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Friday, December 15, 2017

You CAN judge the artist by the art

And in some cases, most definitely should. The Dark Herald reviews The Last Closet:
I first ran into Marion Zimmer Bradley's work in college.  A friend who had steered me right on several occasions, (Dune, Canticle for Leibowitz, Lefthand of Darkness) strongly recommended City of Sorcery to me.

He was overdue for a clinker.  City of Sorcery had a number problems for me.  It wasn't an ideal first entry to the Darkover world.  It was jumping into the middle of an established universe.   If you weren't all that familiar with the rules of this world as established by the author, then you had to puzzle out a lot stuff as you read the book.  Bradley was disinclined to fill in the blanks.  Also, back in those days I was Science Fiction Snob.  Sure I'd read Tolkien and Leiber and yes, I played Dungeons and Dragons.  But as an SFS I viewed science fiction books as vastly superior not least because they didn't run to eight hundred pages and fantasy was starting to do that...a lot.

This book was clearly fantasy mascaraing as science fiction.

Also it was just a little bit...off.  There was no one thing I could really put my finger on.  Just a general feel of something that wasn't quite right here.  Sort of when you walk in to a mist spray of fine vinegar, you know something's wrong but it's a little too diffuse to say what.

There was a miasma of something very off putting with the women in this book. An unpleasant edge, almost like they were the anti-Bujold characters.  The heroines were the Renunciates.  It wasn't explicitly stated what they had renounced but it was obviously heterosexuality.  It was  a club for angry lesbians with the quasi religious overtones of a goofy hippy religion,  (which as as Gen-Xer I had little use for). The protagonist was the Chief Terran Agent on Darkover who had gone native and married another woman and were somehow raising a kid together.  The enemy was a bunch of evil space lesbians who were plotting...something(?),..I forget what. It was the characters that mattered in this book and I didn't like any of them.

When my friend asked me about it, I made some joke about, The Lesbians In Spaaaaaace.  He didn't like the joke at all and told me so.  I replied that the author was clearly writing about that of which she knows.  My friend laughed a little too loudly because he was about to 'one up' me, in true Gamma fashion.

"Nope, she's happily married with two kids," he smirked.

"Yeah, I got my doubts about the happily part," I replied.

Holy crap, I never spoke truer words.
People often talk about the necessity of distinguishing between the artist and the art, but usually in the context of not rejecting the art on the basis of the behavior or character or politics or ideology of the artist. And this is correct, because to do so is to commit the genetic fallacy.

However, it is right and proper to judge the artist on the basis of the art. More often than not, the art created by the artist provides relevant insight into his psyche; it is very difficult to write the opposite sex well and it is also very difficult for a man to write characters who are different than his own socio-sexual rank.

Read Louis L'Amour and Robert Ludlum. Then read John Scalzi and Neil Gaiman. The difference is readily observable. Then read Piers Anthony and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Notice the creep factor? Exactly. This is one area where you can reliably trust your feelings.

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88 Comments:

Blogger pyrrhus December 15, 2017 10:52 AM  

Long ago, I attempted to read one of MZB's novels. I immediately felt like I had been transported to an inhuman world, created by a deranged mind. BTW, I felt the same way about Asimov's works, to a lesser extent: it was like the story had been assembled by a well programmed AI.

OpenID franklinfreek December 15, 2017 10:57 AM  

Lefthand of Darkness)

I would have stopped believing my friend after they steered me towards that mess.

I had to read that book in college - assigned by an obvious dyke in a literature class.

I excoriated the book in my review. In those days there was still intellectual honesty in college and I got an A.

Blogger AaMcavoy December 15, 2017 10:58 AM  

Any good alpha fiction authors to read? Sorta new to all this.

Blogger kurt9 December 15, 2017 10:59 AM  

The Clarke novel I was referring to is "The Songs of Distant Earth". The Wiki says that Clarke considered it his favorite novel. One wonders...

Blogger Zaklog the Great December 15, 2017 10:59 AM  

I've read a few Anthony books. It's not overwhelmingly bad, but yes, there is a weird, creepy vibe every once in a while.

OpenID paworldandtimes December 15, 2017 11:00 AM  

The three elements of art.

One: the artist’s sub-rational openness to the transcendent; you can also call that authenticity, or sincerity.

Two: artist the man as the medium; his purity or corruption, his originality in filtering the intangible on it way to material expression.

Three: his technical skill to deliver the artifact faithfully to intent.

On #2 above: sickfuck artist, sickfuck art.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 15, 2017 11:09 AM  

I quit reading Piers Anthony after encountering a scene in one of his Xanth books where he describes an eleven year old gypsy girl's dancing as being sensual and sexy.

I'm reading Moria Greyland's book. Have to take periodic breaks. As someone else said, its a miracle that she is sane and has the strength to write it.

Anonymous Avalanche December 15, 2017 11:10 AM  

Huh. I have -- and had -- a very different reaction. I've read all the Darkover books multiple times, decades ago. Perhaps because I was 'her audience' they resonated with me. The hurt and anger of the Renunciates matched mine. The "eff you patriarchy!" and the withdrawal from the game is shown AS the horrific and painful trial it is/would be. The women who 'renounce' don't live happily ever after: they do their best and make their ways to such comfort and small happiness as they can. The lesbianism was off-putting, but understandable.

(Is there ANYone here who is not doing the same?) Choosing to 'renounce' was NOT a joyful happy choice - for most, it was the only choice. How MANY lesbians in this country were 'forced' to it by abuse? How many drug abusers were too? "Lives of quiet desperation," anyone?)

I craved the strong, protective, masculine, armed, willing to fight (or work in the dangerous towers) men. Almost all of them showed honor and integrity and duty. and punished the men/criminals who didn't.

The sacrifice (most often, of the protagonist) for honor or duty often brought me to tears. (The scion of the ruling family (don't remember names) who gives up his desire to go to space, and takes up instead his fraught rulership.)

The gay (and yes, pathological and child-abusive) 'lord' (do you think such men do not exist? have not always existed?) who still marries to produce children because it was his duty to his world and his lineage. And when his child-abuse comes out, he IS punished... and then accepts his wrongness and 'adopts' as his heir one of the children (not a young man) he abused (trying to make amends?). Does that 'fix' it? No, nothing can fix it. And his father was insane, so it's not a surprise that he, too, struggles with his own 'wrongness.' (Sympathy for the broken is often a girl's way.)

How much of MZB's 'fame and acceptance/love for her books is because they resonate, they 'sing in harmony' with the pains, fears, and struggles of SO MANY young (and old) people?

Excuse her? Hell no! Hope she burns in hell with her husband! But -- perhaps it requires more familiarity with the 'world of abuse' (or experience in it?) to resonate to, rather than recoil from, the traces of her pathology in her books.

Anonymous MIG December 15, 2017 11:12 AM  

"Read Louis L'Amour and Robert Ludlum. Then read John Scalzi and Neil Gaiman."

Robert Ludlum to Louis L'Amour as Neil Gaiman to John Scalzi? Or are John Scalzi and Neil Gaiman both opposed to Louis L'Amour and Robert Ludlum?

I think Gaiman is overrated. Admittedly, I only read one book. But it didn't awaken in me any desire to read more. Maybe I should. Is he really a good writer?

Anonymous Stickwick December 15, 2017 11:14 AM  

...it is very difficult to write the opposite sex well...

Which is why it's not surprising that two female screenwriters ruined the male characters in the Lord of the Rings movies.

Anonymous Red Cabbage December 15, 2017 11:14 AM  

This is one area where you can reliably trust your feelings.

In that case I shudder to think what revelations are going to come out of the field of visual arts.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 December 15, 2017 11:17 AM  

Not just art but other fields as well. Keynes was a gay hedonist, for example and his economic theories reflect this, at least as practiced by modern governments.

Blogger KSC December 15, 2017 11:17 AM  

This is pretty illuminating and explains a lot about certain authors (the ones who jumped immediately to mind were Brandon Sanderson and Jim Butcher.) I think it's inevitable that an author's personality will bleed into his work one way or another; this is especially true for books but probably applies to music in many to most cases as well.

Blogger Aeoli December 15, 2017 11:19 AM  

How much of MZB's 'fame and acceptance/love for her books is because they resonate, they 'sing in harmony' with the pains, fears, and struggles of SO MANY young (and old) people?

This is why Rick and Morty is such a popular show. Excellent observation.

Anonymous Red Cabbage December 15, 2017 11:20 AM  

@10 The LOTR movies are awful CGI car crashes. The animated adaptations from the 70s were far more appealing to me. There's something about Tolkien's writing that cries out for underplayed visual effects.

Blogger Aeoli December 15, 2017 11:21 AM  

As an acquaintance of mine says, you don't "need a high IQ to appreciate Rick and Morty", contra the meme. You need to be familiar with broken families.

Anonymous Chris December 15, 2017 11:25 AM  

Finished The Last Closet yesterday. I never read any of MZB's books. Genetic fallacy though it may be but finding out an author, actor, director, or whatever is a pedophile utterly and completely ruins the work for me. Like eating meat sacrificed to idols. To each their own, but the fact that so many of these big authors turn out to be closet pedophiles or with obvious pedo inclinations (Carroll, Heinlein, King, MZB, Clarke, etc) makes me wonder if they were not promoted in the first place because of their proclivities. And knowing who currently rules the world and the earthly halls of power, it's not entirely surprising.

Blogger VD December 15, 2017 11:26 AM  

But -- perhaps it requires more familiarity with the 'world of abuse' (or experience in it?) to resonate to, rather than recoil from, the traces of her pathology in her books.

You resonated to sickness because you yourself were sick/scarred/whatever. Those of us who are not rightly recoil from it.

But whether you recoil from it or resonate to it, the point is that it is there.

Blogger Koanic December 15, 2017 11:28 AM  

"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."

Anonymous JI December 15, 2017 11:29 AM  

I'm so glad Vox mentioned Piers Anthony! I'd read him as a teenager and got that sense of wrongness. I kept plugging away at several more of his books due to their popularity, but finally gave up because of that vague creepy feeling. Until now, I'd just sort of thought I must not have good taste or something, never really thought about it, but I just had one of those ah ha! moments.

Blogger Desdichado December 15, 2017 11:39 AM  

Zaklog the Great wrote:I've read a few Anthony books. It's not overwhelmingly bad, but yes, there is a weird, creepy vibe every once in a while.
When I was about 13-14 or so, I stumbled across his novel Phthor, the first I read. It was disturbingly pathologically broken-sexual. (Fractasexual?) Bad stuff. Even then, I knew that the writer was a serious whack-job.

I read a Xanth novel years later without realizing it was the same guy. By luck, maybe, the creep factor was significantly toned down, but I still got a weird vibe from the story, didn't relate to any of the characters, and thought the so-called, much-vaunted humor was mostly either stupid or insulting.

The success of Piers Anthony in the marketplace is a mystery to me, and quite probably an scathing indictment of sci-fi fandom overall.

Blogger James Dixon December 15, 2017 11:39 AM  

> I've read a few Anthony books. It's not overwhelmingly bad

"A Spell for Chameleon" wasn't that bad. The Xanth series went downhill from there. The rest of his works were "meh" from the start.

Anonymous maniacprovost December 15, 2017 11:40 AM  

Another example is the 'Mancer trilogy (Flex, The Flux, and Fix), which starts off well. The protagonist is a bit of a gamma cuck but not to a serious extent. It's a good book which honestly should have been in the Hugo / Dragon conversation.

The second book is also pretty good but I caught a whiff of neckbearded male feminism, which was amply confirmed by the author's online activities.

I am reluctant to buy the 3rd because I hate to support the left; but I think he is more of a smug dissolute loser than an SJW.

Blogger Rick December 15, 2017 11:43 AM  

"...it is very difficult to write the opposite sex well..."

Evidence: Harry Potter

Anonymous Brick Hardslab December 15, 2017 11:48 AM  

The artist Darryl Sweet I think who said he disliked illustrating Pier Anthony's books because of the subject matter and titles. I'd have to read his biography again to get the exact quote.

Battle Circle was the weirdest thing I'd read to that point. A eunuch character, a wife trying to cuck her husband, a naked eight year old girl sent to fight a champion? That was the parts I understood, (barely). Anthony is one sick guy and if he doesn't have a collection to rival David Asimov I'd be surprised.

Blogger Aeoli December 15, 2017 12:02 PM  

Koanic wrote:"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."

^^^

Blogger HalibetLector December 15, 2017 12:04 PM  

it is also very difficult for a man to write characters who are different than his own socio-sexual rank.

Are there any successful delta writers writing relatable delta protagonists?

Anonymous VFM #6306 December 15, 2017 12:05 PM  

Piers Anthony attracted this.

Blogger VD December 15, 2017 12:09 PM  

Are there any successful delta writers writing relatable delta protagonists?

The Delta authors have mostly moved into thrillers. Anywhere you have a highly competent male protagonist, you'll usually find a Delta author. Alphas and Betas don't write much; it is a solitary profession.

Blogger dienw December 15, 2017 12:11 PM  

I read Piers Anthony decades ago. I read three of his books in the false hope that he would change plots as well as characters; but no, it was the same plot with different characters.

Anonymous Chad December 15, 2017 12:14 PM  

I read piers Anthony as a young high school kid. I liked the phaze/phase books, but sensed even then that the treatment of sex was a bit off. Mercedes Lackey was the worst offender in this regard for me though, when I was reading in that genre at that age. I gave her books up quickly. One thing that’s interesting to me: male writers at various points on vox’s spectrum “can’t help themselves” when it comes to their characters. The truth will out, as it were. Is the same true for readers? A prior commenter talked about mzb’s books resonating. I was the quintessential voracious reader in high school. I read some things that probably weren’t great for me. I can’t say all of them resonated, but I did read them and didn’t run screaming for the hills. But for my kids, I’m much more protective than my parents. I review author twitter accounts before I let my children read, because I know in my gut that things have gotten worse and the authors’ worldviews will bleed into what they write.
Final comment-Stephen king is the most popular gamma author of all time. He despises his own sex.

Blogger Volpack December 15, 2017 12:14 PM  

AaMcavoy wrote:Any good alpha fiction authors to read? Sorta new to all this.

He told you: Louis L'amour.

Blogger slarrow December 15, 2017 12:14 PM  

I was a huge Piers Anthony fan when I was a teenager. In fact, it was really the second book of his Incarnations of Immortality series (about Time) that brought me into the fantasy genre as such. I read Xanth, Incarnations, the Adept series, and his Mode series. I even read a couple of his darker one-offs like Firefly. It was this last that was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Piers Anthony is creepy because he keeps including scenes where there's either sex with children or between children: Isle of View (Xanth), Firefly (explicit pedophilia), the Mode series (adult male, 14-year-old girl, and it's "real love"), And Eternity (Incarnations, where a judge "redeems" a black teenage prostitute through sex.) Given the MZB revelations, I shudder to think what's hiding in Anthony's closet.

Blogger James Dixon December 15, 2017 12:18 PM  

> He told you: Louis L'amour.

Thirded. If you need a starting point, try "The Daybreakers".

Blogger dienw December 15, 2017 12:18 PM  

Two: artist the man as the medium; his purity or corruption, his originality in filtering the intangible on it way to material expression.

Back in the 80s when I was a curator for an artists' organization.I was asked what I thought of some drawings of models by an acquaintance with whom I was looking at a fellow artist's work. I replied that I could tell by the way he drew the figures that he screwed his models; she agreed and confirmed my observation.

Blogger Aeoli December 15, 2017 12:23 PM  

Dammit, I always knew there was something wrong with fuckin Terman. It's starting to get clearer and clearer. Should have figured it from the physiognomy. What always got me was how partisan he was in regarding gifted children as better in every way and denying all dysfunction.

Through his studies on gifted children, Terman hoped first, to discover the best educational settings for gifted children and, second, to test and dispel the negative stereotypes that gifted children were “conceited, freakish, socially eccentric, and [insane]”.[10]

Should have fuckin known. $1000 says it comes out he was a total piece of shit degenerate.

Blogger YIH December 15, 2017 12:27 PM  

Don't judge an artist by their art? http://www.whatisdeepfried.com/
I think we all know what's in this artist's head - and it ain't pretty.

Anonymous Philalethes December 15, 2017 12:38 PM  

Read Louis L'Amour….

Been doing just that the last few months. L'Amour is a real Aries Alpha, and quite true to both archetypes. He wrote over a hundred books, so I expect to have plenty to read for a while. There is a certain sameness about all of them — the heroes (and occasional heroine) are rather amazing in their omnicapability and endurance (how long does it really take to recover from a serious gunshot wound?) — but they're still entertaining. And for some reason he apparently felt no need to pour in any sleaze or perversion. I wish he were still around (died 1988 at 80) so I could write him a fan letter.

Blogger AaMcavoy December 15, 2017 12:38 PM  

Volpack wrote:AaMcavoy wrote:Any good alpha fiction authors to read? Sorta new to all this.

He told you: Louis L'amour.



James Dixon wrote:> He told you: Louis L'amour.

Thirded. If you need a starting point, try "The Daybreakers".


Thanks!

Blogger KSC December 15, 2017 12:40 PM  

@VD
Maybe. Jack Reacher strikes me as more of a sigma. But I don't read too many thrillers. (There's an example of a series that went totally off the rails as Lee Child got older.)

Anonymous Broken Arrow December 15, 2017 12:44 PM  

SFF is extremely tribal now dominated by Gammas and a few women. The stories are mostly written by Gammas and for Gammas who want to remain in the delusion bubble. This is why they react so hysterically to anyone who upsets the narrative that extremely attractive, smart, and capable women unexpectedly fall for submissive men who win the day with a witty retort.

As the sex scandals have shown these are creepy and broken men who use lies and what little power they have to force themselves on women.

Keep in mind too the high instance of mental illness and use of psychotropic drugs.

Blogger Weouro December 15, 2017 12:45 PM  

Re Alpha authors: possibly Clive Cussler.

Anonymous fop December 15, 2017 12:50 PM  

As my grandpappy used to say, "Wot's down in the well comes up in the bucket."

Anonymous Anonymous December 15, 2017 12:51 PM  

When "art" was mentioned all I could think of was that shyte in the MOMA.

- Stugatz

Blogger dc.sunsets December 15, 2017 1:02 PM  

Piers Anthony? Worse than Steven King for writing the same book, over and over and over again, slapping a few different names and titles on each and cashing the royalty checks.

I was sad to hear when Chris Bunch died. The Sten series of novels he coauthored with Allan Cole is pretty Alpha.

Blogger dc.sunsets December 15, 2017 1:05 PM  

I enjoyed Zelazny's books, but his association with some sick f**k contemporaries hurts that. Not a whole lot of romance in the stuff I read, so socio-sexual rank might not be glaring.

Anonymous Gordon December 15, 2017 1:06 PM  

Mercedes Lackey was the one writing obsessively about gay twinks riding unicorns, wasn't she? I never felt the pull.

I tried one MZB book, The Heritage of Hastur, which had a nice, interesting title. I put it down about halfway through asking "what the hell is going on here?". Read the summary and see yourselves.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heritage_of_Hastur

Even odder if you factor in MZB's "background".

Blogger VFM #7634 December 15, 2017 1:08 PM  

Any good alpha fiction authors to read? Sorta new to all this.

@3 AaMcavoy
I've always liked Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Anonymous Ghost Who Walks December 15, 2017 1:09 PM  

Louis L'amour. I read almost every one of his books while going through a difficult time. Great stories and inspiring protagonists-- just the type of work the SJW quackademia crowd loves to pan as "insipid kitsch" or whatever. It's true that the villain's rifle round would knock the hero's hat from his head or just graze his skull a bit too often for realism, but those novels are mostly great reading and inspiring as well. Many have noted that the first few pages can seem a bit confusing, and then you find yourself at the end of the book. Or was it H. Rider Haggard they said that about? Both highly recommended, whatever the case!

Blogger Zaklog the Great December 15, 2017 1:25 PM  

Not about sci-fi specifically, but I just recorded a video about the left's despicable support of pedophiles.

https://youtu.be/c6AQ_19R8OM

Blogger Ariadne Umbrella December 15, 2017 1:32 PM  

Tom Clancy, the ones he wrote. He died, but the name kept getting put on books set in his "universe". He's thrillers, but he's also got moral bones. The bad guys have goals and motivations that make sense. Men's skill levels vary, as well.

I like older Dick Francis, for the heroism. Hardbacks sell for a dollar on Amazon. His son writes with him now. It's more contemporary, and far more off-putting.

That British PUA guy defends Agatha Christie, as an excellent reading choice.

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as long as you treat it like a novel, is just dashing writing. It's history, and you'll sound pedantic if you say "I'm reading this seven volume, leather bound, gold-foil, prestige history set." But, really,it's good. I mean, you can start anywhere in it, just open and read at random for a few pages. Or start in the middle and go back and forth. Or read front to back. It's way more readable than Will and Ariel Durant, and pretty much has that whole sweeping vista thing down.

Blogger Desdichado December 15, 2017 1:35 PM  

This concept fully explains why the output of NY publishing (including comics) and Harveywood and just about anywhere else that our entertainment industry works is so out of touch with mainstream America—because it's made by broken, dysfunctional people who don't understand jack squat about how normal people think.

I've been amused watching the Rotten Tomatoes aggregate audience score for the new Star Wars movie fall all morning; about 4-5 hours ago, it was at 67% (compared with an improbably favorable 93% aggregate critics score.) It's since dropped to 58% and will probably continue to fall through the weekend.

So many takeaways. One interesting one: GamerGate was right about journalism, but wrong to limit it to the games press.

Blogger Desdichado December 15, 2017 1:37 PM  

VFM #7634 wrote:I've always liked Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Highly seconded. And Rafael Sabatini after that.

Blogger Cloudswrest December 15, 2017 1:44 PM  

"Then read Piers Anthony"

That's another "Tell me about it ..." I read Chthon about 30 years ago and the protagonist's relationship with women definitely seemed "off" to me in my inchoate young adult mind. In one sequence he is repulsed by sex with a normal woman.

Blogger S1AL December 15, 2017 1:48 PM  

C.S. Lewis also wrote a science fiction trilogy, and the third book - That Hideous Strength - is eerily prophetic (he predicted sexbots).

L'amour's works that are most memorable to me include "The Walking Drum" and "Last of the Breed".

The original 'Dune' trilogy. Hit and miss on the later books.

Blogger Desdichado December 15, 2017 1:54 PM  

L'amour's works that are most memorable to me include "The Walking Drum" and "Last of the Breed".

Same for me, but curiously, they're atypical in terms of setting.

Anonymous Philalethes December 15, 2017 1:59 PM  

39.  AaMcavoy:

Check the website run by his children: America's Storyteller, also the Wikipedia article (sorry, Infogalactic still isn't importing photos from Wikipedia), which has good lists. I too started with The Daybreakers, though it's actually in the middle of the Sackett series. They can be read out of order, but are more fun in order. The earlier ones are very interesting, giving a picture of early English colonization of North America that you won't have learned about in school.

I'm particularly enjoying L'Amour's stories because most are set in the Mountain West, where I've now lived for over 30 years; I like following them on the maps available on the website (linked on the book pages).

@48.  Ghost Who Walks

Louis L'amour. I read almost every one of his books while going through a difficult time.

After ~25 years of debilitating chronic illness, I've finally (I hope) found what may be a way out, but it's a long, hard road with a lot of setbacks. Reading L'Amour is a nice relief.

As for it being "kitsch", well, it's entertainment, after all. L'Amour does occasionally include a little philosophy, but he doesn't beat you over the head with it. He felt no need to "educate" his readers. He obviously enjoyed his work, and wants us to enjoy it too. He was a man I would have liked to have known.

He actually had a very colorful life himself – as outlined in an afterward in most of his books – including a street fight with several brothers in some New Mexico town, where they told him they were members of a large family, others of whom would come for him if he seriously hurt any of them. Which, he said, was the initial inspiration for his major work, the Sackett series.

@54.  S1AL

Yes, The Walking Drum was great, though it got a little wordy at times. I wish he'd had a chance to write more stories set in medieval Europe; that novel leaves the reader wanting more.

@45.  dc.sunsets

I enjoyed Zelazny's books….

I did too, the early ones anyway. He and Delany were the big deal in 1966, when I met both at the Cleveland Worldcon. I remember sitting in a cafe booth, watching Zelazny write on a yellow legal pad. I asked what he was doing; he said he was writing a story. That was my first realization that some writers prefer longhand to typewriting.

Anonymous 0007 December 15, 2017 2:01 PM  

For a different take on child abuse you might give the series by Andrew Vachss a shot. Very black and hard-core against child-molesters/abusers.

Blogger S1AL December 15, 2017 2:05 PM  

"Same for me, but curiously, they're atypical in terms of setting."

It's partially because most of the rest of his that I've read is short stories that I can't name off the top of my head. There's also an old-West novel that I can't recall, with a particularly memorable character - a scummy blackguard type - who says something along the lines of "a man gets a taste of being a hero, it's hard to go back to doing what's wrong".

Anonymous CPEG December 15, 2017 2:06 PM  

@33
"the Mode series (adult male, 14-year-old girl, and it's "real love")"

Also, her tragic backstory involved being gang-raped and she was too humiliated to tell anybody, and the friends she met along the way included some abused children. Which, well, at least the abuse was depicted as a bad thing, but what the hell.

I still remember the creep factor, though, from the world the adult male romantic lead was from, in which sexual attraction, love, and procreation were three completely separate things and men tended to find separate women for each, so he was surprised to hear that in her world they were expected to have all three together. Also, the women typically wore diapers.

Anonymous BBGKB December 15, 2017 2:09 PM  

When my friend asked me about it, I made some joke about, The Lesbians In Spaaaaaace.

Biker dykes from Mars.

Anonymous AB.Prosper December 15, 2017 2:11 PM  

Zaklog the Great wrote:I've read a few Anthony books. It's not overwhelmingly bad, but yes, there is a weird, creepy vibe every once in a while.

Piers Anthony in his work deals withe themes that are epebephillic if not outright pedophillic

Some spoilers and nausea ahead

I've read 7 of eight of the Incarnations of Immortality series, the 1st (Death) and 4th (War) are good, worth a library checkout or used books store

The others are meh

#5 Being a Green Mother an otherwise decent Science Fantasy book extols the virtues of underage sex with a very smart 12 year old at one point. That whole gifted thing mentioned before.

It squicked me badly even when I was rather naive when I read them and didn't consider it much.

The following book Being Evil not surprisingly was Luciferian in tone and the last one And Eternity has 15 year old hookers and God impeached for a woman , so yeah

I start wondering if Vox is right and its some kind of weird Astarte cult these guys adhere to.

As do Firefly and Tatham Mound which mercifully I've not read , oh and a Xanth one too but that was Xenorasty with a shape changing unicorn (haven't read that either) so that can slide I guess

Its too bad really, Piers Anthony can be a good writer, as noted most the Incarnations of Immortality series is OK as is Xanth , I enjoyed War and Death a fair bit.

As far as as MZB I liked her as an editor on the Sword and Sorceress series but she didn't write the stuff and nothing that ended up there was terribly twisted.

It was hardly challenging either but it was novel since this series started before the Yugo girl push and it was fun read.

The only reason I'd buy any MZB new is if Moira Greyson got money from her Moms estate. I don't care for her work though YMMV

And as far as the topic in a better light Robert Adams post apocalyptic Horseclans barbarians dealt with pedophiles in novel way in one book hacked off the man parts and cauterized the stump with pitch in public than beating and exile .





Blogger Volpack December 15, 2017 2:22 PM  

Desdichado wrote:L'amour's works that are most memorable to me include "The Walking Drum" and "Last of the Breed".

Same for me, but curiously, they're atypical in terms of setting.


Read the first in the series about Barnabas Sacket (Sackett's Land, Far Blue Mountains, etc.) and also the early Chantry and Talon books (Fair Blows the Wind, Rivers West) for something a little different.

Yes, there are a lot of similar types in Utah Blaine or the Kilkenny books, but he also has delta heroes like Conagher and sigma heroes like Jubal Sackett.

I second the recommendations on Last of the Breed and Walking Drum. Haunted Mesa was entertaining, but not one of my favorites.

Anonymous Philalethes December 15, 2017 2:31 PM  

@57.  0007

Andrew Vachss: Yes, brutally honest fiction about very deviant people who are trying to cope way outside the "system". But very well written — his sympathetic characters are sympathetic — and I've enjoyed (if that's the word) his work. In "real life" he is an attorney specializing in defending/assisting victims of horrible child abuse — and apparently spends much of his time in a state of rage.

The judge stared down from the bench. I stared back—I’d seen him before. One of those "why not the best?" political appointees who climbed the ladder using Preparation H for lip gloss.

"You think people really worship the devil?" Wolfe asked.
"Sure. It’s the perfect religion—you fuck up, you go to heaven."

"All that is within them is within you and me, my friend. If every man who felt sexual violence toward a woman acted on that feeling, New York would not be a city—it would be a graveyard."
"You mean it's not?"

I wonder if the "pro-life" mob knows an abortion could save more lives than the mother's.


Bit of a knee-jerk liberal, and polemicist, but as a writer holds the reader's attention, and sympathy for very unusual characters.

In one of his novels casual mention is made of a criminal being identified by the fact of his circumcision. Apparently it has never occurred to this major star among those who are trying to "do something" about the scourge of child abuse to notice what is happening all around him (and what was almost certainly done to him, born in 1942 in upstate New York, I believe—the origin point, by an incredible coincidence, of both the circumcision program and feminism [see the Seneca Falls Convention]).

Still, I'd recommend his work, if you can handle "very black".

Blogger The Kurgan December 15, 2017 2:40 PM  

Overlords of Mars
Inception and Stasis

Blogger Cataline Sergius December 15, 2017 2:59 PM  

This is not false humility on my part. I honestly felt I wasn't worthy to review Moira Greyland's book.

But I indeed and truly recommend it.

She has endured and faced the evil we fight and at unbelievable cost.

Blogger Cataline Sergius December 15, 2017 3:10 PM  

AB.Prosper wrote:Zaklog the Great wrote:I've read a few Anthony books. It's not overwhelmingly bad, but yes, there is a weird, creepy vibe every once in a while.


...The only reason I'd buy any MZB new is if Moira Greyson got money from her Moms estate. I don't care for her work though YMMV...




I don't believe that Moira Greyland receives any money from her Marion Zimmer Bradley's residuals.

According to The Last Closet, she signed over her rights of inheritance to Lisa in exchange for clearing the debt on her house.

Blogger Bobiojimbo December 15, 2017 3:12 PM  

Amen.

Blogger Bobiojimbo December 15, 2017 3:22 PM  

You can also put Peter Grant, author of The Ames Archives, along side Louis L'Amour.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother December 15, 2017 3:24 PM  

AaMcAvoy,

Vox gave you two already. L'amour and Ludlum. I read both of them heavily growing up, and I am an alpha. YMMV.

Blogger AaMcavoy December 15, 2017 3:49 PM  

VFM #7634 wrote:Any good alpha fiction authors to read? Sorta new to all this.

@3 AaMcavoy

I've always liked Edgar Rice Burroughs.


Weouro wrote:Re Alpha authors: possibly Clive Cussler.



Philalethes wrote:39.  AaMcavoy:

Check the website run by his children:



Thanks everybody!

Blogger CM December 15, 2017 4:47 PM  

Isn't l'amour Western? I think my mother had a chest full of those books in her childhood bedroom that I found.

For fantasy, I loved George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander. I think largely because of my exposure to them, I had a difficult time getting into the darker Fantasy stuff.

I've found some good stuff since childhood, but it's like finding a rare gem. Not usually as good as the list above, but entertaining anyway.

Legend of the Firefish was good.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr December 15, 2017 5:03 PM  

@50 Ariadne: I beg to differ. I found Gibbon a slog, while the Durants were delightful reading once they hit the Age of Faith (the first three volumes...tougher reading).

WRT Alpha writers, I've found some excellent authors on the Age of Sail nautical fiction side. C.S. Forester is intriguing. Patrick O'Brien is both entertaining and an excellent study in how an author can present technical information to the reader without lengthy asides. Of the currently active writers, I'm quite fond of Dewey Lambdin.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash December 15, 2017 7:26 PM  

C.S. Forester is intriguing.
Forester was as gay as the millennium is long. definitely not alpha.

Anonymous AB.Prosper December 15, 2017 9:07 PM  

Philalethes wrote:Andrew Vachss: Yes, brutally honest fiction about very deviant people who are trying to cope way outside the "system". But very well written — his sympathetic characters are sympathetic — and I've enjoyed (if that's the word) his work. In "real life" he is an attorney specializing in defending/assisting victims of horrible child abuse — and apparently spends much of his time in a state of rage.

I'll second Vachss who is the most hard boiled author I've probably ever read

For a guy as rough and tumble as he is A.V. has some toes in the nerd world too. Did some comics and an issue of Batman which wasn't half bad

Blogger red 3215 December 15, 2017 9:44 PM  

No mention of Frederick Forsyth? Oh well.

Anonymous Mr. Rational December 15, 2017 10:30 PM  

@20  Piers Anthony did some decent work in "Orn" and "Macroscope", but his fantasy was largely phoned in (e.g. way too dependent on strained puns).  I never got the weirdness you found, just a B-list talent making money the way he could.

Anthony and Alan Dean Foster are authors of similar rank; sometimes fun to read, but neither will be counted significant 50 years from now.

Anonymous Mr. Rational December 15, 2017 10:34 PM  

@20  Piers Anthony did some decent work in "Orn" and "Macroscope", but his fantasy was largely phoned in (e.g. way too dependent on strained puns in later Xanth books). I never got the weirdness you found, just a B-list talent making money the way he could.

Anthony and Alan Dean Foster are authors of similar rank; sometimes fun to read, but neither will be counted significant 50 years from now.

NB:  Recaptcha is still rejecting comments posted from Pale Moon in FF compatibility mode even if you pass the test.

OpenID thetroll December 15, 2017 10:51 PM  

> Are there any successful delta writers writing relatable delta protagonists?

Harry Turtledove has a bit of a knack for that. Actually, he writes characters that are reasonably believable all the way from full on Rage Quit Gamma right through Nonchalant Natural Alpha, which virtually nobody manages to do without one end or the other coming across as a parody, but all his best characters are the deltas.

Blogger Ariadne Umbrella December 16, 2017 12:45 AM  

The Durants generalize in ways that are really hard for me to understand. Maria de Medici was "no better than she had to be"- referring to her poisoning tons of people with unusual methods? What on earth was " no better than she had to be" ?

And after detailing nearly a revolt a year for a century or so, says that Chinese peasants were content with their lot in life.

Gibbons inserts maps so you can follow along with what he describes step by step.

and, yes, beat police know that foster care is the worst place in the world for teen girls. For ones old enough-ish, and bright enough-ish, they'll take them to a strip bar that they've got an agreement with, and the girl will work there until 18, and then go into the army, while still going to high school. They already know seduction or violence, but now they won't get touched without consent, and they won't be pimp-prey. How do ya'll not know this? The manager will know her age, the police that stop by will know her age, and as long as she isn't hooking, she can stay safe.

Blogger MeneMene December 16, 2017 2:37 AM  

Don't miss Henryk Sienkievicz, starting with With Fire and Sword, book 1 of a trilogy. https://tinyurl.com/ya6wnwvy

Blogger Dexter December 16, 2017 10:02 AM  

Haven't read Anthony for decades, but what I remember about them is that he likes rape about as much as GRRM. Also, annoying puns.

Blogger Dexter December 16, 2017 10:06 AM  

George MacDonald Fraser, probably a Delta, but his main character Flashman is an alpha. N Y

Blogger James Dixon December 16, 2017 12:41 PM  

> Anthony and Alan Dean Foster are authors of similar rank; sometimes fun to read,

Honestly, Foster is a better writer than Anthony.

Anonymous Mr. Rational December 16, 2017 3:08 PM  

@21  Anthony's SF was pretty good.  I noticed no "creep factor" in Orn (an excellent book, I highly recommend; $2.00 hardcover on Amazon) or Macroscope.  The problem was, he couldn't make a living at it.  His fantasy sold well (dunno why, by the third Xanth novel he was obviously turning out hack-work but so was Herbert with Abbott and Costello Meet Dune, Dune Goes To Hawaii, etc.) so he kept writing it.

quite probably an scathing indictment of sci-fi fandom overall.
That would be fantasy fandom.  They're far less rooted in reality, in all respects.

Anonymous Cultural Imperialist December 16, 2017 9:00 PM  

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
All of Robert E Howard's Conan the Cimmerian

Anonymous Cultural Imperialist December 16, 2017 9:16 PM  

I thought heretics of Dune was very strong. The ebb and flow of the whole series really sells the idea that hard times breed strong men, strong men lead to good times, good times lead to soft men, soft men lead to Harsh times cycle. The God emperor was making a very no attempt to create a world that was perpetual just harsh enough to make men strong enough to maintain it.

I haven't read C.S Lewis's SF but I definitely recommend reading all of the Narnia books with your kids. The later books aren't as enjoyable, but they provide a great framework for explaining the "religion of peace".

Blogger Edgar Abbey December 17, 2017 5:38 PM  

I had not heard anything about these allegations against Marion Zimmer Bradley until reading this post. I finished the Mists of Avalon in May 2014 and told my friends at the time that it was some of the best writing I had read. I could have done without a few of the scenes, but it isn't as though the entire novel is built upon these scenes that could be described as creepy.

Now I see that the allegations from her daughter came out in June 2014, a month after I finished the novel. I think if I had known about this at the time, I never would have read the book, much less recommended it to my friends.

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