* haaahahahaha

Success in what? Please expand upon that thought.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 7:52 AM  

I agree about Mieville; his work is too conspicuously arty for me to read - maybe it's just taste. It just tries too hard and in the end isn't revolutionary but just another dial setting of conformist.

The truth is that between Dr. Who and conspicuous attempts to appeal to Leftist artistry, a truly breakthrough novel would probably not even be recognized and if it was, despised. What you're really seeing today is a genre being subverted into Critical Race Theory plus the Ada Initiative plus ray guns.

And I think Baen does in fact try to appeal to ideology. The problem is that there, conservatism seems to mean mercenaries fighting in armored suits with the giant boots, as if "Starship Troopers" is in some pointless and endless rerun of eternal war.

There's still a ton of SF&F that tries solely to entertain but it is so conformist and so stinking of writer's workshops that I find it all but unreadable. Reading Clark Ashton Smith after that is like finding the stolen jewels.

Blogger Dukemandarin April 11, 2013 7:54 AM  

What's your (anyone's) view of Asher and Hamilton? Also read Guy Haley's Champion of Mars recently - I liked the title so I bought it. Not bad military SF. There's still quite a bit out there - I'd be interested in anyone's recs though.

Anonymous VryeDenker April 11, 2013 7:54 AM  

Mister equals sign is basically saying his boyfriend can beat you up, Vox. Also, I imagine he won't ever have sex with you.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 7:58 AM  

Actually equals sign, not being a member of a mainstream herd of bleating sheep doesn't sting at all.

In fact it's like walking through a lavender scented mist tent high out of my mind on weed on a blisteringly hot day at a great concert.

Does Matt know you're putting him in harm's way by issuing challenges to duels in public? You might want to mention that to him before some kung-fu guy flies out of an alley and takes up the challenge by poking out his little eyes.

Blogger tz April 11, 2013 8:02 AM  

So your choices are worse than obama, romney, and who was it running as a libertarian?

Anonymous VD April 11, 2013 8:02 AM  

VD, perhaps this is the time to get some funds off of some of us readers to start a company of your own along these lines. We'd even read the books too.

There are some interesting things being done along those lines. However, there is the slight problem of the fact that even among the readers of this blog, only a minority are interested in fantasy and science fiction. It's a tiny and insignificant market. But if I can do it without it getting in the way of my more important endeavors, I may do so.

Speaking of reality, it must sting that "manboobs" and socialists sell more books than you racist homophobes.

Not in the slightest, for the obvious reason that most of them don't. How many of them have sold more than 40,000 copies of a single book. How many of them have sold more than 2.5 million copies of anything? I've done both.

Figuring out how socialism will work with pratical success is no different than how to figure out how a telescope works. Your priests, churches and bibles were once against telescopes. You didnt stop us then.

(laughs) Good luck with that one.

In additon to being a progressive and best selling author, Matt Stover is also a true martial artist. I wonder if you talk your rascism and homophobia to Matt's face? Knowing Matt's skill at fighting, you (Vox) would eat your hateful words, standing up or on the floor.

I would not hesitate to share my opinions with Matt or anyone else. I am younger, faster, and stronger than Matt, and may have even sparred more rounds than he has. Also, I tend to doubt either his JKD or his Shorin Ryu lineage is as elite as mine.

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 8:02 AM  

MHI.

FTW.

Anonymous VD April 11, 2013 8:05 AM  

Again, my hat is off to him for trying something bold (he almost pulled off City and City, another left-wing-ontology-made-flesh), but I would never recommend either novel to anyone.

I have to disagree. I quite enjoyed both and would readily recommend both to anyone interested in something both different and compelling. I may find his grasp of economics to be laughable and his political ideology to be evil, but Mieville is still one of the best writers of our generation.

Anonymous physics geek April 11, 2013 8:06 AM  

"When six of the top 10-selling SF books in 2012 are either ripped off from an Xbox game or were first published more than a decade ago"

It's even worse that I realized then. I've stumbled onto some pretty good scifi and fantasy the last couple of decades, but it almost seems by accident. I recently cataloged all of my paper books (a daunting task due to the vast number I've acquired in my lifetime) and realized that the vast majority of the novels and compendiums were written more than 20-30 years ago. That is not a sign of a healthy scifi publishing industry. I've been a member of the Science Fiction Book Club for 35+ years and used to buy at least one book per month. Turns out that I've bought a grand total of five books the last 5-10 years, and several of those are reprints of old books.

Ah well, what am I complaining about? There's always more wereseal sex.

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 8:07 AM  

Equals Sign, ask yourself how much the success of televangelists "stings" you. That's probably about how much the success of your socialist friends "stings" to non-socialists.

Figuring out how socialism will work with pratical success is no different than how to figure out how a telescope works.

Actually it's quite different, on a few levels. Getting socialism to work with practical success is more like trying to make a live unicorn out of your own blood and semen with nothing but a ballpoint pen.

Blogger tz April 11, 2013 8:08 AM  

As to a novel describing a world where socialism works, that IS fantasy. Mises did for socialism what Einstein did for superluminary velocity or Heisenberg did for infinite precision.

The novels begin with the assumption an iron scientific law has somehow been broken. Maybe Harry Potter can go faster than light, but nothing here does.

Socialism can only be implemented through fear, force, and lobotomies - if you want to experiment, let yourselves be the subjects.

Anonymous castricv April 11, 2013 8:09 AM  

Did Equals Sign just tell his boyfriend to fight you? Not only is he a bitch, he's also an internet coward. Make you're irrational and ridiculous points if you must, but why so damm childish and personal?

You're probably steaming so much over VD as you ranted that you actually yelled at your life partner in an inappropriate tone. Then you made it up to him by fantasizing about some Sci-fi author beating up another guy while he went down on you. Now I think I've almost reached the depths of your level. Good job.

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 8:14 AM  

I am going to offer a couple Larry Correia quotes from his various Monster Hunter International books. After which... if you have a brain in your head... you will go buy the books and read them. All of them.


“Nikolai's a badass Russian. Badass Russians only have three emotions: revenge, depression, and vodka.”
― Larry Correia, Monster Hunter Alpha

“Fish and Wildlife wants to fine us for killing a giant mutant Tennessee River catfish because it was endangered. Sure it had just crawled up on land and eaten some teenagers, but it was still an endangered species.”
― Larry Correia, Monster Hunter International

“You know that ‘no weapons at work’ policy?” I asked the twitching and growing hairy monstrosity standing less than ten feet from me. His yellow eyes bored into me with raw animal hatred. There was nothing recognizably human in that look.

“I never did like that rule,” I said as I bent down and drew my gun from my ankle holster, put the front sight on the target and rapidly fired all five shots from my snub-nosed .357 Smith & Wesson into Mr. Huffman’s body. God bless Texas.” - Larry Correia, Monster Hunter International

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 8:21 AM  

Your priests, churches and bibles were once against telescopes.

Friend, I think you'll find that the Bible doesn't mention telescopes.

Of course I'm Baptist so I disapprove of telescopes. Stargazing is of the devil - could lead to hand holding, even dancing.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 8:21 AM  

If anyone wants to try something they certainly won't run into by accident or hear about, I recommend W. Michael Gear's Forbidden Border's trilogy from the early '90s.

It's straight up intrigue, story telling and space opera with no pretension whatsoever. It is really clever and inventive. It's certainly better than his other stuff in my opinion.

There's not a hint of contemporary politics about it and it may be as good in its own sub-set of a genre as anything out there. It has just enough layering and nuance to rise above its material quite a way.

Anonymous VD April 11, 2013 8:24 AM  

Speaking of reality, it must sting that "manboobs" and socialists sell more books than you racist homophobes.

Folks, note here what this reveals about the rabbit mindset. The reason they resort to this sort of thing is because it burns them up that I have more blog readers than John Scalzi or Jim Hines. We haven't heard a peep out of the folks who always used to bring up the importance of blog traffic since I demonstrated that I have more. We know this sort of thing bothers them because it observably drives them CRAZY that Fox News gets better ratings than CNN or MSNBC, and its shows get better ratings than The Daily Show.

Being economic ignoramuses, by definition, they don't understand that their attempts to marginalize and exclude their ideological opponents not only make the survivors stronger - look at how Larry Correia and I openly scorn them - but the law of supply and demand ensures that we will have a sizable audience due to their own efforts.

When McRapey writes a bestseller, I shrug and think "lots of rabbits out there". Whereas one moderate left-winger told me recently that he thinks I am in the process of becoming a major SF/F writer "and that is going to drive a lot of people insane."

But it doesn't matter if it is me or Correia or even Orson Scott Card. Success by anyone on the right infuriates them. Which, of course, makes it all the sweeter.

Blogger IM2L844 April 11, 2013 8:26 AM  

bibles were once against telescopes.

This is a most astonishing revelation. I had no idea no idea bibles were once against telescopes, but, miraculously, have since become for telescopes. Why haven't I heard of this before?

Anonymous DaveD April 11, 2013 8:26 AM  

One of the few times I agree with Nate. MHI is a good read. High art? No. A fun story? Hell yeah.

DD

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 8:29 AM  

I am an unrepentent Correia fan. Can you tell?

I even mock people who have "welcome" mats at their doors.

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 8:31 AM  

Whereas one moderate left-winger told me recently that he thinks I am in the process of becoming a major SF/F writer "and that is going to drive a lot of people insane."

BTW are you considering writing any straight SF books? As opposed to F, I mean. I'd be very interested in something of yours that was speculative about the future.

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 8:31 AM  

Why does it have to be high art? It just has to be a lot of fun and competently written.

Is that to much to ask?

Good guys bad guys and violence. Really. that's all I really want.

Blogger IM2L844 April 11, 2013 8:33 AM  

I even mock people who have "welcome" mats at their doors.

I thought I was the only one with a "Go Away" mat at my front door.

Anonymous VD April 11, 2013 8:33 AM  

BTW are you considering writing any straight SF books?

In a manner of speaking. Watch this space towards the end of the year. But AODAL is the main writing focus... which is not to be confused with the primary focus.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 8:34 AM  

Monster Hunter International is the Classics Illustrated comic version of the kids version of Mad Magazine. Prolly that part where a guy and a gal are sitting somewhere in the deep south and talking about race-pimps yanked me out of the Campbellesque fun-ness of it all.

Luckily there's always the more adult Tennessee Williams stories about Vampirella.

"'Rella-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 8:42 AM  

"Luckily there's always the more adult Tennessee Williams stories about Vampirella."

Fag.

Anonymous Larry Bird April 11, 2013 8:49 AM  

Nate/anyone:

Larry Correia ...reading order? What book of his to read first?

Anonymous jack April 11, 2013 8:50 AM  

So, save the thing. Start your own society and give awards. There ought to be some that would contribute to the kitty to make the best be happy for the awards. The best, Stephenson, Mieville, etc, would probably be happy just to get recognition in an awards forum that actually gave awards/reviews to their equals, the REAL present day masters of the craft. Scalzi need not apply, I think.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 11, 2013 8:54 AM  

I find myself in agreement with Nate. I read fiction to be *entertained* first and foremost, not to have the author force-stroke my aesthetic-glans. MHI entertains in spades, a lot of it tongue-in-cheek, 4th wall. Don't be an Ebert, James. ;-)

Anonymous Darth Toolpopdicus April 11, 2013 9:00 AM  

Larry Correia order: The MHI stuff is pretty good, particularly the first three. The Grimnoir Chronicles, are better, and should be next on your list.

I almost never read straight .mil fiction, but his collaboration with Mike Kupari on Dead Six was a page-turner that I couldn't put down.

Aside; I've been jonesing for good SF/F of late...and being disappointed in all the Leftist-poisoned crap extant. I have been diligently noting the authors that James and others have dropped here for leads.

Blogger Dukemandarin April 11, 2013 9:00 AM  

If anyone wants to try something they certainly won't run into by accident or hear about, I recommend W. Michael Gear's Forbidden Border's trilogy from the early '90s.

It's straight up intrigue, story telling and space opera with no pretension whatsoever.


Thanks - sounds like my kind of thing. I'll give it a go. I got Mieville's Railsea for my nephew recently. I don't read YA these days (not exactly a young adult) but it was such a nuts idea I couldn't resist it. Ended up reading it myself. Good fun and not much politics.

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 9:01 AM  

"Larry Correia ...reading order? What book of his to read first?"

Start with Monster Hunter International.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 9:02 AM  

Not that there's anything wrong with that - just to be clear.

Prolly the reason I have such a problem with liberal SF is that they all default to this title: "I'm Okay, You're Okay, Unless You're A White Man Who Wants To Have Sex With Women Meets Dr. Zombie-Who."

And could we have more stereotypes of the tough, lanky, mixed race, disdainful, and tough, streetwise, female mechanic of a space ship who knows every dog of a man wants her and doles it out like a Fremen does water-balloons?

Cuz there's not enough of that in SF. Let's keep it real folks, cuz they're all over my block.

Aren't there any fat, naive, white whores going to engineering school in the future? Wha' happen wid all da whites?

Is it all those stereotypes of dangerous and edgy ports full of naughty but very cool bars that spaceships always pull into? Is that it? Does a future near-rape culture make girls cynical and leery of men? And lose weight from being boinked and harassed alla time?

What about a friendly and sociable female engineer who's got 3 kids and is happily married and always showing pix of her kids and pretty much trusts everyone?

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 9:06 AM  

Fair Warning... its entirely possible that Larry Correia actually invented violence in written form. Bane would've approved. If orgies of blood and guns aren't your thing... you may consider shopping elsewhere.

Also... the Good guys are rednecks from southern alabama. If you have a problem with libertarian government hating rednecks from southern alabama.. you won't like this.

You also won't like this if you have a problem with Tolkeins elves actually turning out to be trailer park trash... or and his orcs turning out to be the good folks.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 11, 2013 9:06 AM  

"Not that there's anything wrong with that - just to be clear."

mmm...MHI SF/F gun pr0n.

Has anybody else read Card's new Ender prequel: Earth Unaware?

I thought it was actually pretty good, especially the first half where he's fleshing out life in the Outer Solar System/Oort Cloud as a miner.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 9:08 AM  

I got an idea: how about "To Kill A Mockingbird" with gay vampires who want to marry a fencepost who Atticus Finch defends in court against vampire-bigots who wear Wayfarers (Not Lunatic Halfasses' wayfarers) and chew gum and say "Whatcha got heer buoy?"

Anonymous Anonymous? April 11, 2013 9:15 AM  

"...I demonstrated that I have more [blog traffic]"

I've always just chaulked this up to MPAI.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 9:16 AM  

How about "Ender's Discarded Birth Sac" where it is so smart just for having touched Ender's zygotes that it defeats a fleet of fag vampire zombie Lensmen while playing Donkey Kong and then buries them under a tree like a cat buries its shit?

Anonymous ZhukovG April 11, 2013 9:17 AM  

@James May

Wasn't that already a True Blood episode?

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 11, 2013 9:18 AM  

...so long as the Gay vampires are willing to tolerate the Wayfarers getting their pound of flesh in Court by replacing the Wooden post slathered in KY with a pure Iridium post sheathed in Teflon(TM).

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 9:19 AM  

"How about "Ender's Discarded Birth Sac" where it is so smart just for having touched Ender's zygotes that it defeats a fleet of fag vampire zombie Lensmen while playing Donkey Kong and then buries them under a tree like a cat buries its shit?"

Sadly this would be significantly more interesting than most of what is currently nominated.

Blogger GF Dad April 11, 2013 9:20 AM  

VD - I thought Summa Elvitica was as thought provoking as anything I'd read in a while. I had considered the same thing regarding how Muslim missionaries might approach the Klingons, the Gorn, the Narn or the Jaffa. You did it in an original way.
Baen - I read and enjoyed the first couple of David Weber's Honor Harrington books a few years ago, but after a while found the gurl power stuff tiresome. I had read his source material, Horatio Hornblower, years before that and found Honor's "heroics" a little hard to believe in comparison.
John Ringo - The first five or so books in his Posleen War series made me think he might be the heir to Heinlein and Haldeman regarding military scifi. But then the gurl power started with Cally's story. I also like his Looking Glass series which seems to be "Half-Life, the novel" with frequent nods to Firefly and SG-1. I am halfway through his last Troy book and I am afraid he's pulling out the gurl power in this one - we'll see.

I blame all of this malaise in scifi on the success of Star Trek and to a lesser extent, Star Wars. Trek's Federation was a conformist, fascist state and all of the series painted it as this wonderful utopian state where hamsters roamed free and wild. The truth is most of the fans wouldn't meet the admission requirements for Starfleet Academy and would be forced to be dirt scratching colonists or bureaucrats. This utopian fascist vision is what has infected and is killing scifi.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 9:31 AM  

They're making "Ender's Game" into a movie, cuz what's more fun than hungry kids running around blowing stuff up and shooting each other with arrows except kids floating around a space station shooting fake ray guns at each other and studying while snapping towels at each other's backsides and a brother and sister taking over the Earth's gov't by sheer cleverness plus amazing blogging powers?

In the end, Ron, Hermione and Harry defeat a fleet of aliens while playing Pac-man and burying it under a tree like a cat buries its shit and then regret it and dig it up and cry.

Anonymous TheExpat April 11, 2013 9:35 AM  

The truth is most of the fans wouldn't meet the admission requirements for Starfleet Academy and would be forced to be dirt scratching colonists or bureaucrats.

Heeelllllo, Firefly/Serenity.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 9:36 AM  

"Predator VS. Aliens: Ender In the Middle."

Anonymous RINO April 11, 2013 9:46 AM  

Vox is totally racist. And we know acknowledging an observable, scientific reality is bad.

Anonymous Anonymous April 11, 2013 9:49 AM  

The nihilism in 40k is the best that the current genre has to offer. It shows that when the emperor was leading the forces of mankind and vehemently denied all god hood both to himself and to all others, it worked..... as long as mankind was winning. Throw some adversity in there (Horus Heresy, etc...) and religion and faith have to pop back in. Too much truth in 40k, xenophobia works because it does. Everyone who doesn't look like you does want to kill you, so you better kill them first.

Lefty, limpwristed fags, make real good slaves.

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 9:51 AM  

it would almost be worth the effort of writing a sci fi novel set in the year 2550... just to include the scene where some atheist is claiming that the Church is on the verge of dying because science has made it out dated... as a catholic priest is walking by.

Anonymous hygate April 11, 2013 9:53 AM  

What I have ran into, even in books that are of acceptable quality, is that grrrl power seems to be a requirement and insertion of leftist tropes that are used to signal "I think the approved thoughts" that do nothing to advance the plot whatsoever.

An example, last year I read a novel that was basically a "homage" to John Carter of Mars where the hero, a biker chick, has thoughts such as "trying to convince a gun nut that he is more likely to be hurt or killed by his gun than benefit from it" and expressing disdain for killing from a distance that somehow morphs into a statement about it being wrong for the United States to have dropped nuclear weapons on Japan.

As I said, these thoughts had nothing to do with the story and were awkwardly shoe horned in so that the author could signal to the editors and readers that he was without the taint of thoughtcrime.

Anonymous VD April 11, 2013 9:57 AM  

Vox is totally racist.

Drat, and I totally neglected to tell the guy from Gabon with whom I was doing arm curls that today. That's probably why I forced that last one on him.

Rabbits can't understand that while the political is the personal for them, it isn't for everyone.

Anonymous DonReynolds April 11, 2013 9:57 AM  

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a science fiction freak. But I always was surrounded by friends who definitely qualified. Well, not any more. Slowly, one at a time, they drifted away, carried along with the same ideological drift that Vox mentions here. I am certain they were all enthusiastic true believers in Mr. Obama's campaigns in 2008 and 2012. I miss them a lot. I even miss the great discussions and debates that they decided I lost because I did not agree with their "right" thinking on various topics, which were consistently Leftist. In time, I probably became the "enemy" in their eyes so it must have been a bit embarassing for them to keep being such close friends with a "mossback reactionary conservative" as one of them once said. I must admit that I failed as miserably as they did to convince the other side. It was simply impossible (for me) to convince them that their own intolerance of "conservatives" was just another form of fascism, just a different flag.

I was reminded of a little tidbit of wisdom from Samuel Taylor Coleridge: If we exhault philosophy because it is working with the mind and denigrate plumbing because it is working with the hands, we shall get neither good philosophy nor good plumbing.

Anonymous Keeg April 11, 2013 9:58 AM  

"The nihilism in 40k is the best that the current genre has to offer."

I tend to agree, but man, does 40K fiction get tiresome quickly. There's only so many times I can read about "heroic last stands" where a "handful of beleagured defenders of humanity" somehow defeat "innumerable hordes of [Chaos Cultists/Orks/Tyranids]." Ugh.

Anonymous Anonymous April 11, 2013 10:02 AM  

@Keeg,

You are right, it has to go somewhere. Either the emperor needs to come back and use the combined might of a restored humanities faith to epically crush the universe under the heel of man; Or humanity needs to face plant into the dust bin of history. Either way, but stagnation is.... well... stagnant

Anonymous Anonymous April 11, 2013 10:07 AM  

%Keeg

I guess that is what keeps me interested in 40k, the forlorn hope that one day mankind will rise up start kicking ass again. Honestly as white man I am tired of hearing about how bad my ancestors were to every other thing on earth. If i am to be found guilty for their 'sins' I want to at least earn that guilt, the fun way.

Anonymous Skinny Dan April 11, 2013 10:11 AM  

I tried reading Mieville's Embassytown but just didn't understand what all the fuss was about. It was tedious and slow. Nothing to see there, lads. Move along.

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 10:12 AM  

James May - They're making "Ender's Game" into a movie

Seriously? Lame.

If anything "Ender's Game" should be made into an epic video game franchise in the mold of "Mass Effect". I mean just look at the TITLE. Don't these hacks recognize a money maker when they see one?

Anonymous Keeg April 11, 2013 10:12 AM  

"Either way, but stagnation is.... well... stagnant"

Exactly! The storyline has been the same since 40K debuted in '87. The overall narrative could be mankind's grueling slog to inevitable triumph and a true Golden Age, or it could be how the various human factions deal with the unavoidable doom of the Imperium and mankind itself. Either would be more entertaining than what we have now, and could easily provide fuel for another 25 years' worth of stories.

Anonymous DonReynolds April 11, 2013 10:17 AM  

Krul..."Of course I'm Baptist so I disapprove of telescopes. Stargazing is of the devil - could lead to hand holding, even dancing."

That is why Baptists refuse to have sex while standing up....people might think they are dancing.

Blogger TJIC April 11, 2013 10:25 AM  

@TJIC:
> Again, my hat is off to him for trying something bold (he almost pulled off City and City, another left-wing-ontology-made-flesh), but I would never recommend either novel to anyone.

@VD:
> I have to disagree. I quite enjoyed both and would readily recommend both to anyone interested in something both different and compelling. I may find his grasp of economics to be laughable and his political ideology to be evil, but Mieville is still one of the best writers of our generation.

I think we're pretty close to agreeing - certainly on that last bit ("Mieville is still one of the best writers of our generation") we are in complete agreement.

Mieville's writing is almost an example of the handicap theory - he's such a good writer that even when he takes crazy-bad leftist ideas as inspiration, he almost pulls it off.

@LL:
> don't think any publisher out there hits it out of the ballpark 100% all the time

Certainly not.

Ideology aside, though, I think that Tor, for example, has an 80+% success rate of publishing good books, and Baen is closer to 30%. This is despite my having met and really liked several Baen authors, and despite my painful online interactions with Trs Nlsn Hydn of Tor, who is a first class self satisfied Obama-voting twat.

The simple truth is that Tor tries to publish good fiction, and Baen tries to publish overlooked libertarian / conservative military SF that will appeal to folks who like that. The problem of being in a ghetto and catering to a ghetto's consumers is that you win your mindshare based on "looks like me" or "talks like me", and not on "delivers high quality goods".

> Also, Baen involves the readers and fans in Baen's Bar with spirited discussions and I like not having "save the earth, save the children, save the wimmens" crap shoved down my throat that other publishers seem bound and determined to accomplish.

100% agreed - Baen does great work in the community building arena. I'm glad they exist. I merely note that Tor, etc. publish - on average - a higher grade of fiction.


Basically, it's like politics. The lesser of two evils. And in reading material, I'm ok with that.

Anonymous Jill April 11, 2013 10:25 AM  

I have recently decided, since having given up fiction writing, that I have to write pure sci fi. It's strange how my plans turn on me. But I will...as soon as I have an idea...Of course, I have no desire whatsoever to to write from an either/or viewpoint: Hi, I'm Jill, and I write right! No, no, no.

As a point of interesting experiential data, my math teacher not long ago asked the students in class what their political leanings were (he's not from the US, and I think he was just curious). Every student in the class claimed to be a libertarian, an independent, or a reluctant republican...except one lone democrat. I was at first heartened by this, hoping it was a trend in young people. However, I realized it was a matter of simple demographics: most of the class is male because this is a techie school; most of the students are engineering majors. The lone democrat is a female business-management major. I bring this up because I believe the techie audience doesn't necessarily represent the Left at all. They fit a different demographic. And these people LOVE sci fi and fantasy.

Blogger JartStar April 11, 2013 10:30 AM  

As far as I remember when I was reading 40K I think GW made the point that they aren't advancing the plot significantly as the books support the game and not the other way around. Their fear is that radical changes to the story line like a Primearch showing back up would wreck the continuity of the game.

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 10:32 AM  

Jill - I have recently decided, since having given up fiction writing, that I have to write pure sci fi. It's strange how my plans turn on me. But I will...as soon as I have an idea...

You're asking for ideas? Okay, here's one:

Dragons. IN SPACE.

Awesome, right? Here's another:

Rock and roll. IN SPACE.

I could go on but I see your mind is already blown.

I expect to be credited in your upcoming novels. Remember it's "Krul" with ONE "L".

Anonymous Keeg April 11, 2013 10:33 AM  

"Honestly as white man I am tired of hearing about how bad my ancestors were to every other thing on earth."

As a kid in Phoenix, I had a year-long social studies class on Native Americans of Arizona, from prehistoric times to modern. I learned that some nations were admirable; some were decidedly *not*. I used that knowledge when I was writing my YA fantasy novel about an alternate Old West.

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 10:35 AM  

DonReynolds - That is why Baptists refuse to have sex while standing up....people might think they are dancing.

Sure enough. And dancing is of the devil... could lead to card playing, even drinking.

Anonymous Keeg April 11, 2013 10:37 AM  

"As far as I remember when I was reading 40K I think GW made the point that they aren't advancing the plot significantly as the books support the game and not the other way around. Their fear is that radical changes to the story line like a Primearch showing back up would wreck the continuity of the game."

One could evolve the background narrative to go either direction and the game would continue on just fine, with GW still selling oodles of plastic crack. Maybe even more. ;)

Blogger GF Dad April 11, 2013 10:39 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger GF Dad April 11, 2013 10:39 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous Jill April 11, 2013 10:41 AM  

Krul, while I thank you for your brilliant ideas, I've already decided not to write a "travel through space!!" book.

Anonymous Yorzhik April 11, 2013 10:45 AM  

This is what copyright gets you.

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 10:47 AM  

"Krul, while I thank you for your brilliant ideas, I've already decided not to write a "travel through space!!" book."

Space Vampire Heroine? Eat, Prey, Love?

Anonymous Anonymous April 11, 2013 10:47 AM  

@Keeg

Especially from what you have said about AZ, don't you feel a very real and fundamental attachment to humanity in the 40K series? Spiritually lost, surrounded by others who desire to control, destroy, enslave, etc.... Fighting a losing battle, primarily from those on the inside who would betray their own.... As white males in America, humanity in 40k is us…… we are all waiting on the emperor.

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 10:49 AM  

Jill - Krul, while I thank you for your brilliant ideas, I've already decided not to write a "travel through space!!" book.

Dragons. FROM SPACE.

There. Remember, "Krul" with ONE "L".

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 10:50 AM  

"Dragons. FROM SPACE."

I'm telling you.. that's not nearly as good as my offering.

Eat, Prey, Love will sell billions.

Anonymous Alexander April 11, 2013 10:51 AM  

Jill,

How can you not want to write space travel? Take a space ship, add time travel. Make sure you refer to the 'time stream'.

Boom! You've got the RIVER JOURNEY set IN SPACE.

Blogger JartStar April 11, 2013 10:51 AM  

I wonder when the next leftist sci-fi novel will have a subplot and defend an abortion clinic like the one in Philadelphia? Maybe the author can give treatment to, "How we treat the other is the great ethical question of our age" about the murdered babies.

Anonymous Koppernicus April 11, 2013 10:53 AM  

Nate, I would love to see a sci-fi novel where a race of aliens make first contact with us. Atheists rejoice! Science rules!

And then the first thing the aliens do is go to the Vatican and ask to be received into the Catholic Church.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 11, 2013 10:54 AM  

"In the end, Ron, Hermione and Harry defeat a fleet of aliens while playing Pac-man "

J. May: you're killing me here! STOP IT! I ran out of coffee to spew.

Keeg:

re 40K: Caiphas Cain wasn't so bad...

GF Dad:

Liked the Posleen War books. Finished reading the whole series recently. As far as Cally's war goes...I think it flirted with Grrl Power...but didn't quite drop off the edge. The main character was heavily augmented with alien bio-tech (helped with suspension of disbelief) to boost her physical capabilities: rather than Angelina Jolie as Mrs. Smith whose superlative training enabled her to pwn 300lbs guys with front snap kicks, the Cally character required superhuman strength, agility, and vitality along with superlative training just to survive. Also the character wasn't showcasing the "entitlement mentality" instead she was actually becoming damaged goods inside from the stress of her role.

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 10:55 AM  

I'm telling you.. that's not nearly as good as my offering.

Eat, Prey, Love will sell billions.


See, you're focused on marketing success. I'm focused on sheer Awesomeness.

And it doesn't get much more Awesome than...

Dragons. FROM SPACE.

(one "L")

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 11:05 AM  

"Dragons. FROM SPACE."

Rednecks from southern alabama with lots of really big guns... killing Dragons. FROM SPACE.

?

That could be more awesome.

Anonymous Jill April 11, 2013 11:06 AM  

Good God above, please ever help me never to write a space travel novel, despite the peer pressure. Thanks.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus April 11, 2013 11:07 AM  

25mm Bushmaster with AP rounds vs. Dragon?

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 11:15 AM  

Re: Nate

Now your getting it. Just add Rock and Roll and you're set.

Of course it has to be Rock and Roll. FROM SPACE.
...

So the Rock and Roll comes to Earth. FROM SPACE.

The Rednecks love it! But then come the Dragons. FROM SPACE.

The Dragons hate Rock and Roll and want to eat all the music. So the Rednecks have to fight the Dragons!

Will the Rednecks win? Will the Dragons eat all the AC/DC and Van Halen? Above all what other dangers are lurking... IN SPACE?!!?

Gold, I tell ya. Solid gold.

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 11:16 AM  

(one "L")

Anonymous physics geek April 11, 2013 11:21 AM  

I'll jump in a derivative idea stolen shamelessly from the offerings above: have dragons appear in some distant unknown planet in SPACE by a river that goes on endlessly. When the dragons die, they reappear and reanimate in another place and them climb aboard a gigantic riverboat searching for the river's source, while dancing an Irish jig. Call it "The Fabulous Kar-Chee Riverdanceboat".

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 11:24 AM  

Jill...

Eat, Prey, Love.

I'm telling you... if you die broke its not my fault. I've given you the golden ticket.

Anonymous Alexander April 11, 2013 11:29 AM  

Nate, just combine your idea with Krul's

DRAGONS love (to) eat prey IN SPACE.



Anonymous Tarmogoyf April 11, 2013 11:34 AM  

"I am going to offer a couple Larry Correia quotes from his various Monster Hunter International books. After which... if you have a brain in your head... you will go buy the books and read them. All of them.


“Nikolai's a badass Russian. Badass Russians only have three emotions: revenge, depression, and vodka.”
― Larry Correia, Monster Hunter Alpha

“Fish and Wildlife wants to fine us for killing a giant mutant Tennessee River catfish because it was endangered. Sure it had just crawled up on land and eaten some teenagers, but it was still an endangered species.”
― Larry Correia, Monster Hunter International

“You know that ‘no weapons at work’ policy?” I asked the twitching and growing hairy monstrosity standing less than ten feet from me. His yellow eyes bored into me with raw animal hatred. There was nothing recognizably human in that look.

“I never did like that rule,” I said as I bent down and drew my gun from my ankle holster, put the front sight on the target and rapidly fired all five shots from my snub-nosed .357 Smith & Wesson into Mr. Huffman’s body. God bless Texas.” - Larry Correia, Monster Hunter International"

Those are the most goddamn awesome quotes I have ever seen. I need to go read all of those books right now.

Anonymous Tarmogoyf April 11, 2013 11:36 AM  

"If anything "Ender's Game" should be made into an epic video game franchise in the mold of "Mass Effect". I mean just look at the TITLE. Don't these hacks recognize a money maker when they see one?"

Give it time. Once Ender has an actual face they can turn it into a game.

Anonymous Orion April 11, 2013 11:42 AM  

I've avoided the 40k books. Believe me, at times I was tempted as the shelves had fewer and fewer books of even passing interest. I suspect the problem was that so many looked like they were in the same rut. The information above appears to confirm this. In an effort to deny faith and religion it's place, even the deniers are having a hard time picturing how that void could possibly be filled.

David Drake's earlier stuff was excellent, but even there he had a bit of that "women can be the same as men" seeping into his work. He is a decent enough story teller that I still enjoy his SciFi (I got bogged down in his fantasy books and just stopped reading), but still think they could be better.

H. BeamPiper and Pournelle would have had a hard time breaking into SF these days also. I am trying to read a book based on Piper's Lord Kalvan (no, not Little Fuzzy), but it isn't any where near as gripping as his original. I've read Hard Magic, not a bad read. May have to pick up the rest of the series.

Blogger chuck April 11, 2013 11:44 AM  

former Asimov and Analog subscriber who no longer bothers to even pirate, let alone buy, The Year's Best Science Fiction

Hey, that describes me. At some point I just stopped reading the stories, they were boring, and eventually dropped my subscriptions.

I don't know that I would describe Tiptree as left wing. She struck me as someone considerably more hard eyed. More of a Heinlein woman than not. Which reminds me that Heinlein's women are so idealized they bear little resemblance to the real thing. But back to Tiptree, she was thought to be a male author before her identity was found out and I thought her getting kicked out of a group of woman science fiction writers because, as a man, she just couldn't understand has got to be one of the best pranks ever. She did enjoy her secrets.

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 11:45 AM  

You don't get it, Nate.

Jill's not looking for a cash-in. She's looking for inspiration! She needs a shot of tiger blood to get those creative juices flowing!

And you know what inspires me? You'll never guess... SPACE! Just think of it, the vast possibilities of infinite suns within your reach! How can you go wrong?

Anonymous Tractor Dan April 11, 2013 11:45 AM  

Vox:
Are you really surprised that progressives have eroded and turned a once great genre into a politically correct sideshow complete with idiot savant carnival barkers?

As someone who will be published in the genre within the next year, I find most of the present authors in our genre to be, frankly, the kind of guys and gals I used to watch get the ever-living shit beat out of them in high school and college. These guys and gals have grown up to be the people who hide behind tough words in their work or blogs or social media, but when confronted in person, cower like a dog in heat.

Some of these progressives say that they are ‘paying tribute’ to greats like Heinlein or Tolkien. I would like to think, that if Heinlein were resurrected from the grave he would punch several of them in the face for the mere mention of his name.

So where does this leave a gun loving redneck that happens to write grit that happens to be in the Sci Fi genre? A man without a country, that’s where.

I agree with most of your points, Vox, but what can a few do to change a genre that we love? At this point, I’m not sure, but I’m open to suggestion.

I could go on, but I’ll save the rest for my writing.

Anonymous Jill April 11, 2013 11:48 AM  

"Will the Dragons eat all the AC/DC and Van Halen?" If they do, expect that the 80s metal bands will unexpectedly morph them into beasts the likes of which nobody has ever seen who crush the stars with their high-heeled boots. Oh, good God, please also prevent me from writing a space opera.

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 11:49 AM  

@Tractor Dan

> Vox: Are you really surprised that progressives have eroded and turned a once great genre into a politically correct sideshow complete with idiot savant carnival barkers?

I would wager that Vox isn't in the least SURPRISED. He's smart enough to know that every cultural institution that's not explicitly conservative will get turned by the lefties.

Being unsurprised doesn't mean that we can't be sad though. Or angry.

Anger is better...it leads to hitting back.

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 11:52 AM  

Jill - "Will the Dragons eat all the AC/DC and Van Halen?" If they do, expect that the 80s metal bands will unexpectedly morph them into beasts the likes of which nobody has ever seen who crush the stars with their high-heeled boots.

See? You're getting inspired. The novel's practically already written at this point.

("Krul" with ONE "L", by the way)

Anonymous Josh April 11, 2013 11:55 AM  

Oh, good God, please also prevent me from writing a space opera.

Space rock opera!

IN SPACE!

Think of the cross promotional potential...an album tie in, a Broadway musical, a glee episode featuring songs from the album, etc

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 11:56 AM  

Steampunk space dragons who whistle through their nostrils like tea kettles cuz of the steam reveal themselves as spaceships out of the void.

On board are ethnic Chinese stolen in the 9th century by aliens and made slaves. The Chinese traded their alien masters to death and now wish nothing more than to resume their peaceful life of kung-fu parties and whatever else they did in the 9th century.

Problem: commies occupy noble China.

Ancient feng-shui is used to bad luck the commies to immobility, since ancient expat's capitalist powers of trade have no effect on red scare.

Many sword vs. automatic weapons fights and golden pot-bellied dragon ships knocking fighter jets out of the sky.

Several moving ballads.

A-bombs - natch.

Work comes next, Jill.

Anonymous Tractor Dan April 11, 2013 11:56 AM  

TJIC, I'll bite on that. Once I start swingin' I'm not stoppin' till a baker's dozen pulls me off.

Anonymous Jill April 11, 2013 12:18 PM  

Technology. I want to write a technology based novel. Technology that doesn't involve space travel. But with maps. Something having to do with maps. And men with beards. This is clearly the most entertaining blog on the internet right now, and I have a list of things to do. Good day to the Voxian Vortex.

Anonymous Heh April 11, 2013 12:25 PM  

I would love to see a sci-fi novel where a race of aliens make first contact with us. Atheists rejoice! Science rules!

And then the first thing the aliens do is go to the Vatican and ask to be received into the Catholic Church.


And then the Church informs the aliens that they need to attend a year-long RCIA course before they can be received into the Church.

And then the furious aliens roar out a declaration of war on Earth.

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 12:29 PM  

@Jill:

> Technology. I want to write a technology based novel. Technology that doesn't involve space travel. But with maps. Something having to do with maps. And men with beards.

Maybe work some steganography or crypto into it. Like some part of the map is only usable in some time-based way. If you had a good GPS system and a bit of local processing, you could even do something baroque like tying it to the phase of the moon.

Anonymous Tractor Dan April 11, 2013 12:30 PM  

I've found salvation, and his name is Larry Correia. I've been living under a rock to have not heard of him. Not the first time.
I'm throwing in my AR's, Benelli's, and Smith's with him.

Thanks for the mention of his name.

Later!

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 12:30 PM  

@Heh:

> And then the Church informs the aliens that they need to attend a year-long RCIA course before they can be received into the Church.

> And then the furious aliens roar out a declaration of war

Space Protestants!

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 12:31 PM  

@ Tractor Dan April 11, 2013 12:30 PM
> I've found salvation, and his name is Larry Correia.

Larry is one of the better writers being published by Baen. His stories make sense, his characters are vivid, and his first-person narrative is full of humor.

Anonymous Heh April 11, 2013 12:33 PM  

Darth Toolpopdicus April 11, 2013 9:00 AM

Larry Correia order: The MHI stuff is pretty good, particularly the first three. The Grimnoir Chronicles, are better, and should be next on your list.


I have to say I thought the MHI books were far better than the Grimnoir chronicles (of which I've only read the first one). Dead Six was somewhere in between but still highly enjoyable, especially if you like guns and ultra-violence (and who doesn't?).

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 12:37 PM  

Re: Jill

Okay I can work with this... Give me a second...

Beorn Heriulfson is a gruff, bearded cartographer/geophysicist working for GeoTech, the world's leader in cutting edge geological research.

Beorn goes on a daring mission to map the geological hot spots below Anarctica. Satellite readings suggest a super hot spot below Anarctica, the only one hot enough for GeoTech's new superefficient geothermal energy exploitation technique utilizing piezoelectric crystal lattice structure.

But Beorn's lifelong arch rival, Ivan Minsky working for the ruthless Metatron Group, is also on the trail of the hot spot with a gang of mercenaries. It's a death-defying race through stormy seas and frozen tundra! Who will win? What is the nefarious Metatron Group's true agenda? Will Beorn reconnect with his estranged daughter, fiancé of Ivan's estranged son? Just who is the mysterious man in the fedora hat?

Oooh, this is good!

Anonymous Keeg April 11, 2013 12:40 PM  

For a college creative writing class, I wrote a short story whose premise was that the Bible and Christianity had actually been given to humanity from a race of extraterrestrial robots. In the course of the story, the robots return to Earth in the present and destroy mankind for our perceived deviance from the "true faith."

What a wretched piece of shit that turned out to be. I'm glad no copies of it survive.

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 12:53 PM  

for a college class I once had to write a poem... I chose to write a lament of a moth who lost its best friend when he plunged into the tempting blue light.

Of course... it was a moth... so it was just a series of clicks and muted hmmms... and a buzzes.

still.. read with a compressed voice I was told it was very moving.

Anonymous Rooarraarraaarrgh! April 11, 2013 12:55 PM  

I definitely think there should be a movie about Wookies that is all in Wookie.

No subtitles. Just two hours or more of Wookies roaring at each other.

Blogger Beefy Levinson April 11, 2013 1:05 PM  

And then the first thing the aliens do is go to the Vatican and ask to be received into the Catholic Church.

Michael Flynn is way ahead of you: his book Eifelheim is about humanity's first contact with extraterrestrial life during the late Middle Ages. The parish priest thinks the aliens are funny looking heathens, but nonetheless shares the Gospel with them with varying degrees of success.

I don't care what the snobs say, I like Warhammer fantasy novels where the elves are manly, the men are super manly, and the dwarves will make your beard grow thicker just reading about them. Fantasy doesn't strike me as being quite as nihilistic as 40K. I'll take the Cult of Sigmar over the 40K God-Emperor any day. Sigmar, at least, seems to answer prayers.

Anonymous Jill April 11, 2013 1:10 PM  

"Beorn Heriulfson is a gruff, bearded cartographer/geophysicist..." Female porn sci fi? Heavens. I'm a Christian woman. Nix the beards. I can't stop thinking of Gimli now.

Anonymous Anonymous April 11, 2013 1:14 PM  

How about Eifelheim by Michael Flynn?

Anonymous Krul April 11, 2013 1:18 PM  

Jill, the fact that your mind went straight to the gutter is most gratifying. Why, I think you're blushing.

Remember, "Krul" with only one "L".

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 1:19 PM  

"Heavens. I'm a Christian woman. Nix the beards. I can't stop thinking of Gimli now."

Babe... all travel novels are porn these days.

Anonymous Boogeyman April 11, 2013 1:26 PM  

A tech that allows one to make a map of a world/place not in this world, then teleport there. Make up a world, culture, race, then go there. Trade, war, and other forms of conflict. Plus there is the question of did the new world already exist and the map maker just happen to pick one of an infinite number of alt universes, or did he create the place just by thinking it up. And if the latter, how 'real' is it and does he bear any resposibility for it?

Blogger BoysMom April 11, 2013 1:29 PM  

TJIC--Baen publishes conservative/libertarian authors--ever heard of Eric Flint? He's such a conservative Baen author he's a communist.

I'll repeat the recommendation for Larry Corriea, but my favorite at the moment is probably David Drake. Dr. Travis Taylor's stuff is fun science, but his characters are not to my tastes. I also like Ryk Spoor. And of course, when thinking Baen, there's always Lois McMaster Bujold. And Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's space opera. I like space opera.

Anonymous Jill April 11, 2013 1:37 PM  

I wonder if a quantum telegraph could possibly have its basis in map technology.

Anonymous VD April 11, 2013 1:52 PM  

Are you really surprised that progressives have eroded and turned a once great genre into a politically correct sideshow complete with idiot savant carnival barkers?

No. Not in the least.

Anonymous WaterBoy April 11, 2013 1:54 PM  

Toby Temple: "When did the goblin from Magic: The Gathering universe became so popular?"

After 9/11.

Anonymous Boogeyman April 11, 2013 1:59 PM  

Quatum telegraph/ quatum teleport mated with or guided by human imagination, thus the need to develope a map and backround of the desired destination. Have the breakthru made just prior to WWI. The German desire for 'elbow room' drives it not into the fields and trenches of France but imagined worlds and other nations race to catch up.

I loved maps as a kid. Maybe more than D&D and SF/F books they fired my imagination. What did those places look like? What kind of people lived there? What did they dress like, what did they eat, how did they pray? Used to collect atlas's. I was an odd kid.

Anonymous Captain Feathersword April 11, 2013 2:02 PM  

Just bought MHI by Larry Correia.

Also bought Throne of Bones.

If either suck, I'm calling you fags out.

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 2:05 PM  

"If either suck, I'm calling you fags out."

Are you into libertarian politics, guns, and lots of violence?

If not.. you'll hate MHI.

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 2:05 PM  

@BoysMom:

> TJIC--Baen publishes conservative/libertarian authors--ever heard of Eric Flint? He's such a conservative Baen author he's a communist.

Yes, Baen is open-minded in a way that Tor, etc. are not. I respect that. But that does not change my point that there a large number of mil-SF readers who purchase their books for the guns, the anti-communist, and the Heinleinesque speeches, and don't care much for nuances of good writing.

The result is that Baen gets away with publishing a lower AVERAGE quality of work, even if their best stuff is as good as the best from other houses.

Anonymous Captain Feathersword April 11, 2013 2:37 PM  

"Are you into libertarian politics, guns, and lots of violence?"

Yes. But not "chicks in chain-mail" or "chicks with chain-guns" like you get in other Baen books.

Chicks in chains I dig, however...

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 2:41 PM  

There are a few chicks in MHI... but they do not fight with superhuman badassery unless you're considering their marksmanship. The biggest baddest fighters in MHI are all dudes.

Anonymous Thales April 11, 2013 2:51 PM  

"Ursula K Le Guin, Octavia Butler, James Tiptree Jr, Margaret Atwood, Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Cadigan, Justina Robson"

...who?

Anonymous VD April 11, 2013 2:59 PM  

If either suck, I'm calling you fags out.

Fair enough.

Anonymous Koanic April 11, 2013 3:00 PM  

I think what he's saying is that SF/F is being dragged screaming into the axle of its gay pride float by prolapsed intestines. And, something about fairies, missiles and black holes.

This is not new. When I was a kid 20 years ago, I was addicted to sci fi, but whenever I picked up the new stuff at the front of the library it was "WTF is this?" after a few pages. I could never understand why they put the crap at the front.

Proposal: Any SF/F author with more than a .92 digit ratio should have his hands amputated. Cut out his tongue too, just in case.

I'll agree that Mieville's The Two Cities leaves something good with you, although it's a Sovietized stinkfest of a novel to slog through.

OpenID ZT April 11, 2013 3:05 PM  

I think you summed up why I read Mechwarrior, Warhammer 40k, and various military based SF the most. They tend to not worry about what award they could get and just told a story.

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 3:10 PM  

@Nate:

> There are a few chicks in MHI... but they do not fight with superhuman badassery unless you're considering their marksmanship. The biggest baddest fighters in MHI are all dudes.

I utterly utterly UTTERLY hate the "bad ass chick" trope that's so prominent in modern fiction. "I am no man!", my Tolkien-loving ass.

Vox rightly took this down here years ago, and my data point is that at one point the woman I was dating was a Judo blackbelt and she offered to show me (an untrained guy) how she could break out of a wrist lock. So I grabbed her wrists...and she was stuck. A couch potato 28 year old guy beats a trained woman most days out of the week.

That said, yes, women can be good with a pistol or rifle. Fine motor control, and all that.

For example, my current GF is a sweet southern belle...and she can outshoot me with any of the firearms in the house. And, for the record, she got Larry Correia to sign the stock of one of her rifles and draw his Monster Hunter logo on it. ;-)

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 3:13 PM  

> > "Are you into libertarian politics, guns, and lots of violence?"

> Yes. But not "chicks in chain-mail" or "chicks with chain-guns" like you get in other Baen books.


LOL.

I think it was when I was reading Caliphate http://www.amazon.com/Caliphate-Tom-Kratman/dp/1439133425 on Tam Slick's nod that I snorted out loud. GF asked "what?". I replied "on one page it's got power armor, a giant flying assault zeppelin, trash talking Muslims, and a reference to a blow job. I can tell you without even looking at the spine that this is a Baen novel."

Blogger Matthew April 11, 2013 3:54 PM  

I'm sad now.

Blogger Patrick April 11, 2013 3:57 PM  

@TJIC
The problem with Baen is that they also don't care (much) about quality. A large percent of what they publish is crap, without literary merit. It's popcorn that is eagerly scarfed up by men the same way that romance novels are consumed by a certain type of woman.

Don't get me wrong - Baen also publishes some good novels. But the average quality of Baen is - IMO - noticeably worse than, say, Tor. ...and I say that even though I love the editors at Baen and the right-wing and libertarian voices they publish, and even as I loathe the whining self-satisfied left-wing editors at Tor.

Take a close look, there's a ton of crap at EVERY house. The difference is that Baen is willing to give new authors a shot and work with them for a couple of books.

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 4:10 PM  

@Patrick:

> Take a close look, there's a ton of crap at EVERY house.

Agreed.

> The difference is that Baen is willing to give new authors a shot and work with them for a couple of books.

Agreed again.

I'm really not disagreeing with anyone here about Baen; we're just arguing two different things.

For the record:
* I'm glad Baen exists
* they publish a lot of good novels
* they don't have a political litmus test
* everyone I've met who is associated with Baen strikes me as a good human being

That said, I ** STILL ** assert that there's more crap coming from Baen than from, say, Tor, or Gollancz, or Pyr, or...

Anonymous cptnapalm April 11, 2013 4:27 PM  

Some of the comments remind me of a story idea I had where aliens come to Earth, to make some easy money off us interstellar backwoods hicks. While showing them around, they go to a Catholic church. Most of the aliens find the whole crucifixion thing to be pretty bizarre, except one who wants to understand and eventually wants to convert. The 'villain' was the bishop who takes up the anti stance whose view is that Christianity is for human beings, but God may have a different plan for the salvation of the alien race.

Anonymous Orion April 11, 2013 4:30 PM  

Regarding Kratman, I've given him a pass so far because the reviews I've read have his books basically saying the Christianity can never stand up to Islam and some kind of gobbledy-guck about some kind of secular-humanist ideology being the answer. Is this an unreasonable reading or what his take is? I've no real interest in reading another well written story that has that mentality (they abound in sci-fi in general and the bulk of military sci-fi. I think I am approaching the point on giving up on a number of such authors).

Regarding "badass chicks in chainmail" that is a prime reason my interest in David Drake is dropping off.

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 4:32 PM  

@cptnapalm:

> While showing them around, they go to a Catholic church. Most of the aliens find the whole crucifixion thing to be pretty bizarre, except one who wants to understand and eventually wants to convert.

Go read Eifelheim by Michael Flynn.

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 4:41 PM  

@Orion:

> Regarding Kratman, I've given him a pass so far because the reviews I've read have his books basically saying the Christianity can never stand up to Islam and some kind of gobbledy-guck about some kind of secular-humanist ideology being the answer.

I'm not quite sure I'd say exactly that, but from reading just the one book by him, I'd say that he's got a neo-con / real-politick, as opposed to paleo-con / Christian worldview.

On the other hand, the characters are not the author, and all that, so I can't be 100% certain.

Anonymous DonReynolds April 11, 2013 5:18 PM  

DonReynolds - That is why Baptists refuse to have sex while standing up....people might think they are dancing.

Krul..."Sure enough. And dancing is of the devil... could lead to card playing, even drinking."

Yeah. Everybody knows, you never take just one Baptist with you fishing, always take at least two Baptists. If you only take one, he will drink ALL your beer. As long as there are at least two, they won't touch a drop.

Anonymous tannim111 April 11, 2013 5:22 PM  

Orion:
==========
Regarding Kratman, I've given him a pass so far because the reviews I've read have his books basically saying the Christianity can never stand up to Islam and some kind of gobbledy-guck about some kind of secular-humanist ideology being the answer. Is this an unreasonable reading or what his take is? I've no real interest in reading another well written story that has that mentality (they abound in sci-fi in general and the bulk of military sci-fi. I think I am approaching the point on giving up on a number of such authors).
==========


I would disagree. With regards to Caliphate, there were very specific reasons for what happened in the setup of the book. The fake history was excellent. And I wouldn't call Tom a secular humanist. Because he'd kick my ass. Also, he's been banned from spacebattles.com for showing the posters there to be barely functional illiterates.

His books tend to be studies of human nature dressed up in "KABOOM!!!", much like Heinlein's were. I haven't read anyone with as good an understanding of just what we are as a species: a bunch of emotional killer apes with a (sometimes very) thin veneer of civilization. Also lots of bullets and blowjobs.

OpenID accordingtohoyt.com April 11, 2013 5:26 PM  

@ Orion

Good HEAVENS MAN. Col Kratman is a Catholic. Devout, even. While his ideology is not mine (I hang out in the small l libertarian part of the spectrum), being anti-Christian is the last thing I'd convict him of.

On quality and lack thereof -- I have published over 25 books (I think. Some of them were not under my name and I get confused)most for other houses. While other houses care PASSIONATELY (sort of. I mean, I didn't even get an editing till my eighth book) about wording, Baen cares about plot. Baen was the first house to beat into my head "thou shalt not plot by coincidence" and "thou shalt not plot by stupidity." I recently had occasion to edit my first book with them and wanted to strangle half the characters. It was arguably the best plotting I'd done to date, but it was still rather pathetic. Mind you ten years from now, this year's books will make me cringe.

On this whole thing -- I've been ENJOYING the war in science fiction. Why? Because it means that the right is finally talking. For years now we had to keep quiet or stop working, and we had more signs to recognize each other than gay men had signs when they were in the closet.
Now the left is confused and perturbed because we're talking back. Mayhem, mutual insults, confusion -- it's a beautiful thing. Maybe some light will come from the heat.

Blogger Michael Z. Williamson April 11, 2013 5:34 PM  

Nate April 11, 2013 9:51 AM
it would almost be worth the effort of writing a sci fi novel set in the year 2550... just to include the scene where some atheist is claiming that the Church is on the verge of dying because science has made it out dated... as a catholic priest is walking by.

~~~

As long as we include the part where a Creationist shouts, "Evolution is dying and grasping for support!" while protesting outside Jurassic Park.

Blogger Michael Z. Williamson April 11, 2013 5:37 PM  

I also have been banned from Spacebabies, but that's barely an accomplishment. Anyone who showers once a week, has ever touched a girl (or is one), and can read Stratfor is unable to meet their membership requirements.

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 5:41 PM  

@Michael Z. Williamson

> it would almost be worth the effort of writing a sci fi novel set in the year 2550... just to include the scene where some atheist is claiming that the Church is on the verge of dying because science has made it out dated... as a catholic priest is walking by.

LOL! I'd buy it.

@accordingtohoyt:

> While other houses care PASSIONATELY (sort of. I mean, I didn't even get an editing till my eighth book) about wording, Baen cares about plot.

I do enjoy a well turned sentence (I don't always read mainstream fiction, but when I do, I read T.C. Boyle), but if I could have just one, I'd take plot over lyrical sentences 110% of the time.

I read some stuff by "literary" types, and they talk about throwing out the plot so the writer can concentrate on the important thing: lyricism and surprise in the words. HORRORS! The words are there to TELL the story!

Blogger Tom Kratman April 11, 2013 5:48 PM  

Orion:

People lie about my books regularly; it's what lefists and atheists DO. (There are, of course, a few exceptions but they're exceptional.) But I cannot think of a one that has ever called me, or my books, secular humanist, or secularly humanistic. Can you point one out or, failing that, do you prefer pistols or swords?

Now there was an afterword in one of my books, The Tuloriad, notionally written with Ringo, entitled, Where Was Secular Humanism At Lepanto, wherein I crap on militant and mindless atheistm, generally, and a certain class of atheists as idiots. That, however, is hardly the same thing. Nor can I imagine anyone with the minimum two brain cells to rub together thinking that it was.

Blogger Tom Kratman April 11, 2013 5:51 PM  

TJIC:

Neocons are muscular liberals in conservative clothing. IOW, they may be neo but if they're cons, it's con-men, not conservative. _I_ am not a neo-con.

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 5:52 PM  

@Tom Kratman:

> do you prefer pistols or swords?

I'm suddenly REALLY glad I didn't agree with that rumor!

Anonymous TJIC April 11, 2013 5:55 PM  

@Tom Kratman:


> Neocons are muscular liberals in conservative clothing.

Agreed.

> _I_ am not a neo-con.

Glad to hear it, but not surprised - I'm now recalling that in Caliphate one of the characters laments that there's no longer freedom, there's just bad (Roman-style US imperialism) and worse (Muslims).

Anonymous Anonymous April 11, 2013 5:59 PM  

Heh.

I see a bunch of readers need to read John Ringo's The Tuloriad.

Hermophrodite, human-eating (reformed), crocodilian/centaur Baptist/Anglican missionary. Prepared to suffer martyrdom for his faith, bringing the Gospel to his people.

Good read.

Geodkyt

Blogger Gary April 11, 2013 6:00 PM  

I'm a big Baen fan, and I have to disagree with TJIC. Don't forget that "crap" is subjective :) For example, the worst book I ever read was "Lord Foul's Bane," yet that book is considered a classic by many people.

BTW, I second James May's suggestion regarding The Forbidden Borders series by W. Michael Gear. Excellent series!

For those of you who picked up the Monster Hunter books after reading the comments here, I also suggest Larry's Grimnoir Chronicles (assuming you enjoy the MHI books).

Blogger Tom Kratman April 11, 2013 6:00 PM  

Whose, The Tuloriad?

Anonymous Anonymous April 11, 2013 6:03 PM  

DOH! The Tuloriad is by LTC Scary Eyes, but in Ringo's Posleen setting.

Geodkyt

Anonymous Anonymous April 11, 2013 6:04 PM  

Sorry, I shelve my books chronologically by series. . .

Geodkyt

Blogger Tom Kratman April 11, 2013 6:12 PM  

TJIC:

The Muslims are even really any worse, you know. They may be the legal and official enemies of the main characters, but they're as stuck in a situation they didn't cause as anyone is. Now there are some evil ones - two, IIRC - but ([dis]honors are fairly evenly spread.

Blogger Tom Kratman April 11, 2013 6:14 PM  

not are, aren't.

Anonymous VD April 11, 2013 6:21 PM  

I've been ENJOYING the war in science fiction. Why? Because it means that the right is finally talking. For years now we had to keep quiet or stop working, and we had more signs to recognize each other than gay men had signs when they were in the closet. Now the left is confused and perturbed because we're talking back. Mayhem, mutual insults, confusion -- it's a beautiful thing. Maybe some light will come from the heat.

They never had the ability to successfully argue their ideology, they could only enforce "no publication for you! Now they've lost their one and only weapon. The ludicrous idea that the left possessed some sort of monopoly on creativity or talent was always a self-serving lie.

I'd like to see Scalzi's leftie fans cite his sales numbers against Mr. Correia's... or mine when I pass him up by that metric too. And it will happen eventually, because he's a stunt writer, not a storyteller.

Blogger ray April 11, 2013 6:22 PM  

in the Eighties i could pick up a Hugo or YBSF collection and be assured of substantial quality

by the early Nineties i'd shitcanned fiction writing altogether, as publishing, editing, lit departments, and often writing itself was ruled by ideopolitics, and quality and merit were worthless (if one was an evil white male)

there will be no resurgence of science/spec fiction, no more than there will be a revitalization of western civ -- it is sinister, sick, deceitful, cowardly, and utterly co-opted by the mediocrities who hide behind gender (and to lesser extent, race) . . . and by their whiteboy grovellers, tongueing table scraps

yes, it's conceivable you could turn a niche element like s.f. around for a few years, perhaps even a couple decades... after which people would forget the present tyrannies, the same rot inevitably would set in anew, and it would All Have to be Done Again

thanks but no thanks

this thug shithole is going down for the count

speculate on that all you want, but do it fast

Blogger Wilson Harp April 11, 2013 6:40 PM  

I invite you to get a copy of my sci-fi novel 'Bright Horizons'. Its protagonist is a Marine Colonel leading a group of U.S. Marines in a war against an alien race threatening to enslave humanity. Honor. Valor. Heroism. Sounds like what you are looking for.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 6:51 PM  

I agree the Left's ideology cannot survive even the least scrutiny. The only solution is for them to ban scrutiny.

When 100% of mainstream organizations organized around the concept of race are on the political Left, that may have been anti-racist in 1965, today it's a kinder, gentler Nazi Party.

When the people most accused of racism have not one mainstream expression of it by way of institutions, that is an odds-defying coincidence and a stunning oversight for racists who hate blacks.

When white straight men without names are morally wrong within any given dialogue 100% of the time, that's not empiricism or explaining a social mechanism of systemic oppression, that's simply straight up bigotry - the "greedy Jew" is now the privileged white.

When two of the Nebula nominees are racists whose bigotry is ignored to serve a larger notion of diversity, that is the SFWA letting themselves be played for chumps by hateful people with mental health issues revolving around seeing everything through, not only just a lens of race, but the lens of an evil race that needs to be lectured to about Cortes and the Delhi Uprising.

The truth is that our Constitution, as it exists today, is centered on principle, not race and gender. The Dem Party as it exists today is centered on the complete opposite.

So, let's talk about an intellectual and philosophical space rather than monocles and hoods and skin color, as if racism will only ever come from such shallow appearances.

Racism is a principle, not an appearance. The sooner the swine at the SFWA, the HuffPo, the Daily Kos, the DOJ and at MSNBC realize that, the sooner they can stop using Joseph Goebbels as a mentor without being the least aware of it.

The 14th White Privilege Conference, titled "The Color of Money," could've come straight out of Nuremberg in 1933. In principle, they and everyone associated with them are racial and gender bigots.

And where are their diversity committees to explain to me why I can't win these literary awards because I'm white? Awards minority hyphen members of the SFWA are associated with.

The Hurston Wright Foundation
Black Writers Alliance Award
Celebration of Black Writing
Black Publishers & Writers Awards
New Voices Award
The Dickerson-Du Bois Undergraduate Award
BCALA Literary Award
Asian American Literature Award
Coretta Scott King Book Awards
The Unpublished Writers Award
Black Mystery Writers Awards
National Council for Black Studies Writing Award
AAMBC Literary Awards

These people are straight up liars. They could no sooner survive a public debate with me free of time constraints or filibuster than a snowball could survive in hell.

Blogger ray April 11, 2013 6:55 PM  

Also, I tend to doubt either his JKD or his Shorin Ryu lineage is as elite as mine.

lol!

styles dont mean shit, they're for poseurs

it's always about Who, not What

still, youd probly be ok unless he studied with S. Omine, in which case youd be scrood

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 7:15 PM  

Here is a solution for SF to fight back with. One of science fiction's strengths has been the ability to tear away identity by taking today's issues to a different place so that, rather than identity, we are left only with principle, and a thing can be more easily seen for what it is.

Once bias is torn aside, and we have no dog in the hunt so to speak, eyes can see better. A science fiction writer can easily make us more readily identify with a bug-eyed alien with tentacles than with a human being. In such situations as these an SF writer can produce, right, wrong and principle are more starkly illuminated than in the muddle of our own trends, fads and cultural conceits.

Rather than having a caliphate, an identity, strip away the identity and show the evil of thing in such a way even a liberal will nod their head and say "This is wrong." Show them a caliphate and they'll never agree - they'll stipulate racism and Islamophobia and it's spitting in the wind.

This is all called The Perceptual Trap. Used correctly, one cannot escape its logic nor deny it. It is a way to win over people. In short, show liberals themselves. It's what the warning voice of SF can do very, very well. But it must be smart and it must be clever. Remember, we're talking about people who see common sense as an expression of racism and who create theories to show how water is not wet.

It's simply a matter of restoring balance and making water wet again. Liberals love the idea that a race and gender have cornered the market on hate and stupidity, even while they proclaim such a thing is impossible. Game, set and match.

Blogger papabear April 11, 2013 7:27 PM  

Anyone here going to check out Tolkien's The Fall of Arthur?

Blogger Tom Kratman April 11, 2013 7:41 PM  

Mike:

AFAIK, I've never been banned from spacebabies. I just don't go there. That said, we should be more understanding. After all, they are just children...or, if technically adults, still living in Mom and Dad's basement, which amounts to the same thing.

Anonymous Anonymous April 11, 2013 8:06 PM  

I am curious what people think of Timothy Zahn? Besides perhaps showing some negative feelings about the UN in Spinneret, I remember most of his writing as being basically non-political but quite good.

Anonymous James May April 11, 2013 8:19 PM  

Liberals stipulate the failure of cultures they dote on cannot be failures because of their own failed value system.

They cite outside sources as the cause.

Those outside sources suffer from a failure of their value system.

If I say the Middle East is an wasteland of bigotry and xenophobia, I myself am a bigot. If I say America is a wasteland of bigotry and xenophobia, my clear-eyed and just voice gets nominated for a Nebula.

That kind of doubletalk is the very definition of stupid, ignorant, and even insane.

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 8:29 PM  

"I'd like to see Scalzi's leftie fans cite his sales numbers against Mr. Correia's.."

How IS Larry doing? He supports himself and his family fulltime with his craft... so his sales have to be pretty epic.

Blogger Nate April 11, 2013 8:31 PM  

man.. MHI is number 68 in Fantasy.

nice.

Anonymous richard mcenroe April 11, 2013 8:56 PM  

Michael Flynn is worth reading. Intelligent space opera and wonderful prose.

Blogger Brad Andrews April 11, 2013 9:22 PM  

>somehow morphs into a statement about it being wrong for the United States to have dropped nuclear weapons on Japan.

I am fairly certain that the nuclear bombing of Japan was wrong, though it is probably because I am becoming more generally anti-war rather than liberal. I remain quite anti-liberal.

An interesting thing I noted is that very little of the Science Fiction I read as a teen in the 70s is available on the Kindle. Certainly an untapped market. I would pay $0.99 to buy a lot of it just in case I felt like reading it again, but the very few I found were far more costly than that.

Anonymous Mycroft April 11, 2013 9:37 PM  

For recent mil-SF, I liked Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet series.
Larry Corriea is currently my favorite living author, followed closely by Jim Butcher.

Blogger TJIC April 11, 2013 9:55 PM  

@Gary:

> I'm a big Baen fan, and I have to disagree with TJIC. Don't forget that "crap" is subjective

On the one hand, yes, de gustibus non est disputandum.

But on the other hand, "crap is subjective" can be a wishy-washy left wing cultural relativist stance. I would argue that there are some objective measures of art: unity of purpose and theme, succinctness, efficiency, avoiding dead ends and stray gestures, creativity, artfulness in language, etc. It is NOT the case that Dune is just as good as Star Trek Novelization #106. On the other hand, there are certainly books that are praised as "great books" that I don't (yet?) get.

Blogger Gary April 11, 2013 10:19 PM  

Brad Andrews' post reminded me of the website savethescifi.com, which rescues vintage science fiction books and publishes them in e-book formats (MOBI, EPUB, PDF).

@Mycroft: Agreed on Lost Fleet series.

@TJIC: "Crap is subjective" is not a stance. It means that I might like something that you don't, so calling it crap is subjective.

Blogger Tom Kratman April 11, 2013 10:24 PM  

TJIC:

Take your list - unity of purpose and theme, succinctness, efficiency, avoiding dead ends and stray gestures, creativity, artfulness in language - and note that the only thing literary fiction has going for it, and not always even there, is "artfulness of language." By this, I mean that what constitutes "Crap" is not only subjective but also inconsistent. Looked at a bit differently, which is more crap, something with unity of purpose and theme, succinctness, efficiency, which avoids dead ends and stray gestures, and shows creativity; or something which can only boast artfulness in language. Now, to the reader to whom the latter category is the only important thing, anything else will likely be crap. To the reader who cares about anything and everything but artfullness of language, that is like to be crap. Hence, again, subjective..._highly_ subjective.

Blogger Tom Kratman April 11, 2013 10:31 PM  

By the way, if you can't guess, I _despise_ modern literary fiction, considering it pretentious and arrogant, an attempt to cover up inability to craft a story or make an important point about the human condition by dressing emptiness up in gaudy rags. I detest it's subornatrion of poetic language without any of poetry's economy or discipline...or sheer bloody point. It is smoke from a fire, that when you follow it to the source is just a garbage dump set alight.

Blogger Tom Kratman April 11, 2013 11:35 PM  

And, as long as we're spitting:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/07/a-readers-manifesto/302270/

OpenID laclongquan April 12, 2013 12:01 AM  

Baen is the only publishers I check for new release. As for the rest of my checklist of the day, it's individual authors, instead of a particular publisher.

I only read about 30% of their new book sample. Then again, I read 1% of other publisher's book samples, if at that.

Politic aside, Baen is THE publisher in SF. You get both leftwing and rightwing in their sample, without fear of bias.

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