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April 26, 2014

Science fiction’s topic du jour, in verse
Posted by Patrick at 09:08 AM * 867 comments

Last night, from commenter “lighthill,” in the SF topic du jour thread:

Now my ice cream truck is painted like a cheerful Panzer tank,
With a freezer full of ices and a fylfot on the flank.
And the music box is set up—hey, it’s not against the law!—
To play ‘Deutschland Uber Alles’ after ‘Turkey in the Straw.’
And although I scorn the Untermensch, the deviant, the Jew:
I tell them so politely, and I serve them ice cream too.
But so narrow-minded are they (so unethical as well!)
That they seldom come to sample the fine ice cream that I sell!
Nor even will they enter into rational debates
Scheduled daily in my ice cream truck with all my skinhead mates.
So you see, it’s rankest prejudice—as blatant as it’s shitty—
That my fine all-natural ice cream has not yet won “Best In City”.
Really, it’s a magnificent tapestry of life itself.

Comments on Science fiction's topic du jour, in verse:
#1 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:08 AM:

Oh. My goodness. This is brilliant.

#2 ::: jenphalian ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:14 AM:

Joy! I was feeling shitty over some internet comments elsewhere, and this came up at just the right time to simultaneously make me LOL and give me some perspective. I'm now judging that evildoer who was annoying me less harshly.

#3 ::: Nadya Duke ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:24 AM:

APPLAUSE!!!!!!

#4 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:29 AM:

Brilliant. I saw it in the comments there, and I agree that it's worthy of being promoted to the front page.

#5 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:06 PM:

I love it.

#6 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:24 PM:

That really does say it all. And it scans so beautifully too.

#7 ::: Miramon ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:40 PM:

Beautiful.

#8 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:19 PM:

I have clearly been spending way too much time on the book of faces lately, because I've just spent several minutes looking for the 'Like' and 'Share' buttons before remembering where I am.

Magnificent.

#9 ::: MoXmas ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:22 PM:

Pogo would be proud.

#10 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:46 PM:

I read this in the comments and didn't have time to comment--delighted to see it again here. It's wonderful!

#11 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:47 PM:

Excellent! That sums it up.

#12 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:50 PM:

Deep in the comments trolls crowd in, giving off unbearable heat, pushing with great, mindless force--sometimes diamonds are formed.

#13 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 06:48 PM:

*applause*

#14 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 08:29 PM:

Indeed a nice poem.

#15 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:06 PM:

Brundibár!

#16 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:24 PM:

I doff my hat and bow.

#17 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:13 PM:

I fade away from the dross for the night and return to find gold.
Marvelous. Thank you.

#18 ::: lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:39 PM:

Thanks, everybody! I read Making Light religiously, though I usually don't feel like I have much to say that others haven't said better, first, with greater clarity and better grammar.

Patrick: It has really made my day that you liked my poem enough to fix my punctuation and the misplaced word in the next-to-last line.

Jo: It has really made my weekend that you enjoyed the scansion; yours is always so lovely.

#19 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 01:56 AM:

Bravo, lighthill!

#20 ::: Jamie ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 08:56 AM:

Lighthill wins the Internet. Sheer brilliance.

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 10:53 AM:

That wins all the internets.

#22 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 07:56 PM:

"best in city ice cream" is my new shorthand for that particular form of wankery. A perfect distillation, lighthill!

#23 ::: Naomi Kritzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 09:45 PM:

Oh, I *love* this.

#24 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 11:37 PM:

that is fine, thank you..
I also liked heresiarch @12.

#25 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 12:21 AM:

Bravo! Indeed, laughter is the best revenge. I'd also like to congratulate our moderators and commentariat for standing firm against the trollish assault on the thread.

#26 ::: taylorcollingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:50 AM:

It's a dandy poem.

But I don't know how real. Someone who follows sports could probably recite the teams, but there are several major sport leagues that are owned by very problematic racists. A basketball team, that's in the news, and a baseball team I think as well.

Society does not seem to have any problem with those organizations, and they are eligible to win any award base on achievement. Unlikely they'll win popularity contests. So I don't see the ideal expressed holding up "in the real world". Maybe SF/F is better, but it's probably not.

#27 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:21 AM:

OK, this is *brilliant*

#28 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:36 AM:

taylorcollingsworth #26: The thing is, those sports owners generally don't flaunt their racism etc. in public, precisely because the public-relations hit would put them out of business (at least the sports business). Consider the recent hooraw with Chick-Fil-A, or the other one with Paula Deen.

These days, such prejudice is not generally acceptable, and most public figures at least try to cover it up a bit. Those who don't, experience the modern public "backing away slowly", to leave them standing alone. (No Librul Thugs™ needed!)

#29 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 09:46 AM:

Brilliant. Thanks for putting it here, as I've avoided the trolls.

#30 ::: Niall McAuley sees drivel at #30 ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 10:19 AM:

Yo, gnomes! Cleanup in aisle 3!

#31 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 10:29 AM:

Ah, troll logic. Now that they know Patrick is a Catholic, they think they'll get his goat by posting anti-Catholic crap.

I know 5th-graders who could do it better, so I expect Patrick's goat is safe.

#32 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 10:29 AM:

Seconding beth meacham @29

And a tip of the hat to heresiarch @12

#34 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 10:54 AM:

Xopher: conversation in the car between my 2 younger kids, back around middle school age:

Kid 1: You know what gets my goat?

Kid 2: Goat rustlers?

#35 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 11:05 AM:

To boldly goat...

#36 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 11:12 AM:

Yay, we're baaa-ck to the puns! Now I don't have to feel sheepish about missing all the trolls.

#37 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 11:18 AM:

Now if we could just persuade the Daysies to get the flock out of here...

#38 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 11:34 AM:

Alas, I suspect they'll keep horning in, even when we're kidding around. And I'll have to keep nannying them. I wish I could send them a bill(y).

#39 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 11:43 AM:

Perhaps we could hire a ram instead? <examines piggybank> This moose suspects that tuppence would not be enough, though.

#40 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 11:47 AM:

taylorcollingsworth @ 26: There's some talk that the NBA owners may decide to kick that guy who owns the Clippers (I can't remember his name--I just think of him as one of Randy's compatriots in this song) out of the league. I suspect (as may you) this means the racist assholes are being thrown out by, among others, polite racists.

It all reminds me of what Al Capone used to say: "You can go a lot further in life with a smile and a gun than with a gun alone." He was a wise man, that Al Capone.

#41 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 11:53 AM:

Do the trolls feel cowed yet?

#42 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 12:21 PM:

Only if they're getting a mooove on. There's always a chance that they'll cattle things up, though.

#43 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 12:16 PM:

I suppose it would be too much to hope that their experiences here will steer them onto a better path.

#44 ::: ebear ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 01:06 PM:

Whether you are pro or anti
Or could not care less
We are here to tell you
We are here to sell you SFF!

Not a chance of you escaping from our wiles
We've locked the doors, we've blocked the aisles
We've a franchise worth exploiting
And we will - yes we will!

When it comes to book promoting
We could kill

When you get up -
When you get up in the morning
Till you crash at night
You will have to live your life
With ballots and with memberships.

Clean your teeth with rocket toothpaste
Read our posts
Our book sales controversy boost!
You could even join the con
And vote yourself
We don't mind we'll sell you something
Anyway

We've done all our market research
And our findings show
That this Hugo slapfight could be around
A month or so
Australian Ballots are confusing
For the fans--
But No Award will fan the flame.

In the end the whole world had some
Opinions
By which time we trolls and scoundrels
Had moved on

We'd boosted sales and we were gone!

#45 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:28 PM:

John #40

Yes, looks like he's been almost kicked out. I think my point about realism, was, however, that the team or any team with racist owners is still eligible to win whatever award they can manage to scrape together.

#46 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 05:07 PM:

ebear @44:

I like it, but it's tickling my brain frighfully. Is there a tune it should be set to?

#47 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 05:21 PM:

Abi, the tune would be from Chess, unless I failed my spot check.

#48 ::: ebear ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 07:35 PM:

Abi,

Chess, "Merchandisers." It actually required very little tweaking.

#49 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 06:59 AM:

taylor collingsworth @ 40: True, but his business associates are about to make him ineligible. They've got a joint venture in the NBA, and he isn't holding up his end.

(I rather hope the city of Los Angeles will bust a move and seize the team under eminent domain.)

#50 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 08:08 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @49, and build a highway over the stadium? <scratching head> Seriously, I don't know much about eminent domain but I associate it with massive community infrastructure projects. Would it be legal for Los Angeles to do this? What justification could they use? Or are you just joking and I'm humor-impaired this morning?

#51 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 08:53 AM:

The goat puns have me under the wether.

#52 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 09:17 AM:

Fragano... They were indeed udderly painful.

#53 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 09:19 AM:

Oh come on. It's not that baa-ad.

#54 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 09:53 AM:

You're all far to capricious for me.

#55 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 09:55 AM:

Me, above: TOO capricious. Bad fingers. No biscuit.

#56 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 10:58 AM:

I'm going to have the Chess soundtrack stuck in my head all day now. Really, there are worse things that could happen.

#57 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 12:19 PM:

Cassy B. @ 50: Seize the team. The city of Oakland tried it but it got stopped by the California Supreme Court, which cited the interstate commerce clause. I think in ten years or so Chief Justice Sotomayor might give it a more sympathetic hearing, if it can reach her court.

#58 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 08:05 AM:

Carpe tiem!

Perhaps the Clippers could be declared salvage?

#59 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 08:07 AM:

PNH: comparing left-wing ideological SF writers working in the English language (e.g. Ken Macleod, Steven Barnes, China Mieville, Iain M. Banks) with right-wing ones (pick any three Prometheus Award winners who are not from the British Isles: but I'd point to L. Neil Smith, most of the Baen stable, and so on) ...

Is it just me, or are the lefties generally more willing to engage with the other side's ideas from the inside? Because this may just be confirmation bias on my part, but I don't recall seeing works of avowedly libertarian or mil-SF from the right that portray people with views contrary to the ideological point of the author's quill getting anything other than short shrift.

(See also: it's not about left/right in traditional terms, but about Altermeyer-style authoritarian followers versus everyone else.)

#60 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Speaker to Tall People ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 08:13 AM:

Forgot to note: when I closed this thread, I directed traffic here. So if this reads like a sequel with too little backstory, go there to find out what happened in the fist volume.

#61 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 08:47 AM:

I also enjoyed Ancillary Justice a great deal. In addition to the interesting use of pronouns, I quite liked the exploration of distributed consciousness. It also had quite a fun mystery/thriller story going right on with these notions.

I liked the exploration of the effects of slower than light travel upon economic models in Neptune’s Brood. That part may or may not be to everyone's taste, but I found it quite tasty. It is just set in the same universe as Saturn's Children and stands on its own. The characters and situations developed were fun.

Parasite was good, although not quite so good as the Newsflesh books. The main POV character is a tad hard to get to know although it does make sense. I look forward to where the story is going.

Haven't read Warbound yet and not sure what I'll do with the WOT. I read about five books into yet 20 some years ago before stopping.

On non-Hugo reading, I'm making my way through the Locke Lamora books by Scott Lynch. I had somehow missed these at first and am now having fun catching up.

#62 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 10:12 AM:

Lenora Rose prev@#989: Regarding elves and souls, I'm fonder of the idea that the elves are descended from Adam and Lilith -- thus "unfallen" (and lacking the knowledge of good and evil), but without the writ of dominion over this world.

Erik Nelson prev#994: As a couple of people noted, I was indeed referring to the Dysfunctional Families Threads.

#63 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 12:23 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 62: I think I prefer that version too (Which I had heard, now you mention it. Folklore is a field I'm far more comfortable in my assertions and learned truths about than the history of Christianity) Although the way they tend to be written of, lacking the knowledge of good and evil is .... not as Edenesque as it sounds.

estelendur @ 1006 in the other thread:
That is an excellent quote.

Actually, I would consider it rather a curse if I *could* write all the books I want to *read*. Much like cheffy friends of mine who hate going to restaurants where they could cook anything that's on the menu, it would ruin the fun of reading amazing books if I thought of all of them "I can do that". The more I stuff my brain with incredible works that expand my idea of what is possible in the medium, the better everything looks.

I've also found that (unlike the exhaustion of an internet kerfuffle) the temporary effect of reading a book that makes me go "I could never write like this, I have to stop now" is often for me to double down later on Getting writing done and trying weird stuff (I got a heap more story done last night, in fact.)

I used to think I couldn't write a story in future tense - or imagine why I would want to. Since it's one of my few full out publication credits, I have to say, sometimes "Waaah. I can't do that." is my writing brain's way of sneaking in the concept "I want to try."

Even when it isn't, well, see above re: world looks better.

#64 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 12:39 PM:

John #49:

Yeah, having various bits of the government seize your property if you're found to have expressed the wrong opinions in private phone calls sounds like a *wonderful* idea. What possible downside could there be to such a policy? Why, imagine how much more orderly and respectful public discourse would be if we'd had that sort of policy in place for the last decade or two.

#65 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 12:43 PM:

Leonora:

Even if you were capable of writing *any* of the books you read, you would not be capable of writing *all* the books you read. Writing a book worth reading sure seems like it has to take *way* more time than reading one, and you only have so many hours in the day, after all.

I've enjoyed and learned from academic papers in my field that I suppose I would have been perfectly capable of writing, FWIW. Someone else did the work and I can learn from them in a fraction of the time (albeit with less deep understanding than if I'd done the whole thing myself).

#66 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 12:50 PM:

albatross @ 64: Honestly, I'd rather start by nationalizing the coal industry, but there's no reason not to do what good we can today.

#67 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 12:51 PM:

Charlie:

As one contrary datapoint, Vernor Vinge seems to do a decent job with this in The Peace War, where a couple of the important characters are high-level Peace Authority people with broadly sensible and decent intentions, albeit also with a lot of willingness to be ruthless in accomplishing their goals. They are not one-dimensional monsters, and DL even goes to some trouble to explain to another character why she believes in what she's doing. I'd put him on the libertarian/anarchocapitalist end of the writer spectrum.


#68 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 12:56 PM:

Another datapoint: Niven and Pournelle manage to get inside the heads of several people who presumably don't share their political beliefs in Oath of Fealty, and again, those aren't cartoonish characters--they feel as real as the other characters in the book.

#69 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 01:21 PM:

John A., #66: Personally, I think that sports teams which get tax breaks and stadiums built with tax money and cops directing traffic on game days and all that kind of stuff SHOULD belong to the city in which they're based. Anything else is subsidizing private corporations with public funds, and the city should be reaping the profits instead.

#70 ::: Our favorite troll stares vacantly out of Dave Harmon's face ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 02:13 PM:

Wmn shldn't b nvlvd wth sc f nd vd gms. Thy jst nd p nrfng th vd gms nd pssng ff rmnc nvls n spc s "sc f". Mr Hnln, lss wrsls nd sprkly vmprs.

Wmn, pls sty t f mn's spc. G mk sndwch.

[Nym fixed, comment tidied up. —Idumea Arbacoochee, bemused at the idiot]

#71 ::: SamChevre Spots Imposters ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 02:20 PM:

That's not Dave Harmon.

#72 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 02:21 PM:

You should see the stuff that didn't make it through.

Although if someone is going to be asshole enough to use an offensive term, they shouldn't be chickenshit and use numbers for letters.

#73 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 02:30 PM:

"Our favorite troll" implies that there's only one impersonator. Is there a way to tell? IP addresses in the logs? I'm assuming that since the not-Dave-Harmon had only that post in their view-by-all that they are at least using different fake email addresses.

#74 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 02:33 PM:

Yes, I can tell; no, I'm not going to explain. Ask me six months after its last appearance and I'll tell you then.

#75 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 02:36 PM:

I keep reading the thread's title not as 'topic du jour', but as 'topic au jus'.

#76 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 02:48 PM:

Same troll as the one over at Fred Clark's blog, maybe? That one likes to pretend to be all kinds of people and spout all kinds of nonsense.

#77 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 02:50 PM:

It might be.

If it appears, just do what SamChevre @71 did: flag it and move on.

I think I'm going to disemvowel, actually.

#78 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 02:53 PM:

Lee:

I definitely agree as far as the tax breaks and subsidies for the stadium go. It's absolutely nuts to hand tax dollars to a consortium of billionaires so they can go build a stadium for a team full of millionaires to play in. (Inevitably with a really high ticket price.)

I don't see any reason why the team needs to belong to the city, but the team should definitely be paying its own expenses. However, I think in practice you can keep being mayor if the schools are shitty and the roads are all potholes, but not if you lose the football team, so cities routinely come up with lots of money to bring in or keep sports teams, even when they can't or won't do all kinds of more important stuff.

#79 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 03:00 PM:

78
As a resident of Los Angeles, I'm fine with not having a football team, since we're also not having to pay for a stadium. I get tired of the deals where the public funds [part of] the stadium/parking and doesn't get the revenue. It's even more annoying when the prospective team owner says, we don't get the revenue even from non-game events.

The hell with that: we don't need a football team.

#80 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 04:06 PM:

re 78/79: In fact the rules were changed in the NFL specifically to forbid teams from being owned by cities; Green Bay is the only exception. From what I recall the reason is that they want to be able to move teams around at will.

#81 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 04:14 PM:

Jenny@76 "Same troll as the one over at Fred Clark's blog, maybe"

There's also been a particularly vile infestation at Lawyers Guns & Money using the suspicious 'nym "tnh".

#82 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 04:31 PM:

I don't know about the LGM one, and I don't see the back ends of either blog, but the Slactivist troll has material front-end overlap with our guy.

It occurs to me that he needs a name. I think we're going to call him Bubbles from here on out.

#83 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 04:44 PM:

This moose is sure that Bubbles will be frothing mightily (possibly even pinkly) if the gnomes do that.

#84 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 05:31 PM:

albatross @ prev375: "I think there's also an important distinction between the political/social/moral views of a writer that show through in their work, and the ones that they express outside their work."

This is a thoughtful comment, and I essentially agree. Nonetheless, something about it has been bothering me. I've just now figured out how to articulate it.

I guess my question is: who in this conversation has disagreed? Maybe I missed it, but my sense of the conversation was that positions ranged from "the author's personal views/conduct should never be part of our judgement of a work" to "the author's personal views/conduct are always a part of our judgement of a work" with the examples of Correia and VD functioning as test cases. The densest consensus seemed to be somewhere around "Correia's works survive contact with his opinions, but VD's are poisoned by his," a position which pretty clearly establishes that there are distinctions to be drawn between the work and the author--just not ironclad, insurmountable ones.

Because of that, I can't shake the feeling this comment is on some level less a criticism of disregarding any distinction between author and work, and more an implicit criticism of the particular distinctions and standards evidenced on the thread.

I'm not necessarily opposed to that: so long as we're talking criticism in the "hmm how does that work" rather than in the "let me show you where you are wrong" sense, criticism of what puts VD beyond engagement strikes me as a really interesting question. Everyone gets to make their own choices, but the basis of those choices doesn't have to remain a black box.

"At a personal level, it means I will miss out on ideas that challenge mine, and on some really good art....Refusing to read books by people who disagree with me on as fundamental a question as whether religion is inherently just delusional nonsense would probably not make me a better or smarter person."

I suspect that one's ability to enjoy exploring works by people who challenge you on fundamental questions is strongly dependent on those challenges not existing in the real world, causing actual harm. I suspect a theist's tolerance for Banksian dismissal of religion would be much lower had they grown up an Old Believer in Soviet Russia. Taking challenges to who you are and what you believe as a chance for personal growth rather than as an existential threat is an aspect of privilege.

#85 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 05:41 PM:

heresiarch @84: I've been seeing a commonality of accusation among the people who've been cropping up specifically to argue with us. They insist that we (some nonspecific, conspiratorial large pool of People With SF Power) universally pre-judge and avoid all works we know to be written by 'rightish' authors.

This does not map to the actual reading habits of anyone I know, but it seems to be what they are asserting (and complaining about).

#86 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 05:52 PM:

Elliott Mason @85:

Not all authors by any means (I'm not aware of most authors' political views aside from what comes across in their books), but there are specific individual authors (one of whom is published by Tor, and thus not to be named as per request) whose works I avoid because of their views as stated outside the books. It's not just that their views are "somewhat rightish", but rather that "I reasonably expect that this person will use some of his money to work directly to harm me, and thus I don't want to give him any of my money." Nor would I be able to turn off the part of my brain that keeps saying "This person hates me" while reading one of their books, so even a used or library copy wouldn't make it a pleasant reading experience. This is, I think, what heresiarch is getting at in #84 with the idea of real-world challenges and real-world harms; it's not just that authors disagree with me on particular issues, but that they want to hurt me and my family. That's impossible for me to overlook no matter how good the writing, and I don't think that makes me a worse person.

#87 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 05:53 PM:

Probably for the best that when Bubbles showed up, Abi was in and I was off at work. The name makes me think of this character, but she's arguably shown with more depth. (Spoiler: Fur'f n fragvrag jngre-pbbyre va na naqebvq obql. Also, her name is fanon.)

#88 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 05:55 PM:

heresiarch/albatross, #84: I would like to note that I, at least, am perfectly capable of discovering and enjoying ideas that challenge mine, and extremely good art, in the works of creators who I do not find personally heinous. It distresses me that some people seem to believe that I lessen myself by not being willing to support creators who I consider irredeemably toxic.

It should go without saying, but probably does need to be said, that not all of those irredeemably-toxic creators are on the "right" or "conservative" side of the political spectrum, although it is true that most of them are. Some of them are the ones who don't consider people like me to be liberal enough, or in the right ways.

Talk about "personal challenge" and "great art" all you like, but you will not convince me that I diminish myself by looking for -- and finding -- them among non-toxic people.

#89 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 06:06 PM:

I don't that I or albatross are interested in telling anyone what to read or why. That is a terrible conversation. Let's not have that conversation. Either side of it.

The conversation I am would like to have is about why we make the reading choices we do. TNH @ prev342 wrote: "everyone on both sides of this argument has a carefully tended and highly sophisticated ability to judge a book without reading it. We all do that. " This is one of those observations that is in retrospect terribly obvious and something I've never really thought about. It seems like a fascinating space to explore!

#90 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 06:07 PM:

Elliott Mason #85: That's one of the classic trollish tropes, an attempt to pre-emptively dismiss any contradiction as "irrational prejudice". ("Oh, of course you'd say that....") It also doubles as a diversion, if they can get the locals to try to defend themselves against the accusation instead of the payload.

#91 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 06:26 PM:

The really valuable thing to have come out of this convo for me is the realization that... no, it is too long. I shall sum up.

I will posit the existence of an imaginary book called "Midnight at the Dudely Corral", by Shooty McGunderson. There exist readers who see it as a fun romp well worth re-reading, full of fast-paced action sequences and zippy characters that say amusing things. They are excited about it and eagerly await all its sequels.

However, if I pick it up, I bounce off in the first chapter, through a combination of clunky sentences; row after row of quotes ending with he said, she said, he exclaimed; being mildly triggered because the guy I'm clearly supposed to sympathize has all the same communication quirks as someone in my past with whom I Do Not Get Along; and to top it all off, in the first five pages all three of the Main Guys say offhandedly disparaging things against the Varminty Bad Guys that imply that being female is innately lesser than being male (and fair game for using as insults against Varmints).

Teresa's formulation that a lot of politics ends up as being built into how causality works in a given book's world helps me figure out how two populations with differing opinions of, at heart, how the world works, can hold such different opinions of exactly the same book.

They'd nominate Midnight for a Hugo, perhaps. I most definitely would not, nor would I probably read past the first two chapters.

#92 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 07:58 PM:

heresiarch @89 Yes. Because on Monday I went into a book store, chose four books I haven't read and put my money down. So here's my selection and my reasons for buying as best I can recall.

Belinda Bauer - Rubbernecker. Someone in a writing class had raved about this and it was buy one get one half price. Reason: Personal Recommendation

Charlotte Bronte - Jane Eyre. Right, this gets involved. I'm writing a comedy crime story set in the Edwardian period and for some reason thought the Brontes were late Victorian. I searched my parent's bookshelf for Jane Eyre, but to my surprise they didn't have it. Instead I borrowed Villette. I'd basically planned to get a Project Gutenberg file of Jane Eyre when I spotted this cheap edition. Putting my motive here as Stupidity/Bloodymindedness

James S A Corey - Abbadon's Gate. Third in series I've read the first 2 of. Apparently Serge dies in it. So Prior Experience and Personal Connection.

Neil Gaiman - The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I was always going to read this eventually. Although I'm not sure why now. It was the other but one get one half price due to being new in paperback. Prior Experience with author and also Personal Recommendation from friends.

I don't know what this says if anything, except for the fact that clearly I should not be allowed in bookshops on my own.

#93 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 08:28 PM:

Neil: A quick Googling tells me that Jane Eyre was published in 1847, and that Queen Victoria was crowned in 1838. So Victorian, yes, but early rather than late.

I read Jane Eyre to prepare for reading Fforde's The Eyre Affair and was quite surprised at how much I-want-to-read-it-osity it turned out to have.

#94 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 09:22 PM:

Neil W... Belinda Bauer? The actress?

#95 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 09:37 PM:

Neil W... Belinda Bauer? The actress?

#96 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 09:50 PM:

PJ Evans @ prev#1009: the official record at http://www.smofinfo.com/LL/TheLongList.html says 8365; the accompanying Notes (http://www.smofinfo.com/LL/LongListNotes.html) say that attendance figures include all one-days, so if anything this figure may be high -- because some people might have bought two one-days (or a one-day and a remainder-of-the-convention) and been recorded twice. (I know the people who ran Reg at-con; they are very conscientious but got shorted on equipment by a committee determined to show a large profit; this left them running frantically, so eliminating duplicates is just the sort of thing that might not have happened in ado.)

#97 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 09:59 PM:

I have to confess reading these threads with the online interlibrary loan catalog open in another window. Looks like I have books lined up for the next couple of months . . .

#98 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 10:33 PM:

96
Yeah, the treasurer was determined to not spend money that wasn't guaranteed beforehand. Usually described as 'we have money; you can't have it'; break-even was 6000 members, and we weren't sure of making it until mid-May. (You should have been there for the Giant Envelope Stuffing Party, when we stuffed the Giant Envelopes with the various ballots and stuff. It was almost as much fun as the night that LASFS got the Shaft.)

#99 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 10:35 PM:

What do people want to find out from con attendance numbers? I'm guessing that it's mostly trying to get a rough idea of the size of a convention.

As a huckster, I'm more interested in attendee-days, but that's very hard information to get.

#100 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 10:51 PM:

I also read Jane Eyre shortly before reading The Eyre Affair, and enjoyed it enough to re-read it a couple of times since (more often than Fforde's work). I've since read all of Charlotte Brontë's other novels (well, not much of the juvenilia). The Professor has a protagonist who is so xenophobic and anti-Catholic that I wouldn't want to re-read it. The xenophobia and anti-Catholic stuff shows up in much milder or subtler form in Villette, IIRC, and barely at all in Shirley; I might well read them again, though I haven't yet. Overall I think Villette is the best-written and Jane Eyre is the most fun.

If you're looking for late Victorian and Edwardian fiction to read for background for writing stuff set in that period, I'd recommend Wilkie Collins' later works, Robert Louis Stevenson, E. Nesbit, Bram Stoker, George Bernard Shaw, Jerome K. Jerome, Ernest Bramah, M.R. James, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, early P.G. Wodehouse, G.K. Chesterton, and E.C. Bentley. Alice Meynell's and G.K. Chesterton's essays might be useful too. Max Beerbohm and Oscar Wilde seem to be of the right period but I haven't read much by them.

#101 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 11:07 PM:

Here are my reviews of Villette and The Professor. Re-reading what I wrote shortly after reading Villette, I wonder if my comment above painted it rosier than it deserves. I still think I'll probably re-read it, or at least start re-reading it -- it does a really good job with its unreliable narrator, if I recall correctly.

#102 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 11:56 PM:

I confess, I didn't read Jane Eyre until my second time through the Fforde books, when I finally decided I'd probably enjoy things much more if I'd actually done the background reading. And I did.

On the contentious subject: Like Lee at #88, I'm annoyed, irked, and sometimes infuriated by the line about how "If you never read things by people you disagree with, you'll miss out on challenges to your preconceived notions" But I've only now teased apart the different ways it bugs me.

1. In the first place, it accuses me of having a policy of only reading authors with whom I agree. It bases this accusation on the assumption that there could be no other reason for me to refuse to read works by someone like VD.

2. It conflates the toxicity of someone like VD with any other political ideology, as though the difference in scale between "He doesn't vote for the candidates I support" and "He thinks it would be dandy if someone threw acid in my face to cure of this ridiculous notion that I deserve rights equal to those men enjoy" simply didn't matter.

3. It suggests that the point on which I find VD toxic is a point which I could stand to have "challenged." You know what? Some notions--like, oh, women are equally human as men and deserve equal participation in their society--don't need challenging. Certainly they don't need any more challenging, especially since...

4. Those notions which the politics of people like VD "challenge" get challenged every single day, whether I want them to or not. I don't exactly have to go looking for works by people who think women shouldn't have equal civil rights--such people are out there acting on such beliefs 24/7 and I already have to deal with that. So forgive me if I don't invite raging misogynists to come into my reading time, there to further challenge, with their differing ideology, my belief that I'm a person too.

So, many thanks to this conversation and to the constellation of conversations it happens within for helping solidify my understanding of why this argument bugs the crap out of me.

#103 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 12:02 AM:

I've started following a comics store in Pittsburgh, Phantom of the Attic, and they recently linked to a list of 25 Essential Graphic Novels on Flavorwire. Yes, it's one book per page, which is very click-bait-y, but it's a good list. I'd already read half of them, and those includes some great ones*, so I've queued up the other half. I just finished:
A Contract with God, Will Eisner. Excellent.
Asterious Polyp, David Mazzucchelli. Strange, visually stunning, much more moving than the beginning lead me to expect.
Black Hole, Charles Burns. Gorgeous, dark. Way more on the horror end of the spectrum than my taste goes, but I kept reading.


*The ones I've already read and also recommend include Maus, Stuck Rubber Baby, Blankets, Fun Home, Stitches, American Born Chinese, and Persepolis. The only book on the list that touches on spandex is V for Vendetta. I love comics, but not so much the ones with spandex outfits. A superhero and his nemesis don't do much for me—though I am enjoying G. Willow Wilson's Ms. Marvel.

#104 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 12:31 AM:

#103: "Epileptic" was good but a bit of a bummer. A young man describes his older brother's affliction and his parents' search for a cure.

"Jimmy Corrigan" is borderline cruel . . . to the reader, and to the lead character, a hapless shlub. It is brilliantly done, though. If the new edition is anything like mine, you'll need a magnifying glass.

#105 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 10:34 AM:

Serge @94 - Apparently not
Serge @95 - Looking forward to reading about your death!

Jim Henry @100 - Looks like a good list! Half of them were on my sensible and well-researched list from before I spent four weeks frantically trying to keep the plot of a murder mystery in one piece despite the best efforts of my typing fingers to destroy it.

If I had a point it's this: My actual reasons for chosing those four books ranged from pretty stupid to a conservative chasing of authors I like. Yet I know fairly well how I'm likely to enjoy three of them; the fourth will (at worst) allow me to calibrate my taste against this fellow pupil.

(Also a really bad crime novel will be useful for the second draft I'm writing)

#106 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 12:45 PM:

Neil W @92

Good luck with Villette: It was a set text at Uni. I got to about page 120, and then threw it with great force across the room. I then went to the tutorial and lost my temper with it.

Plus Charlotte was rude about Jane Austen: a writer whose shoes she was not fit to shine

#107 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 12:52 PM:

Jim Henry @100

A very good selection. However it would be hard to omit Thomas Hardy and Henry James from such a list: arguably the last two "Great" English novelists who wrote novels in the expectation of a general readership. After that it seems to me that increasingly "The Novel" fragments, and "Literary" novels are just that: genre novels, albeit a genre with more status and kudos than, say, detective fiction.

#108 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 01:05 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @102

2. It conflates the toxicity of someone like VD with any other political ideology, as though the difference in scale between "He doesn't vote for the candidates I support" and "He thinks it would be dandy if someone threw acid in my face to cure of this ridiculous notion that I deserve rights equal to those men enjoy" simply didn't matter.

Well quite. I certainly don't feel the need to read the opinions of violent homphobic psychopaths that variously think I should be killed, imprisoned, raped, lobotomised, castrated or psychologically tortured. And by the same measure nor should you for mysoginists either.

And what would be the point? Generally there is no "debate" or "respect" with these people: they are immune to reason, they desire it not. Their wish to hate, destroy and subjugate.

#109 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 01:16 PM:

As a young reader of SF, back in the late 1960s/early 1970s, I read pretty voraciously. I read, as I seem to recall, an awful lot of Heinlein and Poul Anderson with considerable enjoyment. The politics that I developed in the 1970s, and since, would not, to put it mildly, be consonant with either author's. I still find much of Heinlein enjoyable,* even though I find his political views unpalatable. Ditto for Anderson.

Vox Stercor, on the other hand, seems determined to do his utmost to alienate me as a reader even before I get to his fiction, if that is what it is.


*Heinlein's late work, however, seems to me abominable. This has nothing to do with his politics and much to do with the quality of his writing.

#110 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 01:40 PM:

heresiarch and others, above:

First of all, I'm not interested in telling anyone what kind of books they should like or want to read--I totally agree with heresiarch that that's an awful conversation to have. It is also hard to think of many things with a less promising track record than trying to change peoples' desires via telling them they want the wrong things.

Second, I made the distinction between the parts of the author's worldview that show up in the work, and the parts that don't, in response to Teresa's #345 and #346 in the previous thread, where she pointed out that it's inevitable that an author's worldview will show up in his writing. That's true and important, but it's a different thing than the parts of the author's worldview that shows up in his blog posts or party membership or public speeches or whatever.

And third, this is a lesson I learned at some point: I think it makes me a better and smarter and nicer person *not* to preemptively reject books or articles or essays from people because I have big disagreements with them. I believe it is an easy error to make to dismiss whole big chunks of the world on political or other tribal identity grounds, and that doing this not only means that you miss out on worthwhile reading, but also that you close yourself off to new ideas. I see this pretty often in popular culture, and on partisan blogs and media, and sometimes in conversation. I think it makes the world a worse place.

Now, your comment (and Lee's and Nicole's) made me go back and reread a lot of the previous thread. I was particularly struck by Xopher #304, Teresa #342, 345, 346, and abi #279. I'll try to express this idea, but I may not do a good job, and I may just be missing something:

a. There are expressed beliefs that call your judgment or insight or whatever into question. If you tell me you're a creationist, I probably don't want to discuss evolution with you. Life is too short to listen to crazy peoples' rantings, or deeply ignorant peoples' trying to discuss stuff they don't understand, or the moral arguments of people starting from fundamentally evil beliefs. I don't seem likely to learn anything from those.

b. There are also many other expressed beliefs, with which I disagree in big and fundamental ways. Some are mainstream beliefs in my culture, or close to mainstream beliefs, others are outliers that many people would silence if the laws allowed it.

c. There are still other expressed beliefs which are more or less tribal markers, for tribes I'm not a member of.

You pretty much have to discard stuff based on (a), just to get through the day. The crazy guy ranting on the street corner is not going to provide you enlightenment on your problems, and listening to his disconnected rantings will just waste your time.

It seems like a huge mistake to discard stuff based on (c) (I don't think anyone here was talking about doing this, though.)

I think it's also often a mistake to discard things based on (b). And one real difficulty here is that (a) and (b) can be hard to distinguish, when the beliefs expressed are far enough away from your own.

Does this make any sense? I feel like I'm not expressing it well. I guess I should add that when I say it would be a mistake, I really am saying that if I preemptively rejected things based on (b), I think I would be a poorer person.

#111 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 01:53 PM:

Nicole, #102: Well said. I also notice that the people who make that argument are generally white men, most if not all of them straight.

It occurs to me that I've seen something similar happen in Darkover fandom, when it started coming out that MZB had enabled and covered for sexually-unethical behavior on the part of her late husband. Some people said they could never be comfortable reading the books again; others said it shouldn't matter because her personal life was separate from what she wrote. Personally, I thought it lent significant insight into one of her major characters who engaged in the same kind of sexually-unethical behavior.

James H., #107: After that it seems to me that increasingly "The Novel" fragments, and "Literary" novels are just that: genre novels, albeit a genre with more status and kudos than, say, detective fiction.

Heh. Just so, and that gets into an entirely different contentious area!

#112 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 02:07 PM:

Neil W @ 105... I'm not dead yet!

#113 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 02:14 PM:

"Literary" novels are just that: genre novels, albeit a genre with more status and kudos than, say, detective fiction.

Was it here that I said that LitFic is just another genre, one privileged by Academia not to notice that it's a genre at all? (People have told me that "Literature is not a genre!" and I reply "in the same sense that White is not a race, yeah.")

I'm still mad at Margaret Atwood not only for her ignorance (The Handmaid's Tale is exactly the sort of story (well, one sort) that I've been reading as SF since I was a teenager) and for her implicit dissing of Vonda McIntyre's work. And I understand that, after backing off for a while, she's now back to saying THT isn't SF, apparently because eww, icky genre cooties.

#114 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 02:37 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @113: She insists the Oryx & Crake trilogy isn't SFF, either, despite involving bioengineered characters in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Yeah.

On the other hand, if she's been repeatedly pigeonholed and treated badly by publishers or marketing who thought she MIGHT be POSSIBLY writing THAT stuff, I can understand her hair-trigger rejection of ghettoization.

#115 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 02:37 PM:

albatross @110 (coming late to the conversation, but jumping in anyway) Your description of the beliefs of the hypothetical author / conversation partner with whom you disagree are all couched in intellectual terms. I think what you've left out is the emotional impact of beliefs that make you, the reader, feel personally attacked for who you are. Those show up, as has been discussed, sometimes in an explicit argument or theme of the work, but more subtly and perhaps more damagingly in the implicit value structure of the story-world. For example, the story where no one explicitly says "only evil women are interested in sex" but the sexually-experienced woman who initiates sex with Our Hero is presented in somewhat unflattering terms and later betrays him, while all the other female characters are dutiful virtuous shadows of the menfolk. I really hate finding that I've swallowed a story with something poisonous like that at the core. It's not an idea I feel a need to engage with. One way to avoid doing so is to avoid writers whose known personal views suggest they may be prone to that.

I guess I'm saying that in between your level a, too divorced from reality to bother engaging, and your level b, disagrees with me on fundamental grounds but I might learn something, there falls an intermediate level of "too toxic to bother engaging." And that what pushes people's buttons, and thus falls in "too toxic" for them, will depend on their identity and past experiences, and should be respected.

#116 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 02:48 PM:

Lee @111: It occurs to me that I've seen something similar happen in Darkover fandom, when it started coming out that MZB had enabled and covered for sexually-unethical behavior on the part of her late husband. Some people said they could never be comfortable reading the books again; others said it shouldn't matter because her personal life was separate from what she wrote.

I think in those circumstances I often feel that if I continue to engage with the books, I might be seen as condoning the unethical behavior. I seek refuge in the "personal life is separate" stance as a way of continuing to enjoy problematic things without seeming to endorse their problematic underpinnings.

Which... I don't know. It's not a good answer, but I don't have any better one.

albatross @110: Often I do not have enough information to distinguish between your categories (a), (b) and (c). As I read, I can usually localize it, but when I encounter things without much context I have to make a decision to continue reading. Some days, the answer is, "I don't care if this is actually (c), I don't have the energy to deal if it turns out to be (a)," and I punt the document entirely.

#117 ::: Dicentra rubra ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 02:50 PM:

albatross @ 110:

Longtime lurker here, nervous to post, but I will try.

I think you missed a category. Omitting it is either a signal that you are, as others say, "palming a card," or that you are not understanding a crucial distinction that others have been trying to communicate.

You pose category "a" as the most justifiable in a set of reasons not to engage with literature. But there is another thing at work, a much worse thing, that you do not name. ie, there are people whose "expressed beliefs" do not just "call my judgement or insight into question," but actively impinge on my actual real-world right to live as a human among fellow humans. They take actual real-world steps, legal and material (not just rhetorical, though those are bad enough) to diminish my rights and humanity. To me, engaging with this kind of writing is not even close to being a disinterested sparring match, because I am actually fighting this fight every damn day, just to live in the world. As Nicole said @ 102, I do not have it in me to defend my right to exist in my leisure time as well. Nor should I have to.

#118 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 02:55 PM:

Dicentra rubra, thank you for delurking. Good point, well made. I also like your nym. If you post more often, does that make you Dicentra spectabilis?

#119 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 03:01 PM:

#113, Xopher Halftongue: re: The Handmaid's Tale

Yeah... I thought that was a decent SF story. When I reached the interview with the author printed at the end, well, that was when I threw it across the room.

#120 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 03:06 PM:

Dicentra 117: This. So much this.

I keep saying things very like that to people, and they don't seem to get that this is a different category of thing from "disagreeing" with a writer's (or CEO's) "point of view."

#121 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 04:18 PM:

Our troll at #70 mentions sparkly vampires.

Do I need to mention that there's a vampire that sparkles in my next novel?

Yes, yes I do.

#122 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 04:40 PM:

Charlie, on the off-chance 15 people haven't sent this to you already.....

http://www.wired.com/2014/04/hospital-equipment-vulnerable/

#123 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 04:57 PM:

Nancy, apropos #122 ... that's not news to anyone who's been reading comp.risks for the past few decades. Unfortunately.

In fact, an extrapolation from that problem is one of the two plot armatures underpinning the next Scottish near-future police procedural I've got planned. (Which alas I cannot write until after the Scottish Political Singularity is over, and also until after I've written 80% of a Merchant Princes novel, two Laundry Files novels, and a Gothic Haunted House Magical Realist attack novel about mortgage anxiety among the millennial generation that bit me last month and won't let go).

But back to the topic(s) in hand: the point about privilege and immunity to those aspects of some writers works that are repellent to the non-privileged is a strong one. (Personal example: I've been unable to bring myself to read Jo Walton's Farthing trilogy because, well, that's not a universe I could exist in. I like Jo and I like some of her other fiction, but ... not that one: she writes too well for false comfort.)

Anyway. I wonder if it has occurred to VD that about 60% of all fiction sold is consumed by women? And even in his chosen sub-genre they're about 40% of the market? His hate-drenched misogynist spiel is guaranteed to endear him to the majority of his customers about as well as a Certain Tor Author's public support for Proposition 8 endeared him to the Californian LGBT community. This is, shall we say, a commercial liability. Add in the hate/disdain he holds for folks with liberal-ish political views (40% of the US electorate) and for atheists (call it 20-30%) and, pretty soon, those overlapping circles on the Venn diagram of the fiction readership blot out most of his market share.

#124 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 04:59 PM:

Charlie Stross @121, is that because said vampire is wearing a stunning sequinned evening gown...? <grin>

#125 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 05:08 PM:

#112 ::: Serge Broom

Oh yeah? What page are you up to? If you know the critical spot, do you find yourself slowing down approaching it?

There's a really, really bad movie in this.

#126 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 05:14 PM:

Cassy B #124: that would be a spoiler ...

#127 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 05:24 PM:

Charlie Stross @126, you're right; I'll just have to wait for the book...

#128 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 05:27 PM:

"OK, folks, we're going in. I've received word that sequins are banned from this ball, so if it sparkles, shoot it!"

#129 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 06:05 PM:

Charlie Stross @123: I have no trouble reading the Small Change trilogy even though it's technically a universe I couldn't live in either; the first two books take place before I was born and I get nuked in the third. But I suspect that's not the kind of thing you meant.

#130 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 06:15 PM:

I thought Jo Walton's Small Change trilogy was great. I've enjoyed everything of Jo's. But it made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

#131 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 06:33 PM:

iamnothing #129: one side of my family tree is extremely sparse: the side that didn't GTFO mainland Europe before mid-1939. I grew up going to a synagogue where many of the older generation had numbers tattooed on their forearms. It's very personal. (It's also the line in the sand that marks the point where my tolerance for diverse opinions that I do not share is suddenly replaced by an instinctive urge to reach for the nearest half-brick with a snarl on my face. Because, while I benefit from white male privilege in some areas, there are others where I really don't ...)

#132 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 06:48 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @113
Elliott Mason @114

A genuine giggle. "icky genre cooties" is going on my list of repeatable-quotes-I-pretend-I-invented.

Except abi never explained what cooties are to me.

Sigh.

This might be the time to roll out this classic again:


#133 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 06:54 PM:

James Harvey: the literal meaning of cooties is lice.

The figurative meaning is contamination by association, e.g., "girl cooties".

#134 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 06:57 PM:

Lila @133

aaah: OK. so the UK equivalent is "you've got NITS!!!"

#135 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 07:00 PM:

Charlie @131

A part of Small Change is that the bad guys of that universe are the same people as the good guys of ours. But different things happened. There have been news stories this year of British counter-intelligence running a fake Nazi spy ring as a trap for real Nazi sympathisers. And, with the attitudes expressed by the current UK government and the UKIP, we don't really need to know that to know there's nothing special about the Nazis. They could easily have been us as well.

That's hard enough, but Charlie has that different personal element. I might have been able to just not notice. I would have been born into that world after a quarter century of peace. There wouldn't have been any Jews left. And in the real world my part of rural England was solidly whitebread: would I have seen anything different?

And, with my health, I would probably be dead by now. No NHS in that world.

I wasn't thinking of this stuff, but I have found new reasons to loathe the British politicians of today.

#136 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 07:04 PM:

Lee, the RL awfulness involving MZB and her husband certainly changed my perception of That Character (we are talking about Dyan Ardais, right?) and made it very difficult for me to aproach that character in the same way.

You see, "The Hawkmaster's Son" gave me ALL THE FEELS, when I first read it. Sure, I wanted to throw things at Dyan at the end, but I could see why he'd done it, because my heart broke right along with his at an earlier point in the story. And because of the sympathy I'd developed there, I mentally pigeonholed Dyan into the "falsely accused" spot for the worst scandal against him later in the timeline, and cut him a lot of slack (more than I should have re: Danilo). And that character-forming heartbreak of Dyan's went on to inform characters in my own writing.

When I learned about the RL parallels, it left me feeling really dirty. I can no longer tell myself that Dyan was falsely accused, and that early heartbreak doesn't excuse it.

It didn't actually feel much different from the time a RL friend's bad behavior came to light, and I dropped the friendship and quit hanging out in certain places where he was still welcome.

The Dyan stories will never be the same to me again.

#137 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 07:43 PM:

Rikibeth, #136: Sympathies.

I never had that empathy for Dyan, because from the very first what hit me was that he was abusing his power and position -- and I didn't read "The Hawkmaster's Son" until much later, when my opinions were already well-developed. So to me it was like, "Oh, she's trying to set him up as this Great Tragic Figure, but having been wronged in the past doesn't mean you get to wrong other people in the present."

I can only hope that the same reaction you got happened to the XRFH, who thought Dyan Ardais walked on water.

#138 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 09:10 PM:

Carol Kimball @ 125... I don't remember where exactly. Consider though that *I* am a security person on a military ship. No literal red shirt, but...

#139 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2014, 09:16 PM:

Neil W @ 92: "Because on Monday I went into a book store, chose four books I haven't read and put my money down."

That's the trick of it: we have to spend money and time before we can really know whether we've made a sound decision, at which point it's too late. So we hoover up everything we can from contex--recommendations, reviews, cover art, things we've heard about the authors (good or bad!)--to guide our decision.

Nicole J. LaBoeuf-Little @ 102: I have, in my own thinking, found it quite helpful to have specific arguments against which to arrange my critique. If I may ask: where did you read "If you never read things by people you disagree with, you'll miss out on challenges to your preconceived notions"? Without such an example I would be forced to assume you are speaking of albatross's comment. This would be sad, as what albatross actually said was much more nuanced and interesting than that.

James Harvey @ 108: "And what would be the point? Generally there is no "debate" or "respect" with these people: they are immune to reason, they desire it not. Their wish to hate, destroy and subjugate."

Why if I didn't know any better I'd think you were talking about orcs. Rather than people, who for all they hold hateful and oppressive ideas, are nonetheless human.

albatross @ 110: "I think it makes me a better and smarter and nicer person *not* to preemptively reject books or articles or essays from people because I have big disagreements with them. I believe it is an easy error to make to dismiss whole big chunks of the world on political or other tribal identity grounds, and that doing this not only means that you miss out on worthwhile reading, but also that you close yourself off to new ideas."

The word "preemptively" is doing a lot of work here. What constitutes "preemptive?" Not reading a review? Not reading the first chapter? Not reading the second book in a series? Under what circumstances would refusing to read a work at all not qualify as preemptive to you?

Thing is, most people who are on the receiving end of various social violences are not, for all their disagreement, ignorant of the logic behind them. They've heard it. So what is the obligation of a person of color to read yet another book they strongly suspect of racism on the chance that maybe this one has some really amazing, novel insight into racism?

To echo OtterB @ 115 and Dicentra rubra @ 117, I think what your account here is missing is power. We should all work to listen to a wide range of voices, even ones we disagree with. In an unequal world, however, some have already heard, and intimately experienced the consequences of, opinions which they are not fond of. So how do you balance the two?

#140 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 03:36 AM:

heresiarch @139

Why if I didn't know any better I'd think you were talking about orcs. Rather than people, who for all they hold hateful and oppressive ideas, are nonetheless human.

Indeed they are. But that does not necessarily mean that they have to be respected or sympathised with. There are fundamentalists of all political and religious persuasions around, who bitterly oppose and resent everything of substance that science and the enlightenment have brought us. Reason and debate have no traction with people whose fundamental tenets include the rejection of reason and debate.

The most that can be done is public opposition: the use of reason and debate to demonstrate to others that such individuals are asshats and their views obnoxious. Sometimes they have to be ridiculed. Sometimes indeed a contrasting message of love can work. Sometimes, rarely, there is some kind of internal crisis that causes a change in their worldview. Sometimes they have to be fought and men have to run up beaches in Normandy.

But unless we get to such desperate straits, I find it difficult to argue that everyone has a moral duty to engage in this public, often very bruising, battle. Many of the people attacked by the VDs of this world have had bruising experiences of their own from the same sort of source. Who am I to say that they should read his stuff? And from what you have written above, I think we are in utter agreement on this point.

#141 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 11:30 AM:

heresiarch, #139: Why if I didn't know any better I'd think you were talking about orcs. Rather than people, who for all they hold hateful and oppressive ideas, are nonetheless human.

You know that line that comes up a lot in discussions of -ism, about people expecting to be given a cookie for demonstrating the barest minimum of human decency?

You appear to be arguing that people such as VD should be given a cookie for not demonstrating the barest minimum of human decency.

#142 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 11:52 AM:

heresiarch #139: In an unequal world, however, some have already heard, and intimately experienced the consequences of, opinions which they are not fond of. So how do you balance the two?

You recognize that clear and present harm, utterly outweighs the faint hope that there might be something uniquely worthwhile in the sewage, much less whatever minimal respect might be accorded to someone merely for being of our own species.

#143 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 11:56 AM:

heresiarch @139 - More interesting is the thousands of books I walked past and didn't buy. I completely ignored the Plays section for example. At least a hundred books I consciously rejected on my way to buying four. Why? I can't even tell you. (Why didn't I buy the latest Naomi Novik for example? Was it just that more than four books would have overloaded by backpack? I have regrets!)

#144 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:16 PM:

I still think it's a case of eating poison ivy for the fiber. Plenty of other sources of fiber that aren't poisonous.

I don't care if a whole bunch of people write into Yelp to say that the new poison ivy restaurant is great, especially if I think the restaurant put them up to it. Fuck that. I'll eat somewhere that doesn't poison me, and to hell with anyone who tells me I should do different.

#145 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:24 PM:

Let me just add that I don't think anyone here intends to tell me any such thing.

#146 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:24 PM:

@Xopher--

You are still missing the point. The point being, poison ivy or not, your role in the analogy is to be the restaurant critic. You can't very well do that if you are afraid of having a little food poison. You think the restaurant critics of the world only go to 3-star establishment's rated by other critics first?

Dropping the bad analogy, let's not also forget that, if your mind is so weak and feeble that reading a few thousands words written by someone that hurts your feelings is going to kill you, your opinion is probably not that helpful to begin with.

#147 ::: Dave Harmon calling for cleanup ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:35 PM:

Taylor's back.

#148 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:35 PM:

Well, taylor, I think I've read enough of YOUR words to make a responsible judgement that I don't need to read more.

But continuing the analogy: restaurant critics don't go to every greasy spoon with a misspelled fake-Latin name, and decide whether it gets a star. IT DOESN'T GET A STAR. PERIOD. Let alone an award issued to only one restaurant a year.

And a restaurant that critics know specializes in poison ivy dishes, and uses urushiol in virtually every dish would not only fail to get critical attention, but would have every foodie (and doctor!) in town warning everyone to steer clear. Even the TRASH behind such a restaurant would be unsafe.

Even a restaurant that serves ordinary food, if it gets a D rating from the Health Department, would NOT get a visit from any useful critic.

#149 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:38 PM:

If the owner of a restaurant stands in front of the door shouting "DEATH TO PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES" and hands out pamphlets entitled If You Don't Eat Nuts, There's Something Wrong With You, I am pretty sure I am not going to expect someone with who has nut allergies to walk inside.

#150 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:40 PM:

Dave 147: Hmm, looking at his VAB, I don't see any that are all consonants. OTOH I only see four, which may mean many others have been unpublished, and I can't remember.

I may have just let myself be trolled, but as it inspired me to expand my analogy (I particularly enjoyed writing "greasy spoon with a misspelled fake-Latin name"), I'm going to count it as a win.

#151 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:41 PM:

Oh dear, am I responding to a known Person Who Has Been Banned? I still like my analogy, I admit. It's absurd, but so is the implication that with a dozen unread books I know I'll love just waiting for me to have time--ones I know will expand my mind and give me useful new ways of looking at the world--I have any reason to spend my entertainment and leisure time on things I can easily tell from the outside that I'll dislike, written by people who disapprove of my existence.

#152 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:45 PM:

You and me both, Fade. I feel just the same way.

Simpler formulation of what I'm saying: VD thinks I should be imprisoned or killed. I will use my vote to see that he doesn't get a Hugo.

Even the unlikely case that the story is good would not change my mind.

#153 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:46 PM:

Heresiarch writes:Why if I didn't know any better I'd think you were talking about orcs. Rather than people, who for all they hold hateful and oppressive ideas, are nonetheless human.

I think Orcs have been treated rather badly. Tolkien isn't quite as rough on them as some critics make out: it's true that his good guys slaughter them like animals, even making a jokey contest of it, and even the angelic Gandalf seems never to consider the possibility of redeeming even one little goblin...

But when we get a glimpse of the orcs talking with each other, it is clear that most would rather be simple bandits in the mountains, as the were at the time of the Hobbit, than part of the Army of Darkness. I don't think Tolkien thought the orcs were as bad as his good guys thought they were.

Humans like VD are another matter. They are freely choosing to express orcish opinions. I prefer Shagrat.

#154 ::: praisegod barebones . ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:48 PM:

taylor collingsworth @146: and yet, strangely enough, during the six or seven years I've been reading Making Light, I've found the opinions of Xopher, and those of a good dozen other participants in this thread pretty helpful when thinking about various things I've read. Yours, so far, not nearly so much. If you're interested in serious conversation, and in having your opinions challenged, you might want to reflect on that.

#155 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 01:04 PM:

As a more general point, I wonder how much fiction in the uncomfortable-to-inimical range people like Beale and Taylor read.

#156 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 01:12 PM:

taylor collingsworth @146:
You are still missing the point. The point being, poison ivy or not, your role in the analogy is to be the restaurant critic.
Nope. A reviewer would be a restaurant critic. There is no close analogy to a Hugo voter.

You can't very well do that if you are afraid of having a little food poison.
The correct idiom is "food poisoning", unless you're talking about a substance that is poisonous to food. Which leads me to some great SFnial ideas, but alas, nothing on-topic.

You think the restaurant critics of the world only go to 3-star establishment's rated by other critics first?
Your apostrophe use is lamentable. (And here I am lamenting it.) Also, I think you will find that there is a paucity of critical reviews of greasy spoon restaurants best known for their rat turd soup with cockroach-leg garnish.

Dropping the bad analogy,
Your analogy between Hugo voters and restaurant critics was certainly terrible, so thank you for dropping it.

let's not also forget that, if your mind is so weak and feeble that reading a few thousands words written by someone that hurts your feelings is going to kill you,
1. Nice careful avoidance of actually calling anyone "weak and feeble" of mind while still getting those words in. Did you punch yourself on the upper arm after writing that?
2. Also nice minimizing use of "hurts your feelings". So cute. Hope you don't bruise easily, with all that upper-arm punching.
3. Oh, FAIL! Where did anyone say that reading toxic shit was going to kill them? And you were doing so well with the snide insinuations!

your opinion is probably not that helpful to begin with.
How fortunate that no one here has said that they were going to be killed by that experience! Imagine the heartache if they had lost your esteem of their opinion! I am breathless with the dread of a terrible calamaty barely avoided.

You're still here with all your vowels because you came in with a useful and interesting point of view, and seemed adequately capable of genuine conversation rather than vapid point-scoring. I don't know if this is you feeling you've embedded yourself enough to plant your rather tragically fragile zingers, or if you've just accidentally put salt in your coffee rather than sugar or something, but in either case, knock it off.

Basically, if you can't be arsed to treat the other people here as genuine humans with genuine reasons for their opinions—even the ones you don't share—rather than some kind of pathetic weaklings, (a) you're not going to learn anything, and (b) you're not going to teach anyone here anything. And given that I am perfectly happy to disemvowel you if you continue to try to be hurtful, if you're not here to converse, why bother?

#157 ::: praisegod barebones . ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 01:20 PM:

Lee @88, Nicole @102: I think I made this point on the previous thread, but I think it might belong here as well. I think the idea that there's anyone who 'refuses to read works written by writers whose political views they disagree with. Anyone who reads either China Mieville or Stephen Brust and who isn't a Trotskyist is reading stuff written by people whose views they disagree with. While that probably doesn't cover everyone who posts regularly at Making Light, I suspect it covers quite a lot. (And the same is true of anyone who is a Trotskyist who is reading stuff by Cory Doctorow.)

I think that albatross's distinction in the previous thread between the political views presented in a given work and those expressed by an author elsewhere is a useful one, with two caveats. The first is that although the politics presented in a work can be at odds with the rest of an author's views (along the lines of Milton being of the devil's party and not knowing it in Paradise Lost.) that's a rare case. Examples from authors who are not of the stature of Milton are worth taking careful note of. Much more common, I suspect, are cases where an author's explicit utterances illuminate things in their writing that are unclear or ambiguous. (wifi connection desit)

#158 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 01:51 PM:

James Harvey @ 140: "Many of the people attacked by the VDs of this world have had bruising experiences of their own from the same sort of source. Who am I to say that they should read his stuff? And from what you have written above, I think we are in utter agreement on this point."

Indeed we are! To reiterate: I have no desire to make any "should" statements about what people read. I am interested in talking about why people are making the decisions they are already making.

"But that does not necessarily mean that they have to be respected or sympathised with."

That is exactly what "being human" means to me. That does not mean letting them rent space in your head, or waste your time, or hurt you. It does mean refusing to other them as wanting only to hate, subjugate and destroy.

Lee @ 141: There is a vast space, miles upon miles, with forests, plains, rivers and mountains, inhabited by entire kingdoms and empires, and autarkies--an entire world--between "treating someone as a human being" and "giving them a cookie."

Dave Harmon @ 142: "You recognize that clear and present harm, utterly outweighs the faint hope that there might be something uniquely worthwhile in the sewage, much less whatever minimal respect might be accorded to someone merely for being of our own species."

If you've identified something as sewage, then of course you don't waste your time on it. The question is: how do we make that identification? When you are standing in the store with a book in your hand thinking, well, the cover art is pretty off-putting, but the first chapter is fun. Richard recommended it, but he has some dodgy opinions. I read online the author is a bit of a trouble-maker... and so on, how do you figure out whether it is something you want to spend your time and money on? I don't think there's One Right Answer to how we do that. I do think it's worth thinking about.

#159 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 01:52 PM:

Also, what abi said.

#160 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 02:08 PM:

@146:When I arrive at a restaurant and find it has a sign stating that they don't want to serve half the people in my party, I'll take my business elsewhere.

I'm finding that the more stridently the "Sad Puppy" group insist that I must read their books, the less eager I am getting to read them. That eagerness wasn't particularly high in the first place.

#161 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 02:11 PM:

Coming late to this I have to wonder what the hierarchy is of books that it's OK not to read. Even if I devour a book every other night before going to bed, that's less than 200 books a year, which is a tiny fraction of all the books published in the language(s) I can read, and a tinier fraction of all the books available. And doesn't count re-reading.

This all sounds like a more-complicated version of at-will employment, where a boss can fire someone for no reason at all, or for a relatively short list of officially sanctioned reasons, but not for another list of disapproved reasons. Only with my limited time and energy.

It's been great seeing the lists of things I might like to read, because I've been running the heck out of R Austin Freeman.

#162 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 02:15 PM:

Speaking of Taylor infestations... It'd have been neat if the cast of "Ivanhoe" had included not just Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor, but also Rod Taylor.

#163 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 02:18 PM:

I definitely insist on my reading list being at-will. No one but me can make anything forbidden or required (as far as fictional reading goes), and no discrimination laws exist. If VD doesn't want to read anything written by black women, that may make him a jerk, but his right to make that choice is and should be protected.

And if my refusal to read VD's work makes me a jerk in the eyes of the Daysies, I will find some way to live with that.

#164 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 02:24 PM:

Serge 162: It'd have been neat if the cast of "Ivanhoe" had included not just Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor, but also Rod Taylor.

But then it would be a math movie, because it would have a whole Taylor series.

#165 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 02:31 PM:

I think everyone deserves a cookie. I think there should be government-sponsored cookie stands on every city block. One per day, no charge. I think no one should ever be denied a cookie.

abi @ 156: Or maybe he's making an honest attempt to encounter a point of view he finds alien and strange, and he's reached a point of frustration with it, and he's just blown off some steam.

#166 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 02:49 PM:

Xopher @163:
To be fair, taylor and the Daysies want to dictate the reasons behind your Hugo voting, not your reading.

To extend what Nancy @155 says, one does wonder whether that's reciprocal; how much of the literature whose context they dislike will they vote on purely on its merits? Or will that literature just happen to not meet their self-declared objective standards?

I await the Correiasphere "what I'm voting for" posts with interest; I'd be fascinated to see if they're all straight slate or if anyone finds themselves surprised to love a work they thought they'd bounce off of.

John A Arkansawyer @165:
If that's the case, he should come back and apologize, and I'm sure everyone will understand. It is difficult to be the lone voice in a otherwise opposing crowd.

And then, in the future, maybe choose another venue to vent, or a slightly less edgy way to go about it.

#167 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 03:14 PM:

164
Here, have this internet.

#168 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 03:33 PM:

The more I read comments from the Sad Puppies, the more I want to know if it's better to rank *all* nominees in Best Novelette, including No Award, or if it's better to rank No Award last and leave off any Novelette I think worse than that.

My reading on the esoterics of ranking entries below No Award is unclear on this point.

#169 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 03:54 PM:

Xopher @ 164... it would be a math movie, because it would have a whole Taylor series

Even if they re-release it with songs by Taylor Swift?

#170 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 03:54 PM:

Xopher @ 164... it would be a math movie, because it would have a whole Taylor series

Even if they re-release it with songs by Taylor Swift?

#171 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 03:56 PM:

You should keep ranking works for as long as you have a preference. So if the five novellettes are Awesome Sauce, Nifty Idea, Boring Crap, Rusty Nail Soufflé, and Poison Ivy Casserole, it would be perfectly reasonable to list only 1. Awesome Sauce, 2. Nifty Idea, 3. No Award, 4. Boring Crap, and leave the last two works off your ballot. Stopping at No Award would mean that your vote wouldn't count if Boring Crap and either Rusty Nail Soufflé or Poison Ivy Casserole made it to the final round. (For that matter, if you'd prefer the Rusty Nail Soufflé to the Poison Ivy Casserole, you should put RNS in fifth place. It doesn't matter if you then put PIC in sixth place, or leave sixth place blank.)

#172 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 04:14 PM:

I think I can read enough of a book to gauge the quality of the writing without having to engage the politics of the author or the plot. For something such as the Hugo, I want to see something special in the writing. It's not the only thing, and it's not sufficient.

And if, as author, you are throwing politics at me, I don't think I should ignore it.

I've read some of the Retro Hugo nominations, and the political questions are tricky. When I first read Galactic Patrol I had never heard of Triumph of the Will, but the book's opening is now uncomfortably suggestive. And in 1938 it wasn't so bad to have black uniforms.

It isn't going to be first on my list.

Anthem, on the other hand, fails because of the writing.

In both categories I see better choices.

#173 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 04:17 PM:

All the explanations from Taylor and the Sad Puppies about how it's our duty to read Poison Ivy SF/F, or we're not serious critics or readers or whatever, lead me to ask how many works of what they call Pink SF Taylor and his Sad Puppy band read a week?

Or, well, ever?

#174 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 04:33 PM:

172
I think I'd describe 'Galactic Patrol' as 'hasn't aged well' (along with quite a lot of other books from that period).

#175 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 04:34 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA #168:

My interpretation is broadly in agreement with what CHip said (other thread, #570): that you should rank nominees in order of preference.

It is theoretically possible that if you rank nominees below "No Award" & the scenario is triggered where your preferences below "No Award" get redistributed, your vote can contribute positively to works you have ranked below "No Award" winning a Hugo.

"Any preferences below No Award can then be redistributed just as they would be for any other candidate."
But my reading is that it only applies if you place "No Award" as your 1st preference.

Taking Steven desJardins' example (#171):
Awesome Sauce, Nifty Idea, Boring Crap, Rusty Nail Soufflé, and Poison Ivy Casserole are the nominees.

I decide (my reasons are my own) that none deserve a Hugo:
1. No Award
2. Nifty Idea
3. Awesome Sauce
4. Boring Crap
5. Rusty Nail Soufflé

When the votes are tallied, the first thing that happens is a count of 1st place getters. If a nominee gets more than 50% 1st place votes, it's the winner*.

If that doesn't happen, then the nominee that has the fewest 1st place votes is eliminated & people who voted it as their 1st place get their 2nd place preference redistributed to the remaining un-eliminated nominees. Typically "No Award" has the fewest 1st place votes, so "No Award" gets eliminated. So my 2nd place vote, is now added to "Nifty Idea". If this redistribution allows 'Nifty Idea" to hit that 50% threshold, then "Nifty Idea" wins.

Otherwise, the remaining nominee with the fewest number of votes is eliminated (in this example "Poison Ivy Casserole" ), and everyone who voted PIC for their 1st place now get their 2nd place vote redistributed among the nominees still in play. And so on until a winner is found.

*Slightly simplified because there are a couple more tests** a nominee has to pass before it can be declared Hugo winner.

** The eventual winner must have had won more votes than "No Award". At least 25% of people who voted in any of the other categories must have also voted in this one, else no Hugo is awarded for this category.

#176 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Thank you #171 and #175. That helps me in more than one category (some of which have no Sad Puppy nominees at all).

#177 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 04:59 PM:

Ok, I have wi-fi back again so I can try to finish the post I was making @175. Which was roughly this: although I think albatross's distinction between the aspects of an author's politics that are internal to a work and those that are external to it is a useful analytical tool, I'd regard both as being potentially relevant to Hugo voting.

One of the great things about literature is the way it can create communities. There are plenty of literary awards for which this aspect of people's response to books is irrelevant. But it seems entirely appropriate for the Hugos to be an award where this is reflected. And if it is, then it's entirely appropriate to consider what kind of community the author envisages for their works. And that means that taking
the external politics of a work into consideration can be a natural - though obviously not obligatory - thing to do.

#178 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 06:19 PM:

heresiarch, #158: If people were saying those things on the basis of no external evidence, I'd agree with you. But I don't consider it "othering" to call someone out on the basis of their own published statements, and it sounds as if you do.

Kelly, #173: I believe the response would be, "But that's DIFFERENT, because those books aren't up for a Hugo Award." You'd need to refine your query to "how many of the 'Pink SF' nominees have you read?"

(I continue to be becroggled by the idea of a "Pink Ghetto" in SF like the ones in toy stores.)

#179 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 07:25 PM:

There are authors I won't read, even so much as picking up to look at, because I've bounced hard of their work in the past.
There are authors whose political views I'd probably hate, but I don't bounce off their fiction.
And there are authors where sometimes I bounce and sometimes I don't.

#180 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 08:04 PM:

Margaret Atwood advanced an argument for speculative fiction rather than science fiction in an interview in Wired.
While it is a rather 1960's position, it can be defended. I have never met Ms. Atwood, but I do know people who know her, a couple of whom are her nephews.

#181 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 08:25 PM:

Answering quickly before catching up to the whole thread:

#139 ::: heresiarch ::: I have, in my own thinking, found it quite helpful to have specific arguments against which to arrange my critique. If I may ask: where did you read "If you never read things by people you disagree with, you'll miss out on challenges to your preconceived notions"? Without such an example I would be forced to assume you are speaking of albatross's comment. This would be sad, as what albatross actually said was much more nuanced and interesting than that.

Only in as much as Lee was at #88, I suppose; my post was meant to expand on hers. The argument has been part of the general miasma, propounded in more nuance or less, by outright trolls and also by people whom I would normally trust to have my back. I'm responding to the whole miasma, really, in which my thoughts have been coalescing slowly since it all went down.

Though it bears saying that some of albatross's posts, nuanced as they are, do share significant overlap with the unnuanced position, enough to warrant responses such as mine, or Lee's, or indeed your own further down in #139.

I would like to also point out that regardless of whether I suspect that the political beliefs of the author which deny my humanity (or others' humanity) will ever actually show up in the authors' work and punch me in the face directly, the fact that the author's politics do deny my humanity (or that of others) is enough to make me decline to spend time in their brain space. Arguably, VD's Hugo-trolling work is inoffensive (other than conveniently taking place in a woman-free space), but I see no reason to give him my time even so.

OK, back to catching up. No spoilers for anything past #139, now!

#182 ::: lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 08:31 PM:

To take the "poison ivy restaurant" analogy a little farther: folks like Taylor seem to argue that there's just no way to learn how delicious the Toxicodendron Flambé might be without actually trying it yourself.

But in real life, there is enough diversity of opinion that people are willing to try all kinds of crazy things -- even things that I think couldn't possibly be a good idea. There are people who don't react to poison ivy; there are people willing do themselves injury in order to have a new experience. I can expect that some of them will do this obviously foolish thing and the rest of us know how it turned out.

If there really were a delicious poison ivy restaurant, I would expect to hear people telling me: "Okay, so you should never eat there unless you're certain you don't react to poison ivy ...but it's the best food I ever had!" Or perhaps, "I don't know how they cook it, but it was simply delicious, and I didn't even need to go to the hospital the way I expected to!" Or even, "I can't explain what happened; it did hurt to eat there; it hurt terribly, but somehow it was the best meal I ever had." I would expect these people to understand that most of their friends wouldn't want to try eating poison ivy anyway, since it's dangerous for most people to do.

If any such restaurant would turn out to be delicious for me, I'd expect to hear from other people who started out with my concerns and came to love the restaurant anyway. I would take those reviews much more seriously than reviews that tried to convince me that poison ivy was made up, healthful, morally uplifting, too complex a matter for non-gardeners to understand, or unfairly maligned by a conspiracy of left-wing botanists.

And to de-analogize back to fandom, there are lot's of authors I don't care to read, who by reputation I am pretty sure are excellent practitioners of their craft. It's not as though "So-and-so is a horrible person, but his/her last book was really excellent" is a sentence you never hear from people of good taste and judgment. It's up to me whether I choose to read those books, but you can bet that I'll consider them more seriously than horrible authors whose only positive reviews seem to come from folks who share, deny, or minimize their horribleness.

(ObDisclaimer: I do not mean to tell anybody how to decide what books to read. If it seems that I am telling you what to read, please believe that I am expressing myself badly.)

#183 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 08:39 PM:

Having now caught up, I have only this to add:

Much as there is a vast terraformed world between "treating someone as a human being" and "giving someone a cookie," there is also a vast universe, studded with galaxies and nebulae and interesting debris, between "Refusing to treat someone as a human being" and "Refusing, on the grounds that it has been sufficiently proved to be toxic and time-wasting, to engage someone in debate, read their works, or otherwise have meaningful contact with them."

#184 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 09:22 PM:

Soon Lee #175:

The "redistributed below No Award affecting outcome" does come into play even if No Award was not your first choice. Using everyone's favorite example to date, I vote:

1. Awesome Sauce
2. No Award
3. Nifty Idea (that's been done many times before)
4. Boring Crap
5. Rusty Nail Soufflé

In the first round of tallying, no nominee got a majority, but No Award was the least most popular. So it gets eliminated. My ballot going into Round Two is effectively:

1. Awesome Sauce
2. Nifty Idea (that's been done many times before)
3. Boring Crap
4. Rusty Nail Soufflé

Let's say Poison Ivy Casserole[1] is the least most popular in Round Two, so in Round Three, my ballot is effectively the same.

This time, we find that I'm in the minority preferring Awesome Sauce, and it's the least most popular in Round Three. My new effective ballot is:

1. Nifty Idea (that's been done many times before)
2. Boring Crap
3. Rusty Nail Soufflé

And now the derivative, but Nifty, Idea wins the Hugo, with my initial #3, below No Award, contributing to the win.

To be honest, I'm a Condorcet partisan. I understand the Hugo vote tally rules, but I don't feel they are ideal, and would prefer something which met the Condorcet principle. But that's not a battle I feel I could win, and probably not worth discussing here.

#185 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 09:27 PM:

Missing footnote in my previous post

[1] "Poison Ivy Casserole" sounds like an interesting story title. If only I had a story to go with it.

#186 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 09:30 PM:

184
Why a computer is a necessity: it's a pass through the ballots for every nominee for every place, eliminating each hindmost when you're placing a nominee, and eliminating all the already-placed nominees before doing the next place.

#187 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 10:06 PM:

Buddha Buck, #185: Well, Leslie Fish did something similar.*

Note that this is an outstanding example of a work that amuses me even though I find the politics of the author repellent.

* There are a bunch of lyrics sites out there that have these lyrics, but with one important word badly misspelled. This is the only listing I could find that got it right.

#188 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 11:45 PM:

If you've identified something as sewage, then of course you don't waste your time on it. The question is: how do we make that identification? When you are standing in the store with a book in your hand thinking, well, the cover art is pretty off-putting, but the first chapter is fun. Richard recommended it, but he has some dodgy opinions. I read online the author is a bit of a trouble-maker... and so on, how do you figure out whether it is something you want to spend your time and money on? I don't think there's One Right Answer to how we do that. I do think it's worth thinking about.

OK, at this point I think you're pulling a combination of moving the goalposts and "this is beyond me". Firstly, we've been discussing cases where the authors in question are far more than "a bit of a trouble-maker". If someone's behavior is sufficiently heinous that you wouldn't want to talk to them, you're certainly not obligated to read them. (Ostracism is a very old expression of hostility. Before condemning it, consider the alternatives.)

And as far as "how to decide"., that's called human judgement. What are your priorities, of the moment or long-term? Is what you've heard about the author likely to spoil your enjoyment of the work even if the work is good? Has someone whose opinions you respect, said that the work has non-obvious virtues?

Regarding your specific example: If you've already read the first chapter, that's a pretty good sample -- why should Richard's advice still be relevant when you're already reading the freakin' book, and can decide whether you like it?

In practice, the sort of filtering we're talking about would happen even earlier. For example, I've long since decided that Newt Gingrich's Civil War novels are simply not worth my attention. On the one hand, the man's poisonous character is such that expecting his work to be untainted, is an exercise in suspension of disbelief. And on the other I have stacks of books piled around me, many of them unread. I'm not even much into historical novels, and if I wanted to get into them, I could surely pick out a dozen more credible and better-recommended authors just from discussions on this blog.

#189 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 12:04 AM:

188
Given that he didn't actually do most of the writing, and that they've gotten generally bad reviews - I wouldn't have them on a bet.

#190 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 09:16 AM:

W/r/t Mr. Gingrich, a couple of paragraphs were enough to take his stuff off my "to read" list permanently. A couple of blog posts from Mr. Beale did the same.

Wasn't it TNH who said you don't have to drink the whole gallon to know the milk's gone sour?

#191 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 11:59 AM:

Henry Troup @ 180: If it hadn't been for Judith Merril's wonderful SF anthologies falling into my hands at just the right time, and if it weren't for her studied indifference to genre and commitment to quality, I wouldn't be the SF reader I am today. I was a teenager when I adopted the term speculative fiction and I've kept it next to my heart to this day. I wonder how she'd feel about some of the debates we're having now? I suspect she'd laugh at all of us.

#192 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 01:31 PM:

Belated response to Charlie Stross's #59: I think you mean John Barnes, not Steven Barnes.

#193 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 03:39 PM:

Patrick @192: Yes, *facepalm* ...

#194 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 09:20 PM:

James Harvey @ 132: thank you for the Banks column; I don't remember having seen it, and it certainly provides a graphic analogy of how a lot of dabblers go wrong.

Buddha Buck @ 184: exactly so. Distilling this to a principle: each ballot is involved in the count until all the nominees rated on it have been eliminated (or a nominee collects >50% of the votes -- very rare outside of Dramatic Presentation, and not common even there).

#195 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 10:06 PM:

So if you really don't want "Poison Ivy Casserole" to get a Hugo, the best way to vote is to rate the other nominees, ending with No Award, and leave PIC off the ballot entirely. Is that correct?

#196 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 11:41 PM:

Xopher @195: Your last vote doesn't actually get counted in any case, so it won't matter if you leave off only one nominee (including Noah Ward in the class of "nominee"). There is no final elimination round when there are only two nominees left.

It may be emotionally satisfying to leave it off, but it doesn't actually affect the final outcome. If you leave more than one nominee off, it might.

#197 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2014, 07:48 AM:

So whether I mark PIC as the only thing below Mr. Ward or leave it unmarked, the result is the same?

#198 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2014, 09:27 AM:

Xopher #197:

If the only thing below Mr. Ward is PIC, then then only way it will be considered on your ballot is if it's the only thing left.

If you also felt that the Quinine Quiche (not inedible, but leaves a very bitter taste in your mouth) should be ranked below Mr. Ward, then the relative ordering between QQ and PIC might make a difference.

#199 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2014, 07:18 PM:

As I understand these explanations, If I think both Rusty Nail Souffle and Poison Ivy Casserole shouldn't be considered before No Award, it's best to leave them off the ballot. Or all my choices, if there are >1, that I want to rank below No Award.

But if I only have *one* choice to rank below No Award, then it doesn't matter if I rank it or leave it off.

Thank you all!

#200 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2014, 08:05 PM:

We need diverse books because...

The first one seems particularly apropos.

#201 ::: Cpt. Carnage ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2014, 03:54 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA #199:

"As I understand these explanations, If I think both Rusty Nail Souffle and Poison Ivy Casserole shouldn't be considered before No Award, it's best to leave them off the ballot. Or all my choices, if there are >1, that I want to rank below No Award.

I believe this is actually not correct (if I understood what you meant there). If you have any preference about the candidates you rank below no award, they should be put in the ballot, because that way your vote can help the moderately-shitty-story beat the 100%-shitty-story. Under no circumstances does your ballot help either of the shitty stories beat anything you have ranked above them.

Please correct me if I'm wrong (do it nicely, this is my first post).

#202 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2014, 04:47 PM:

Recent moderation activities, expressed as an interpretive dance number performed by Oakland police near the Caldecott tunnel the other day.

(Link goes to a video on the book of face.)

#203 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2014, 04:52 PM:

Cpt. Carnage @201: I believe you are correct. And welcome! Obligatory poetry question.

#204 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2014, 05:00 PM:

Cpt. Carnage #201:

It is probably not true that "Under no circumstances does your ballot help either of the shitty stories beat anything you have ranked above them". Voting systems can have strange results in unusual circumstances, which makes choosing or designing one very tricky. It can even be shown that given some reasonable criteria for a "fair" voting system, there are no fair voting systems. You are left with deciding which reasonable criteria you are willing to ignore and choose one which is fair enough.

(It turns out that single-transferrable-vote does satisfy the later-no-harm criterion, which states that giving a more positive rating to a less-preferred candidate can't prevent a more-preferred candidate from winning. So if you rank Rusty Nail Souffle and Poison Ivy Casserole below No Award, the order won't keep anything above No Award from winning. So your statement does, in fact, turn out to be true.)

#205 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2014, 05:12 PM:

Welcome, Cpt. Carnage! Tom's reference to the "obligatory poetry question" means "do you write poetry?" It's something we used to ask every person who came in new. It's not a gatekeeping kind of question; you're just as welcome if you don't write any poetry at all, but if you do, it's an opener to "what kind," and other getting-to-know-you kinds of questions.

Anyway, I hope that won't be your last post here. Not sure the math is right, but all this stuff makes my poor ADHD head spin anyway (too many scenarios to keep track of at once, which you'd think ADHD would make easier, but apparently not). Myself I think there's only one thing I want to mark below No Award, so I don't really need to understand the distinctions involving more than one. If another entry in the same category is truly pukelicious, I'll reconsider.

#206 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2014, 06:25 PM:

205
I understand the headache. It's how I felt trying to understand the system when I wrote the counting program lot-these-many-years-ago. (Also explaining it to a clutch of mundanes, as part of Senior Seminar. With a leftover rocketship-and-base from 1972, because it helps to have visual aids. Hey, I passed the class.)

#207 ::: D. Eppstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 01:45 AM:

P J — If you think single transferrable vote is fun to explain, you should try explaining the Schulze method (which I have, because how to implement it relates to my professional interests). Buddha Buck would like it, because it's a Condorcet method, but it definitely fails the "makes sense to humans" test.

#208 ::: Cpt. Carnage ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 02:57 AM:

Cool question. No poetry. If I did, though, I think I would most likely "write" cut-up stuff, Google poetry or some other form of mechanically-produced poems (that's the sort I enjoy reading).

I'd say the instant run-off voting system that is used in Hugos is quite elegant, in fact. No system is perfect but it's very hard to vote strategically in a way that would make much difference. In some other systems, a core group of dedicated voters could feasibly make a winner out of something that the majority doesn't care about (if they do their math right).

Here's another thing I was wondering:

There has been some discussion in this and the previous thread about a certain nominee's toxic political opinions that make it hard for many voters to give his story a go. (I read it myself and I really think that nobody is missing anything if they leave it unread.)

In addition, however, there are some people who are probably not racist, misogynistic et cetera themselves, but who still publicly support VD's being in the shortlist, tell voters to give him "a fair chance" and try to white-wash his past behaviour to some extent. Correia and Torgersen, for example, have blogged quite apologetically about VD and the Hugos.

Do you think that affects your reaction to those people's work on the shortlist?

I myself have quite mixed feelings about this. On the other hand, I think that their sort of mindset is dangerous and it in a way enables VD to keep doing his thing. But on the other hand, they are probably decent writers whose politics are only conservative and not outright heinous. Too harsh thought-policing leaves a bad taste in my mouth as well.

#209 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 04:25 AM:

Cpt. Carnage @208:
Do you think that affects your reaction to those people's work on the shortlist?

I think people vary.

Speaing purely for myself: as I've gotten older, I've come to see the ways that outliers like VD are supported by communities of people who—while they don't agree—support, enable, and minimize the toxic behavior. These Hugos are a good example: VD's story wouldn't be on the ballot if Correia hadn't put it on his slate.

Everyone has their own lines, of course, and those lines change over time. But I'm increasingly willing to look at someone who enables abuse and ask them why they would want to do that, and if I want to enable their enablement.

I myself have quite mixed feelings about this. On the other hand, I think that their sort of mindset is dangerous and it in a way enables VD to keep doing his thing. But on the other hand, they are probably decent writers whose politics are only conservative and not outright heinous. Too harsh thought-policing leaves a bad taste in my mouth as well.

Thought-policing is quite a harsh word to use there, speaking of harsh. Two reasons:

1. This isn't about anyone's thoughts. This is about their words and their actions. Correia's made choices that make it easier for Day to troll the SF community. He's written blog posts that encourage divisiveness, and runs comment threads full of insulting and sneering posts, which the commenters there have then echoed over here.

I don't care what he thinks. I care what he does, through his actions and his words.

2. No one is policing anyone. There's no PC SWAT Team assembling around the corner from Correia's house, getting ready to bash his door in and haul him off to Room 101. People, here and elsewhere, have been expressing opinions; no one has the power of arrest or conviction, punishment or imprisonment.

This is what irks me about this whole conversation. I would have thought that people who care about free speech and the free market would be the first to agree that my time, attention, words, book-buying money, and Hugo vote are mine to use as I choose.

Yet we have over a thousand comments on that thread, two hundred here, and countless others on countless other blogs because one set of people is bent on telling me how I should be reading, on what basis I should vote, and that my using my words and actions to react to their words and actions is some kind of thought policing.

#210 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 04:28 AM:

@ #208 ::: Cpt. Carnage:

Do you think that affects your reaction to those people's work on the shortlist?

Interesting question. I guess I would say that, personally, I'm not sure, but I don't think so. I intend to give Correia a go when I get my Hugo packet. I would be vastly surprised if I liked it better than _Parasite_, as I have a huge fondness for Seannan McGuire, even though I think this is an incredibly weak work by her, but you know, maybe it'll be brill. The Leckie really sounds outstanding, based on reviews. We'll see. The Correia does suffer in being not the first book in a series, if I understand correctly. However, I do enjoy all sorts of stuff that doesn't match my politics. I still think that _Mote in God's Eye_ is one of the best sf novels ever, even though I despise Pournelle and thought poorly of Niven _before_ he had that terrible plan to lie to immigrants in order to keep them out of emergency rooms.

But, I suppose, if I found myself trying to decide between McGuire and Correia, and it was close, I would probably choose McGuire, because I like her more. It would have to be close for that to make sense for my personal voting strategy, but I can't imagine somehow failing to notice that I actually like one of the authors rather well.

#211 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 04:38 AM:

@ #209 abi: Hmm. I hadn't thought of it in enabling terms. I think I need to think some more.

Enabling is one of those weirdly complicated terms that I continue to fail to completely encompass. It covers a broad range of actions, some of which strike me as proper and kind and some of which are simply sadistic. And it covers a broad range of mind-sets. People fully aware of how their actions play out in secondary situations, and people who really ought to know better and don't, and people who genuinely are so caught up in their own shit that they have no idea how their actions are affecting others.

I also don't know very much about the "sad puppy slate", I just barely know enough to know that it exists. So my willingness to look at Correia and Torgeson may stem from an ignorance about what has gone before.

Hmm. Must sleep, then will think more.

#212 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 04:42 AM:

Expanding a little on me @209:

I suppose the key question is whether the miasma of my reactions to things that people like Correia have said and done will affect my reading of their stories.

To be honest, I suspect it'll make me less tolerant of faults or quirks that look like bad characterization of women, or that particular callousness that I see in their actions outwith the pages of their works. I'm more likely to bounce off of their assumptions in world-building and plotting than I would from someone who demonstrated more empathy and compassion toward people like me.

But it's still possible for them to write a story that's so cracking good that I am transported, and persuaded to vote for them.

(Also, where is this apologetic blogging by Correia? I've seen Torgersen writing thoughtful, conciliatory stuff, but the only bridge-building I've seen on Correia's blog looks to me to be for housing rather than transport.)

#213 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 04:58 AM:

Lydy @211:
I think there are cases where I'd look at the words and actions of someone who had provided a platform or support to someone I find damaging or abusive and see why they did it. I might still oppose the damaging and abusive person, and I might have a word with the platform provider, but I wouldn't necessarily side-eye them.

But it depends on the person being given the platform: Are they deliberately trolling? Are they pervasively toxic? And it depends on the platform provider: Do they see the damage they're enabling? Do they care? Will they listen? Are there compensatory strengths, even if they don't shift the balance for me? Do we share overall goals, but differ on methods?

I don't think there are rules. I don't even think there are guidelines. But I think there are contexts where the supporter's choices diminish my trust and esteem of them, and ones where they don't.

#214 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 04:58 AM:

Like Cpt. Carnage, I've read VD's story. It is really very bad. The fact that Correia put it on his Hugo slate says that he cares more about the author's politics than about the quality of the story.

I think it is only polite to apply Correia's own standard to his nominated story, and I think the relevant politics are the inside baseball fan politics around the Hugos themselves, rather than his opinions on Obama or Iran.

#215 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 07:31 AM:

D Eppstein #207:

Like the Schulze method? I've help convince two organizations to adopt it!

As for the Hugos, I'm not (personally) too concerned about VD or Correia. If VD's story is as bad as people say it is, I won't be voting for it. And Correia has the same problem as most of the other novel nominees as far as I'm concerned: WoT.

What am I supposed to do about Wheel of Time? I don't have time between now and the end of voting to actually read all the novels in the series, so my seem to be (a) read 20 pages of WoT, decide it's not something I'm going to be interested in reading the remaining 9980 pages of, and thus ranking it low, (b) don't bother voting for best novel, since I can't give all the nominees a fair consideration (even if you do include author politics under the purview of "fair consideration"), (c) decide how to rank it based on the reviews of others, (d) decide how to rank it (positively) based on only a partial reading, (e) don't vote for best novel because I will have read only books 1-5 (and none of the other nominees because I will have gotten sucked into WoT) before the deadline. None are good options.

In general terms, I feel that the best I can do for the Hugos is to vote for what I like, out of the choices given. Sometimes I pick up a highly-regarded, oft-recommended book and decide, relatively quickly that it's too boring, too silly, too squicky, etc for me to bother continue reading. Sometimes I pick up a book and cannot justify to myself or others why I like it. My Hugo votes should reflect that.

#216 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 08:33 AM:

Buddha Buck #215: or you can limit your rankings to the ones you've read, and/or make a judgement on WoT based on the portion you've read.

Look folks, it's great that you all want to take the voting seriously, and give a responsible judgement. But saying "I won't vote for anyone a category unless I've read every work in it (including the one that gave me a hernia)", is to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

The real problem with "must consider every work solely based on its internal merit" is, it's like saying "it's only what's inside a person that counts, so you can't judge them based on their grooming, coherency, or courtesy". And then adding "... or how many of my friends they've hurt or insulted".

Yes, what's inside is important, but surfaces are important too, and so are are external relations. For a novel, the "surface" includes things like the cover and blurb, while the external relations include stuff like the author's reputation and behavior.

For an author to expect this stuff not to affect their work's reception, is disingenuous bordering on shenanigans.

#217 ::: Cpt. Carnage ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 08:39 AM:

Abi #212:
(Also, where is this apologetic blogging by Correia? I've seen Torgersen writing thoughtful, conciliatory stuff, but the only bridge-building I've seen on Correia's blog looks to me to be for housing rather than transport.)

Oops, poor phrasing. What I meant was that they are acting as apologists for VD and not very conciliatory at all. Torgerson does write in a more intelligent fashion, but I think he is still basically saying that even though he doesn't agree with VD on many things and VD perhaps chose the wrong words when criticizing Jemisin, she herself picks fights and uses "quasi-racist language (against caucasians)" and so on, so the one notorious incident was her fault as well. (I find it hard to agree with him on this.)

I was reading this post by Torgersen. He wrote the thing above in the comments.

BTW: Very good points in #209 & #212.

#218 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 08:45 AM:

abi: the only bridge-building I've seen on Correia's blog looks to me to be for housing rather than transport

Don't mind me, I'm just putting this here so I can gaze admiringly at it for a while.

#219 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 09:05 AM:

I won't be voting, but I read some large number of volumes of the WoT 20-25 years ago (5? 7?), and would feel justified voting it well down the list based on that without pulling my braids out over it.

#220 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 09:24 AM:

I won't vote in a category if I've only read one thing in it, but I don't feel I have to read every page of every nominated work in order to vote. I finish every short story—they're short!—but if I'm dragging myself painfully from page to page in a longer work, I don't finish it. I don't need to read the whole thing to know it's not a work that I consider good.

#221 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 09:25 AM:

#219 ::: Niall McAuley @219, indeed. If the nomination was for the last book, I'd feel honor-bound to at least give it a try, but I read through about volume 5 or so back in the day, and simply lost interest. Since I stopped reading the work because it no longer held my attention midway, I think I've done my duty by WoT as a Hugo voter and will probably vote it midrange or lower (depending on the other novels nominated; the only one I've read so far is Parasite which I thought was good but a little too predictable. Still will vote it higher than a work I lost interest in midway, however...).

That fact I got as far as volume 5 means the work was reasonably good to begin with, but the fact I never bothered to go farther argues against a top rank vote from me.

#222 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 10:43 AM:

I first voted on the Hugos 40 years ago. I used to feel that I had to read every word of every work in a category in order to vote reasonably; I realized that my non-comprehensive reading skills meant I wasn't getting the value of even some novel-length works until late in the book, or even rereading. (I have a particular problem with difficult characters; e.g., I completely missed the point of "Fire Watch" on first reading.) I made my first exception for this when volume 2 of a set was on the ballot a year or so after I'd put volume 1 at the bottom of the ballot -- and there only because there was no lower place to put it. (I found its assumptions ranged from implausible through ridiculous, and frequently sexist.) But that was an exception; I'm more inclined to start skimming if I think the author is going on too long. (I'm probably too interested in finding out how the author gets to their ending; simply reading the last couple of pages doesn't work for me.) I'm reminded that Kate Wilhelm used to draw a big red line at the point where a Clarion story lost her interest; I'm nowhere near her reading skills (and feel that a long work doesn't have to be taut throughout), but there are cases where I feel that approach is justified.

People talk about the politics of the Hugos, but in the end they seem to me an invitation to personal judgment; I'd urge people to judge works rather than authors -- or even the process that got the works on the ballot -- but that doesn't mean keeping going when the work itself makes you want to throw it across the room (cf Dorothy Parker: -"This is not a work to be set aside lightly. This is a work to be hurled aside with great force."-) And I can understand people seeing the process as having been so messed with that a work gets shorter shrift; each reader will have their own threshold for this.

All this is in the abstract for this year; I can't go to London, and the cost of a supporting membership doesn't have enough value to me. If I did need to let the nominees jump my to-read queue (now down to ~30 shelf-feet), I'd probably read a bit of Warbound just because it's free and I have time (being out of work), but I'd probably be readier to draw a Wilhelmian line based on what I've read about it (e.g., -"It doesn't get any better."-)

A side note: I find it interesting that the difficult work on the ballot is on the ]right[ wing; 29 years ago in Melbourne, Neuromancer was said to have been boosted by being the only non-conservative work on the ballot. OTOH this discounts the effect of a larger-than-usual Aussie vote; I suspect that Bacigalupi and Mieville, who won in Melbourne four years ago, wouldn't have done as well in a more US-centric year -- US nominations and votes seem to me to run more conservative than those with a larger non-US fraction of voters.

#223 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 11:33 AM:

If I were actually attending the Worldcon rather than just a supporting-member-specifically-so-I-can-vote-the-Hugos-this-year, I would be seriously considering bringing up the WoT at the business meeting as a poster child for "there needs to be a separate Hugo category for completed series."

As I am a supporting-member-&c, there is a temptation to vote WoT below No Award by way of passive-aggressively making the same point. I haven't decided if I'm going to do that or not.

#224 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 11:55 AM:

207
My explanation was more of it as a system, comparing it to the one-vote method everyone know, and a weighted-voting ranking (first place gets more weight than second, and so on).
I used nominees that were something like potato chips, corn chips, carrot sticks, celery sticks, none-of-the-above.

#225 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 01:21 PM:

Another example (non-Hugo) of the "it isn't a political message if it's *my* politics" attitude... When I saw this news article I thought of this discussion.

"Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of' Tomodachi Life"

Right. It isn't social commentary to *add in* a restriction on who can flirt with whom.

#226 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 01:25 PM:

Cpt. Carnage, #208: there are some people who are probably not racist, misogynistic et cetera themselves, but who still publicly support VD's being in the shortlist, tell voters to give him "a fair chance" and try to white-wash his past behaviour to some extent (emphases mine)

What you have just described is a very common misconception about racism, misogyny, and other forms of bigotry: that in order to be recognized as such, they must be both overt and conscious. Making excuses for someone else's bigoted behavior is itself a variety of bigotry -- just a more polite, genteel version. Ta-Nehisi Coates describes this phenomenon better than I can. (That you use the term "white-wash" in this context is a level of irony that I invite you to think about.)

abi has said all that needs to be said about your careless use of the term "thought-policing", so I won't bother repeating.

Niall, #214: I've read VD's story. It is really very bad. The fact that Correia put it on his Hugo slate says that he cares more about the author's politics than about the quality of the story.

Funny, that's exactly what he's accused us of doing. How surprising... NOT.

Buddha Buck, #215: Re the WoT problem -- this series has never been my cup of tea, and as such I don't worry about not having read it. For me to vote for something for the Hugo requires that I actually like it. (Note that there are varying levels of "liking", not all of which include "I would read this over and over again".) I will make my decision on Best Novel without reference to WoT, which has already been eliminated on the basis of "I don't like it".

Also, what Dave H. says @216.

#227 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 02:03 PM:

abi@209 & 212:Yes, exactly. Very nicely put.

#228 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 02:26 PM:

CHip @222: I'm not sure how politics might have influenced the vote on the 2010 Best Novel Hugo. Of the six nominees, maybe the two that won were by the leftmost authors, but -- not knowing much about the other authors' politics, only judging from the content of the books -- I'd say that Palimpsest, Julian Comstock and maybe Boneshaker were somewhat leftish and I don't remember anything particularly conservative (or otherwise political) about WWW: Wake. So it's not clear how a larger number of American/conservative voters joining after the nomination period would have affected it. (A lot of the nominators, I suppose, were members of the previous year's (U.S.) Worldcon, and probably a lot of the Australian members joined after the nomination deadline.)

On how many of the nominees one must read to vote:

Generally, I have tried to avoid voting in categories where I haven't read/seen at least three of the nominees. But if I've read less than all of the nominees in a category, and hated one of the ones I read, I won't rank the one I read below No Award because that would implicitly be also ranking something I haven't read below No Award, which seems wrong even if everything I've heard about it from other people is unfavorable.

On excusing bigotry:

I know this is drifting off topic and I don't want to distract from the issue of whether Torgerson or Correia are guilty of excusing Vox Day's bigotry. But what do you think about the wisdom or ethicality of saying, in a historical discussion, that a person was undoubtedly racist (or sexist or whatever) by modern standards, but were less so than the average person of their time and place? I've had this kind of conversation before, about Mark Twain and G.K. Chesterton. What I said at the time seemed reasonable then, but now I'm not as sure. Is it "excusing bigotry" to give someone partial credit for being less racist than their upbringing would tend to make them? It doesn't seem to be "enabling", anyway, since they're no longer here to be able to do anything.

#229 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 02:38 PM:

Janra, #225: Also note that Nintendo, having had the problem pointed out to them, has said they have no intention of fixing it. And that absolutely is a political statement -- doubling-down is the failure mode of unconscious bigotry.

Jim H., #228: IMO it's appropriate to discuss things like that in their historical context as long as it's not intended to say "and that means we shouldn't criticize them at all because our standards are different". Compare-and-contrast is one of the ways by which social change is illustrated.

#230 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 03:26 PM:

Lee @ 226:

Cpt. Carnage, #208: there are some people who are probably not racist, misogynistic et cetera themselves, but who still publicly support VD's being in the shortlist, tell voters to give him "a fair chance" and try to white-wash his past behaviour to some extent (emphases mine)
What you have just described is a very common misconception about racism, misogyny, and other forms of bigotry: that in order to be recognized as such, they must be both overt and conscious. Making excuses for someone else's bigoted behavior is itself a variety of bigotry -- just a more polite, genteel version.

This itself is a grave misapprehension. Bigotry is something personal, over which an individual has some control. Individuals can be, and so often are, deeply racist and yet utterly unbigoted, simply by being unaware of the nature of the world in which they live.

This basic distinction is often elided in the counterproductive hurry to tell someone off. By making this distinction, one can also distinguish between guilt (for which one is culpable) and privilege (for which one is responsible). That's useful, too.

Campaigns against microaggressions remind me of the story about an incredibly wealthy Frenchman who was often accosted in the street by people who complained to him that he'd taken more wealth than he deserved. He would then had that person a ten franc coin, saying that was one person's share of his own net worth, if it were to be divided among all the French. It's a charming story about misdirection. There's no ten francs worth a revolution. The long fat wallet of the rich and the power it gives them--that's the problem!

#231 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 04:16 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @230:
the counterproductive hurry to tell someone off

As opposed to this highly productive phrasing? I can see that Lee's reaction to Cpt Carnage has got under your skin, and you make some cogent arguments to consider in return, but this characterization isn't productive at all.

Campaigns against microaggressions remind me of the story about an incredibly wealthy Frenchman who was often accosted in the street by people who complained to him that he'd taken more wealth than he deserved. He would then had that person a ten franc coin, saying that was one person's share of his own net worth, if it were to be divided among all the French. It's a charming story about misdirection. There's no ten francs worth a revolution.

It may be because I'm feeling increasingly unwell just at the moment, but I'm not really sure how this story maps to "campaigns against micro-agressions", to the extent that I have ever encountered such things. I've seen people complaining about them, identifying them, and wishing they'd stop, but I'm not sure I've seen anything I'd call an actual campaign against one. Can you cite an example, and explain how it maps to your anecdote?

The long fat wallet of the rich and the power it gives them--that's the problem!

Despite the confusion I've evinced above, I do confess to a sincere and principled doubt whether there's only one problem in play in the current situation.

More generally, you're reading to me as extremely uncomfortable and somewhat defensive in this conversation. I get the feeling you've got something to say, but you don't quite want to say it. I don't know if that's just the illness talking, but if it's not, you might want to either say whatever it is outright or let it lie. This middle ground isn't very helpful.

#232 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 04:29 PM:

Whatever ails you, Abi, I hope you soon get well.

#233 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 04:33 PM:

I've read Brad Tofrgerson's post.

I'm not sure I'd describe it as exemplifying grace. It's good to see someone making a call for inclusion. But it seems funny to be so concerned about whether Theodore Beale is excluded from fandom and yet have nothing to say about (or indeed to) the people who Beale would like to see excluded.

At best, that's clumsy. If you're going to work and speak for inclusion, it doesn't seem like the right place to start.

#234 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 04:35 PM:

(An earlier version of the previous post, with Brad Torgerson's name spelt correctly, appears to have been swallowed by the Internet.)

#235 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 05:31 PM:

abi @ 231: No, it wasn't terribly productive, was it? At least it wasn't terribly polite. I'm feeling seriously worn down by watching what often appears to me to be a one-size-fits-all response to outrages and kerfuffles alike. It's worse other places, but I see it here, too.

I'm not really sure how this story maps to "campaigns against micro-agressions", to the extent that I have ever encountered such things...Can you cite an example, and explain how it maps to your anecdote?

I shouldn't have called out microaggressions in particular. There is a specific item that's been on my mind for a while now. Maybe I should pull that splinter and let you see why it bugs me so. And here it is:

A Year in Review: The Top 10 Most Racist/Privileged Things White Feminists Did in 2013

There's a lot of shitty behavior in that list, at least one honest mistake magnified by a further mistake made under the pressure of a social media storm, and varied acts in between, but you know what isn't in that list?

One white feminist with significant economic and political power.

You know what my number one 'Most Racist/Privileged Things White Feminists Did in 2013' is? This. But the author of that book is wealthy and powerful and to be feared and people defer to her. Is that causal? Who can say?

So my analogy doesn't fit my anecdote so well as I would like. That's why I mentioned micro-aggressions. I'm starting to think that the compulsion to right every wrong, no matter how small, is the social version of the political failure of demanding your ten francs.

Despite the confusion I've evinced above, I do confess to a sincere and principled doubt whether there's only one problem in play in the current situation.

Indeed. Again, I conflated two things, both of which I believe but which are logically separate. Being gnomic has its problems.

The first was that power, especially in gendered power differentials, often has an economic component as well as a social component. My old buddy Johnny Cole coined the phrase "long fat wallet" one night decades ago when we were discussing a local businessman who was also a noted whoremonger. (I mean, he had his favorites listed in his obituary! True fact.) The "long fat wallet" is my current favored image of social and economic male privilege. I used to refuse to tease those apart. I may start refusing again.

The second is a broader concern about whether current tactics, and the theories which underlie them, being used in pursuit of social justice are sufficient. In particular: They seem designed to make working together in broad coalition nearly impossible. They are almost entirely void of economic or political analysis (of any sort, not just the sort I agree with). They are relentlessly personal and thus individual; even when collective action is taken, it's taken over some one injured party. They don't confront economic power.

There might be a hint of a third thing in there, that it'd be easier to ease people's social problems once we got them all fed and healthy with a roof over their heads than the other way around. That's the easiest reading of that sentence, but it's not what I meant most.

I'm still down with the project of universal access and inclusivity, even when it isn't all it's needed to be. The last time we tried that, we hit limits. Turned out not many women wanted to play in the NFL in the first place, but they got Title IX. That's not chopped liver!

So I'm up for taking as hard a run at those limits as possible and seeing how far we can get it this time. I'm quite certain some it will fail. It always does. I can live with some useful failure in the course of human progress and all that jazz.

However, I'm increasingly pessimistic of how the current course is going to play out. I've got a daughter at stake, so this matters a lot to me, in all different directions. And in that spirit, I'll say, just once for now, what's been on my mind lately:

I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF COUNTERPRODUCTIVE ACTION BEING TAKEN IN THE FACE OF EXPERIENCE AND IT PISSES ME OFF BIG TIME.

There. That's it. It takes me back to E. L. Doctorow's The Book of Daniel, the scene where the analog to the Rosenberg child locates the analog to the Yippies, who tell him, "Everything that came before is all the same." Well, yes. Yes, it is.

And you know what else? It isn't the same, not at all.

#236 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 05:32 PM:

All:

I've lacked the time and spoons to continue this discussion as actively as I'd like, but I just want to comment about how much I love the categories of dishes/books described. Poison Ivy Cassarole, Rusty Nail Souffle, Quinine Quiche. I think I've read at least part of all three of those books. (Old books that have been visited by the Suck Fairy have a tendency to turn into Quinine Quiche, as you scratch your head and wonder if how you never noticed all that nasty stuff before.)

Lee #226:

I think the standard you're proposing there leads to slinging around labels like "racist" and "bigot" rather freely. Perhaps this is justified (though I don't really think so), but even if it is, I do not think you will get many of the targets of those labels to listen to you, or think about whether you may be right. Calling someone a nasty name is very seldom a good way to get any communications to happen.

#237 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 05:37 PM:

D Eppstein::

It seems to me that you can kind of think of a voting system as a mechanism where each voter gets to write a program to vote as they would like given various circumstances. By the time you get to even not all that complicated schemes like IRV, you're getting into the realm where it's hard for the voters to understand what the effect will be of the program they're writing under many different conditions, for the same sort of reasons as programs can surprise any programmer with their behavior in weird edge cases.

#238 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 05:45 PM:

albatross: you se "calling someone nasty names", but I see in Lee's comment rather " using precise terms precisely, so as to describe a phenomenon well".

Yes, it feels bad to be told you have done something that is racist (or that has a racist result). But it is far worse to do something racist, be called on it, and instead of saying, "oh, I certainly didn't mean to, how can I stop?", saying instead "how ruse and mean of you to call me that!"

#239 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 05:52 PM:

I think calling out the behavior is usually more useful than labeling the person. Labeling the person is something you do when you're ready to stop trying to have a conversation with them.

I've used the formula "You couldn't have meant X, because that would be racist, and you wouldn't want to be racist, would you?" Sometimes the conversation can continue. If I say "you're a racist!" it's over.

#240 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 07:06 PM:

Albatross #237:

There are two ways of looking at voting procedures.

One is from the point of view of the voter: given a particular voting procedure, what is the best way to vote to get an acceptable result. For instance, given the plurality-vote system, voting for your most favored candidate may not be the best option; you may wish to vote for Gore instead of Nader to keep Bush from winning.

This is closest to the "each voter gets to write a program to vote as they would like" you are suggesting. This sort of voting -- voting in a way that doesn't reflect your actual preferences in order to get a better result -- is called "strategic voting".

From the point of view of the voting procedure writer, the goal is different: design or choose a voting procedure which will give a result most closely reflecting the preferences of the voters. Because of reasonable disagreements as to the definition of "reflecting the preferences of the voters", and some famous impossibility theorems regarding voting procedures, there is no "perfect" method.

Part of the challenge is finding a voting procedure which is resistant to strategic voting. All voting procedures will have instructions like: Chose the candidate you most prefer; or Rank all the candidates, with your most preferred candidate ranked 1, your second most preferred candidate ranked 2, and so on; or Check each candidate you find acceptable; and so on. Voting procedures are designed assuming that the voters are following these instructions.

Both IRV (what the Hugo Awards use) and Schulze (the Condorcet method I and D Eppstein are familiar with) methods take the same input: ballots consisting of ranked list of candidates. They compute a winner differently (and there are certainly sets of ballots where they give different results), and while neither are 100% resistant to strategic voting, both tend to require an awful lot of information on how other voters are likely to vote in order find a strategic vote that is better than honest voting.

I still feel this isn't the right forum to geek out about voting protocols (but that doesn't seem to be stopping me). However, since it's been mentioned a couple of times, I think I should define what a "Condorcet" method is: A n-way election has a "Condorcet winner" A if A would win in every 2-way election against any of the other candidates. For instance, in our hypothetical Hugo ballot, if more people preferred Nifty Idea (NI) over Awesome Sauce, more preferred NI over Boring Crap, more preferred NI over Rusty Nail Souffle, more preferred NI over PIC, and more preferred NI over No Award, then NI would be the "Condorcet winner".

A voting method is a "Condorcet" method if it always selects the Condorcet winner when one exists. The catch is the "when one exists" clause. It's possible for more people to prefer NI over AS, more people to prefer AS over Great Characterisation (GC), and more people to prefer GC over NI, and as such no single candidate would win against all others in 1-on-1 comparison. Effectively, there's a complicated tie between them. The various Condorcet methods differ in how they break that tie.

IRV is not a Condorcet method. It's possible, for instance, for everyone to think that Nifty Idea was good, but not as good as AS, GC, or Beautiful Setting (depending on the tastes of the voter) so that while no one thinks NI was best, everyone thinks NI was second-best. IRV would immediately eliminate NI, which Condorcet would note that the GC and BS partisans voted NI over AS, the AS and GC partisans voted NI over BS, and the AS and BS partisans voted NO over GC, so in the three 1-on-1 races, NI would have won all of them (with different constituencies, mind you), so NI would be the Condorcet winner.

#241 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 09:51 PM:

Old books that have been visited by the Suck Fairy have a tendency to turn into Quinine Quiche, as you scratch your head and wonder if how you never noticed all that nasty stuff before.

Gin and lime in sufficient quantity. Or maybe that's what it takes to make them go down in the present day.

#242 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 10:00 PM:

Re: #235 ::: John A Arkansawyer

Did Sheryl Sandberg run over your dog or something?

#243 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 10:14 PM:

Well, taylor, I think I've read enough of YOUR words to make a responsible judgement that I don't need to read more.
Okay, that's fair enough. It's not always fun to play rough, so I can take it down a notch.

But continuing the analogy: restaurant critics don't go to every greasy spoon with a misspelled fake-Latin name, and decide whether it gets a star. IT DOESN'T GET A STAR. PERIOD. Let alone an award issued to only one restaurant a year.
This really isn't true, either with your Latin mis-identification or not. The major travel guides do take efforts to visit everything, including greasy spoons. Because you never know where you might find something good. Fodors, for example, tries to visit them at least once a year even. I am not sure about the Michelin people. But if it's not a good analogy, fine.

And a restaurant that critics know specializes in poison ivy dishes, and uses urushiol in virtually every dish would not only fail to get critical attention, but would have every foodie (and doctor!) in town warning everyone to steer clear. Even the TRASH behind such a restaurant would be unsafe.
Even a restaurant that serves ordinary food, if it gets a D rating from the Health Department, would NOT get a visit from any useful critic.

This is not true. I just did a spot check. Check it out for yourself. Cross reference this this against Fodors. They make it hard to find D rated digs, but if you look you can find them on the map. They get reviewed and included.

It's probably true what abi said that the food analogy is not good. Because your mind is not literally poisoned by things you don't agree with. And, your mind is not poisoned by things you don't agree with that the authors of words you read agree with. Like a food critic, you have to take risks to find out what is good or not. That is why Anthony Bourdain is out eating ape testicles in South America and not not reviewing the Olive Garden in Cleveland. Say what you will, I can't think of any food critic who would actively rate "not eating" better than "eating" any dish, without at first trying the dish. That is a close analogy of voting "No Award" above Day's work, without having read Day's work.

What you are complaining about is having to read a few thousands words from someone you don't agree with, before voting on the award. It sounds extremely petty.

#244 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 10:19 PM:

I think we may need cleanup on this aisle.

#245 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 10:20 PM:

abi--

I read, re-read, paused, and thought about your comments above, especially:

"Yet we have over a thousand comments on that thread, two hundred here, and countless others on countless other blogs because one set of people is bent on telling me how I should be reading, on what basis I should vote, and that my using my words and actions to react to their words and actions is some kind of thought policing."

Who, in your view, is telling you how to read, what to read, how to vote, etc?

Do you feel that Correia, Day, Torgensen, et all are trying to make that case to you (or their supporters, like me)?

It would be helpful to understand in what you think this is happening because following it closely - well, as closely as a working person can - it's not clear to me that this is even what is going on.

#246 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 10:38 PM:

Brad DeLong @ 242: No. She gives perniciously bad advice. The advice is worse the less power you have. Thus my claim that it's not just bad advice but racist (though I don't claim that it's bigoted).

Her power gives her a giant megaphone through which to magnify the effect of that bad advice, which is how she gets into "worst of the year" territory. Grant for the moment that it is bad advice; consider how much worse power makes it.

Now compare the reach of that to whichever item on that list I posted you thought the most serious. (And there are some doozies!) Under these assumptions, wouldn't my item belong on that list?

Now let's turn it around for a moment. How credible is a list like that when no one it criticizes has any significant power? How can it be that no one powerful and well-known did one of the ten worst things last year?

My assumptions may be wrong, but there they are. Make of the case I make with them what you will.

An interesting contrast might be drawn with Linda Hirshman's excellent little book Get to Work: A Manifesto For Women of the World. I'm not in total agreement with Hirshman, but she's got a lot to say that I think is spot on. I recommend it.

P.S. I don't have a dog. I do have an indoor cat.

#247 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 10:45 PM:

Brad DeLong @ 242: John A Arkansawyer is not alone in being critical of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean in.

#248 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2014, 10:59 PM:

247
I'm not sure she's entirely qualified to tell women in general about the world of work. CEOs are insulated from a lot of the day-to-day stuff.

(The company I worked at, a pretty good one, has had female officers at both corporate and company level, not a big deal for us. The corporate CEO is female, and she's been CEO for several years, since before Sandberg.)

#249 ::: Cpt. Carnage ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:53 AM:

Lee #226:

Granted, depending on the definition of the isms, it may be reasonable to describe Torgerson and Correia as racists or misogynist. In the very least, their actions do support some racist and misogynist practices, whether they do it on purpose or not. As I wrote in the previous post, I do think their mindset is dangerous.

There are still shades of gray (in case the white is not a good color to use here :D). Vox Day is utterly reprehensible and I wouldn't vote for him in any case. The other guys I could possibly vote for if I liked their stories super super much (although I doubt that is going to happen). But the more I read objectionable blog rants by Torgersen & Correia, the more I find myself thinking that they don't deserve a Hugo either. On the other hand, it feels sort of sad if their abilities to write stories don't make any difference in the Hugo vote.

But maybe that's just me. And maybe it's Torgensen's and Correia's own fault if they keep on banging out objectionable blog rants.

#250 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:56 AM:

taylor collingsworth @243:
Okay, that's fair enough. It's not always fun to play rough, so I can take it down a notch.

I'd suggest about three notches, starting immediately. We don't "play rough" here, and you'd actually do a lot better in the conversation if you apologized.

Also, it's much more than "don't agree with" Day. It's "Day denies that I'm a full human being". "Don't agree with" does not even begin to cover my opinion of his views. And these attitudes have measurable, harmful effects on their targets. This is a known, studied, quantified phenomenon. All the minimizing in the world won't change that reality.

And @245:
It would be helpful to understand in what you think this is happening because following it closely - well, as closely as a working person can - it's not clear to me that this is even what is going on.

Well, follow more closely. I'm a working person with two kids, in sole charge of them this week because my better half is traveling. I moderate two communities, and am currently falling ill. I'm not going to spoon-feed you.

But as a starter, I'd point to this comment, where someone certainly does tell me how to read (discounting harmful context), what to read (works that I don't want to), and how to vote (not without reading the works). The commenter in question uses a number of tactics, including belittling the expressed concerns and namecalling, to make their point. In other words, they don't just state their approach in a straight-up, honorable fashion, but attempt to use social pressure to coerce me and other readers into agreeing. It's lecturing, mildly hectoring, and exactly what I'm talking about.

#251 ::: Cpt. Carnage ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 03:21 AM:

Buddha Buck #240 on voting systems:

It's possible, for instance, for everyone to think that Nifty Idea was good, but not as good as AS, GC, or Beautiful Setting (depending on the tastes of the voter) so that while no one thinks NI was best, everyone thinks NI was second-best. IRV would immediately eliminate NI, which Condorcet would note that the GC and BS partisans voted NI over AS, the AS and GC partisans voted NI over BS, and the AS and BS partisans voted NO over GC, so in the three 1-on-1 races, NI would have won all of them (with different constituencies, mind you), so NI would be the Condorcet winner.

That's a very illuminating example. Different systems take second choices into account in different ways. In IRV, the first votes are important and in some cases it's more difficult for a story to win if it's well-liked across the board but nobody's first choice. I guess that's a feature rather than a glitch, though. I don't necessarily think that nominees everybody considers ok-but-not-great should have better chances.

(Sorry about geeking out about voting protocols if this is not good place for it.)

#252 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 03:27 AM:

Speaking for myself, Cpt. Carnage, I'm happy to hear people geeking out over voting systems here. It'll be my first year voting for Hugos, and I'd rather know how the system really works than be guessing at it.

It's one of the lovely things about Making Light: the ownership encourages geeking out here. All knowledge is contained in Making Light, and there's probably someone here who wants to geek about any given topic with you. And welcome, slightly belatedly, to the Fluorosphere.

#253 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 03:56 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @235:

Thank you. I think the conversation will go better with that out in the open and available for discussion.

I don't have a lot of spoons for getting into the past, current and probable future tactics of feminism and other issues of social justice right now, but I would point out that it's entirely possible that sometimes your perspective on the shape of the problem is not the same as the people at the sharp end (women, for instance, and people of color).

What looks like unproductive infighting to you may simply be frustration at having one set of social justice issues pushed to the side for too long in favor of another set (see also, feminism and the civil rights movement). And sometimes when you enlarge the tent, there's a certain amount of jostling before everyone's in and comfortable. And sometimes, it turns out that not everyone's as comfortable with a big tent as we need them to be (see also, some radical feminists and trans* people).

(I did get my hackles up a little at what looked to me like a dismissal of the effect of microagressions in your earlier comment, because they're a very real part of the difference between the experiences of women, people of color, and gays and those of people higher up on the food chain. They really happen, and they have genuine effects.)

I would push back a little on the economic argument by pointing out that the people who end up with all the money and the positions of power do seem to be overwhelmingly straight, white, and male. We certainly have social norms in place to mute women's contributions and train them to be less effective than men against our standards of appraisal. While those women who do end up economically and politically successful get the advantages of the power structures they're in, that doesn't mean that the power structures are more of a problem than the systems that keep them mostly straight, white and male.

#254 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 07:47 AM:

abi @ 253: I hear you. I'm not against any of the things I'm criticizing so much as I'd like to see people use them better.

I don't have a lot of spoons for getting into the past, current and probable future tactics of feminism and other issues of social justice right now, but I would point out that it's entirely possible that sometimes your perspective on the shape of the problem is not the same as the people at the sharp end (women, for instance, and people of color).

No, it's not. I try to keep that in mind. It's important. But perspective isn't the only thing. Whose interests do I wish to serve? Whose interests am I actually serving? Those are important questions, too.

I crossed this Rubicon back during the first Gulf War, when I suggested to the local anti-war group we should support the gay and lesbian soldiers who were coming out at that time, despite my opposing war with a passion. My thought (aside from basic egalitarianism) was that it's hard for a class of people to advance in society without being able to get their hands on the levers of power. And there's truth in that.

But when we do that, we're also making a fundamentally oppressive system more powerful and secure. Would this be a better world if the only distinction between oppressed and oppressor was the size of the bank book? It'd be better economically for some and worse for the same number. The pointy end of the stick would be doled out without regard to sex, race, orientation, or anything except whether it could poke through your wallet. And that is better.

It's also totally fucked.

(I did get my hackles up a little at what looked to me like a dismissal of the effect of microagressions in your earlier comment, because they're a very real part of the difference between the experiences of women, people of color, and gays and those of people higher up on the food chain. They really happen, and they have genuine effects.)

Again, I agree. But in practice, where does the pushback against microagression occur? Do people push against those further up the hierarchy than themselves? Or do they most push against peers? Or do they push downward? I'm going to suggest that at the least, we can say that pushback occurs almost entirely in ones own social circle. How many of us have someone of significantly relative power in our own circles? I don't.

(I'm not sure about the term, either, but that's a minor thing.)

What looks like unproductive infighting to you

I'm not against that. What does disturb me is massive escalation against allies (a term I despise) as a first move.

I would push back a little on the economic argument by pointing out that the people who end up with all the money and the positions of power do seem to be overwhelmingly straight, white, and male.

White and male, at least. I'd be interested in counting out gay male CEOs (talk about infighting!). And interested in seeing if that stays changed over time. But what I really want is to tear down and remake those positions of power.

#255 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 09:05 AM:

abi-- Sorry to hear you are not feeling well.

I think that there is just a weird misconception of what's going on. I haven't, and I don't know that other people are, telling people what to do.

I will happily say that it sounds petty that you don't want read something from an author you don't agree with. As far as I know there is no fundmental defect with the work - i.e. it's not Mein Kampf - and no one expects you to vote any particular way. Well, I take that back, a lot of people have tried to tell you have to vote, what to read, etc, but it has not been from the "others" that you are unhappy with. I have seen people like John Scalzi tell you what to do:

'Apropos of nothing in particular, however, I will note that in every category it is possible to rank a nominated work below “No Award” if, after reading the work in question and giving it fair and serious consideration, you decide that it doesn’t deserve to be on the ballot and'

But I can't say that I have seen "the otherside" make such a demand. And no, saying that refusing to read it is petty is not trying to tell you what to do.

#256 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 09:37 AM:

taylor collingsworth @255:Calling someone's actions petty is indeed trying to pressure them into doing something by leveraging potential guilt. It is a very transparent tactic.
There isn't any requirement to read anything on the list. There aren't any rules. Someone could choose to flip a series of coins if they wish. Not reading material that is potentially stressful is a perfectly fine thing to do.

So far, the VD piece was the only one available. It was very unimpressive. As Correia and Torgersen have recommended the VD piece, that tells me something of what to expect from their prose. Their blogging also informs the general background that I will bring to the table when I read them. No reading is performed in isolation. Maybe I'll be surprised and they are modern day Hemmingways--we'll see.

Scalzi was simply providing information on voting procedures. Note that he recommended reading everything.

#257 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 09:43 AM:

taylor, you keep saying "an author you don't agree with," and ignoring everyone who's told you that that isn't the point at all. This is either stupid or deliberate, and I know you're not stupid.

You're arguing with a straw man, and declaring yourself the winner. I don't see why any of us should pay any attention to you, since you're harping on your already-answered point, and ignoring what several of us have told you is the real issue.

And no, I'm not going to explain it yet again. Read back.

#258 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 10:06 AM:

I think "an author you don't agree with" is a reasonable approximation.

I do come into this discussion with a bit of pre-existing aggravation. I'm expected to read sff that varies between "actively hostile to" and "completely ignores" a very big part of my identity[1]. Literally, I can't be part of the sff-reading world without doing so. I've read exactly one series in the last 10 years that reflected that piece of my identity.

So why is is such a big deal that Brandon Sanderson, and Taylor Collingsworth, think "read all the nominees" is a key part of being a good citizen of the sff world?

(The part of my identity that's missing in sff: religious institutions as a good source of identity that deal with real supernatural powers; the only series that I've read that portrays this is Lackey's "Heirs of Alexandria").

1) I owe a shout-out to abi for pointing this out so I saw it, rather than having an underlying aggravation that I couldn't correctly name.

#259 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 10:10 AM:

taylor collingsworth @255, it is not being "petty" to refuse to read a work I dislike. I've bounced off of bad novels within the first paragraph. Is it "petty" to decide not to finish it, wasting hours of my time, if I can tell in the first page that I'll dislike the work?

When I was younger and had considerably more time to indulge in reading, I made it a point of pride to finish anything I started. This lead me to read some truly excreble works. I've learned, from personal experience, if I say "meh" in the first few pages, the work MAY improve (although I can't recall a single case where it developed into something award-worthy; merely "mildly interesting; not a waste of time"), but if I say "ughhh!" than my experience tells me it never will. (I finally broke this habit with "God-Emperor of Dune, which flew into the wall at high velocity when I was about a third of the way through.)

And if the work starts by insulting me, denegrating me, belittling me, or actively calling for harm to come to me, I see no reason whatsoever to give it any attention at all.

(Note: I'm not saying any of the nominated works do this. I've only read Parasite so far of all the offerings; I haven't gotten my Hugo packet yet. I'm just trying to make my position unambiguously clear.)

It's not being "petty" to refuse to read several thousand words that one finds actively hostile, or even merely personally offensive. I would, for example, refuse to read The Turner Diaries no matter how many awards it was up for.

#260 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 10:17 AM:

SamChevre @258, The part of my identity that's missing in sff: religious institutions as a good source of identity that deal with real supernatural powers

Have you read Bujold's Curse of Chalion and its sequels? I also seem to recall that at least some of the "Deryni" books by Katherine Kurtz dealt with this, but it's been decades since I read them, so my memory may be faulty.

#261 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 10:18 AM:

SamChevre: I'm expected to read sff that varies between "actively hostile to" and "completely ignores" a very big part of my identity[1].

Expected by whom? Not by me, certainly. Of the books, SFF and otherwise, I pick up in the store and read a couple paragraphs of, I put 90% of them back down. For various reasons, ranging from "meh" to "if I throw this across the room I'll have to pay for it".

I would not "expect" anyone religious to grit their teeth long enough to make it through anything of Richard Dawkins', for example. (Unless you were being paid to write a review of it.)

(BTW, I found "The Telling" by Ursula K. LeGuin to be respectful both of religion and of the encounter between belief and unbelief, in many forms both benign and hostile.)

#262 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 10:24 AM:

Lila @ 261: I would not "expect" anyone religious to grit their teeth long enough to make it through anything of Richard Dawkins', for example.

I'm sick of him, too, but that may be unfair to potential readers of his earlier, less polemic (polemical?) work, which is solid popular science. (Or so I remember. I was much more irreligious back then and I might feel differently on reading it now.)

#263 ::: lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 10:29 AM:

SamChevre @258, The part of my identity that's missing in sff: religious institutions as a good source of identity that deal with real supernatural powers

I'd second Cassy B's suggestion of Bujold's Chalion books: it sound like they'd be the kind of thing you could be looking for.

Also, have you tried The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell or The Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss? Less "real supernatural powers" there, but definitely SF with characters whose identity is strongly tied to their religions.

#264 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 10:37 AM:

Steve-- I agree 100% there are no rules. I have not seen any of the authors being discussed tell anyone how to do or not do anything directly. I have seen many much more popular and powerful authors tell you to read the book and weigh and vote it under No Award. So I am not really sure where the criticism comes from. I have been trying to follow it, but I am not agreeing with the consensus opinion.

There is a strain of "I can't possible read the work because X". I think that is a fine point of view, for whatever value of X, because as a lot of really smart people have pointed out, including yourself, there is no objective standard for voting for the Hugo. I've been a voter for more than a dozen years, and I've never felt that Worldcon or anyone else has tried to impose a rigid method for how you are to vote. The rules are clear and that's pretty much it.

"Scalzi was simply providing information on voting procedures. Note that he recommended reading everything."

That's not how many people took his comment. His comment said that you could vote no award after reading the work. He later double-downed on that, and I don't think he changed his mind from what he has posted. He did a follow-up post on criticism of his voting standard posts, but I don't think he recanted. From where I sit, that's far more direct request to do what he wants than what anyone from the nominated authors (Day, Coreia, Torg.) have asked for.

Xopher--

You're arguing with a straw man, and declaring yourself the winner. I don't see why any of us should pay any attention to you, since you're harping on your already-answered point, and ignoring what several of us have told you is the real issue.

I don't think I've done any of those things. I certainly haven't declared a winner, though I have a suspicion which side is right.

I do think your point is that it's more than a disagreement, and the, err, disconnect, is so strong that you can't possibly read the work, because it is a disqualification of not only the work, but the author as well. Is that a fair recap? I am sensitive to arguing with straw-men, I hope that this is a fair description.

If that's argument, I think I agree with you that further discussion is fruitless. There are a lot of people who don't believe anything - anything - is an automatic disqualify for reading an artists work, and for voting on it. I think that's a preference. I also don't think it's wrong to characterize that disqualification.

#265 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 10:50 AM:

Scalzi wasn't telling anyone what to do, but he was giving a pretty strong hint. Nothing wrong with that, but he was.

SamChevre @ 258: The part of my identity that's missing in sff: religious institutions as a good source of identity that deal with real supernatural powers.

You know who does that? Gordon Dickson. His Friendlies are a remarkable creation.

That may not be what you're thinking of, but it always comes to mind for me.

#266 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 11:10 AM:

Taylor Collingwood @ 264, Sam Chèvre @258

Is using the SFWA's Twitter feed to racially harass another author something which is 'to a first approximation', just a matter of having a belief?

I don't think it is. Nor do I think that the difference between the two is a 'matter of degree'.

#267 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 11:28 AM:

It's quite easy to cut more slack to one's own side and less slack to the opposition. This means that pressure from one's own side is felt as much milder while pressure from the other side is felt as much harsher.

This first became emotionally clear to me when I read a bunch of more-or-less conservative people get really angry at being called Nazis. I mostly hang out on the left (I'm a libertarian, but non-progressives tend to get on my nerves more than progressives do) so I literally wasn't noticing how much conservatives were getting attacked, or how it might affect them.

The thing to remember is that this goes both ways.

#268 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 11:30 AM:

Cassy-- "I've bounced off of bad novels within the first paragraph. Is it "petty" to decide not to finish it, wasting hours of my time, if I can tell in the first page that I'll dislike the work?"

This is an interesting question. I also used to try to finish everything. That time is also long passed. But I think in my view there is a different standard in voting that I try to hold myself to.

In my opinion, the list of things that are petty include judging a work by it's cover, judging a work by it's gender stereotype, judging a work by it's author - the list goes on.

#269 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 11:39 AM:

On Hugos:
You don't have to read everything. But you also don't have to vote every nominee. (Or even vote at all.)
You also probably shouldn't vote on works you haven't read/seen, unless it's one where you bounced right off, but again, it isn't a requirement.
Remember that you're voting your opinion, and others will differ. Don't expect people to agree with your choices. Don't get mad at them when they don't agree with yours. (You probably don't like everything they do, either.)

#270 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 11:46 AM:

@266 - I think you mean the SWFA author Twitter feed.

Regardless, yes, having or expressing a view, is just that. It is not an "attack".

I think this is just the end of the road. I read the piece that you are referencing contemporaneously, and did not think it was a racial attack on the other party. I re-read it just now, and still don't think so. And I don't think it was/is harassment. I am delighted that a membership organization followed up how they did, but other than that, it's not really relevant on the Hugo's, from my point of view.

#271 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 11:53 AM:

SamChevre 258: Really? There are SFF authors who have called for people who are involved in religious institutions (or even believe they have real supernatural powers) to be murdered, or even denied the right to vote? Who are these authors, so I can denounce them? And who is telling you (or expecting you) to read them, so I can tell them they're wrong?

If there are no such authors, or no one is telling you you have to read them, I call bullshit on your "reasonable approximation."

To simplify it for you: a significant part of your identity is being left out (which is bad). The RSHD is calling for me to be murdered, and for half the adult population to be denied the franchise. It's not the same thing.

taylor 264: It's not a disconnect either. I'll boil it down for you: VD has said he wants me dead. Now he wants my Hugo vote. Fuck that.

If you think that's wrong, then you and I have a disagreement. If you write a SFF story, I will still read it (unless you give evidence of actually subscribing to RSHD-style beliefs).

#272 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 11:54 AM:

Taylor Collingsworth @268, In my opinion, the list of things that are petty include judging a work by it's cover, judging a work by it's gender stereotype, judging a work by it's author - the list goes on.

I don't call that "petty". I call that *human*. And inevitable. <wry> Taking an extreme hypothetical; if I happened to have read, in Mr. Evebad Manpower's own words, that he sincerely believed that women were inherently foolish, immature, subhuman, and should be (benevolantly) enslaved for their own good, then any work of fiction I read by Mr. Manpower would be read through that filter of my knowledge of Manpower's viewpoint. Whether I meant to do so or not. Because we bring all of our experience to a work; we cannot divorce ourselves from the (known) views of the author, or even the subconcious influence of the cover art.

Likewise, even if I had no idea whatsover of the stated views of Mr. Manpower, if he set his work in a society where universal female subjegation was univerally applauded and acknowledged as the Greater Good, *even if that was not the main thrust of the plot*, I would likely find his work unpleasant to read.

I should note, I have read Sterling's Draka books, which feature one of the most toxic cultures I have ever encountered. So it is possible, with exceptional writing, to overcome this handicap, but it is not a low bar to hurdle, nor (I think) should it be.

Likewise, I know rape survivors. They've bounced, hard, off works that describe rape, even where the rape was described as a horrible thing. There are works out there which imply that some women (and men) secretly *want* to be raped, and those would probably seriously harm their recovery and mental health. Poison Ivy Casserole, as the metaphor above says. I would never ask *any* rape survivor to read such a work, even for the purpose of evaluating its overal literary quality. Because it would do active and real harm to them.

#273 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 12:09 PM:

Tieing up a few loose ends:

Thanks for the suggestions, many of which I haven't read.

Xopher
I'm talking about books, not authors; I don't know much about the private views of most of the authors I read. People are criticizing books for having no likable _ characters; I'm noting that approximately zero books have likable _ characters for my version of _. (And a lot of books--maybe 25%--have really unlikable _ characters.)

Lila
When I say "I'm expected to read," I mean "there's maybe one book every year that isn't like this." Books with good institutional religions are about as common as books with gay heroes. (I can think of one series in each category--both by Mercedes Lackey.)

#274 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 12:48 PM:

Re: good SF with religion and religious belief as central tenets, I'd recommend picking up Michael A. Burnstein's "I Remember the Future", a collection of his short fiction. The famous one is "Kaddish for the Last Survivor", which is a science fiction story centering around a Jewish mourning ritual, but the one that made me buy the book was one I'd read in Analog some time previously, called "Sanctuary", about a Catholic priest and an alien who claims sanctuary within his church. I was very upset when that copy of Analog went missing in a move, so I was thrilled to find out it was going to be in a book, and have a signed first-edition. I'm not a religious person myself, so I can't speak as to how accurately it reflects the truth of characters whose religion is a central part of their identity, but I did enjoy the stories very much.

In fact, it's been a while. I reckon I'll re-read them.

#275 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 12:50 PM:

Michael A. Burstein. Just one N. Gah.

#276 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 01:08 PM:

Mixing the poison ivy cassarole/rusty nail soufflé discussion with the voting system geekery:

What voting system would be appropriate for allowing people to vote only on the subset of works they have read? I mean, suppose you're not going to read the WOT books before you vote, it might be nice to be able to cast a ballot that was neutral w.r.t. them, while still voting up the Intriguing Idea and voting down the Quinine Quiche.


#277 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 01:08 PM:

#247 ::: janetl "John A Arkansawyer is not alone in being critical of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean in"

There is, I think, a difference between:

a. "being critical of Sheryl Sandberg's 'Lean in'", and

b. calling "Lean in" the "most racist/privileged thing a white feminist did in 2013"

no?

#278 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 01:32 PM:

As an aside, demanding that all Hugo voters read through all the works in the packet, including the 13-volume series and the serving of poison ivy casserole[1], is asking an awful lot of people who are doing this in their spare time for no pay. I mean, if I volunteer to be on a conference program committee, or to review a paper for a journal, I'll feel bound to read the whole thing, but not simply to be willing to cast a vote for a book award. Demanding this kind of time and spoon commitment as the cost of admission for casting a vote is a good way to not get many votes.

Outside the Hugo voting, I also think it is easy to go wrong by being too willing to refuse to read stuff by people for ideological or tribal reasons--even when their ideologies are pretty toxic or their tribe is acting to make your life worse. I'm not the least bit interested in force-feeding anyone Poison Ivy Cassarole, or browbeating people into taking a bite of something that's going to ruin their week, however. In my own life, I think I have benefited from being willing to read and listen outside of my comfort zone in a lot of areas.

I also think that a widespread decision within a society or subculture to shun or refuse to read/listen to some classes of ideas for ideological or tribal reasons is not very healthy for the subculture, in general. Again, I understand not wanting to engage with toxic stuff, but it's very easy to seal yourself off from opposing world views to the point where you never have your own blind spots pointed out to you. I'd say that a fair bit of the US is actively doing this now, and it's not serving them or the rest of the US particularly well.

And finally, I was thinking about the discussions of why many people don't care to read something that forces them to engage with crap they already deal with every day, whether that's casual sexism, racism, homophobia, dismissiveness of religion, or whatever else. I understand this, and I do it myself--there are some issues I don't care to read about because they're too close to stuff I've already lived through or am living through now. But this led me to what seems like a new insight:

When the VD/Correa/etc. crowd complains about too many stories with gay characters, POC characters, strong female characters, etc, I wonder if this is largely what they're complaining about. They're visibly on the losing end of a culture war (thank God), and so these are all sore spots and bruised toes that these stories are landing on. If they're watching their side lose the battle on gay rights, and they've long since lost the battle on women's rights[2].

[1] I'll assume here that this amounts to something that's actively unpleasant to eat, and maybe leaves behind some unpleasant effects for awhile, but won't send you to the hospital. Though the line "that would be like eating poison ivy for the fiber" from Xopher is definitely one I'm going to use in the future.

[2] Inferring what VD and company would likely prefer the world to look like, the current world has to look like a 99% lost battle, for all its remaining problems from our perspective.

#279 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 01:36 PM:

Do we have a Queasy Quiche category?

#280 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 01:59 PM:

albatross @ 278

too many stories with gay characters, POC characters, strong female characters, etc

I wonder if a clearer articulation of the current unhappiness (not just this incident) is helped by a thought experiment. Let's imagine that the whole category of science fiction/fantasy/speculative fiction went away, and we were shelving books in those genres along with this-world books. Some of them would be thrillers, shelved with Clavell (Elizabeth Moon's "Familias Regnant", for example); some would be romances, shelved with Nora Roberts (Patricia Briggs); some would be coming-of-age books, shelved with Ralph Moody (Tamora Pierce); some would be "bad things happen," shelved with "In Cold Blood"; some would be erotica (later Heinlein); some would be detective stories; and so on.

Thrillers used to dominate the genre; they don't anymore. Thriller-lovers find it harder and harder to find stuff they like, in a genre where that used to be easy.

#281 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:00 PM:

Albatross #276:

Condorcet methods typically only care about pair-wise comparisons, so a vote of II>QQ>RNS>WOT>NOAWARD>PIC would be counted as if it were 15 votes: II>QQ, II>RNS, II>WOT, II>NOAWARD, II>PIC, QQ>RNS, etc. The remaining tallying protocol would only care about the results of those 15 sub-races.

Traditionally, candidates who are not ranked on a given ballot are treated as if they are ranked equally, but lower than any ranked candidate. If WOT was left off half the ballots, but felt award-worthy by all that included it, this might show WOT tying with NOAWARD 2500 to 2500, even though those who felt it worth considering liked it.

It would also be reasonable, especially for an award like the Hugos, to simply not count missing items as for or against that candidate in any sub-race. So if half the voters leave off WOT because of not reading it, the final tally would show WOT beating NI 1500 to 1000 and NI beating QQ 3000 to 2000. Only 2500 out of the 5000 total ballots voted on WOT, and that would show.

That variant would allow voters to only rank candidates they had personal information about, and ignore other candidates they didn't have enough data to evaluate. Some checks could be added (such as requiring a minimum number or percentage of ballots to have a candidate for the candidate to be considered), and most likely the Condorcet tie-breaker would consider the number of ballots cast with a candidate when breaking ties, but it seems a reasonable variant.

But any system which allows voters to transparently ignore candidates would also effectively require a voter to explicitly vote against candidates they absolutely do not want to win. Leaving PIC off the ballot would not count against PIC.

#282 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:09 PM:

@Xopher--

That was a really great summary of the question:

"It's not a disconnect either. I'll boil it down for you: VD has said he wants me dead. Now he wants my Hugo vote. Fuck that."

1. I don't believe, unless I missed it, he asked you or told you to done anything to indicate he wants your Hugo vote. Instead I have seen dozens of of authors demand you not give it to him and and also, suggest, you vote No Award above his work. So it is possible I missed where he was asking for people to vote for his work, or you, or anyone related to you, so I may in fact be wrong on that regard.

2. I think I also missed where he wants you dead. So if I am wrong on that, happy to be corrected and you have my apologies.

#283 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:24 PM:

#278 ::: albatross

The version that spooks me the most is people I've seen on line (sorry, no cite) who don't want to read older sf because there's too much bigotry in it.

It's their time and attention, but it seems like a loss for people to encourage each other to cut themselves off from the past that much.

#284 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:33 PM:

282
You mean all those people who showed up here trying to convince us that poison ivy casserole is really tasty and if we'd just try it we'd agree, didn't really mean it?

#285 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:37 PM:

PJ-- I think that is attributed the falsehood that the fans of Day and the others don't ever try to praise the work, only criticize others.

But regardless, that has nothing to do with the author. I can only speak for myself, but it is not credible to hold anyone responsible for something other people write or say.

#286 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:40 PM:

Brad DeLong @ 277: I was criticizing a hyperbolic list by suggesting its hyperbole was out of proportion and poorly directed, and by suggesting an alternative target which was more deserving and more formidable.

So yes, I was being hyperbolic, but I don't know that my target was what was out of proportion. Hyperbole aside, perniciously bad advice from prominent people does immense, widespread damage. I'm more ticked off about that than Beyonce not being a bigger star.

(Not that she doesn't deserve it--what I've heard of the new record is awesome, and I keep meaning to find a physical copy to buy--but if I'm going to worry about that for someone, it'll be Janelle Monae, to whom all my conversations turn lately.)

#287 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:43 PM:

taylor collingsworth: Beale has also said that women should not be allowed to vote. I will directly quote him: "I do not believe any women should be given the responsibility of voting in any democratic or quasi-democratic system." So if he wants my vote, like Xopher said, fuck that.

#288 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:47 PM:

#273 ::: SamChevre

I'd say that books with good institutions of any kind are very rare, though it's possible that religion is attacked more than government.

A few books where the government swoops in and solves a problem-- rot13 because these are spoliers for the endings.

Qnex Ybeq bs Qrexubyz

Jura Jr Jrer Erny

I think I know of a third one, but I'm not remembering it at the moment.

As I recall, Doranna Durgin's Dun Ladies Jess has a magicians guild which is right to restrict the use of magic.

The Space Patrol in Heinlein's Space Cadet is competent and benevolent.

#289 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:47 PM:

Taylor Collingsworth:

Is there some part of We vote for what we LIKE that you don't understand?

If I find the author's work unreadable, I'll vote it below "No Award."

If I bounce off the novel/novella/whatever -- It too drops below "No Award."

If the author has done something offensive or blogs in a manner that demonstrates their hatred for other human beings, I will not read their works lest I be led into sin.

#290 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:51 PM:

Cally @287, Beale said that? Seriously? Where?

And here I was inventing a hyper-misogenist author as a Hyperbolic Example. I didn't realize it actually might match up with one of the Hugo authors....

#291 ::: abi, who is also Idumea ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:54 PM:

taylor collingsworth:

You know, at this point you're just throwing anything out there that might look like a coherent answer to whoever spoke last. About a third of your sentences don't even make grammatical sense, which makes it really hard to figure out what you're actually saying.

From what I can see, you're just trying to wear everyone out. It's a waste of our time and energy to treat you with the respect that we try to accord to guests in our community; you're not earning it with good, engaged conversation.

So it occurs to me that if you have time to see how much of everyone's energy you can soak up, you also have time to go read the other thread, where a lot of stuff you're denying occurred is actually visible. I'd suggest you go do that. Indeed, why don't I help you do that by suspending your commenting privileges here for, say, 48 hours?

You might also try reading some of what your boy Day says about gays, people of color, and women, and see if you can figure out why folks here who fall into those categories, or care about people who do, might not be all-fired keen to give him the benefit of the doubt.

You can come back in two days. Demonstrate that you have some sense of what went on in that prior thread, and you can stay. Waste anyone's time any more and you're gone for good.

#292 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 02:56 PM:

Don't you like it when this great blog feels obligated to discuss the utterances of SocialDisease and/or of his minions?

#293 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 03:00 PM:

John A., several: One point I failed to make sufficiently clear is that I was using "bigotry" as an umbrella term so that I didn't have to keep typing "racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry". It may be that we're having semantic differences over the term "bigotry" itself; it sounds as though, to you, that word carries a tag of "+ conscious and deliberate", and to me it doesn't. Institutionalized racism, sexism, whatever is still bigotry. Unconscious bigotry is still bigotry. Microaggressions are bigotry. Saying "It's not really bigotry unless you're doing it on purpose" is a distinction that makes no difference.

Did you read the TNC article I linked in my comment? Because I wasn't kidding when I said he could explain it better than I can. So can Scott Woods, and I recommend that you read both articles and think about them before dismissing my comment as "a counterproductive hurry to tell someone off". There's a reason that I provide links to articles by people of color rather than just trying to paraphrase them; any paraphrasing I do will inevitably be run thru a white-privilege filter.

(re microaggressions) I'm starting to think that the compulsion to right every wrong, no matter how small, is the social version of the political failure of demanding your ten francs.

I have to disagree. Microaggressions are one of the things that support and enable the structures of institutionalized bigotry, and you can't even begin to work on fixing something that you don't realize is there. Calling attention to microaggressions (which, again, is NOT the same thing as "the compulsion to right every wrong, no matter how small") is an important part of the process. This is something that can't be fixed by just concentrating on the big stuff at the top, without addressing all the lesser things that go into propping up said big stuff.

taylor collingsworth:

... on second thought, no. Your arguments in this thread have been so consistently disingenuous about so many things that there's no point. As Xopher says, if you haven't figured it out by now, it's unlikely that having it explained one more time is going to magically make you understand; either you are determined not to understand or you understand perfectly well and are not arguing in good faith.

Cpt. Carnage, #249: But the more I read objectionable blog rants by Torgersen & Correia, the more I find myself thinking that they don't deserve a Hugo either. On the other hand, it feels sort of sad if their abilities to write stories don't make any difference in the Hugo vote. But maybe that's just me. And maybe it's Torgensen's and Correia's own fault if they keep on banging out objectionable blog rants.

I think you've made a key point here. First off, it's not just you; this issue has been the heart of the entire discussion from the beginning. Secondly, it's not that their writing ability doesn't make any difference -- it's that their books are only part of the continuum of who they are, and for some of us the rest of their writing is screaming so loudly as to drown out the part that's only their books.

Cassy, #272: Tangentially, I've started tagging books in LibraryThing with "rape" when it's a significant part of the plot or the background. I am considering expanding this to "throwaway rape" when it's just something the author threw in because hey, that's what the bad guys do. In the process, I've been surprised more than once by rape scenes that my brain just seems to have glossed over as "expected", and by the amount of internal emotional pushback I get about including others -- the back of my own brain saying stuff like, "Yeah, but it's genuinely important to the story and it doesn't eroticize the scene, so maybe you shouldn't tag it."

SamChevre, #273: Good religious figures -- the Lord Darcy series by Randall Garrett. Gay hero series -- the Doors books by Diane Duane.

Shadow Unit includes 2 gay characters in its ensemble cast.

I would classify Duane's Young Wizards series as providing good religious figures interacting with genuine powers, but it's not specifically Christian (or specifically any other religion either).

Ursula Vernon's "Black Dogs" duology also provides both positive and negative religious figures, but again, not any Earth religion.

Zenna Henderson's People stories feature a positive religion that's an obvious analog to Christianity.

Digger (the 2012 Hugo winner for Best Graphic Story) is pretty much entirely about a religious quest, and includes both positive and negative religious figures.

I'm sure there are more in my collection, but that's what comes to mind off the top of my head.

#294 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 03:10 PM:

@289: If the author has done something offensive or blogs in a manner that demonstrates their hatred for other human beings, I will not read their works lest I be led into sin.

I'd go further:

If the author has sufficiently convinced me of their hatred for other human beings, I will not read their works. Period.

Look, VD's Hugo-nominated work is reportedly entirely inoffensive. Aside from its male-only cast, it is not propaganda for VD's belief that women shouldn't be allowed to vote or have a say in who they marry or how many children they have.* It does not argue that gay people ought to be shot, as VD has argued in other spaces. It is badly-written, boring, milquetoast crap, but it is politically near-inoffensive crap.

So my choice not to read it isn't because I'm concerned about triggering content or reading something I "disagree" with.**

My choice not to read it stems from a paraphrase of Xopher's assertion:

VD has stated he wants gay people dead and women reduced to chattel. Now, by virtue of being on the Hugo ballot, he proposes to take up my valuable reading time? Fuck that.

The bigot imposes enough upon me by attacking my very humanity. I don't owe any writing of his a spot in my To Be Read slot.

--

*I am remembering a blog post of his that basically argued for a return to the days when fathers arranged their daughters' marriages, with the daughters having no say in it, because 1. father knows better than daughter what's best for daughter, and 2. arranged marriages happen younger than marriages by choice, and younger marriages result in more children, and less children means the Undesirable People will outbreeding the Desirable People. Thus, being outbred by the Undesirable People is all the fault of feminism and the advance of women's rights; return women to their proper status as their father's property to be disposed of as early as possible, and they will return to their proper job of popping out as many babies as possible.

As we said above: Fuck that.


** Like abi, I deeply resent the rhetorical device of reducing "He denies my very humanity" to "He says things I disagree with," and then scolding me for refusing to read works by people who say things I disagree with.

I notice that abi very specifically pointed this out to taylor, who came right back with, "Yes, I do think it's petty to refuse to read works by people you disagree with." *facepalm forever*

Also, if taylor thinks that there's nothing vicious or racist or humanity-denying about VD's attack on N K Jemisin, I fear there is little rhetorical common ground on which we can meet.

#295 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 03:11 PM:

On the subthread of books with religious themes, I'm fond of David Weber's Safehold series (battling a theocracy gone a muck). Not overtly any Earthly religion, but an amalgamation of several. Interestingly, I find the theology expressed in-world to be useful for explaining my own theological beliefs, but that's me.

#296 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 03:13 PM:

My apologies, abi; your 48-hour time-out on taylor had not yet been announced when I began writing. I will refrain from addressing him or speaking directly about him until his time-out is over.

#297 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 03:32 PM:

By the way, we (and I include myself here) doubted upthread whether Daysies and Correia fans read books out of their political comfort zones.

I think that we should remember that many of the people who came into the previous thread to lecture and hector also cited authors whom they disagreed with but read (most often Scalzi, but Stross was up there too).

Mind you, I don't recall any of them citing a female author in that mix. And there was certainly a lot of disparagement of the Scalzi book that actually won a Hugo (Redshirts). And, of course, I don't know that any of them have read a lot of books by people who earnestly argue that they should be denied the franchise, are not fully human, or should be elimiated from the face of the earth.

But, still.

#298 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 03:51 PM:

Em @274:

Your comment about Michael Burstein's "Sanctuary" reminds me of a novelette by James White with the same title (Analog, December 1988) and a similar plot: an alien makes first contact with the nuns of a convent. Scientists, government, etc. are miffed that he didn't go to them first. It's been years since I read it; I may re-read it soon and comment here again afterward.

On avoiding old books because of bigotry:

I think it was C.S. Lewis who recommended reading at least one old book for every two new books; new books, however much they differ among themselves, are all liable to unconsciously confirm you in unquestioned beliefs common to almost everyone in our culture, while old books can sometimes challenge those assumptions. Various past times and places all had their own blind spots and unquestioned assumptions, but they aren't the same as ours. Some of those things almost everyone used to believe, and which almost no one believes now, are points where we've objectively, provably learned better; but how likely is it that that's true of *all* the points where we disagree with the people of 18th century France or 10th century Japan or 4th century B.C. Greece?

This advice may be easier for some people to implement than others -- it's probably easier and more fun to read 19th-century English books if you're the kind of person who would have had a halfway decent chance of being high on the social ladder in 19th century England, for instance, and similarly for other times and places. But it may be useful advice even when difficult.

#299 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 04:06 PM:

Re subthread on books where religion is treated reasonably respectfully

SamChevre thanks for bringing this up and Nancy Lebovitz for broadening it to institutions in general. I can remember some years ago being really frustrated that almost any story I read that included religious characters treated them as deluded or charlatans. Others have already suggested a number of works I've enjoyed. To the list I'd add:

Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksennarrion and the follow-on series that begins with Oath of Fealty. The characters include believers in several different deities; some are overly dogmatic but most are not, and they generally treat each other with reasonable respect. (With the exception of the followers of a particularly evil god.)

Janet Kagan's Hellspark and Mirabile both have institutions that seem to work pretty well. Not perfect, but well intentioned and generally competent and honest. In Hellspark religions are treated as a natural part of culture and generally to be respected, until they stop respecting you.

There are probably others.


#300 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 04:16 PM:

OtterB: Thanks for reminding me of Elizabeth Moon's Paksennarrion books - I loved them years ago, but I don't think I've reread them in about a decade. I may need to rectify that.

#301 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 04:22 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @283: The version that spooks me the most is people I've seen on line (sorry, no cite) who don't want to read older sf because there's too much bigotry in it.

I actually encountered a young guy (mid-20s) who reported bouncing off of ST:TOS because of the sexism. It made me sad, but in a hopeful kind of way. I did croggle him when I pointed out that ST was very progressive for its time.

#302 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 04:22 PM:

Walter Miller's "A Canticle for Leibowitz"...

#303 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 04:50 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @300, If you liked the original Paks books, in the last several years Moon has been writing a sequel series to the original Paksennarian trilogy; I think she's up to about book four or so.

#304 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 05:12 PM:

Another SFF example of a really excellent portrayal of religion and religious institutions is the Dragon Age series of games by Bioware, if you like your fiction interactive. Games are still a developing art form, but the second Dragon Age game in particular (while having flaws elsewhere) focuses very much on contrasting two groups with very different religious ideologies, one of which is analogous to Generic Christianity (as far as I understand, anyway; folks more familiar with the details are welcome to correct me) and the other of which is a non-deistic belief set that I'm not sure has a real-world analogue.

What I like about the portrayal of religion in these games is that it runs a gamut, just as in real life; there are weird cults, there are people whose lives have been saved, there are people who do unspeakable evil in the name of what they think their deity would want, there are people who dedicate their lives to doing good, etc. It's made up of people. One character in the second game, in particular, has a very strong faith which informs every action he takes. I found his constant preaching while running around town a bit tiresome, even if it was all positive ("you can be saved!" as opposed to "you're going to be damned!"), but he spends the game trying to decide whether he can do the most good as a lay brother or as a very powerful politician, and wondering what his Maker would want him to do, and I found that a very compelling decision and storyline.

The institutions aren't good or evil, but the people in them have the spectrum, and I liked that very much.

Also the game is fun.

#305 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 05:17 PM:

Cassy B @303 and Benjamin Wolfe @300, the fifth and final book of the sequel series will be out the end of this month. Paks is a secondary character in this series; others from the original books and new characters come more to the forefront.

#306 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 05:19 PM:

Cassy B. (303): In fact, the fifth (and final?) book in that series is coming out later this month.

#307 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 05:21 PM:

And OtterB beat me to the information, because I had to look up the publication date and number. :)

#308 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 05:24 PM:

SamChevre @ 258:
“(The part of my identity that's missing in sff: religious institutions as a good source of identity that deal with real supernatural powers; the only series that I've read that portrays this is Lackey's "Heirs of Alexandria").”

Another vote for The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls and The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold. Definitely not Christianity but the religious institutions and dedicates are realistically portrayed (most dedicates are positive and devout, few are venal) the Gods actually exist, the story contains actual supernatural elements and the Theology is logical, consistent and thoughtful (and there are schisms!).

I also very much liked how the world view of Dr. Ethan Urquhart in Ethan of Athos, also by Bujold, stayed consistent and true throughout the book in the face of a lot of reality contradicting what he’d been grown up with. His conversation with Terrance on humanity from the POV of his religion was well done. No actual supernatural (as opposed to superhuman) powers in that book, though.

You might also check out Still Forms on Foxfield by Joan Slonczewski for a portrayal of a positive Christian culture clashing with a secular one.

CassyB in #260: My memory of the Deryni books, at least the first ones, is of an overall corrupt church with some good dedicates. The later Camber prequels had more positive portrayals IIRC. It was a long time ago for me, too.


Xopher@ 271 You got a different message out of SamChevre’s complaint in 258 than I did. I got out of it the same thing a lot of others are complaining about in SF—“not enough characters like me”. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations is a good thing, including positive portrayals of devout individuals and religious institutions.

#309 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 05:41 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA @308 responding to Xopher @271

Xopher, I agree that "authors saying in real life that people like me should be killed, should not exist, etc." is the worst case.

Moving on to lesser, but still important, concerns about religious belief and practice as a form of diversity, ULTRAGOTHA understood Sam to raise the "not enough characters like me" issue, which I agree is valid.

Speaking for myself, not for SamChevre, I would have placed my own concern about portrayal of religion in the category of "characters like me are overwhelmingly negatively portrayed."

And by "like me" I mean, in very broad terms, having a connection with the numinous through private and public practice that is important to their identity and their life.

#310 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 05:51 PM:

If taylor comes back and shows that he's read the other thread and understands the issues, I will respond to anything he addresses to me. I will refrain from commenting on what he's said so far, since he's unable to respond.

#311 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 05:58 PM:

That's good to know; I could use more reading material after Conference Season ends. I'll have to go looking for the newer books.

#312 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 06:04 PM:

@301: In fairness, *I* bounce on ST:TOS these days. I loved it when I was twelve, but when I try to re-watch, all I get is camp nostalgia. Which is fine for what it is, but there's nothing groundbreaking about it any more, however amazing it was at the time. And the special effects hold up like tissue paper in a rainstorm.

The old Trek I loved was mostly in the novels, and I realized even at the time that the novels were a lot more daring and inclusive and had a lot less in the way of miniskirts and eye-rolling and "oh, hey, look what we can do with green body paint!"

#313 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 06:13 PM:

312
You got that right!
(I find the non-human characters in Duane's novels are a lot of fun to read, and they feel real. There are religions in those books, also, for what it's worth.)

#314 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 06:18 PM:

albatross, #278: demanding that all Hugo voters read through all the works in the packet, including the 13-volume series and the serving of poison ivy casserole, is asking an awful lot of people who are doing this in their spare time for no pay

Very much so. This is what I mean when I use the term "doing one's fannish duty", and I think there are genuinely people who see it that way. It's more excusable when you're talking about the short fiction, but even there someone with reading difficulties may not be physically able to finish everything. I'm not saying that this is not the ideally best way to go about it, but I am saying that there's nothing wrong with taking what shortcuts are available to you.

Re your second paragraph, I think you're edging awfully close to that moral-superiority ledge again. Borrowing Serge's term, I think there's a significant difference between "queasy quiche" (which is what I would call "reading outside my comfort zone") and what has been established here as "poison ivy casserole" -- actively toxic in ways that someone reading from inside the fortress of straight-white-Christian-male privilege may not be able to grasp.

One of the reasons I follow Slacktivist is that it gives me an overview of things I would probably not choose to read for what you call "ideological or tribal reasons". Reading them straight (by clicking on the links) is something I filter by a combination of how toxic they appear to be and how many spoons I have available. I agree with you that it's a good idea to know what the people who hate you are saying, but I emphatically do not believe that it's necessary to swallow the whole undiluted dose of hate in order to do that.

SamChevre, #280: I think that's a positively brilliant insight. I've said before that SF/F is the most flexible of all genres; you can have mysteries, romances, Westerns, thrillers, horror, or even lit-fic within the confines of SF/F. But it definitely used to be the case that action-adventure and thrillers were dominant, and that can no longer be said to be true.

Jacque, #301: Hell, the only reason *I* don't bounce off ClassicTrek at this point is the nostalgia factor. What's interesting, though, is the way the officially-blessed novels have managed to sneak thru a lot of cultural changes to make the Federation look more like America-now (albeit still idealized) than America-1960. So you might try steering people like the guy you met toward the books, which are growing and changing in a way that the series itself can't.

And I've had exactly the same discussion with a (younger, male) friend about the early Pern books. I had to explain to him that for the intended audience in the period in which they were written (of which I was one) there was absolutely nothing either unusual or objectionable about F'nor/Brekke, and my best guess as to why that was.

#315 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 07:06 PM:

Lee (314): SF/F is the most flexible of all genres

The way I've phrased that in the past is that SF/F is defined* by the setting, not by the plot. Within the fantastic** setting, almost any kind of plot will work, at least in theory.

*such fuzzy definitions as we have anyway
**'fantastic' as in 'fantasy' not as in 'wonderfully good'

#316 ::: Clare ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 07:09 PM:

Delurking to say, regularly engaging with ideas and politics you disagree with is a good idea but fiction doesn't need to be the way you do it. For instance, I feel that the social costs and benefits of gun ownership are illustrated every day in the local newspaper, so a shoot-em-up thriller probably won't enlighten me any.
Also that some ideas--say, the number of angels that can dance on a pinhead, or the full humanity of any portion of the human race--don't need to be engaged with further.
And that the last book I threw across the room for intolerable misogyny and racism was written by an author very definitely left of center. I wasn't expecting the racism and misogyny from what I'd read about the book, I wonder if reviewers had given the author a pass because they knew he didn't mean it? At any rate, I don't know why he felt the need to tell his story in that way, but I didn't feel like putting up with it.
Also, Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead might be a little too irreverent about it, but it does fit SamChevre's bill.

#317 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 07:30 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA @308 I was just thinking about both Curse of Chalion and Ethan of Athos wrt this thread when you posted them.

So, I'll just +1 them, and mention that I love the interaction between the people and their gods in Chalion.

#318 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 07:51 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA 308: You missed something. Here I am at 257:

taylor, you keep saying "an author you don't agree with," and ignoring everyone who's told you that that isn't the point at all.
Immediately following that (the next comment, posted 18 minutes later), here's SamChevre at 258:
I think "an author you don't agree with" is a reasonable approximation.
The rest of that comment is about "not enough characters like me," an issue I understand and appreciate.*

But that's a whole different issue than having an author say you should be killed or have no rights, and the first line of 258 is trying to say that it's the same thing (and given that I made it clear how angry that was making me when taylor did it, a pretty hostile thing to do). So I pointed out the patent absurdity of this; and I was very polite, considering.

*While I don't think the lack of gay Pagan vegetarian punsters is a big a deal as seeing no black characters EVER, it's enough to give me an inkling and apply multipliers, and recognize that I still can't really feel the exclusion the way a POC would.

#319 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 07:52 PM:

SamChevre @280: Thrillers used to dominate the genre; they don't anymore. Thriller-lovers find it harder and harder to find stuff they like, in a genre where that used to be easy.

Haven’t science fiction fans been having this argument for half a century now?

#320 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 09:02 PM:

Xopher, it's likely I'd toss a book with Gay, Pagan, Vegetarian Punsters against the wall, along with books with Straight, Christian, Carnivore Punsters and books with sexual orientation, religion and dietary preference-of-your-choice Punsters. Glck.

Gay, Pagan, Vegetarian Punsters in person or on message board threads would be quite acceptable. (Though not to my wife. She's reacted badly to your puns on Twitter before.)

I agree completely that "author you don't agree with" is a complete mischaracterization of the issues surrounding Beale, Card, Resnik, et al.


eric - Everyone should read all of Bujold. Everyone. Speaking of SF/F is setting, not plot, that's practically Bujold's writing style. She does everything from Romance to MilFic to Caper to Mysteries, to Thrillers, to High Adventure. All of it really well written.

#321 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 09:27 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA 320: Hmm, OK. A few things:

  1. Apologies to your wife for the puns on Twitter.
  2. Can you remember which ones she was particularly outraged by? I wouldn't ask, but there are notches at stake.*
  3. You've given me an idea: a novel told by an unreliable narrator who hates puns and refuses to repeat them, but just says "And then Xopher made a horrible pun, and we all threw whatever objects came to hand." The key, you see, would be that the setup is for a real pun that I have in mind, and the reader would have to figure out what they are. I could have a contest for who spotted most of them!

Also, yes yes yes Bujold++.

*The one you probably want to burn me at right now.

#322 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 09:31 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA... Got something against punsters? :-)

#323 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 09:34 PM:

Anybody wants Putrid Pudding? Or Sordid Souffle? Bellicose Blanc-Mange?

#324 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 09:40 PM:

Another religion-positive book I'm fond of: Martha Wells, Wheel of the Infinite.

#325 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 09:41 PM:

Mary Aileen #315: SF/F is defined* by the setting, not by the plot

Hmm. My first thought was "what about the "props"? Following that thought, there's something like a subgenre about fantastic elements intruding into our world. Or does that imply the "fantastic setting" of "a world where that could happen"?

#326 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 10:04 PM:

Xopher, I don't remember. I just remember that for one of them, she told you to "bite your tongue" when I read it to her, and *then* I told her who tweeted it.

If you write your novel, I want an acknowledgement; but NOT a courtesy copy.. :-P

#327 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 10:07 PM:

Dave Harmon (325): "fantastic setting" of "a world where that could happen"

Yes, precisely.

#328 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 11:15 PM:

I want Bellicose Blanc-Mange...

#329 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2014, 11:33 PM:

(Disclaimer: This is a reply to a comment by Naomi Krtizer on the earlier thread from "On the science-fiction world’s topic du jour". I'm posting it here because Idumea Arbacoochee suggested we "pick up their drinks and coasters and move over to this thread for further conversation", and so I take it it's an okay place to put it.)

#133 Naomi Kritzer (earlier thread) wrote:

I mean, my friends in fandom mostly know about this, but I have a lot of friends who are voracious readers and enthusiastic SF/F readers but are not sufficiently plugged into organized fandom that they know much of anything about the Hugos.

I went to a few worldcons decades ago, but, well, it was decades ago. It quite literally never occurred to me that being a supporting member would get you cool fiction. So, um, cool. Thanks.

Does anyone happen to know the usual timeframe for this? I.e. when you have to join by to get the fiction, and then when the votes are due (thus, how long you have to read it all)? (Trying to figure out, among other things, if it's too late to do it for this year...)

If you join past the vote date, do you still get the fiction packet? (I wouldn't blame them if the answer was no, but I'm curious...)

... Given all the sturm-and-drung that went on in that thread after this comment, it feels like it's ancient somehow. But I find the prospect of a big packet of reasonably-priced good fiction appealing, whereas reading ranting bozos is depressing, even if you get to see them batted down by experts.

#330 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 12:19 AM:

329
The votes usually have to be sometime before the end of July, but I haven't been a voting member in quite a long time. You'd have to check the Worldcon site to be sure.

#331 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 12:20 AM:

#246 ::: John A Arkansawyer :: "Compare the reach of [Sheryl Sandberg] to whichever item on that list I posted you thought the most serious. (And there are some doozies!) Under these assumptions, wouldn't my item belong on that list?"

There are 10,000 things that belong on your list "under these assumptions". So why single out Sheryl Sandberg rather than one of the other 9,999? Did she run over your dog or something?

I ask because I have known Sheryl Sandberg since she was 19, and have always been very impressed: when something needs to be done and she is in the mix, it is highly likely that the particular something that is done will be a good something, that it will be done effectively, and that the people she recruits to do it will be people who can do it well. Her judgment--of what goals are attainable, of which organizations are functional at what, and of who can successfully accomplish what jobs both individually and cooperatively--is very good across the board.

So: Why is it that when she does things like give this talk --which I thought was very good--she provokes reactions like yours?

I am genuinely curious...

#332 ::: D. Eppstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 01:42 AM:

Re #2761 on how to vote in a way that expresses your preferences among the three novels you've read while being neutral to the others: the short answer is that under the current IRV system, the closest you could come to that would be to choose randomly, with equal probability, among all the permutations that are consistent with your preferences. If many people knew about and used this strategy, their choices would average out, and if you're the only one then the random variation in your vote probably doesn't matter much.

As Budda Buck says in #281, the Schulze method can handle this directly. It really interprets your ranking of the candidates as a set of directions for how to vote in all pairwise contests, so it can easily be modified to abstain from voting in the pairwise contests for which you have no preference.

#333 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 01:45 AM:

Stephen Frug @329: I just looked at LonCon 3's site, and it doesn't say when the deadline for voting will be, at least that I could find. The convention starts on August 14th, so it will certainly be before then. It's usually the end of July for cons on Labor Day weekend, so it may be a bit earlier than that this year.

Nobody has their voter packet yet, so it's certainly not too late to join and get it. In general, once the Hugo voting closes, the packet is no longer available: the point of it is voter education -- the main thing that the people contributing work are getting back from it is an increased chance of winning the award -- so once the voting is over, so too is the packet.

There is one further benefit to a supporting membership, which is that you have the right to nominate in next year's awards (although not to vote, and you don't get the fiction packet; you need to join next year's con for that).

#334 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 07:52 AM:

Brad DeLong @ 331: There are 10,000 things that belong on your list "under these assumptions". So why single out Sheryl Sandberg rather than one of the other 9,999? Did she run over your dog or something?

My first thought was to say, "I doubt there are 10,000 of them," but then I realized I would be criticizing your hyperbolic criticism of my hyperbolic criticism of someone else's hyperbole.

I've picked on a friend of yours to make an example, and I regret that.

But she is a major public figure who has published a book which is pernicious. I keep using that word because it is the only one which will do. I'll let someone smarter speak for me:

It almost seems as if Sandberg sees women’s lack of perseverance as more the problem than systemic inequality. Sandberg effectively uses her race and class power and privilege to promote a narrow definition of feminism that obscures and undermines visionary feminist concerns.

(The irony that those who criticize Sandberg too harshly are also criticized in this piece did not escape me.)

#335 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 08:42 AM:

re 328: Didn't Monty Python already do that?

#336 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 08:51 AM:

Stephen Frug @329: The voting deadline is July 31. The packet will be out "soon." Soon probably means sometime this month.

#337 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 08:55 AM:

Cassy B #259: I have read The Turner Diaries not for pleasure but as a matter of professional interest. At the time I was researching the racist right. You haven't missed anything, I assure you. It's at bottom, William Pierce's masturbatory fantasy of racial devastation. Written, I suspect, one-handed.

#338 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 09:00 AM:

On the Hugo voting deadline:

There is a date given on www.thehugoawards.org but it seems precariously close to the con. If most voting this year is submitted over the Internet, that part of the process might be quite rapid, but the logistics of nameplates on the trophy look tight for timing.

The deadline given is 31st July 2014, and I have a lurking suspicion that somebody could have just lifted the date from last year's timetable.

It wouldn't astonish me if somebody is pre-engraving the name-plates, or using some sort of rapid prototyping, or has somehow got the work booked. The mechanical process could be quite fast and reliable. But getting the right words in the data file that you "print" is where things can go wrong.

I'm just guessing.

I think it would be safe to assume a mid-July deadline, pending a confirmation of the date from Loncon3.

#339 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 09:09 AM:

Compared to the price of the statuettes, engraved plaques may be quite cheap. I wonder if they're just engraving the lot and scrapping anyone who doesn't win?

#340 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 09:27 AM:

Dave Harmon @325:

I think it was Farah Mendelsohn who came up with a taxonomy that distinguished immersive fantasy, intrusive fantasy, portal fantasy and liminal fantasy. Intrusive fantasy is the kind of thing you're talking about there. Immersive fantasy is stuff like The Lord of the Rings where we're in the POV of characters native to the secondary world from the beginning, but I think she also uses the term for stories set in secondary worlds based closely on our own (such as Sorcery and Cecilia), and where we're in the POV of characters native to that world from the beginning. Portal fantasy is not only things like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe but stories where the world is like ours but with hidden magic, and the viewpoint character starts out unaware of the magic and becomes aware of deeply involved in it (e.g. most of Tim Powers' work, or several of Neil Gaiman's novels such as American Gods).

I don't understand her term "liminal fantasy" well enough to explain it. And it's been long enough since I read her essays on this scheme that I may be misremembering and misrepresenting the other terms, so you should probably go to the source.

#341 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 09:42 AM:

Brad DeLong #328: Bellicose blancmange? You want to play tennis with it?

#342 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 09:43 AM:

Brad DeLong #328: Bellicose blancmange? You want to play tennis with it?

#343 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 09:57 AM:

Dave Bell@338:July 31st was the date given during the short list announcement as well as on the site. To be exact, it is 11:59 PM PDT on Thursday 31 July 2014.

#344 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 10:09 AM:

Bujold's Ethan of Athos did a very nice job of showing someone who was religious and fundamentally a decent person, responding to really hard challenges to his worldview in a positive way.

One interesting aside: In our society, social conservativism and resistance to social change are tightly bound to religion; on Barrayar in Bujold's work, there's plenty of social conservativism and resistance to change and tradition for tradition's sake, but not much religion. OTOH, I wonder how realistic it is that there's not any visible religion on Barrayar. (In a US setting, the backwoods Dendari would be thumping bibles to justify sticking with their custom of infanticide for physically flawed babies.) I assume the original colonists didn't bring it with them, but it's surprising some didn't arise. Perhaps some of the previous emperors stamped it out as a threat to their power?

Religion plays some part in Weber's Honor Harrington books, and is portrayed in a more-or-less real way, though I think the Graysons we see onstage are a little too willing to swallow the massive changes brought about by their more-or-less rejoining the galaxy. But there's clearly a range of concern with religion, with Honor and her family culturally Christian but not apparently very devout, contrasted with the Graysons, for most of whom their faith is a huge part of their life.

Religion shows up in Eric Flint's alternative history/time travel 1633 series, with some characters being very religious and others not at all religious. At least one really important pair of characters are a Methodist and Catholic minister who are close friends and tease each other about various aspects of their faiths. I'd say he handles it pretty well.

In Brin's Uplift books, we see bits of the Eatees' religions, which they seem to take seriously. (A couple very advanced species are shown as having priests in very important and powerful positions in their society.) We also see some aspects of human religion, though not a whole lot. (There's a reference to one of the uplifted chimpanzees on Garth being Jewish, for example, and Fiben knows enough about that religion to have a dream/halucination/something involving aspects of it.)

In Turtledove's alternative history rehash[1] of WW1 and WW2 (an incredibly dark series of books, in which pretty much all the worst parts of the 20th century happen on what is currently US and Canadian territory), there's a realistic mix of religious and nonreligious characters. (But that's set in more-or-less our world, so that's less surprising.)

[1] These start with the not all that good How Few Remain and go on to some really horrifying reading. Good, well-written, and you often find yourself laughing wryly at the clever internal dialog of some Hitleresque character before recoiling in revulsion.

#345 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 10:20 AM:

Brad DeLong #331: I have little exposure to Sandberg's works, but your note after John's makes me think of "ablism" -- or perhaps "hyperablism", where someone with immense personal talents and strengths doesn't grasp that "no, not everyone can do that". But then, a lot of capable people don't realize that what they do casually depends on support and resources that various other folks don't have: money, skills/training, credentials, connections and social support, health and physical security, the list goes on.

#346 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 10:34 AM:

339
Engraving doesn't take that long. You give the engravers a list, and pick up a set of plaques. It is cutting it a bit close, but it doesn't take that long to put plaques on bases, and you always get an extra couple of rockets and bases just in case.

Frisbie's fantasy was a setup where the counting program sent the names of the winners straight to a computer-driven engraving machine, which would finish by taping over the plaques, so no one would know who won ahead of time.

#347 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 10:53 AM:

This moose suspects that the plaques are engraved in advance, since it would be cutting it very fine indeed to get it done between the count and the ceremony - unless you happen to have a 24-hr engraving service close to hand. See also this.

#348 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 11:01 AM:

Steve Halter @343: Where on the site does it give the deadline? I looked for it and didn't find it. (Not that I'm doubting you, I'm just wondering where I missed looking.)

#349 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 11:08 AM:

I reckon the Hugo deadline is tight, but possible. The last time I saw a nameplate engraved was a long time ago, around 30 years, and making sure it was right took the time. The method used, a template for each letter, had plenty of chances for error.

These days, some sort of computer controlled cutter could handle this.

That date I linked to is probably good. If it were wrong, surely somebody would have noticed by now. But I would rather point to an announcement from the Loncon3 Hugo committee. And I don't do well with things such as video recordings.

#350 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 11:19 AM:

David Goldfarb@348:It is at (at least):
Hugo Finalists

It is down towards the bottom.

It does seem like a more prominent location would be useful. When the packet comes out and voting starts I'll guess they will add another post.

#351 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 12:13 PM:

On engraving:
I seem to recall that LAConII allowed three weeks for engraving - it should take less than that, but it depends on the engraver. You can get blank plaques that can be done afterward, if you're really worried about not having enough.

#352 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 12:17 PM:

Dave:

Isn't that the most common failure of books about how to succeed by really successful people? Like having Wilt Chamberlain write a book on how to be a great basketball player without ever noticiing how much being 7 feet tall helps.

#353 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 12:37 PM:

albatross @ 352... Am I a bad person that, when I hear of Wilt Chamberlain, I think of "Conan the Destroyer"?

#354 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 01:12 PM:

#352, albatross:

Isn't that the most common failure of books about how to succeed by really successful people? Like having Wilt Chamberlain write a book on how to be a great basketball player without ever noticiing how much being 7 feet tall helps.

I think not recognizing the advantages you have by background or genetics is one, and a second big failure of such stories is Survivorship Bias. Or: how many people did all the same things but didn't become super successful?

#355 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 01:21 PM:

Re: Engraving

For OVFF's Pegasus Award we have a standing order for a certain number of statues. Our trophy company often makes a few extra since they know if they don't need them this time, they will be ready for the following year.

The ballot results are faxed to the company at oh-dark-hundred after the at-con ballots are counted. The engraver does the plates Saturday morning and glues them to the bases of the awards. I usually pick the finished awards up around 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

#356 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 01:30 PM:

In Dallas at the NABC, one of the people had an engraving machine on-site, and would make nametags for you, name and city, in almost real-time: "fill in form and pay at 1230, sign up for game at 1300, come back after session at 1630 and pick up your tag."

I would assume that Hugo engraving was slightly more difficult than on a $12 plastic nametag, but it may be possible.

Of course, post-award engraving is common as well. That way nobody has to "know" who won before the unveiling. It does require a quick pipeline, though, especially if people are leaving right after the award ceremony.

#357 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 02:08 PM:

janra:

Yeah, I think that's another big common flaw. Though I expect that the survivors will have useful information about how to survive, they just won't have a good sense of how much else may have gone into their survival, whether luck or unusual innate abilities or oddball bits of their history and background that helped them in surprising ways or whatever else.

I think it's a common feature of great success that after the fact, you can see many places where it might have all gone off the rails. Here's where our hero spends a couple years drinking heavily and often driving drunk, but he manages not to kill anyone or go to jail. There's where our hero screws around in school enough to get suspended, and is only able to continue to have a successful school career thanks to his parents putting him in another school and pushing him to succeed. Over here's where our hero could have been drafted and sent to war and potentially killed or maimed there. And so on--and those are only the obvious points, but there are hundreds of less obvious ones. How many people are there in the world that might have been super successful at the level of CEO or governor or general, but for a bad marriage or a screwed up family or a drinking problem or a run-in with the law that went badly?

And none of that means that interviewing successful people for tips about their success is useless, just that it's not so easy to figure out how much impact luck or talent or other stuff they can't really explain had to do with their success.

And on an SFnal note, that makes me think of the extremely common trope in alternative history of having wildly different worlds with recognizable characters from our time line in them. I think mainly this is done because both readers and writers want those characters there--it doesn't seem like a WW2 story without talking about FDR, even if he probably shouldn't even have been born in this time line. But there's a sort of assumption there that if FDR is around, he'll end up in some position of power. And maybe that's true, but it's also quite possible that the rise and fall of politicians, and maybe writers and artists and companies and industries, has a lot of butterfly-effect randomness in it. Maybe when the butterfly flaps her wings in 1910, FDR and Winston Churchill and Joeseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler all end up watching the 1940s from the sidelines of history. Or maybe not. My intuition is that exactly who is on top at any given time is enormously random, but I don't have a lot to back that up.

#358 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 02:28 PM:

janra @ #354, yes. So much more impressive when someone like Jaime Escalante or Maria Montessori or Marva Collins or Rafe Esquith takes an entire class of kids who aren't supposed to be able to succeed... and they ALL do.

#359 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 02:51 PM:

albatross @ 357: The survivor's bias stuff reminds me of something a partner in a white-shoe law firm once said to me: "Young associates think that because they're smart and hard-working and went to a top ten law school, they're going to make partner. They don't understand that's just what it takes to get into the game."

#360 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 02:51 PM:

albatross, #344: Your discussion of the Turtledove books just clarified something for me. I strongly suspect that these are among the things you would describe as "reading outside your comfort zone" and say that by so doing, you have widened your horizons.

My question is, why do you feel it incumbent upon us to do that in fiction? It's easy enough to find real-world examples of things we'd rather not know about but should for our own safety. Why does this process need to extend to our fictional reading as well?

Steve H., #350: If you have a membership that will allow you to vote, you get periodic reminders via e-mail, all of which will state the deadline.

janra, #354: I also see strong elements of cargo-cult, one-size-fits-all, and No True Scotsman in this kind of thing. "Do these things and success will magically appear for anyone! And if you do these things and it doesn't magically appear, you must just not have REALLY tried hard enough."

#361 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 02:53 PM:

357
Or, another turning point, the college doesn't have enough English teachers to handle the people who need to take the second-term class at the same time as the people who need to take the first-term class (after having taken the remedial class), so they ask for volunteers/tell people they have to wait. And those people take other classes and get their paths changed.

#362 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 03:23 PM:

#357, albatross:

You're listing some obvious points where things could have gone badly for a person, and those are entirely true points. The sneaky part of the survivorship bias is the non-obvious ones.

How many people start restaurants, hire good staff, work really hard, have a good menu and happy customers, and go out of business anyway? What do the successful restaurants consistently do differently than the unsuccessful ones, of those things that are possible for the owner to control?

As with the airplane example in the linked article, sometimes looking at the survivors doesn't tell you much that's useful. Sometimes it's the ones that never returned, that become invisible, that have the useful stories.

And sometimes it comes down to luck: hard work, while necessary, is not sufficient.

So I would say, interviewing successful people about their success is only useful if you include that one data point in a collection of others, covering both success and failure, and look for patterns.

of the extremely common trope in alternative history of having wildly different worlds with recognizable characters from our time line in them. I think mainly this is done because both readers and writers want those characters there--it doesn't seem like a WW2 story without talking about FDR, even if he probably shouldn't even have been born in this time line. But there's a sort of assumption there that if FDR is around, he'll end up in some position of power.

I think that this reflects a certain amount of desire for predestination, fate, or at least the idea that chance and circumstance and randomness aren't much of a factor, that important people in our timeline are inherently important regardless of the timeline they were born in. (Rather like a Shakespearean prince, stolen as an infant and raised as a mountain man, is inherently so much more noble and refined than those low-class people around him.)

#360, Lee:

"Do these things and success will magically appear for anyone! And if you do these things and it doesn't magically appear, you must just not have REALLY tried hard enough."

Oh yes. Very much so. "You didn't [cargo-cult] hard enough" is such an easy way to dismiss evidence that cargo cult thinking doesn't actually work.

#363 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 03:33 PM:

Re the alternate ways things could have gone ... anybody remember Timothy Zahn's story Cascade Point? If I remember correctly, you could see the lineup of potential other yous from major decision points when you made the transition into hyperspace.

#364 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 04:10 PM:

Is this where I put in a plug for Patrick's anthology "Alternate Skiffy"? It was first brought to my attention when I commented that Benny Goodman and A.E.van Vogt looked alike, which prompted me to wonder what if they'd been in each other's shoes.

#365 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 04:24 PM:

lee@360:Good point. Yes, once you are a member you will be getting emails announcing that voting has started and reminding you when, where and how to vote.

#366 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 04:26 PM:

#330, 333 & 336: Thank you all!

#367 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 04:58 PM:

Naomi mentioned in an interview somewhere that she knew that if you have dragons, the world will be so different that you wouldn't get Napoleon, but she was writing those books for the fun of it.

I give Garfinkle's Celestial Matters credit for not having people from our timeline after the world diverged.

#368 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 05:28 PM:

A large infinity of possible worlds with dragons have no Napoleon, and only a very tiny infinity of them do have a Napoleon. But which are the worlds from which stories are most likely to bleed across into our world?

#369 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 05:29 PM:

I think there are two kinds of alternate history. One is a quasi-scientific attempt to answer the question what would have happened if things had gone differently. In that case it is of course very improbable that the same people would be born as in our world, a significant length of time after the divergence.

(Though not impossible. Butterflies can fly both ways - that is, they can introduce much greater changes into the world than one would expect through ordinary processes of extrapolation, but they can also make the world more like ours than one would expect it to be through ordinary processes of extrapolation. If one can't securely predict anything, one can't securely predict that Napoleon won't be born in a world which diverged from ours a hundred years earlier. Of course, the more people from our world who still exist in the alternate world, the more improbable it is.)

But the other kind is just a story, set in a world which has in some respect diverged from ours. It allows us to imagine things that we couldn't otherwise imagine. It enables us to ask 'What would Richard III have been like in a world where....', even if in reality he couldn't have existed in such a world. It may be that this presents us with things that couldn't really happen, but speculative fiction does that all the time, whether it be faster-than-light communication, or vampires.

(Which is not to say that you are in any way being unreasonable if you can't accept it. What divergences from reality one can accept varies a lot from person to person.)

#370 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 05:29 PM:

Albatross #344 - I don't know much about the settlement of space, but I think you're right about the lack of bibles or similar in the backwards folk, or is that an artefact of only outwards going secular people travelling to the stars?

#371 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 05:50 PM:

albatross 344: I wonder how realistic it is that there's not any visible religion on Barrayar. (In a US setting, the backwoods Dendari would be thumping bibles to justify sticking with their custom of infanticide for physically flawed babies.) I assume the original colonists didn't bring it with them, but it's surprising some didn't arise. Perhaps some of the previous emperors stamped it out as a threat to their power?

It's not organized into churches and synagogues and mosques, and she doesn't make a big deal about it, but I would contend that there's religion on Barrayar, just not religion in the Abrahamic mold. As for Bibles...remember most Dendarii mountain people were illiterate before "The Mountains of Mourning"—it was Miles giving up his graduation present that let them have a school with a power link.

Did you notice that weddings take place in a circle cast in grain? I did. It's pretty familiar to this Wiccan! They don't invoke gods and goddesses, but they have a reverence for their ancestors that borders on worship; in fact I would call it a kind of ancestor worship. In TMoM, Miles' penalty against the murderer is considered "literally lethal" because the remembrance ceremonies are supposed to preserve the soul of the deceased person.

And the murderer's justification in that same story is gung vg vf ure erfcbafvovyvgl—gb ure naprfgbef!—gb znxr fher gung trargvp qrsrpgf ner "phg bhg" bs ure yvar.

I would say that religion is dying out on Barrayar during that period, but it's definitely there—just not quite what you're used to.

#372 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 05:54 PM:

In John Hemry/Jack Campbell's space opera series "The Lost Fleet", people revere their ancestors, but that's it.

#373 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 06:20 PM:

RE: "#334 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 07:52 AM: "[Sheryl Sandberg] is a major public figure who has published a book which is pernicious. I keep using that word because it is the only one which will do. I'll let... [bell hooks] speak for me..."

Better, I think, if you had let the complicated and subtle--although far from infallible--bell hooks speak for herself:

"Her voice is powerful, yet Sandberg is for the most part not voicing any new ideas. She is simply taking old ideas and giving them a new twist. When the book Lean In began its meteoric rise, which continues to bring fame and notoriety to Sandberg, many prominent feminists and/or progressive women denounced the work, vehemently castigating Sandberg. However, there was just one problematic issue at the core of the anti-Sandberg movement; very few folks attacking the work had actually read the book. Some of them had heard sound bites on television or had listened to her Ted Talk presentation. Still others had seen her interviewed. Many of these older female feminist advocates blatantly denounced the work and boldly announced their refusal to read the book. As a feminist cultural critic, I found the eagerness with which Sandberg was viciously attacked disheartening. These critiques seem to emerge from misplaced rage not based solely on contempt for her ideas, but a rage bordering on envy..."

And I really do think you would be well-advised to, say, go read/watch something like Sheryl Sandberg's 2011 Barnard Commencement Speech before continuing screeds about how Sheryl Sandberg is #1 Racist Privileged Oppressor...

#374 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 06:41 PM:

Steve Halter @350: I was looking on the LonCon3 site rather than the Hugo Awards site.

albatross @357: Your first paragraph reminded me of reading volume II of Maus, which depicts Vladek Spiegelman's experiences in Auschwitz. Spiegelman gets lucky break after lucky break; at every turn he seems to have a bit of useful knowledge, or a contact, or just manages to survive a hazardous situation. I started finding it implausible...until it dawned on me that of course it was implausible -- all the plausible stories that went into Auschwitz ended in the protagonist's death.

janra @362: My own theory is that many authors subconsciously regard famous people as being part of the landscape. So you get FDR or William Blake across timelines in the same way that you get the Rocky Mountains.

#375 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 07:20 PM:

Re Barrayaran religion: Also, there's a bit where Emperor Ezar, on his deathbed, says (approximately, I'm doing this from memory) "I am an atheist. A simple faith, but it comforts me."

That's not a statement that you'd get in a society where nobody was religious, either in belief or in practice followed because that's just what you do, it wouldn't be a wedding without casting a circle, you can't have a funeral without burning offerings, everyone has to gather at the winter solstice and do specific things.

(A possible counterargument here would be that it was a moment of sloppy world-building because Bujold thought that statement fit the character and couldn't resist the phrasing, and/or that it's been quietly retconned out as she realized she had an n-book series on her hands.)

#376 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 07:22 PM:

albatross #357, yes exactly -- as others have noted, there's also survivorship bias (and those who succeed do not necessarily know what were the real reasons they made it) and cargo-culting.

Andrew M #369: You can also postulate an external constraint that draws together timelines with "significant" similarities, making them more reachable. I think it was Sheldrake who posited something like that for his "morphogenetic field" (but I recall being fairly sure that his version wouldn't actually work the way he said).

#377 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 07:23 PM:

And, back to SamChevre's original question/request @258:

Jo Walton's The King's Peace and The King's Name would qualify, if I understand what you're looking for. Religion matters to quite a few of the characters, and one of the things going on in the story is the gradual spread of a new religion.

#378 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 08:08 PM:

1) I'm grateful to SamChevre for linking to Abi's post on numen, faith, and religion in worldbuilding, and to Abi for the post itself and also for the list that's now at its end: books that handle religion well. (More precisely, a list of books said by commenters on the post to handle religion well.) Abi's criteria were different than Sam's, but there's lots of overlap.

2) I'm grateful to C. Wingate for mentioning Linda Hamilton's Esbae, which reminded me to reread her Star of the Sea. The book definitely portrays "religious institutions as a good source of identity that deal with real supernatural powers". It does have a certain wry appreciation of just how much of a pain in the ass dealing with a real supernatural power can be, without downplaying the also real gratitude such encounters create. It resonates for me both as an ex-Catholic and as a Witch. It's set in a convent, and the real supernatural power that manifests in the story is the titular Star of the Sea. (While the characters are of the firm opinion that the Star of the Sea is Mary, that opinion is not necessarily forced on the reader.) Not a thriller, though.

3) Ancillary Justice, on the other hand, is a thriller, and one that portrays a sympathetic religious institution, the worship of Ikkt. Admittedly I don't recall evidence in the book of Ikkt's reality.

#379 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 08:56 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @371:

...As for Bibles...remember most Dendarii mountain people were illiterate before "The Mountains of Mourning"—it was Miles giving up his graduation present that let them have a school with a power link.

Granted that illiteracy is common enough that Miles asks Harra if she can read. Harra tells Miles she can read somewhat because Speaker Karal and one of the women taught them as children. So the children and young adults in Silvey Vale are not illiterate. Nor are at least some of the adults (Speaker Karal was a corporal in the Imperial Service, remember). Miles's lightflyer money goes to pay for a power pack and laplinks for a formal Silvey Vale school and he sends Harra off to school in Hassadar to learn to be a teacher.

Also remember in Barrayar (20 years before Mountains of Mourning) that Kly the Mail delivered letters all over the Dendarii backcountry and only read them to a few of the recipients.

In TMoM, Miles' penalty against the murderer is considered "literally lethal" because the remembrance ceremonies are supposed to preserve the soul of the deceased person.

Miles notes that various people will view his punishment as ranging from literally lethal to symbolic depending on the depth of their belief. He acknowledges that range of belief even in the isolation of Silvy Vale.

The murderer is IMO reacting more to the pre Time of Isolation horror of mutation, when infanticide would have been the fate of any baby with a visible mutation. By the time of Mountains of Mourning it's been 80-90 years since Barrayar was rediscovered by the rest of the Nexus, and infanticide has been outlawed for 40 years.


I would say that religion is dying out on Barrayar during that period, but it's definitely there—just not quite what you're used to.

I don't know that it's dying out so much as not noticed much by Miles-the-unreliable-narrator and his set. Granted it does not appear to be permeated through societal structures. In preparing for Emperor Gregor's wedding, they're debating whether to have the ceremony in English, French, Russian *and* Greek instead of just Russian or just English; but there isn't a peep about any sort of religious leader officiating, or which *religious* ceremony to use. We see three Vor weddings and one Prole wedding and they all use the groat circle and marry themselves.

Aral, Miles's father, doesn't appear to be religious, though Cordelia, Miles's Betan mother, certainly is. Miles, of course, takes after his Admiral father and impossible-to-please Grandfather the General.

Barrayar was isolated from the rest of the Nexus for 600 years and yet God permeates the culture in expressions that even Miles's set uses (God help us, Oh God, God willing, pray for us) and to the extent, as Viki in #375 says that they, or at least Emperor Ezar, thoroughly understands the concept of both Atheism and afterlife punishment. (Lack of afterlife punishment being the *reason* Ezar's Atheism is such a comfort to him.)

Good grief, I'm channeling the Bujold e-mail list. Sorry!

#380 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 10:26 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA @ 379: When is Cordelia religious?

#381 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 10:39 PM:

janetl @380 In Cordelia's Honor, in the scene where she and Aral meet with Emperor Ezar, Ezar asks her what she sees in Aral. She says, "We're both looking for the same thing. We call it by different names, and look in different places. I believe he calls it honor. I guess I'd call it the grace of God. We both come up empty, mostly."

"Ah, yes, I recall from your file that you are some sort of theist," said the Emperor. "I am an atheist, myself. A simple faith, but a great comfort to me, in these last days."

"Yes, I have often felt the pull of it myself."

#382 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 10:40 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA, #379: In Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Ivan explicitly tells Tej that Barrayaran marriage doesn't require an officiant. This is in fact a critical plot point.

#383 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 10:59 PM:

Janet @380, in addition to OtterB's note, Miles points out his mother's Theism a few times. Once to Duv Galeni when they are prisoners in Brothers in Arms. People over principles, those with souls being more important, frex.

Lee, that's right. In all four weddings we see the couples marry themselves.

#384 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 11:02 PM:

OtterB @ 381 & ULTRAGOTHA @ 383: Thank you! That had skated right past me.

#385 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2014, 11:55 PM:

If a religion doesn't require churches or priests, why would weddings in that tradition require an officiant?

#386 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 12:17 AM:

AIUI:
Weddings, as rites of passage, commonly require a statement or act by the participants and a witness (though this can be an invoked deity).

An officiant (religious or civil) usually is involved to be sure it's Done Rite.

I wanted our wedding vows to be:
"Do you wanna?"
"Yes"
"Do you wanna?"
"Yes"
"Okay, you're married" (...by law in the State of Nebraska)

Family and friends made it clear that they wanted something a tad more time-consuming and formal.

#387 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 12:27 AM:

Well yes, but if I remember the Barrayaran wedding correctly (I've only read the first two books so far) the two people getting married step into the circle and make their statement of intent. There was specific mention of a "best man" / "maid of honour" type role, whose job was to make sure they did it right in case they got flustered.

I don't see a lack of officiant as necessarily meaning a lack of any religion, only a lack of the sort of religion that requires an officiant.

#388 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 01:29 AM:

abi@297, I think a lot of the disparagement of Scalzi's Redshirts was from people who went into the book expecting to know what it's about (especially the MilSF fans, who would have happily read OMW Part N, and some Trekkies), got a third of the way through and went "WTF? This isn't what I expected?", and then got another third of the way through and the book changed again! (The book worked for me, though it wasn't my first choice.)

Somebody asked if there was a deadline for getting the packets - yes, typically, and I spaced out and missed it the other year :-(.

#389 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 01:39 AM:

Janra@387, Quaker weddings don't have officiants. The meeting clerk might end up filling out government paperwork, if that's required in the current century, but they're doing that as a clerk, not an officiant.

Pratchett's books have quite a lot of religion in them, getting various treatment depending on how much that's the focus of a given book vs. background colour. And GRRM's worldbuilding did a fairly wide range of religions, taken mostly seriously.

#390 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 01:43 AM:

Indeed, what I was saying was that the lack of familiar structures doesn't mean there's no religion there. It's a bit frustrating to have the reply be "that's not religious; there's no officiant!" But perhaps I didn't explain clearly.

#391 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 01:57 AM:

I've generally taken the position that I shouldn't be voting on a category if I haven't given all the works in it a fair chance, and therefore usually haven't voted for any of the novels. For WoT, I'm not going to attempt to finish the series before voting, and but I'll give it a start.

I do consider "threw it against the wall on page 1" to be a fair chance, as well as "wasn't worth throwing that far". (One of the disadvantages of electronic formats is that I don't get to actually throw the works that deserve it.) And I do consider "author's other statements are too repulsive to waste my time reading his work" to be reasonably fair voting criteria.

I'm interested in seeing how I'll react to the Retro Hugos, at least if they get included in the packet. Some of them have presumably been visited much more aggressively by the Suck Fairy than others, e.g. Burroughs vs. Lewis or White.

#392 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 03:01 AM:

Bill Stewart @388, have you considered the possibility that a lot of the disparagement of Redshirts had nothing to do with politics or confounded expectations but rather is due to a bunch of people just plain not liking Scalzi’s writing?

I’m one of those people, so I get a bit bothered when I see fans of Scalzi straining to come up with some kind of bizarre theory to explain why not everyone likes the book they liked.

#393 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 04:23 AM:

Bill Stewart @391

Perhaps the equivalent of throwing a physical book at a wall would, for an ebook, be encrypting the file with a public key for which nobody has the private decryption key. This would make the text no more readable than a brick.

#394 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 07:42 AM:

Carol Kimball @ 386... Our wedding involved a simple civil ceremony, followed by watching "Forbidden Planet".

#395 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 07:49 AM:

Avram @ 392

I've got fairly mixed opinions about John Scalzi's writing : I enjoyed OMW and The Android's Dream immensely, found Redshirts fun but a little bit lightweight, and was disappointed by 'The Human Division'. But I've been struck, in reading some of the discussions I've read, by how disproportionate some of the dislike of of Redshirts seems to be, and how conveniently it seemed to align with the extent to which it seemed to line up with the authors apparent dislike of Scalzi's cultural and political views (which, of course, is absolutely fine, as we've been arguing at length in this thread, but nevertheless, seems like a significant observation in this context.)

Similarly, it may be true that many of the people who were criticizing Catherine Asaro back in 2004 just didn't like her writing. But that didn't seem to explain everything that was going on in that conversation, either.

#396 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 09:28 AM:

John Henry @ 228: you make my point: the winners were the \most/ left of the nominees. wrt membership balance affecting the vote: I haven't seen figures on supporting memberships in 2010, but IIRC the Worldcon vote that year wasn't contested so an obvious source for a bulge in overseas memberships wasn't present.

Xopher @ 239: a lovely phrasing; I'll have to remember that. (The first instruction at the Boskone debriefing is "Be hard on issues; be soft on people"; your form gives the why behind the what.)

Buddha Buck @ 240: a good point about a \possible/ weakness in the Hugo voting. I suspect there's never been an everyone's-second-choice that was thereby eliminated; on the opposite side, I have had a nominee tell me that the Hugo went to everyone's 2nd choice. (I didn't try to explain; said nominee didn't strike me as the kind of geek-about-mechanics that we are.)

Sam Chevre @ 258: making music is a huge part of my identity. Should I be cross because most SF ignores this? (I don't think I should be; IMO, a few authors get it right and too many who try foul up badly.) If not, what is the difference between our displeasures? (Don't tell me it's the length or breadth of humans dealing with the numinous; we don't know for sure how far either music or attempts-to-deal-with-the-unreachable go, but it's known to be >10 millennia.)
      The list following the Allochthonia posting you link to is an interesting demonstration of different people seeing (and not-seeing) different things; e.g., Heinlein showing up on both sides (and the nay side ignoring Nehemiah Scudder, the opening of Tunnel Through the Sky, and probably others I'm not recalling immediately.)

Arkansawyer @ 265: I'd also call the Friendlies "remarkable", but probably not in the same way you would. OTOH, I've heard that Dickson intended them rather than the Dorsai to be the heroes (not protagonists, heroes) of his universe; I find them even less convincing as such, but it's an interesting idea.

abi @ 297: disparaging Redshirts isn't limited to the ]other side[; I skimmed all the way to the end rather than just tossing it, but put it below No Award. (I admit to a general problem with Scalzi, starting with his assumption that the first thing any rejuvenated 70-year-old would think if doing is screwing like a crazed mink.) It wasn't the change-of-focus noted by Bill Stewart @ 388, so much as the amount of hammering on each focus -- IMO the book could have been done better in 10,000 words or less -- and the fact that the Big Surprises had been done better decades ago.

Dave Harmon @ 325: as a former theater worker, I can tell you that the boundary between "props" and "setting" is about as clearly defined as the edge of a desert; there are axioms (e.g., "If it can be picked up by one person it's a prop") and practices, but there are plenty of disagreements about them.

Dave Bell @ 338ff: even the oldstyle pantographed nameplates \can/ be done in a hurry -- as I fortunately found out when an engraver mistook "2nd 'Guest of Honor'" for "2nd Guest of Honor" many years ago. You're right about getting the right words in the file, but (cf PNH's and subsequents' comments about the 2013 Hugos) this isn't hard if not left to the very last minute.

albatross @ 357: your 2nd paragraph is certainly true -- but not just for great successes; I know how much difference at least two pieces of luck made in my life (and one of them didn't seem like good fortune at the time). But there's another part that is also ignored: how much all of the life story leads to being able to take advantage of luck when it happens. Saying "Why don't ]they[ just buckle down, put their noses to the grindstone, their shoulders to the wheel, ..." (you know the rest of that joke) is an easy way of glossing over relative levels of privilege.
      Both sides of your rap on alternate worlds are true; it \is/ fun even when slamming historical figures (e.g., in The Alteration Himmler and Beria are officials of the Inquisition). And sometimes an author plays the other side of it, e.g. Jimmy Carter being a roving peanut-vendor in The Probability Broach.

Xopher @ 371: the death-anniversary ceremony was my first reaction to albatross@344; thanks for the broader listing. I suspect that many readers assume "religion" means institutionalized/intermediated, if only because they've never encountered anything else -- there's something about the \visibility/ of Big Official Buildings and Pompous Pronouncers that tends to eat mindspace.

ultragoth @ 379: Aral is not irreligious; in A Civil Campaign, he asks Miles whether the widow Vorsoisson is just another fling or -"the woman who will guide my grandson's hand as he lights my death offering."-

Dave Bell @ 393: equivalent? It doesn't seem to me to be nearly as satisfying, and I'm something of a geek. To each their own....

#397 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 09:38 AM:

While I loved Redshirts, I can understand and to some extent agree with intelligent criticisms of it. But there's a difference between "The language is bland, the characters shallow, and the plot not all that innovative" (to pick a few) and "liberal trash written by that liberal bastard Scalzi, who is liberal."

People are perfectly free to reject the book on these latter grounds, but their opinions aren't useful or interesting to me. Similarly, my thoughts on VD's nominated work aren't useful to someone in either his camp, or the "separate the artist from the art" camp. I do not pretend to offer any real criticism of the story itself. Others have done so, and if their scathing pans make me chuckle evilly, that's my business.

Another useful distinction: sometimes people dislike a work because of things that don't bother me. Sometimes they dislike it for exactly the reasons I do like it, or vice versa. I heard a rave review of a new film yesterday that convinced me it wasn't for me. Years ago I heard a pan of a movie that essentially amounted to "it expects its viewers to think."

I happen to love being expected to think, odd as that may seem. And the words 'nonstop thrill ride' are an automatic cross-off for me (well, unless preceded by 'this is no mere' or something).

#398 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 10:24 AM:

Ultragotha and many others:

Hmm. Barrayar still has residual bits of religion in its language and cultural assumptions, but we never seem to see religion as an important part of anybody's worldview, or affecting anyone's actions. That actually fits rather well with what I've come to expect in US popular culture, where occasionally the sitcom characters may mention a church wedding or a bar mitzvah, but seldom will have any particular impact of their religion on their behavior or lives or conversations. It's notable that we never see a minister or a church, or hear anyone declare that something would be wrong to do on religious grounds--notably, we don't hear that from the traditionalist/conservative Barrayarans when objecting to Count Dono or uterine replicators. So if there's religion there, it sure doesn't look like religion in the bits of the world I'm familiar with.

My guess is that religion never really took hold on Barrayar or it died out or was effectively stamped out, and what remains behind are some vestigial bits of the language or culture, or some disconnected beliefs about the afterlife which don't really plug into a coherent theology very well. (But then, assuming that religious beliefs will fit into a coherent theology sort of assumes a lot of other stuff, like an infrastructure of religious scholars and writings that do the work of fitting various old and new beliefs and practices into the religion.)

This feels to me like a gap in the world that I'd like to see explained, but I'm not sure how much explanation it needs--maybe that's what you'd get if you started with actively nonreligious colonists and went from there.

#399 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 10:26 AM:

Vicki,

Also, it's possible that Ezar is speaking in a language he thinks she will understand--however uneducated and isolated a lot of Barrayar is, he's clearly very smart and knows a lot about the wider galaxy, probably including common Betan beliefs.

#400 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 10:34 AM:

398
Don't forget the Cetagandan occupation.

#401 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 11:02 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 388: abi@297, I think a lot of the disparagement of Scalzi's Redshirts was from people who went into the book expecting to know what it's about (especially the MilSF fans, who would have happily read OMW Part N, and some Trekkies), got a third of the way through and went "WTF? This isn't what I expected?", and then got another third of the way through and the book changed again!

I have no insight into why some people disparage Redshirts, but I like your description of the book. I'm not a fan of OMW—I'm not a MilSF fan in general—but I loved Redshirts precisely because of the way it kept changing, piling meta-on-meta.

While not an OMW fan, I thoroughly enjoyed The Human Division, but I think that was because I read it as it was serialized. There was something about haveing another short cliff-hanger appear at midnight, ready to read on my phone on the bus to work the next morning, that delighted me.

#402 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 11:17 AM:

@ 401: "having", not "haveing". Sigh.

Addendum: The once-a-week schedule of The Human Division was a sweet spot, too. Seanan McGuire's Indexing is really good, but reading it every 2 weeks while it was serialized lost the momentum.

#403 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 11:22 AM:

It's odd, but I think Tolkien may have unintentionally banished religion from the genre of stuff which is "comparable to Tolkien at his best".

Tolkien's works are heavily influenced by his religion, and Gandalf for one drops a lot of hints, but nobody in The Lord of the Rings seems to actually pray to God.

We see hobbits, dwarves, elves and several societies of Men, but no priests, temples, or altars.

#404 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 11:29 AM:

Right now, I'm reading Jo Walton's 'Tooth and Claw'. Religious belief, and religious institutions both play a fairly central role in the plot (and central characters do things for religious reasons.)

#405 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 12:42 PM:

#396 ::: CHip

Music-making isn't pervasive in sf, but when it's portrayed, it's generally shown positively. On the other hand, there's a lot of sf which portrays religious people as bad guys.

#403 ::: Niall McAuley

I don't think it was just Tolkien-- iirc, Howard and Dunsany didn't have religion as part of normal human life either.

With Dunsany, I'm thinking about his Gods of Pegana sort of fiction, not his more realistic (and I think, less remembered and influential) fiction.

#406 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 01:09 PM:

RE: 382 through 386:

In the Catholic Church the bride and groom confer the sacrament of marriage on each other. The priest/deacon is their witness.

And wasn't one of the plot points in one of the Deryni books that the male protagonist and his lady had married themselves with only the "Real Presence" as witness? (Or am I mis-remembering?)

#407 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 01:34 PM:

CHip 396: Thanks on the phrasing. I originally heard it as "adjectives are gentler than nouns," but I don't think that really captures the issue so well.

(I admit to a general problem with Scalzi, starting with his assumption that the first thing any rejuvenated 70-year-old would think of doing is screwing like a crazed mink.)

A couple of things about that:

First, every aspect of those bodies was carefully tuned to serve the goals of the CDF, and they wanted everyone to fuck their brains out to make them bond. (I am dubious that bonding would be the result absent also making them all pansexual, but that was what they said in the book.) Giving them all a severe case of horny hormones is definitely well within the described capabilities, and if the CDF thought it would help they absolutely would do it.

Second: have you heard what happens when a whole lot of hot, athletic people under stress are put in one place? They screw like crazed minks. (There are lots more articles about that. Athletes were smuggling in illicit (non-"official sponsor") condoms, because the 100,000 condoms (note: London 2012 had 17,000 athletes) the Olympics officially supplied were not enough.)

Thanks for the quote from Aral. I'd forgotten that one.

#408 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 01:35 PM:

Dave Harmon@376: Yes indeed, though that implies a specific way of reading Alternate History - that it is about parallel timelines, all of which do exist, rather than just being about what would have happened if things had gone differently.

Niall McAuley@403: But people do pray to Elbereth (who is not God, but, properly speaking, an angel: but the Valar do in some way play the part of gods within the world). Also, the Gondorians have a ritual before meals.

#409 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 02:11 PM:

Avram, #392: Another possibility is that some people, having read and liked Old Man's War, expected Redshirts to be similar and were annoyed when it wasn't. I still remember the jolt I got from trying a couple of Georgette Heyer's mysteries; the writing is nothing at all like those of her Regencies (even allowing for the difference in topic and period) and I bounced off them hard.

#410 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 02:32 PM:

Something like "We look to Númenor that was, and beyond it to Valinor that is, and beyond that to something something that will ever be." Pretty religious, given that the Valar are the Powers of the World.

I think Tolkien put one additional level of management into his universe. He wanted to tell an essentially Pagan story with different gods (Valar) in charge of different things, but his conscience wouldn't let him deny the One God (Erú/Ilúvatar). Fortunately he was inventing a language at the same time, so he didn't have to map exactly onto gods and angels etc.

But it's the Maiar who I gloss as 'angels', even thought the Ainur are clearly all more or less angels (the greater become the Valar; the lesser the Maiar).

BTW, no one who has read The Silmarillion could possibly think Tolkien is leaving religion out, or that it doesn't play a key role with real supernatural power in his world.

#411 ::: abi, who is also Idumea ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 03:30 PM:

It's been 48 hours; I'm lifting taylor's ban.

taylor, if I were you, I'd give some serious thought to what you're trying to achieve here. If you're trying to learn, listen. If you're trying to persuade people of your views, be persuasive. If you're trying to set forth a position, be coherent and respectful.

If you're trying to "win" the conversation, "play rough", or use any of the other combative approaches that are acceptable in some of the other places that you hang out, think twice. You've used up the grace we grant newcomers.

It might help to think of Making Light as more of a backyard barbecue than an arena or a debating chamber. You're welcome to grab a beer and a hot dog and join the conversation. And you're more than welcome to add information and different perspectives to the discussion. But you're not welcome to start a fight, or bring one in from elsewhere.

It's a big internet, and not everyone can fit into any given community. I'm perfectly happy to move you on if it turns out that you can't fit into ours...but I'm equally happy to welcome you here if you can.

Ball's in your court.

#412 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 07:20 PM:

Andrew M #408: Well yes, that would normally be assumed in a portal story, but perhaps there's some sense in which the book is a portal?

The thing is, if you are thinking about the worlds "both being real" you need some sort of framing context, and especially a way to limit the number of timelines.

Saying "there's a timeline for every possible divergence" is nearly incoherent, because changes can come up from the quantum level via chaotic effects. At best, your larger world is an unreasonably dense mass of timelines, with a dimensionality that's up in the alephs. And if they're communicating with each other, you have worse problems.

The simplest way to get out of this is to say that not all differences warrant a timeline -- basically, assume some mechanic that at least reduces their numbers to a countable infinity, if not to a finite value.

#413 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 07:24 PM:

Discussion of whether Heinlein could win a Hugo now-- I'm linking it here because there are mentions of generally respected conservative authors (the ones I'm remembering are Sanderson and Wolfe), and the point that the likes of Day want to be "controversial"-- that is, they talk as though they want to be able to attack without people pushing back.

And for Heinlein and the Hugos, I like to think his better juveniles would still have a chance, but I agree with the people who say that if he were in good health and writing now, his stories would be somewhat different.

#414 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 07:40 PM:

I enjoyed Redshirts, but I thought much more highly of 2312, and ranked that at the top of my ballot. Last year was one of the rare years when I like all of the Best Novel nominees pretty well and would have been reasonably happy to see any of them win; though I thought 2312 by far the most innovative and original in terms of ideas, I recognize that its narrative structure and pacing probably turned some people off, and the other four nominees were stronger in terms of storytelling. I ranked Redshirts fourth, but I think my ranking of the other four nominees after 2312 was nearly random, and might have been different if I'd voted a day earlier or later.

Thinking of Kim Stanley Robinson reminds me that he has a very sympathetically and realistically portrayed Christian character in The Gold Coast, one of my favorite of his novels, and some interesting Buddhist characters in the "Science in the Capital" trilogy. I vaguely recall there being some sympathetic Christian and Muslim characters in the Mars trilogy as well, though there's also at least one villain who's Christian as well, and IIRC she's a more major character than the sympathetic Christian characters.

CHip @396: My point, I think, was that in that particular year most of the nominees were leftish and the others were not especially political one way or another, even though there were presumably a higher proportion of Americans involved at the nomination stage than at the voting stage due to the previous year's Worldcon being in the U.S. And if there *had* been a large influx of supporting memberships from conservative/libertarian Americans after the nomination and before the voting, it's not obvious what other candidate they might have rallied around if they didn't like Mieville or Bacigalupi because of their poltics. You're right that the winners were written by the most politically outspoken novelists on the ballot. But as far as the actual content of the books go, not considering the writers' extrafictionally expressed views, I'd rank Julian Comstock and maybe Palimpsest as more left/liberal than The City and the City.

#415 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 08:20 PM:

Dave Harmon @412:

It's been many years since I read Hugh Everett's book on the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (or rather, the first few chapters of it), and I didn't really have the math or physics background to fully understand it. I seem to recall he argues for a humongously large but finite number of timelines, given that the events that give rise to divergences are quantized and not continuous. But a skim over the Wikipedia article on the many-worlds interpretation shows that some people think the number of timelines is infnite.

#416 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 08:57 PM:

Jim Henry #415: The big question for finite/infinite is whether the state of a particle (or minimal unit of space) is entirely described by a tuple of discrete values, or if any of its state is continuous. The lesser question is whether the universe is infinite... but that brings up another nagging issue. Given that there are other star systems out there, and possibly other sapient life -- is the entire universe duplicated by each variant of our timelines? Does each of our timeline bundles (that is, near-identical clusters), have access to all possible courses of alien history, and vice versa?

#417 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 09:27 PM:

"What kind of stuff would Heinlein write if he were alive now?" is an interesting hypothetical, especially tying in to the subthread on alternate timelines. I can think of at least three different ways one might interpret it:

1. Someone with Heinlein's exact genetic makeup was born ~40-50 years ago instead of 107 years ago. (Or time travelers kidnap Heinlein as a baby and leave him on the doorstep of a similar family around 1970.) In this huge batch of alternate timelines, I wouldn't expect a large proportion of them to have a Heinlein who writes for a living, and of those, he might write sf in relatively few.

2. A younger Heinlein time-travels into the future, jumping from, let's say the late 1950s or early 1960s to a few years ago -- giving him enough time to get caught up to speed on current events, write a new book, and get it published in 2013 so it would be eligible for a Hugo this year.

3. Heinlein didn't die when he did in our timeline, but was healed and rejuvenated by time-travelers, so he continues writing a new book every year or two until the present day. If you hypothesize that his health problems in the 1970s and 80s were a big part of the reason his writing went downhill, he'd probably have written better books after this healing and rejuvenation than he wrote in the previous 15-20 years.

I'd say it's moderately likely that he'd have a novel on the Hugo ballot this year in case #2 or case #3. I'm not sure which of those two cases would lead to him writing stuff more in tune with the current Zeitgeist; probably case #3, given how much his political views changed over his writing career in our timeline. In case #1, of course it's possible, but the various Heinleins that might develop from that particular divergence would be so varied that we can't guess what his politics or writing style might be; or rather the various Heinleins would be all over the map, even looking at the huge but relatively small subset of them who write sf professionally.

#418 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 09:37 PM:

Jim Henry @414: But as far as the actual content of the books go, not considering the writers' extrafictionally expressed views, I'd rank Julian Comstock and maybe Palimpsest as more left/liberal than The City and the City.

I haven’t read Palimpsest, but while I’d say Julian Comstock (which criticizes Victorianism, oligarchy, aristocracy, Christian dominionism, and right-wing cheap-laborism) is liberal, I think The City & the City (which criticizes the very concept of the nation-state) is far more leftist.

#419 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 09:38 PM:

Dave Harmon @416:

Suppose there is an inhabited star system 100 light years away, and 99 years ago the native sentients fought a huge war that could have led to their sun going (super)nova if the desperate losing side decided to kill everyone once they realized they were doomed. From our POV, the timelines where they did and the timelines where they didn't are indistinguishable until the light from the event reaches us (and maybe fries us, depending on how badly they mess up their sun). Once the light does reach us, the zillion timelines which have diverged because of events within this 100-year light cone are multiplied by however many additional distinct timelines you'd have when taking events in that star system (and others at the same distance) into account. (On the other hand, if all life on Earth is sterilized by a nearby supernova maybe all the timelines that diverged because of human decisions in the previous few thousand years, and didn't lead to humans migrating many light years away, are leveled out and become indistinguishable to future althistorians in other, safely-distant systems.)

At least, if it worked that way it would make sense to me. I'm not a physicist.

#420 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 09:40 PM:

Dave Harmon @416:

Given that there are other star systems out there, and possibly other sapient life -- is the entire universe duplicated by each variant of our timelines?

It's been quite a while since I had quantum, but I don't see why not. We know that the QM effects of measurement (which in the Copenhagen interpretation is referred to as "collapsing the wavefunction") are not bound by special relativity (cf. the EPR "paradox"), so there shouldn't be light-cone considerations here. I always personally preferred many-worlds myself, finding it more internally consistent than Copenhagen since it did not need to invoke wavefunction collapse. (I recall my QM prof, discussing Schrodinger's Cat, saying "...and then Joe (gesturing at a student in the front row" opens the box. But Joe is just a collection of particles, so into the wavefunction he goes", and sketching out bras and kets with increasing series of happy and sad faces.)

I don't think we have "access" to any other branches, though, even if this interpretation is correct.

#421 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 09:50 PM:

How about the version where Heinlein’s tuberculosis, instead of getting him discharged from the Navy, instead gets him an experimental medical treatment that turns him into a super-soldier? Then he crashes into an iceberg and is defrosted in the 21st century.

(In real history, of course, Heinlein is known to have had a small stroke in 1978, in Tahiti. An experimental procedure was performed, supposedly a cartoid bypass. People say his writing was never quite the same after that.…)

#422 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 10:20 PM:

Avram: I hear it's a magical place, Tahiti ...

#423 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 10:26 PM:

Jim Henry @ 414: ...I thought much more highly of 2312, and ranked that at the top of my ballot...

I didn't finish 2312. I realized that I was reading slower, and slower, and had picked up another book. I finally conceded that I just wasn't interested in what happened next, and put it aside. I was surprised, because I've loved other books by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Buzzfeed has a "How Many Of These Classic Science Fiction Novels Have You Read?" clickbait right now. The list is (of course) completely flawed, wrong, and misguided. As are all such lists that I didn't write entirely by myself.

I picked up Dorothy Sayers' Murder Must Advertise recently, and it inspired me to re-read Dorothy Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane arc. In Murder Must Advertise, Strong Poison, and Have His Carcase, I thoroughly enjoyed the snappy dialog, interesting characters, and social commentary. I was a bored by the sections where the murder mystery was untangled, because I could remember the trick of each. Now I'm well into Gaudy Night, and I'm loving every minute. This book is really about relationships, independence, vulnerability, life choices—all told through characters interacting about something that advances the plot. It's quite a love story, with one lover mostly not even present. I recalled finding this book romantic when I first read it. I didn't recall the scene in the punt. It's a hell of a good scene.


#424 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 11:38 PM:

Why we need diverse storytellers.

Summary: A black queer author describes the pressure to sacrifice either blackness or queerness in his characters (as in, one or the other but not both) even within the LGBTQ publishing subculture. He's mad as hell, and I can't say I blame him.


Nancy, #413: Something is wrong either with your link or (more likely) the site, because I'm not getting thru at the moment. They may be down for maintenance.

In the absence of having read the discussion itself, I'm going to mention something I've seen discussed elsewhere: what makes these people think that Heinlein would be writing the same kinds of books now that he did in the 1950s, or even the 1980s? Because that always seems to be the underlying assumption in these discussions -- that (for example) Starship Troopers wouldn't win a Hugo now. Well, no, it wouldn't, nor should it, because it's dated as hell now! But if Heinlein were still alive, he'd be writing things that weren't dated, and which would be as likely as anything else to receive Hugo consideration.

Shorter me: too often, the argument seems not to be "Would Heinlein win a Hugo today?" so much as "Would a book exactly like this 50-year-old Heinlein book win a Hugo today?" And that's an entirely different question.

#425 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 11:41 PM:

Janetl @ 423... I couldn't finish "2312" either. Kim Stanley Robinson is one of those authors that people say is brilliant, and I can see why they say that, but his sensibilities feel 'off' to me. Life is too short for me to spend time on unpleasant stories when there are plenty of tales that will give me pleasure.

#426 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 11:43 PM:

423
I once saw Gaudy Night described as the characters stepping out of the frame - they're very much real people, compared to the other stories. (Maybe Busman's Honeymoon comes close.)

#427 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 03:36 AM:

On the subject of "if Heinlein were writing today": what if we could reproduce him a la Cyteen?

Acquire some genetic material. Create a physical clone. Then subject him to roughly the same sequence of important formative events. In theory, you should get someone who is, roughly, the man himself again.

But as Marissa Lingen points out, those formative events would have taken place in a different cultural context. If he was my age, born in 1970, he'd have grown up after the Civil Rights Movement and the Counterculture, during one particular wave of feminism. Even if he were raised by people who disagreed with those things and pushed back against them, he'd be growing up in a world where they existed; the reactions are also an effect.

He'd have attended an integrated Anapolis. He'd have served in a very different Navy. His writing would inevitably reflect that.

Would he still win Hugos? No idea.

#428 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 05:34 AM:

I assume that if alternate Heinlein still wanted to be an sf writer, his considerable virtues (including his desire to entertain, but also his love of a good detail and his inventiveness) would lead to him being a popular writer, and (at least for my taste) quite a good one.

2312-- I liked it, but especially for the astrogeology(?)-- I enjoyed most of the plot and characters well enough, but if it hadn't been for the expository lumps, I don't think I would have thought it was special.

#429 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 07:57 AM:

abi #427: In theory, you should get someone who is, roughly, the man himself again.

I don't necessarily buy that theory -- twin studies argue weakly toward it, but there's all sorts of formative experiences, and those will be especially important for outliers like brilliant thinkers. (Vinge has a short story where such an attempt fails realistically.)

And then there's development itself... if Heinlein's whole career where shifted futureward, he likely would be a decent writer based on cognitive abilities, whether or not he turned that toward fiction. (And again, remember that he went into writing when his "real" career was derailed by illness.) He would probably still be imaginative too -- cognitive abilities again, plus temperament. If he'd grown up in the last few decades, his fiction, if any, would probably be relevant and fresh.

But... if you rejuvenated the elderly Heinlein (heck, use his own methods ;-) ), there would be a problem, one that he didn't really address in his own work: People's temperaments change with age -- they generally become less aggressive, and less flexible. Often their viewpoint shifts drastically. An elderly writer can, and often does, fall behind the times! (See also PetitionFail, and "who signed it?")

One of the big questions in gerontology is how much of this personality change is driven by age (that is, hormonal and neurological changes, neuron loss, "being too tired") as opposed to experience: "tried that, didn't like it", "that trick never works", "never again after what happened the last time", and so on. (Yes, there's some overlap, that's development for you.) Personally, I'd expect it's both, and the natural world will offer little help in disentangling them.

#430 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 09:44 AM:

Brad @ 373: Better, I think, if you had let the complicated and subtle--although far from infallible--bell hooks speak for herself:

A good idea. I go to bell hooks so often because she's so influenced me and because she says what I think better than I do. So you're right: Better to read the original than my cherry-picked excerpt.

I'd really like to let this rest. I'm uncomfortable (though, obviously, willing) to make an argument about a larger point by placing the weight of my argument on the friend of someone in the discussion. Especially on accident.

#431 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 09:54 AM:

The other thing I think the "REAL SF IS LONG DEAD BECAUSE LIBRULS HATE IT" crowd is missing about Heinlein is how very much of his writing was aimed specifically at making status-quo folks uncomfortable and attempting to push the Overton window.

Yes, by modern standards there are unfortunate things about them, but he did TRY to put women into roles hardly any other (male) author was trying for. Jack from Tunnel in the Sky comes to mind. There is a feminism (albeit, from our far-future perspective, a very LIMITED feminism) in his works. Reading Heinlein has been the first step in a journey to feminism and egalitarianism for an awful lot of kids, some of whom grew up to be writers.

He was also aiming for a sex-positive future, in contrast to peers who either continued the status quo or completely avoided mentioning it (I'm looking at you, Mr. Asimov). His books, in many ways, argue (disagreeing with each other occasionally, because complex) for radical changes from how society-of-the-time existed being a good and just thing. Homosexual and bisexual attraction EXISTED in Heinlein, and was on-screen (again, albeit with some attached mindsets that seem to us far-future people to be unfortunately blinkered). He explored transsexuality in I Will Fear No Evil in a way that, so far as I know, no other male author in his decades even tried for. The book makes me wince now, but when I was 11 it was aMAZEballs.

Exactly what opinions a writing-now Heinlein might hold are a matter for hypotheticals and fanfic explorations, but I do know he probably would have used his books to try to make the powerful uncomfortable, because he always has.

#432 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 10:06 AM:

Avram @ 421: I would pay good money to read that story, with or without the super-soldier serum, but if there is indeed a serum, it has to be a universe in which there's also a Captain America.

#433 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 10:09 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @432, Avram @421: Never has there been a better excuse for writing RPF (Real Person Fiction), imho. This must happen. :->

#434 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 10:22 AM:

I was offline yesterday afternoon. When I checked in on Saturday evening, I saw college football star Michael Sam getting picked by an NFL team and kissing and hugging his boyfriend in celebration, Conchita Wurst/Tom Neuwirth winning the Eurovision contest in drag with a beard, and a picture of two women getting married in Arkansas. (Arkansas!)

It's no wonder that people who want to still live in the social environment of the '40s and '50s are upset. They are losing, big time. But not quite fast enough to suit me.

#435 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 10:43 AM:

janetl @ 434: Yep, Arkansas. I had a friend in line who didn't get her license and who posted her progress on Facebook.

I'm glad it happened. It's not the end of the story. It's probably not too far from the beginning.

#436 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 12:12 PM:

abi--

I re-read the other thread and this one. I set out to answer the call about fans of certain authors not positively representing their work, and the implication that those fans only nominated the works that are the center of the discussion out of spite or some other ill intent to the rest of the community of SF/F fans.

I would just re-iterate, I enjoyed Opera Vita Aeterna for a few reasons, mainly that it is set in a world that is very different from most others in fantasy, it is a world where religious belief and practice is not flat, and has dimensions that approximate human ones - with religious study, converts, and apostates. It has long interested me to imagine the religious practices of otherwise well designed fantasy worlds, but where religion is tied exclusively to race (or species), and not practiced in a meaningful way. I look at the real world, where some humans devote a legitimately awesome level of zeal to a religion that has only a few scraps of justification. How is it in a fictional world where gods play an active role the followers are just "meh". Even in GMRR's worlds the level of religious devotion seems so very light given how active the supernatural is in the lives of the POV characters. Day's work, at least for me, spoke to me about the question and nature of ensoulment in a way that almost no other work has done. I am a WorldCon voter, and have been for almost 15 years, and that is why I nominated his novella, and why it is in the top 2 in my mind for an award vote in the novella category.

The fact that I have unconventional political and social views on gender equality, race, and civil rights is not the reason for that nomination.

Also, re-reading this and other threads, I have seen many fans attempt to tell other fans how they should vote, on what basis, and what they must or should do. And I have seen authors do the same, but I have not seen Day do the same thing. Yes, there is an implication of unfairness made by the fans and authors who are at the center of the controversy. The contention being that a block of voters who unite to vote down the work based solely on the author is unfair and evidence of a political environment hostile to conservatives or otherwise right-wing authors and works. I have no opinion if this is really unfair or not. There are not many actual rules that are non-technical behind the Hugo voting process, so the question of fair to me seems somewhat mute. I do stand by my comment that not reading any novella before voting for it as no award is petty, and will be seen that way by the larger SF/F community. It is unusual that in any matter of preference there is a reason to rank something below nothing, without knowing what the something is. The food analogy was used repeatedly but it is not apt. In the food world there would not be such controversy. Not for reviewers, not for contests. Realistically, it isn't a thing.

Xopher, I have no clue what drives you to indicate that Day wants you dead or otherwise harmed.

In a general comment, it might be good if everyone starts setting a backup plan for what to do with Day, Correia and Torgensen all win their awards. Unless there are many hundreds of more votes than in the past, any or all of these three may win. Although Correia's chances are longer because of the weight of WoT (but that could also work against it). There are several people working on vote counts.

abi, to your larger point, I see no continuing reason to comment extensively. Makinglight seems like a nice place and good wishes to you all.

(PS: Several comments about my grammar/spelling/English. Apologies, English is not my first or second language. I am working on it.)

#437 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 01:09 PM:

taylor collingsworth @436:

Still eliding categories, I see.

The contention being that a block of voters who unite to vote down the work based solely on the author is unfair and evidence of a political environment hostile to conservatives or otherwise right-wing authors and works.

Actually, the people who want to vote without reading are generally talking about Day, and it's not because he's a "conservative". It's because he spouts homophobia, mysogyny, and racism, doxxes people he doesn't like, sneers inacessently about a superiority of intelligence that is not at all evident, and uses his blogs to whip up followers to do the same throughout the community. Correia's decision to bolster his conservative persecution complex with Daysies makes me think less of him, but I know too many other conservatives who are not racist misogynists with a penchant for trolling to automatically associate the two communities.

Day is a genuine edge case for politics in SF&F, and it looks to me like he likes it that way. Since I live in a country with an equivalent genuine edge case in real-world politics, I know the type all too well. The difference is that here, the conservatives have learned not to touch the xenophobic lunatic fringe with a bargepole. I'm hoping the right-wing political spectrum of our community learns that lesson soon, before they compromise their own moral standards. In an increasingly diverse society, hanging out with the xenophobes is not a viable long-term strategy.

In a general comment, it might be good if everyone starts setting a backup plan for what to do with Day, Correia and Torgensen all win their awards. Unless there are many hundreds of more votes than in the past, any or all of these three may win. Although Correia's chances are longer because of the weight of WoT (but that could also work against it). There are several people working on vote counts.

Assuming by "what to do with Day..." you mean "what to do when Day...", that's a lovely frothy paragraph. Usual certainty of success, nice kicker of either conspiracy or back-channel coordination at the end there. Another of your little hooks, I suspect.

Here's the thing. I trust the WSFS and the Worldcon committee, so I'm not concerned that "working on the vote counts" is going to mean "stuffing the ballot boxes". So I'm guessing it's a GOTV effort. But this whole kerfuffle has been a GOTV exercise on both sides.

And if the works I don't want to win win, then I'll live with it. It won't be the first regrettable Hugo, nor even the second or the third. It's not the end of the world. It's not even the end of Hugos. Whoever gets the rocket ship, Day is still Day and the fandom I care about is still itself.

Mind you, if Correia's slate doesn't win, I'm going to point and laugh at overconfident proclamations like yours. There's a certain class of blowhard that always confidently predicts success, and conveniently forgets when that success doesn't come. I got my fill of it with the predictions of President McCain and President Romney. Now it just makes my lip curl.

#438 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 01:38 PM:

If Day wins a Hugo for that Opera Nospeaka Latina, well, it won't be the first time a terrible story has won.

#439 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 02:06 PM:

Niall @#438

Yeah, winning a Hugo is quite different from winning an election. It may be personally and financially rewarding, but it doesn’t convey any right or ability to persecute those who didn't vote for the winner. And, in many places, neither does winning an election.

Taylor @#436 I need a backup plan for what? Retconning my opinions to conform?

#440 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 02:13 PM:

Elliot Mason @433

The BBC showed In Which We Serve last week, and it's on their iPlayer. It's the story of a British destroyer in WW2, closely based on HMS Kelly, commanded by Louis Mountbatten. Names are changed, and he is portrayed by Noel Coward.

And it prompts thoughts that if Heinlein were a Captain America he would be an entirely different sort of Captain. Looking at what happened in the War, he might not be a Captain in the Navy, that's a Colonel-equivalent, but he could well be doing various things on the beach in amphibious landings. The USN had the Amphibious Scouts and Raiders, the Naval Combat Demolition Units, and the Underwater Demolition Teams, all influenced by British experience copied from Italian frogmen.

The Italians sunk British battleships with their human torpedoes, and attacked ships at Gibralter. The RN attacked the Tirpitz, and a commando unit raised in Australia attacked Japanese ships in Singapore harbour (Operation Jaywick).

There is a lot of WW2 history to draw on. It would fit together with the Captain America idea.

Didn't "Doc" Smith do QA testing at an ammunition factory, or is that just the WW2 chapter of Triplanetary with little connection of reality? But I suppose there could be a Doctor Smith being the "Q" of the story, explaining a new infernal machine.

#441 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 02:13 PM:

Taylor Collingsworth @436

Based on what you've said here about what interests you in your reading, can I recommend Jo Walton's 'Tooth and Claw'?(if you don't know it already.)

#442 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 02:30 PM:

Did he flounce away?

#443 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 02:33 PM:

Taylor @446

I find it hard to reconcile your description of Vox' novella with the actual novella; after all, as far as we can tell from the novella, there's precisely one human religion, with no mention of "apostates" (indeed, I did a word search to be sure), and the only "convert" we see is arguably incapable of truly practicing the religion, what with having no soul and all. Speaking of "religion being tied to race (or species)".

By contrast, Bujold's "Chalion" books have multiple religions, including two versions of the dominant religion that each regard the other as heresy. They've got religious people living in religious orders, and they've got ordinary people living life with varying degrees of religious belief and practice. They've got reluctant saints, and joyful ones. They've got people who never think much about religion, and they've got people who think about, and practice, their religion all the time. They've got people who are tortured and mutilated for their beliefs (see above about heresy). They're pretty much everything you claim the Vox novella is, whereas the Vox novella is pretty much nothing you claimed for it.

Seriously. Try reading "The Curse of Chalion".

#444 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 02:33 PM:

423/426 Gaudy Night is one of my favorite books. I agree - real people, real relationships, academic/personal conflicts. I'm not that fond of Have His Carcase, but I like Strong Poison and Busman's Honeymoom, and Murder Must Advertise is my second favorite of her books. It's not so rich and complex, but it's very sexy.

I've noticed among Sayers fans I know that most agree that Gaudy Night and Murder Must Advertise are her best two, but they differ (largely along gender lines) in which they put first.

#445 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 02:54 PM:

423/426/444 Gaudy Night is my favorite Sayers, with Busman's Honeymoon a very close second and Murder Must Advertise a very close third. After that, I may like the short stories more than the other novels.

When I was finishing up my PhD, I took a just-for-fun noncredit class at the library on "Women of Mystery." I remember commenting to the group that the issues were still the issues: it's not always clear how you balance an intellectual life with a personal life, and people have strong feelings on both sides of the question.

#446 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 03:24 PM:

janetl @434: I was offline yesterday afternoon. When I checked in on Saturday evening, I saw college football star Michael Sam getting picked by an NFL team and kissing and hugging his boyfriend in celebration, Conchita Wurst/Tom Neuwirth winning the Eurovision contest in drag with a beard, and a picture of two women getting married in Arkansas. (Arkansas!)

And this is why I regularly get more of a skiffy thrill from reading the news than from reading science fiction, even science fiction written in the last five years by people under the age of thirty. Like, if someone's supposed future isn't at least this weird and cool, they're not even trying. Why the heck aren't they trying?

#447 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 03:51 PM:

It may be mischievous of me to say so (and I am, of course, never mischievous), but I'd argue that the portrayal of religion, and religious institutions in Charlie Stross's 'Neptune's Brood' is a long way from being simplistic or one-dimensional. (I'd also say the same about Ken MacLeod's 'The Night Sessions', and the Epicurean religious beliefs depicted in 'Engines of Light.)

Curiously enough, I'm coming to think there's a lot more acknowledgment of the reality of religion as a significant force in human life in a lot of (what one might polemically call) pinko-lefty science fiction of recent years than in much of the 'Golden Age' material I imprinted on as a young reader of SF (with some of Philip K. Dick's later, weirder work as the obvious, unappreciated exception.) if the idea that religion is a part of human life that will just gently fade away often seems like a background assumption of the genre, I'd look for its origins there.

#448 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 04:09 PM:

taylor collingsworth @436
There are several people working on vote counts.

How can there be any people working on vote counts when the voting hasn't even opened yet? No one has returned a ballot. There's nothing to count.

#449 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 04:13 PM:

The Metafilter link still won't come up for me, even after a reboot and finding it via Google. But I have now read several of the other responses to it, and my summary upthread seems to have been on the mark. This isn't about what Heinlein would be writing now if he were still alive and writing; it's about the stuff he wrote 50 years ago. Which, no, would not win a Hugo today, and rightly so, because it's dated as hell.

Dave H., #429: In addition to aging and experience, another contributing factor is resistance to change -- sometimes to the point of flat-out refusing to recognize or accept that change has occurred. (cf. also the number of parents who won't acknowledge that the job market today is not what it was when they were young.)

janetl, #434: Yeah, that is kind of a 1-2-3 punch, isn't it? Although I submit that very few of the people who are upset about Sam and Arkansas are likely to know or care anything about Eurovision.

#450 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 04:28 PM:

I see Eurovision as more of a punch at Russia. Which deserves punching.

#451 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 04:32 PM:

#449 ::: Lee

I have no idea what's going on with the Metafilter link-- I've tried it twice, and it worked both times.

Perhaps "intermittent" should be a curse word.

#452 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 04:50 PM:

Xopher@450: It is worth pointing out that Austria came 3rd in the televote in Russia (behind Armenia and Belarus. It came 11th in the jury vote, which resulted in its 6th place in the actual Russian vote.

#453 ::: Cpt. Carnage ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 05:16 PM:

After I read Taylor's post #437, I was thinking exactly the same thing as Cally Soukup @443: "I find it hard to reconcile your description of Vox' novella with the actual novella."

Perhaps the apostate was a reference to some character's unorthodox suspicion that the elf might have a soul, though?

I guess that I and Taylor have very different perceptions of what "real" religion and religious conviction are like. For me, OVA's depiction of religiosity felt very flat indeed (poor characterization, uninteresting events etc. didn't help either). A bunch of monks copying manuscripts and occasionally chatting about philosophy/theology didn't seem like an engaging way to discuss religion.

Taylor:In a general comment, it might be good if everyone starts setting a backup plan for what to do with Day, Correia and Torgensen all win their awards.

Now that it's possible for the voters to actually read Vox Day's story easily, I think we are pretty safe. But we'll see. If Correia & co lose, however, I'm quite suprised if there are no outbursts about how they lost because of politics and unfair campaigning.

#454 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 07:32 PM:

Cpt. Carnage @453: Now that it's possible for the voters to actually read Vox Day's story easily, I think we are pretty safe. But we'll see. If Correia & co lose, however, I'm quite suprised if there are no outbursts about how they lost because of politics and unfair campaigning.

Well, and it does seem like they've set themselves up a "heads I win, tails you lose" situation -- heads they win a Hugo yay, tails they get to continue whining about how they can't win a Hugo due to the leftist SF conspiracy (and whining is the only real word for it).

Taylor appears to have convinced themself that there's a group organizing to vote against Correia, Day (&al?) "based solely on the author," and that to do so "is unfair and evidence of a political environment hostile to conservatives or otherwise right-wing authors and works."

Without speaking to the merits of that argument, if Taylor's beliefs are at all indicative of the zeitgeist of Correia and Day's fans, I'm suspicious that there's no sequence of events from today not resulting in a Hugo win for at least one of Correia or Day which would convince them that there is not a conspiracy against them, but I would be curious to hear Taylor or someone else articulate that if they can see it.

#455 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 07:47 PM:

@436: "... it might be good if everyone starts setting a backup plan for what to do with Day, Correia and Torgensen all win their awards."

Um. I'll congratulate them and move on with my life. (Or did you actually mean, figure out what to do with them as people, because if so, I'll pretty much do the same thing.)

I should say, Taylor, I've gone and found a Larry Correia book (at my library booksale) just because of this discussion. I've got a huge to-be-read pile, but nonetheless... (Of course, I'm not a Hugo voter and don't plan to be, but I assume you were in conversation with more than Hugo voters.)

I also bought Ancillary Justice, mind you.

#456 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 09:35 PM:

I assume Taylor means "What are you going to do with your worldview once the Hugo Awards have proved you wrong and you have to admit that VD and Correia are excellent writers?"

But I might be wrong, and I hate to put words in his mouth.

#457 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 09:58 PM:

I need a backup plan for the Hugos about as much as if Dick Cheney publicly admitted that he is evil.

#458 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 10:46 PM:

abi--

Regarding Day being an edge case or not, let's not get into a true scotsmen argument. He self identifies as both conservative, when talking about US politics, and right-wing, therefore he is. You can't take him out of those groups when convenient to you. Regardless, of what you think, there is at least a small contingent of self-identified right-wing authors who have publicly expressed being harassed by the mainstream. Now, you can argue that because they edge cases, they deserve it. Or that it's a risk you take by doing things which are racist or homophobic. I think that is a far assessment to make. But you should not act surprised when you have at first, what, maybe a half-dozen, then maybe a dozen authors, who express similar sentiment. Saying you know some conservatives who don't agree with Day is interesting but not important to the point.

Kelly/et all, I meant, what are you going to with Day/Correia/Torgensen as a writer if the come away with a Hugo. They all have very committed followings.

Re:ballot stuffing, I don't think that's a serious concern. For one, it seems basically impossible and from my voting, the system seems fool proof. The right-wing fans are motivated and perfectly willing to spend $40 (or is it more now) on a membership.

It is a heads/tails situation on in some ways.. for sure. Before the announcement, I doubt any of the slate in question would have thought a win was possible, but I follow all three blogs and they all have a very devoted following. I don't think you will see an outburst, but especially for Torgensen fans the feeling will be that a very gifted writer such as himself will never get a fair shake from the left-leaning SFF community. These are people perfectly comfortable with being hated or scorned by 99% of the world. (As am I).

PS: Thanks for both reading recommendations, they are added to the list. I read close to half of everything that is published new in the year for SF/F by the main stream presses, plus a few self published authors, I think this year on track for about 180 titles. Somehow both titles and authors are not on my radar.

If there is anything that needs my attention my email is my first name at my whole name, dot com.

#459 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 11:13 PM:

Return #1.

Statement of departure #2.

#460 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 11:14 PM:

Elliott Mason @431: for another writer in those decades looking at transgender issues, try Hank (now Jean) Stine's Season of the Witch, a first-person forced transgender novel from 1968, published originally by Essex House. Two years earlier than the Heinlein, too. John Varley, 10 years later, does a lot with (much happier) transgender material.

The discussion of religion in SF -- I haven't seen anyone mention Victoria Strauss, whose early novels really work very hard at some major religious issues (not with Christianity, but with very complex and varied invented religions). And if you want to move more into semi-contemporary semi-fantasy, the Jerusalem series of Edward Whittemore looks at religion centered around Jerusalem -- very much in a magic-realist version of our world. No simple answers there!

#461 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 11:22 PM:

Lee #449:

In addition to aging and experience, another contributing factor is resistance to change

I'd classify that with the other temperamental changes, though again I have no idea how much represents aging damage, ongoing neurological development... or perhaps the limits of human learning. (A neural network that's being used to store data can get "full", but it tends to degrade gracefully rather than crash.)

#462 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 11:25 PM:

Xopher @ 429... Third time will be the charm, maybe.

#463 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 11:28 PM:

Kevin, #454: Taylor appears to have convinced themself that there's a group organizing to vote against Correia, Day (&al?) "based solely on the author," and that to do so "is unfair and evidence of a political environment hostile to conservatives or otherwise right-wing authors and works."

More than that, pretty much the entire GOTV campaign by Correia/Day is based on urging people to vote for their works based solely on the political positions of the authors (aka "to prove they're not part of the Evil Librul Conspiracy") rather than the relative merits of the works. Which makes it both hypocritical and predictable for them to accuse other people of doing to them exactly what they want done to their competitors.

As a side note, I think this sentence: it might be good if everyone starts setting a backup plan for what to do with Day, Correia and Torgensen all win their awards
which is getting everyone stirred up is in fact a case of When Sentences Collide, and is a mash-up of "what to do IF Day, Correia, and Torgerson all win their awards" and "what to do with Day, Correia, and Torgerson IF THEY all win their awards". (And I see @458 that I was pretty close to being correct.)

But in either case, the response is still the same -- why would we need a backup plan? The suggestion itself assumes the kind of Vast Librul Conspiracy that simply doesn't exist. All that wins for them would demonstrate is that instilling a false sense of persecution into a group of people is an excellent way of motivating them to vote -- and that's something we've seen demonstrated in every US election since at least 2000.

#464 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 11:41 PM:

463
Their idea that we'd need a backup plan tells me that they have no idea how the voting works. Unless there's a landslide vote, it's damned near impossible to tell who's going to win just by looking at ballots. Anyone who's seen the results in Locus can tell them that: the nominee with the most votes doesn't necessarily win. (I doubt that they can, any one of those three, get enough high-ranking votes to win, although Correia will probably beat Noah Ward.)

#465 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 11:53 PM:

taylor collingsworth @458: Kelly/et all, I meant, what are you going to with Day/Correia/Torgensen as a writer if the come away with a Hugo. They all have very committed followings.

I can confidently predict that I will continue to ignore them.

Winning a Hugo doesn't make one President of All Fandom or obligate me to read one's books or stories. There are many other Hugo-award winning writers who I don't have time for either.

These are people perfectly comfortable with being hated or scorned by 99% of the world. (As am I).

Funny, for how comfortable they are with being hated and scorned by the world, Correia and Day sure do whine about it a lot.

There's an undercurrent here of "ooh, but aren't you scared they might actually win?" and -- no, I'm not, and I will not let you make me scared of them.

#466 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:46 AM:

taylor@458

PS: Thanks for both reading recommendations, they are added to the list. I read close to half of everything that is published new in the year for SF/F by the main stream presses, plus a few self published authors, I think this year on track for about 180 titles. Somehow both titles and authors are not on my radar.

And that answers right there the what are you going to with Day/Correia/Torgensen as a writer if the come away with a Hugo. They all have very committed followings. (cue scary music) question. Because The Curse of Chalion was a Hugo and Nebula nominee, and the author is the second-oftenest Best Novel Hugo award winner after Heinlein and tied for the third-oftenest Best Novel Nebula winner, with one of the books in the Chalion series actually winning both the Hugo and the Nebula, and yet the series and the author "is not on [your] radar".

If the second-oftenest Hugo winner is not even on your radar, what makes you think that if someone I've barely heard of wins the Hugo it'll change my entire life, and I need to make plans to deal with the crushing, crushing blow? I mean, really? Self-important, much?

Oh, and what in the world do you mean with that sentence about how They all have very committed followings.? Is that supposed to be a threat or what? I honestly have no idea how to parse that in this context. Do I NEED to do something with those guys if they win just because they have very committed followings? If so, WHAT?

#467 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:47 AM:

I should state for the record that "Being hated by 99% of the world" is definitely a sign of a persecution complex.

Here's the truth: 99.999999% of the world doesn't know you from Adam. Of the rest, most of those who know you at all probably are mostly indifferent to you. Then there's your friends and family, and we can hope that like any decent such people, they love you as warmly as a human can love, and that their opinion matters beyond the rest of the indifferent world.

And of those you are arguing with and trying to alienate? Those scary left leaning people you so proudly proclaim hate you?

Well, I don't. I don't even hate Vox Day. I dislike his writings, and I abhor the extremist political positions he claims to stand for. I think he has hurt people I admire, people I accept as peers, people I embrace as friends, and I think that is a terrible deed, the more for doing it clearly and thinkingly and with intent to repeat. I feel a certain amount of derision at seeing, as Abi describes, him proudly proclaiming himself such genius and providing considerably less evidence than he thinks.

But to hate him? That would take from me strength an energy I need much more to love people who matter to me. I don't have time for hate. And I think it's a rare person who actually does.

And no, if "they" win, I shrug and say, "oh, look, they mobilized their voters." I might spend some mental energy wondering how many of their fans can actually claim to have read, or made a reasonable start to reading, the tales that they see as left-leaning liberal nonsense before making that vote. I might read reactions from friends and foes and allies and neutral territory, out of curiosity. But I will then go on with my life, play with my son, try to get some writing and some mandolin practice in, and get on with spending my energy on those I love.

may you do the same.

#468 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:49 AM:

taylor @438

For that matter, do I need to do something because of those very committed followings if they DON'T win?

Tell me, what do you want me to do because of those very committed followings if they win, and what do you want me to do because of those very committed followings if they don't win? Because clearly you have something in mind, and I can't for the life of me figure out what.

#469 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 01:49 AM:

@458 – “I meant, what are you going to with Day/Correia/Torgensen as a writer if the come away with a Hugo.”

Ah. Sorry. Well, hm, as I said, I'm sort of fringe-SF fan, so I don't know if you want my answer or not. What my perspective there is, “Well, that means he/they won an award, and it means they have fans, which I'm glad to see, and they can go to cons and have conversations, and (in Correia or Torgerson's case) probably get a minor Hugo-Winning-Novel sales boost, which is always nice. And if their books/works keep selling, that's also nice.”

What do you want me to say, that their winning a Hugo means they should be the Movers and Shakers? I think their being relevant people means they're Movers and Shakers, not specifically their winning the Hugo. And if they think it indicates some political point was proven, I don't agree.

As for if their winning a Hugo means I'll read their books, well. Maybe? I still haven't read the Bacigalupi/Mieville tie from '10, nor anything of Kim Stanley Robinson's. (He's not really my cuppa tea. Not a big deal.) On the other hand, it does make it somewhat more likely, in Correia and Torgerson's cases, since I do try and pay attention to Hugo winning novels. (Also Nebula winning novels.) But I read slowly, these days, and my attention is split. Shrug.

#470 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:49 AM:

taylor collingsworth,

You do phrase some things in an unfortunate way, that can be read as a threat of unorthodox actions. I don't think it is unfair to describe what we have in front of us as a faction in fandom, with some of the unfortunately heated rhetoric associated with such things.

And some of the associations from the 75th anniversary might make some of the right-wing views easy to misread. Plus the real-world politics currently in England that echoing some of the politics of that era.

Compared to the heaps of steaming crap being produced by some parties seeking election to the European Parliament, this is pretty trivial. We have politicians of a xenophobic right-wing bent seeking election to the European Parliament, and saying they don't want to be in Europe.

You're not that crazy.

We have already had Tory members of the British Parliament bitching about a bearded drag-queen winning Eurovision. I think a part of it is our equivalent of the Junker class bitching about the choices of the masses.

(The war didn't get rid of our Junkers and fascists, and we acquired a few more scattered across Kent in 1940 (And Heinkels, and Dorniers).)

But I am resigned to certain sorts of American just not getting it about Britain, and their apparently lunatic views infecting our politicians. A couple of years ago, we had the Olympics, and the Opening Ceremony, a bit like the votes for a Conchita Wurst, was something of a dig at some right-wing attitudes. I recall that some US TV reporters were confused by the abbreviation "GOSH", and completely missed the significance of the NHS in British life. There were certain Tories who were dismissive of the celebration of the diversity of London.

A decade earlier there was the Golden Jubilee, which picked up on the diversity aspect in the parades, but ten years later the government had changed, and the Diamond Jubilee felt different.

But we still got a better class of Bond Girl.

Anyway, I am in a different world to you, part of a different culture, which is, a little, being reminded of the past. We're currently being reminded of the thuggishness of some Right Wing elements, and I know that's affecting my reactions to some of the phrases you have used.

When you write, There are several people working on vote counts, it makes me wonder if you have noticed events in the Crimean and the Don basin. What on earth are you thinking of doing?

And, when the bearded lady sings. will you then shut up?

This is not the bearded lady, it's Billy Bragg, and I don't really care if this makes Right Wing heads explode.

Anarchy for the UK of course.

#471 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 03:21 AM:

I have just finished Opera Vita Aeterna. It is going to have to fight Left Behind for the title of most anti-science work of purported science fiction I have ever read. The Heinlein Brigade have chosen this to rally behind? Have they even read it? If they think the Old Man would have polite things to say about it, they need their reading comprehension checked.

I propose that the elves and magic of the story are a stand-in for scientists and science, and the story is about a scientist renouncing science and finding God in monastic contemplation.

Even leaving that interpretation aside, it is undeniably and purely a work of Christian apologetics, at an allegorical level that even Lewis would be ashamed of. Lewis's allegory at least held together well enough at the level of story logic that those not steeped in Christian theology could enjoy the plot, whereas OVA's plot doesn't even begin to work unless one is steeped in Christianity. The story does none of the worldbuilding one would expect of secondary world fantasy. In addition to the made-up place names and the bad Latin, the Church jargon comes so thick and without incluing that I suspect even many lay readers to bounce off it, and the Church worldview is baked so deeply into the story's bones that it really doesn't make sense outside it.

Worse, excepting the climax, the story is boring -- I kept getting distracted as I read. The prose is turgid and could be reduced in volume by half without noticeable effect, the plot is nonexistent, and the characters are static. (I'm unconvinced that even at the climax of the story the elf can be said to experience character change or growth, without access to his internal monologue at the beginning of the story.)

Just saying that it's a work of Christian apologetics doesn't meant it's a story whose existence I am philosophically opposed to -- Christian apologetics is fine, and when I want to read Lewis or Chesterton's apologia I know where to find them -- but if the Heinlein Brigade give OVA a Hugo I will laugh my fucking head off.

#472 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 03:23 AM:

taylor collingsworth @458:

Interesting. There's a peculiar conversational dynamic that I've noticed in many of my dealings with Daysies, and your first paragraph is a lapidary example of it.

Regarding Day being an edge case or not, let's not get into a true scotsmen argument.

This is an assertion of conversational power ("let's not get into") combined with an appeal to authority in the form of a rhetorical device name. The point of it is to get us onto a conversational script you already have ready.

He self identifies as both conservative, when talking about US politics, and right-wing, therefore he is.

Script.

The fact of the matter is that we are entitled to question people's self-identification. If I tell everyone I'm a conservative, or a communist, or a kumquat, they're still entitled to examine my stated beliefs and see if they align with that group's before agreeing.

You can't take him out of those groups when convenient to you.

Assertion of power. I can, if I justify it. Watch:

Most conservatives don't advocate withdrawing the franchise from women. Most conservatives don't assert that you can use a genetic test to figure out how civilized someone is. Most conservatives don't buy into Day's "years to civilization" theory.

Therefore, Day's beliefs do not qualify him for inclusion in conservativism, no matter how much he calls himself one.

(I will give him right-wing, though, but that's a bigger tent. And not one I was talking about. This is just the inclusion of an undisputed fact to make the rest of your argument more plausible.)

Regardless, of what you think, there is at least a small contingent of self-identified right-wing authors who have publicly expressed being harassed by the mainstream.

And it's an assertion of another unrelated fact to bolster your claim! Self-identified right-wing authors have indeed proclaimed themselves as harrassed by the mainstream! So has Day! Also, a dog has four legs, and a table has four legs, so you can totally call a dog a table any time it's convenient!

Now, you can argue that because they edge cases, they deserve it.

Sorry, my mouth is full of coffee right now; there's no space for you to insert those words in there.

Or that it's a risk you take by doing things which are racist or homophobic.

Yes, if you're racist and homophobic, you are also totally entitled to make whatever spurious claims of persecution you like. (Nice try to elide their claims into fact, though.)

I think that is a far assessment to make.

I guess it's time for the praise section of the script. Having asserted power over me, defined my arguments for me and told me how they're wrong, now you give me a crumb of agreement to incline me toward your perspective.

As if I care.

But you should not act surprised when you have at first, what, maybe a half-dozen, then maybe a dozen authors, who express similar sentiment.

Right. Because I have totally been acting surprised the whole time. (Extra points for "act", by the way, with its implicit assertion of falsehood.)

And I don't regard six or twelve authors as a material fraction of the community. But as others have pointed out with reference to Bujold, your experience of the overall community is (put kindly) not really contiguous with that of broader fandom. Among other things, it's clearly smaller.

In point of fact, I think that there is a set of authors who are using right-wing persecution as a marketing tactic. The tone and nature of the trolliing here has been notably and markedly different than the usual run of fannish kerfuffle, in a number of ways that make me question its visceral sincerity. In short, I think it's invented outrage, which they hoped would catch real fire. (And no, I am not going to instruct our readers on how to do it more realistically.)

Saying you know some conservatives who don't agree with Day is interesting but not important to the point.

This sentence would have made a useful but minor component of an entirely different argument, albeit one I still would not agree with. Here, I'm afraid, it's just a sad reminder that even scripts have their occasional anodyne but harmless components.


Also, this:

They all have very committed followings.

Who assert that people should vote purely on the work, not on the author, of course.

But the entire voting system is set up so that a bloc of "highly committed followers" is not what counts. Unless that bloc is a material slice of WSFS members, what will win is a work with broad, low-level support, the kind of thing that people are willing to put down-ticket of their favorite.

It's unlikely that Correia's slagging and sneering will combine with Day's rather well-publicised abuse of other writers to create any such groundswell.

But in the meantime, I look forward to a Worldcon funded by the memberships of all the people who are so eager to vote in these Hugos.

#473 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 04:12 AM:

Taylor writes: it might be good if everyone starts setting a backup plan for what to do with Day, Correia and Torgensen all win their awards.

I see several people wondering what this was supposed to mean. My take is that it's from the paranoid menu: "What are all you liberal conspiracy people going to do with your precious Hugos when we show we can win under the current rules?". Taylor & co. may expect that when their team wins the Hugo, the SMOFs will change the rules to try to stop them winning again.

#474 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 04:26 AM:

abi @472: In point of fact, I think that there is a set of authors who are using right-wing persecution as a marketing tactic. The tone and nature of the trolliing here has been notably and markedly different than the usual run of fannish kerfuffle, in a number of ways that make me question its visceral sincerity.

In fact Day believes the nomination has already served its purpose. In his own words:

It’s a lot harder to win a Hugo than to get nominated. To win, one needs about 400 votes under normal circumstances. But since the votes are ranked in order of preference and there is an active campaign to vote No Award above “Opera Vita Aeterna”, I’d need more than that. Translation: thanks very much for all the expressions of support, but don’t buy a membership to vote for me unless you’re also planning to get involved on the nomination end next year. If you want to express your support, I’d much rather you spend that money on Castalia House books by John, Tom, and Rolf. For $40 you can buy most of our English catalog… some of it directly from the store we are opening later today.

Win or lose the awards, Sad Puppies has served its purpose. The purpose of Sad Puppies, as Larry repeatedly explained, was three-fold. First, to test if the award process was fraudulent or not. To the credit of the LonCon people, we have learned it was not. Second, to prove that the awards are a mere popularity contest, contra the insistence of those who have repeatedly asserted they are evidence of literary quality and the intrinsic superiority of the nominated works. We have shown that it is. And third, to prove that the SF/F Right is more popular in the genre than the gatekeepers have insisted. We have demonstrated that to be the case.

Found while searching for a teardown of the theology in OVA, which is apparently paraphrased Thomas Aquinas from the Summa Theologica. I think it was Patrick and Theresa who told us at VP that history was the trade secret of science fiction, but rarely have I seen it so shamelessly plagiarized.

That post also contains this gem:

Many Hugo voters have declared they will not read the novelette and it is already apparent that some of those who read “Opera Vita Aeterna” will not do so honestly. For example, one “reviewer” wrote: “I skip a little tedious adolescent Theology talk in Act Two, Plus a Silly Epilogue that I think VD thinks is Dramatic…. His point (I think) is that God Is Real. And So R Demons. The plot is pointless. The writing is dull and bad.” But anyone who has read the story knows that the plot is far from pointless.

"Is not." "Is too!"

#475 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 04:29 AM:

Hmm, 500 Internal Server Error on that last post, but it went through anyway. I wonder if the database is under enough load that it's not able to ack the update back to the app server before the app server needs to return a response.

#476 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 04:34 AM:

Committed followings?

Cue in Patsy Kline's "Crazy"?
("Not that kind of 'committed', Serge.")
Oh.
Nevermind.

#477 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 05:27 AM:

Niall, #473: Taylor & co. may expect that when their team wins the Hugo, the SMOFs will change the rules to try to stop them winning again.

I think that's exactly what it means -- because it's certainly what they would do were the positions reversed. This is a bog-standard right-wing projectionist argument: "We'd TOTALLY do that to you, so OF COURSE you're going to do it to us!" Again, we've been seeing this phenomenon demonstrated in US election politics for the last couple of decades at a minimum; you'll pardon me if I'm unimpressed.

The idea that they are not the center of our universe (as we are of theirs) is simply not on the table.

#478 ::: Cpt. Carnage ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 06:42 AM:

Niall, #473: Taylor & co. may expect that when their team wins the Hugo, the SMOFs will change the rules to try to stop them winning again.

Lee, #473: I think that's exactly what it means -- because it's certainly what they would do were the positions reversed.

Having to tweak the rules would surely give this crowd a nice chance to do some martyr publicity. But, hypothetically speaking, what rule changes could there even be? Something against block voting? Something against people thrown out of SFWA?

#479 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 06:51 AM:

Just a sidetrack about not having Bujold on one's radar-- I was amazed to find people who's never heard of her at conventions in the years when she was winning Hugo after Hugo.

I blame the mere size of the field, and possibly those hideous/insipid Baen covers. I don't know, maybe there was sexism involved, too.

This may be evidence that Hugos aren't as important to fandom in general as it's tempting to think.

As for Bujold's work, I think most of her Vorkosigan books are as good as science fiction gets, and I second the recommendation for Curse of Chalion.

#480 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 07:38 AM:

taylor collingsworth, in 436 you say "I am a WorldCon voter, and have been for almost 15 years".

After that post, two people addressed you, recommending books: In 441, praisegod barebones recommended Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw, and in 443 Cally Soukup recommended Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion.

In 458, you wrote " Thanks for both reading recommendations, they are added to the list. ... Somehow both titles and authors are not on my radar."

Looking back over 15 years: Lois McMaster Bujold had novels nominated for the Hugo in 2000, 2002 (The Curse of Chalion), 2004 (winning for Paladin of Souls, the sequel to Chalion), 2011, and 2013; and was nominated for best novella in 2005.

Jo Walton won the best novel Hugo in 2012.

And after being a Hugo voter for almost 15 years you'd never heard of them? What's wrong with your radar?

#481 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 07:50 AM:

Yarrow @480,

The only conclusion I can reach is that Taylor either never votes in the Best Novel category (which makes it interesting that he's soliciting a Best Novel vote for his favorite author) or that he votes without reading the entire nominated field, which seems hypocritical to me given his earlier statements in the previous thread.

Even if he reads a few chapters and bounces off (which has certainly happened to me with some novels, including award-winning novels) I find it peculiar that he can't even recall the names of the authors in question.

Taylor, perhaps you can clear up my confusion?

#482 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 07:58 AM:

Re: Vox Day: I just found out that Day wishes to withdraw the female franchise. Indeed, apparently female suffrage may be the proximate cause of the Destruction of Civilization As We Know It.

(Perhaps I'm misinterpreting. Check for yourself if you'd like; HERE'S a link to his blog. It's near the bottom of the entry.)

If Day doesn't want women to vote, then isn't it only appropriate and consistent with his stated position that I honor his wishes and NOT vote? ...Not for him, anyway... <wry> Still, despite his wishes, I do intend to read Day's work with the rest of the Hugo packet when it eventually arrives, because I'm a completist...)

#483 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 08:45 AM:

What would I do with X as a writer if they win the Hugo? Well, it depends if I like the stuff that X writes. In the case of VD, I am now satisfied that he can't write and so I won't do anything with him as a writer. Both his views and his writing are terrible.
As for the other sad puppies, I haven't read them yet. Their arguments to date have disinclined me to purchase anything from them. When the packet comes out, I'll give them a try. If I don't like them, well then it also won't matter if they have won the Hugo.
Works I don't care for have won the Hugo and works I like very much have not been nominated. It is a useful list to look at for new authors and can be a source of fun. Every now and then the fates align and the work I like the most actually wins.

As others have mentioned, it seems odd to claim to be widely read and participatory in SF without having either Bujold or Walton on your radar.

Also, good dissection of rhetorical technique from abi@472.

#484 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:02 AM:

Cassy B wrote @ #482

...I do intend to read Day's work with the rest of the Hugo packet when it eventually arrives, because I'm a masochist...)

FTFY

#485 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:13 AM:

Cadbury Moose @484, heh. Perhaps. I've not read anything by him, but the reports from people whose literary judgment I tend to agree with are not encouraging... <wry grin>

Please note that I never promised to read the entirety of that or any other nominee; I reserve the right to bounce off any (or all) Hugo nominated works in the packet. (There were a couple of Graphic Novel offerings last year or the year before that I simply didn't find interesting, for example...) I will, however, read enough to make my own judgment as to its worth or lack thereof.

#486 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:38 AM:

I'd say anyone without an interest in the controversy will see little point in wading in past sentence #2:

The pallid sun was descending, its ineffective rays no longer sufficient to hold it up in the sky or to penetrate the northern winds that gathered strength with the whispering promise of the incipient dark.

#487 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:40 AM:

Cassy B @ #484

<Grin> Ditto here.

I suspect I will be AFK a lot once the voter packet becomes available, though there are probably insufficient free evenings between then and the voting deadline to get through the entire WoT set.

I have the required reading tools set up in readiness: comfy chair, rubber gloves, long tongs, insulated eleven foot pole, bookcase, wastebasket, trashcan, document shredder, sealable bags and supply of Hazmat stickers. It should be fun (for certain values of 'fun', anyway). Not sure if I need to overhaul the trebuchet, my neighbours might be annoyed by hurtling "masterpieces" if I did that. <EVIL Grin>

#488 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:42 AM:

Yarrow/Cassy--

I am not sure if it was either of you that e-mailed me to come answer your query, but, regarding my radar:

English is not my primary language, and until about 6-7 years ago I did not have the language skills to read English SFF (well except for maybe short works and youth-orientated works, that are written with a more limited structure and word-choice). I just double checked and neither of the authors mentioned had translations available (and perhaps still don't?). In the last two years I have been able to read close to a title every other day or so, so I've added both suggestions to go back and re-read.

I have not always voted in Best Novel, and it's not clear I will this year, mainly because of the WoT situation. It would take me a lot of reading time to get up on WoT and I don't see it being possible. Shorter works, historically, have been easier for me to read because I can spend more time on them. Interestingly, some of my first English was learned from SFF, something which I think helped me tremendously. In some years I have voted only in a category or two. I do try to read all the works I am voting for, but I would not swear to it that I always have. I don't really have an issue with anyone not reading all the works they vote for. Voting something you have not read below No Award seems petty.

@472- abi, it is helpful to know that you do not accept self-identification. You agree that Day is right-wing? You have a strong case then, by your standard (that is, a recent American US-based conservative) that he is not a conservative. Although it may be fun to argue it sometime and see how it comes out. His beliefs are not all that far off the conservative mainstream, and there is a lot of polling done to track conservatives (well, Republicans, but these are closely linked groups) racial and gender politics (For example, 538 has a very interesting piece that does show a corresponding link between conservatives and opinions that Day has repeatedly agreed with). There could be a good case to be made that Day is more vocal about his beliefs than your average conservative. Historically, all of the beliefs that Day espouses have been associated with conservatives. Day's stated beliefs are largely stuck in time from previous epochs in conservatism, some 50+ years, some 20+ years, and some 10+ years. I am perfectly happy to have the true scotsmen argument regarding Day and conservatism if you want. I assumed that you would think it was tedious and I was not aware of your position that you claim the privilege to tell people who and what they are. You seem polite and this not typical of polite company.

I fail to see, however, what difference it makes whether we call Day a conservative or simply right-wing. What does that matter, in your view?

You spent a lot of time telling me how I was abusing you, and your argument. Why? You didn't disagree with anything. All you have said is that my opinion doesn't count because I am not broadly in-line with the rest of fandom. So we have now established that Day fans such as myself do not align with the rest of fandom. Which is something we already agreed with. You could just say that, and I would agree with it. Is there some other point you want to make?

"In point of fact, I think that there is a set of authors who are using right-wing persecution as a marketing tactic. The tone and nature of the trolliing here has been notably and markedly different than the usual run of fannish kerfuffle, in a number of ways that make me question its visceral sincerity. In short, I think it's invented outrage, which they hoped would catch real fire. (And no, I am not going to instruct our readers on how to do it more realistically.)"

This goes without saying. Being kicked from polite mainstream company is a huge marketing tool. It is the marketing tool of the right-wing (not just in books, with television, with movies, with media of all sorts). Being kicked out of the SFWA probably sold Day more books than anything else he has ever done. Notwithstanding that, and I couldn't say accurately, but Day's market is a tiny sliver of the overall SFF fandom. He has a strong dedicated following and is pulling in more people, but in the big scheme of things, it's surely a small fraction. Single digits or less maybe? I am not sure of your definition of trolling, is this trolling right now? For us fans of Day and the other slate of authors who are at controversy, it is more than a fannish kerfuffle. It is about whether or not we will have access to as much writing which we care to read. The authors we enjoy reading above others are marginal to begin with. We would like to them succeed, so we can keep having stuff to read that we like. The key to that is moving the goal posts so that the personal behavior of the author is irrelevant. I think we are winning.

#489 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:45 AM:

Naill @ #486

Please tell me you're joking with that excerpt?

<whimper>

#490 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:49 AM:

Oops! "Niall".

Sorry.

#491 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:50 AM:

Cadbury Moose@489:That's the sentence in all its glory.

#492 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:51 AM:

Cassy-- FYI, regarding Day (and mine) view - yes, we think the world would be better off with a dramatically limited franchise. Starting off with removing the voting rights of almost all women, followed by young people, most minorities, and most non-white, non-property owning men. I can't speak for every tenant of Day's belief. In general, I think democracy is a terrible idea, and one which has historically ended badly. I have little confidence in the ability for women to act separate from emotion, and to make decisions that involve life and death without resorting to tyranny. I also find that also to be true of most people. I would be much happier with a world with more inequality, more starvation, poverty, disease and discord, but with more personal liberty.

#493 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:51 AM:

Cassy-- FYI, regarding Day (and mine) view - yes, we think the world would be better off with a dramatically limited franchise. Starting off with removing the voting rights of almost all women, followed by young people, most minorities, and most non-white, non-property owning men. I can't speak for every tenant of Day's belief. In general, I think democracy is a terrible idea, and one which has historically ended badly. I have little confidence in the ability for women to act separate from emotion, and to make decisions that involve life and death without resorting to tyranny. I also find that also to be true of most people. I would be much happier with a world with more inequality, more starvation, poverty, disease and discord, but with more personal liberty.

#494 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:53 AM:

#488

Return #2

#495 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:53 AM:

Niall @486, Oh, dear. That's... turgid. That's a bit reminiscent of my memories of Jack Vance's more purple prose, but Vance (at least in my memory) was mostly able to pull it off...

#496 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:58 AM:

@492:So, way off in the parking lot of the right wing. Amidst the shrubberies.

#497 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:58 AM:

Taylor @493, if you wish to remove my franchise, why are you campaigning for my vote?

And since removing my franchise is advocating doing direct harm to me, it seems to me that it's in my own best interests to be very chary indeed of your recommendations. Why should I believe that anything else you recommend is intended for my benefit?

#498 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:59 AM:

Ooookay...

#499 ::: Cindy ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:02 AM:

Taylor Collingsworth #493

How can you have increased personal liberty while simultaneously disenfranchising most of the population? That doesn't even begin to make sense. Unless you think women, minorities, the young, and people who don't own property aren't actually people.

#500 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:02 AM:

re 486: That's a Bulwer-Lytton finalist. And this is up for the Hugo?

#501 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:05 AM:

Cassy-- I think you are confusing an actual God-given right to vote, which I don't think you have, to the right vote for your favorite American Idol, or in this case, book. Both of the later are irrelevant to the concept of rights.

Secondly, I would agree that you should be skeptical. I suspect it would be easier to kill many women than it would be to take away their right to vote.

As far as taking your vote away "harming you", that is a long-discussion which is substantially off-topic. I would argue at length that it would not harm you.

#502 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:09 AM:

Cassy-- sorry, I forgot one important point. Unless I am delusional, I did not ask for your vote for Day or anyone else. I provided why I would most likely vote for his work.

Cindy-- women and other undesirables vote to limit a lot of liberty. By removing a small amount of liberty (voting), a lot more liberty would be preserved. Many citizens of countries that do not vote at all are more free than citizens of the United States.

#503 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:10 AM:

Taylor Collingsworth @493, Starting off with removing the voting rights of almost all women, followed by young people, most minorities, and most non-white, non-property owning men.

How about non-white property-owning men? I own property; should I have the vote? Should white non-property-owning men have the franchise? If so, why?

Let me guess; you're white and male. Funny how people never advocate for trimming their *own* rights; only those other people.

I can't speak for every tenant of Day's belief. In general, I think democracy is a terrible idea, and one which has historically ended badly. I have little confidence in the ability for women to act separate from emotion, and to make decisions that involve life and death without resorting to tyranny. I also find that also to be true of most people.

If you find that true for "most people", why single out women?

I would be much happier with a world with more inequality, more starvation, poverty, disease and discord, but with more personal liberty.

I presume you're not volunteering to be poor, enslaved, or diseased in this paradise of yours...

I'm reminded of the folks who desperately wish to go back to the "simplicity" of the Middle Ages, never considering that the odds are a thousand to one that they'd be a serf or a slave, not a noble. I had a Jewish coworker once wax rhapsodic on the prospect; I stared at him in disbelief. Apparently, he'd never actually read any history. He didn't know about ghettos and pograms and all the rest...

Cassy

#504 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:13 AM:

As far as taking your vote away "harming you", that is a long-discussion which is substantially off-topic. I would argue at length that it would not harm you.

I just want to admire the nigh-fractal wrongness of this.

Bets that he's going to come up with some definition of "harm" that only includes "physical damage"?

#505 ::: Cindy ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:13 AM:

Taylor Collingsworth #502

Please give me an example of these countries that enjoy greater liberty.

#506 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:19 AM:

But you think increased poverty and starvation in the world is okay, too. Because, of course, you envision yourself as one of the people on top, and us women (And people of colour, and anyone else you don't like) as automatically the ones begging and grateful for scraps. Would you be so pleased with the idea of a world with more inequality if you saw yourself on the bottom, as one of the starving?

I would say that poverty is one of the things that most obviously, more so than big government interference, law and order, democracy, or the other things you denigrate, REMOVES personal liberty or any opportunity to take advantage of personal liberty. if you have thus removed personal liberty from the 90% of the population you think should be free to starve and die, in the name of being able to yourself do whatever you want, how are you actually supporting the ideal of personal liberty?

Personal liberty means everybody is free to do what they want, not "me and my buddies are, while you starve and die, or worse, entertain us with antics of our choice (including, no doubt, the rape and casual murder of those most desperate to do anything for the money to feed their families) in hope we pay you a pittance."

So my choices in your ideal world are to be chattel or be dead?All I can say is, thank god you ARE a lunatic fringe in the world and continent in which i live. Because i am a non violent advocate of charity (by the older meaning that is parallel to love), and if your world were in danger of coming to pass, I would probably do my damnedest to take as many of you with me as I could before I died.

Your suggested ideal world is the sort of world that creates suicide bombers.

#507 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:23 AM:

Why are people still responding to the garbage of a fascist?

#508 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:27 AM:

I'm still stuck on this statement from #502: women and other undesirables

Women are "undesirables", huh? (Not to mention all of the unnamed-in-that-sentence "other".) Somehow I suspect that the reason Lois McMaster Bujold and Jo Walton aren't on "taylor's" radar has less to do with lack of translation into his unnamed not-English first language and more with the fact that both are women.

Also, I call shenanigans on someone for whom English is not a native language having such a stereotypically Anglo-Saxon name as "taylor collingsworth". Pseudonyms and noms de net are an old and honorable tradition, but this smacks of someone trying to pull a fast one.

#509 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:30 AM:

May I note that this is actually a poorly-put version of an occasionally-useful idea.

I would be much happier with a world with more inequality, more starvation, poverty, disease and discord, but with more personal liberty.

The more-common statement (which is easier to agree with) is that to the extent there's a trade-off between steady-state misery and occasional disasters, steady-state misery is generally the more survivable choice. (AKA--the 19th century was better for European Jews than the 20th.)

It's not uncommon (at least in the conservative world) to think of liberty as costly; as such, more liberty implies less of other good things.

#510 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:31 AM:

Based upon #492, the country with the Most Liberty would be Somalia. Nobody can vote, and property ownership is essentially the Strongest Gets Best; there is much starvation and plenty of disease to warm the cockles of the libertarian heart.

As a non-male, property-owning, non-brown, non-Christian, non-heterosexual, I have to say "Which God?"

I am ineluctably reminded of all the bumper stickers of TP flags on the cars around me, riding on taxpayer-supported roads, driving cars made safe thanks to taxpayer-supported Federal Regulations, and so on and on. The irony is rich, indeed.

Well. Coherence being not their strong point, I shall simply pause for laughter, and plan to vote for the works that deserve a Hugo. I'm one of those new voters, you see, who purchased a supporting membership solely because of this year's toxic attempts to subvert the Hugos.

#511 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:35 AM:

taylor collingsworth,
Just out of curiosity, what is your issue with people who are not white? You've been very articulate, and I'm exceptionally curious about how you would answer.

I'm referring to your comment in #492, where you talk about the desirability of removing the right to vote.

#512 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:37 AM:

"Let me guess; you're white and male. Funny how people never advocate for trimming their *own* rights; only those other people."

No, not white/male.

I would not be franchised presently if I had my way (although in the past I would have).

#513 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:39 AM:

Nancy L @ 405: your statement is correct, but it is also true to life; how does it contradict/correct mine? Further, I'd say that "portraying music positively" is rather different from portraying music as a vital part of someone's life, which I read SamChevre as demanding for religion.

Xopher @ 407: I concede that the bodies were tuned for the CDF, but I suggest that this is only useful short-term; thinking about sex during a firefight tends to get you dead. Does the tuning include an automatic off switch? For that matter, does the CDF keep everyone who youthed up at the same time together (cf "friendship brigades"), and if not does having minked with people who are now far away do anything for local-unit cohesion?
      wrt athletes, some points:
- \When/ do they mink? The story suggests it's mostly after the release of tension, not before.
- How much tension are the new recruits under? They're just at the start of their new careers, not at what may be the high point of their lives -- and they really don't know what they're in for, any more than Juan Rico did.
- The Olympic athletes are by definition people who have trained to "[raise] [their] [tension] to the sticking point"; the rejuvenatees are presented as just enough beyond ordinary schmoes to be interested in a second life.
            I think what most irritated me about that scene was that it read like a classic male-only fantasy. (I concede that the term "zipless fuck" was spread by a female author; my guestimate is that it's still more a male fantasy.) I might have been even more irritated if I'd known about Scalzi [flaunt]ing his feminist credentials. And I'm probably making too much of this, but the scene was early enough in the book to taint all of it with a sort of wish-fulfillment disconnect from reality.

Nancy L @ 413: I love the phrasing in that comment -- Heinlein as a "fetish object"?!? I wonder whether the Correias and Wrights have read any of H's Hugo winners other than Starship Troopers (which I expect would have hard going today even if it were updated); did they plotz over Double Star (whose narrator was voted out for admitting Martians to ]Parliament[) and then forget, or just not pay attention to what H was saying?

Jim Henry @ 414: I disagree with your left-right rankings -- but that just demonstrates how unreliable a single-axis spectrum is for describing politics. (IMO, the commonly-bruited 2-axis system is still too simplistic.)

Avram @ 421: I hadn't heard about Heinlein's 1978 operation -- but his writing jumped the shark long before that; see I Will Fear No \x\e\SEvil. And that was reportedly what he wrote \after/ waking up from a previous operation (when he discovered his blood type was ultra-rare) and tore up what he'd written just before it. (Contemporary reports; I haven't followed what Patterson or other current scholarship says of that time.)

abi @ 427: an obvious point that many previous stories ignored; see Joshua Son of None, The Multiple Man, and a Sturgeon short I'm not finding now. (Those all handwave, claiming a precisely-controlled environment -- which is implausible because it would require a degree of control that makes The Truman Show look as trivial as a prestidigitator palming a card. Cherryh even points to this, in the clumsiness of the removal of Ariane II's ]foster mother[.) I suspect it's less true for Cyteen because it's such a controlled environment (even if it is a planet rather than a station), but even so. I also get the sense from the sequel that Cherryh herself is less convinced this would really work than she was 25+ years ago, but that view may have been affected by a wonderful Jo Walton point (from a panel discussion) about the horror of Brigadoonish Ariane IIIff trying to fit in several centuries in the future.

abi @ 472: an interesting dissection. The one thing I'd nitpick on is the use of "script", which suggests he's working from packaged rhetorical points; ISTM that this is more a program running on a brainframe, albeit one that makes merely not-seeing-the-gorilla look like brilliance.
      I'd love to see what Elgin would make of collingsworth, but I understand she's been too far gone in Alzheimer's for too long to have had the unpleasure of dealing with him.

wrt religion in SF: what about Anathem? Or does that seem like the ceremonies without the personal ]exaltation[ that SamChevre was asking for?

#514 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:40 AM:

Very amusing stuff, taylor, but can we stick to the subject of the Hugos?

#515 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:41 AM:

I have little confidence in the ability for women to act separate from emotion, and to make decisions that involve life and death without resorting to tyranny. I also find that also to be true of most people.

I really love it when people pull out that chestnut about women's inability to control their emotions. Because women, of course, are the ones sending death threats and rape threats to strangers when someone proposes to cast Spider-Man with a black actor. Or when a woman like Anita Sarkeesian dares to have an opinion about a video game, it's mostly women who lose their minds and petition Youtube to take down her videos, calling them "hate speech".

... oh, wait, no. Those are men who can't control their fear and lash out in irrational hatred, terrified of losing their cultural supremacy.

I would be much happier with a world with more inequality, more starvation, poverty, disease and discord, but with more personal liberty.

I'm just going to repeat this here, so I can appreciate it in all its brain-exploding glory.

You do realize that, in 99% of published fiction (written or filmed), these beliefs identify you as the bad guys, right?

Hail Hydra.

#516 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:41 AM:

Some time shortly after I became a librarian, I had a nightmare that a patron came in and demanded that I prove that the Earth is not in fact flat. I felt a real sense of panic: where would you start? How long could I hold someone's attention explaining Copernican astronomy and Newtonian physics? Where did you end the discussion? Undoubtedly the patron would also think the moon landing footage was directed by Stanley Kubrick....

I woke with a sense of immense relief, and some amusement, that luckily people are for the most part not so fundamentally misinformed that it's hard to know where even to begin correcting mistaken assumptions. For the most part I'm relieved that correcting mistaken assumptions is not in my job description anyway, unless someone explicitly asks for it. People want books on Bigfoot? I take them to the books on Bigfoot.

Aside from showing people where books are on the shelf, for the most part my work has involved storytimes, helping kids find science projects they're interested in, pointing down a hall towards the restroom, looking up obituaries and obscure news articles, and helping people download ebooks and audiobooks.

On another note entirely, today I read this piece's explanation of some lesser-used book-related terms such as "ultracrepidarian."

#517 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:42 AM:

"Also, I call shenanigans on someone for whom English is not a native language having such a stereotypically Anglo-Saxon name as "taylor collingsworth". Pseudonyms and noms de net are an old and honorable tradition, but this smacks of someone trying to pull a fast one."

There is an entire subset of the world which was subjugated by the British (i.e. the Anglo Saxon's) which got new names.

#518 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:47 AM:

Taylor Collingsworth:

Instead of being vague, how about you give us some idea of your native language, ethnicity, country of origin - I'm still pretty sure you are male. It's not like you can be ID'd across the net merely for mentioning these things in specific, and your coy vagueness about all of the above leaves good reason for doubt.

You would not be franchised by your own accounts, but in the past you would have. That seems unlikely, if your same criteria are the ones above stated, because you stated criteria that don't change that much. Unless you mean "You wouldn't be franchised in your hypothetical future but your ancestors were int he not-hypothetical but of history you're basing your ideals on."

And I really want an explanation why you would WANT a world in which, in addition to the poverty, disease, and starvation you crave, you would most likely also run a risk that those who did have franchise could choose to make it legal to take you and have you trampled, maimed, murdered, hunted for sport, raped for sport, enslaved, used for medical experiments... but someone ELSE would have "greater personal liberty".

#519 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:47 AM:

Chip @ 512

Further, I'd say that "portraying music positively" is rather different from portraying music as a vital part of someone's life, which I read SamChevre as demanding for religion.

I've enjoyed the discussion, but this is not at all what I was talking about. What I'm noticing is a difference in the way music is present in SFFSF and the way religion is; it's relatively common to have some music in a fictional world (people sing, or dance, or listen to music) even though the story isn't about music or musicians. In the actual world of humans, religion is almost as omnipresent as music; in the SFFSF world, it's very rarely there, even in the background.

(I didn't intend to make any demands--just to point out that SFFSF has major pieces of human experience and being that just aren't there in most fictional worlds.)

#520 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:48 AM:

* BIT of history, among other typos.

#521 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:51 AM:

Your name is Jams O'Donnell and I claim my five pounds.

#522 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:04 PM:

kimiko-- I should not have responded to Cassy's bait, as this is quite offtopic. If you are interested feel free to email me and I would be happy to share my thoughts. first name at my full name dot com.

#523 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:05 PM:

Taylor @512, so you're saying that you should not have the right to vote... but you should have the right to decide whether or not I have the vote?

I'm detecting a logical contradiction here.

#524 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:07 PM:

My guess would be formerly-high-caste Indian Christian. Only a guess, but converting to Christian loses (formal) caste privilege, IIUC, and sometimes gets a new family name.

I might be wrong. Probably I am. But I'm going to keep making up plausible scenarios unless our local minion of House Ryoval tells us outright.

#525 ::: abi, who is also Idumea ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:07 PM:

Guys, is the candy still tasty, or shall I untie the rope and sweep up the tissue paper? I get the sense we're just going in circles, but I'm willing to let this run if anyone is getting any benefit from it.

#526 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:10 PM:

Aw, shucks. *sheepishly puts broom handle down*

#527 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:11 PM:

abi @525, the candy is tasty, but I'm pretty sure it's not good for me. I won't presume to speak for anyone else.

What's that Bujold line about how when someone tells you who they are, believe them? (Or is it even a Bujold line?)

#528 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:14 PM:

cofax @527:

"When people show you who they are, believe them" is attributed to Maya Angelou.

#529 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:16 PM:

Xopher... I know someone who used to work at ACME. Really. Maybe he still has portable holes left.

#530 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:17 PM:

taylor collingsworth:

You have 250 words left on Making Light. Use 'em well.

(I think you've said quite enough for everyone to have a good idea of your character, honesty, and ability to argue. I know you've given me some useful parallax about Day and his coterie as well. But if you feel there's something you've left unsaid, now's your chance.)

#531 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:17 PM:

taylor collingswoth @517

There is something that feels odd about your story, but I know people of that sort. Some of them have their traditional name, and something more easily fitting with England.

But on what you say I am seeing signs of a pattern that is almost a cult. That is, a particular set of beliefs and manipulations that trap somebody. Native born or not, they are for some reason feeling lost, and they're drawn into a particular set of answers.

I get the feeling that somebody has given you a set of answers, and you grabbed them with both hands.

I'm not saying its religion, but it may be abusive. You seem to be supporting ideas that seem directed against yourself.


And then I was interrupted by a phone call, one of these telephone sales calls of dubious legality. Somebody from India claiming a remarkably British name.

I'm afraid it's encouraged my doubts about you.

#532 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:18 PM:

This moose is supposedly on a diet, and anyway the candy has something of a bitter taste so may not be that good for the participants.

May be a good time to tidy stuff away.

#534 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:21 PM:

abi @528: "When people show you who they are, believe them" is attributed to Maya Angelou.

Thank you. I shall try to hammer that into my brain.

#535 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:26 PM:

Re: "#530 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: 'taylor collingsworth: You have 250 words left on Making Light. Use 'em well.'"

This is moderation genius. Why have I not heard of this before?

#536 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:26 PM:

aww, abi, I was hoping we'd get to the villainous monologue. I so love a good monologue!* It was too much to hope that he was really as evil as he was pretending, right? If I thought I could learn something new about the kind of people who hold such awful beliefs, I'd want this to continue, but he seems mostly to insinuate and provoke without actually giving reasons.

I mean, really, is this what wingers have come to? Pretending to be Nazis, so they feel powerful? How lame. It's like they want their lives to be Bond fanfic, but for some reason they want to be on the side of his antagonist? That makes no sense! Le sigh. Hail Hydra.

*read this in a Marvin the Martian voice.

#537 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:29 PM:

My bet is that Taylor would have passed a means test for voting at some time in the past, but can't do so any longer.

And while no proof is likely, I'm adequately sure he(?) isn't JAD-- he(?)'s much more polite, and I think he(?) handles long sentences better.

#538 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:31 PM:

Trek Classic: The main reason I bounce off is because I've got them word-for-word memorized. Interestingly, camp and cheesy special effects aren't an issue for me, generally. Maybe it's because I've watched ALL THE TV, but I seem to have period-appropriate filters so that stuff just goes past without getting in the way of the story. Cf. Classic Who, Blake's 7, and so on.

What does gratch me is inadequate current sfx. I can sit through an ep of Once Upon a Time, and I can sort of ignore it when characters in a virtual set walk through bright sunlight without casting a shadow. But the flying monkeys set my teeth on edge. They need to shell out and rent a couple of animators from Pixar.

#539 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:32 PM:

I don't approve of voting for the Hugos without reading the nominees, and I don't know if I'll have enough time to do so (WoT? No ... Way). But I have the insane urge to buy the supporting membership just to vote against the Wrecking Crew.

#540 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:37 PM:

taylor collingsworth @ 517: Let me offer you the apology you may never have gotten for my culture fucking your culture over. I'm not saying that to excuse you--your ideas aren't excusable--but as I stare into the abyss, something intimate and familiar looks back.

So my sincere apologies to you. Now go and sin no more.

#541 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:47 PM:

To stray briefly to the actual topic of the original post, this article just came through my Twitter stream:

Recall That Ice Cream Truck Song? We Have Unpleasant News For You. Apparently "Turkey in the Straw" is not the title under which that particular tune became the ubiquitous ice cream truck song in the US. The reality is just about as racist as you can get.

#542 ::: abi, who is also Idumea ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:50 PM:

Also, let's dial right back on speculation about taylor's ethnic origins, reactions to that speculation, or associations that it arouses. It's really over the line, to the extent that I'm actually kinda squicked by some of it.

#543 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:54 PM:

@530 What has changed? @411 you welcomed me to stay . Since, I have been polite and added new information and perspectives to the discussion. Prior to @411, I had already acknowledged both severe sexism and racism.

#544 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 12:59 PM:

taylor collingsworth @543:

The conversation is making no one smarter, wiser, or more joyful, because your style of argument is not producing good conversation. You're relying too heavily on reinterpreting others' words, attempting to control the conversation and deploying pre-compiled scripts.

214 words to go.

#545 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 01:01 PM:

Then the fit isn't there afterall. I cede the rest to whomever wants the floor.

#546 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 01:04 PM:

WRT to works in translation: Here's a link to a list of the languages Bujold's work has been translated into, along with a bibliography which includes the dates of translation. Now, it's possible that quite a few were translated after the book won an award, but with fifteen languages represented, you can't say she's not geting around. The only Asian languages I'm seeing are Japanese and Chinese, which leaves out a lot of posibilities, and I see no major African languages, and nothing in Arabic, so she's not completely covering the globe. Nevertheless, her work is available in a fair number of languages, and has been for some time.

#547 ::: abi, who is also Idumea ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 01:17 PM:

taylor @545:

Very well.

May the road rise to meet you and the wind be ever at your back.

#548 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 01:45 PM:

re 378: Start of the Sea is a wonderful book. It's a shame that Haldeman's disabilities caught up with her so soon; she was a delightful convention guest too.

#549 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:07 PM:

Ick feh. Happily our local icecream truck, annoying as it is, plays a different tune.

I listened to the first verse of Turkey In The Straw (not the racist version), and found what I think are some icks there too. The narrator talks about his girlfriend's artificial leg, hair, and teeth, then says "turkey in the straw."

I didn't know why until i went to abbreviate the title and immediately thought better of it. He's saying why he keeps going with her. "What does that stand for? Turkey In The Straw, of course."

Maybe I'm wrong, but if not, ick.

#550 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:19 PM:

So, riffing on the Godwin AU, if it were me, I'd go back and make sure Hitler got into art school.

#551 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:20 PM:

486
Wonderful shade of purple there. (Almost the same as the one in 'Eye of Argon'.)

#552 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:30 PM:

Jacque @ 550... Ever read Norman Spinrad's "Iron Dream"?

#553 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:34 PM:

"As much as it impressed the Dancers as humanity's finest achievement, I doubt that even duct tape could repair the Alliance if it broke that badly."

Reading and enjoying Jack Campbell/John Hemry's space opera "Steadfast"

#554 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:39 PM:

The Curse of Chalion has, I discovered with a quick web search, been translated into 21 languages. But not, apparently, whatever language Taylor reads? It must be a pretty obscure one.

#555 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:43 PM:

Taylor:

You'd remove the voting rights of "almost all" women? Tell me, which women precisely would you honor with the vote, and what would they have to do to deserve it? You'd removed the voting rights of non-property owning non-white men; what about non-property owning white men?

Would you remove your own voting rights? If not, why not?

#556 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:47 PM:

Cally @555:

Taylor has left the conversation, and the door has clicked shut behind him.

#557 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:51 PM:

Cally @555, abi @556, anyway, I'd already asked those questions (or ones substantially like them), and he ignored them.

#558 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:53 PM:

I just read that he's left the thread. Feel free to delete the previous two posts.

#559 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 02:56 PM:

@488 -- "It is about whether or not we will have access to as much writing which we care to read... The key to that is moving the goal posts so that the personal behavior of the author is irrelevant. I think we are winning."

I know he's gone (in theory), but I just wanted to say to the blog in general that a) I'm in general a fan of more writing being available, and b) I don't actually think, in general, that behavior has anything to do with whether or not a person is published in the first place.

It may have something to do with why some people (by no means all) vote the way they do on the Hugos, but that's a different issue. (And also, in my eyes, not a problem. It's what the award and the culture do.)

Day & Taylor's political views are their own and can go jump in a lake, I'm just talking publishing in general, which is why I'm using the words "in general" a lot.

#560 ::: lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 03:09 PM:

abi @ 531: I run into this far too often when looking for songs to sing with my kid. I'll go looking for the lyrics to "Home On The Range" (the Lomax version, the one people sing) or "I've Been Working On The Railroad" or "Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone" or "Oh Susanna" or "Yes We Have No Bananas" and all of a sudden, I'm having yet another awkward dinner conversation with the old bigoted grandpas of American popular music.

Xopher @ 549: As far as I can tell, that probably isn't the case. If I'm reading my sources right, the "Turkey In The Straw" lyrics date to the 19th century [Wikipedia], and "tit" as slang for a breast (as opposed to dialect for "teat") doesn't show up till the early 20th century [OED, 2nd edition].

That said, there sure are a bunch of creepy versions of Turkey In The Straw. The one I learned as a child (Northeastern US, 1980s), involved abusing a chicken to make it lay. There are kinder versions too: the one that my kid learned in nursery school is just about the virtues of various farm animals.

#561 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 03:31 PM:

Niall, #486: Holy crap. The only reason not to compare that to The Eye of Argon is that it is actually a coherent and grammatically-correct sentence, with no misused words or punctuation. The style is recognizably similar, though.

C. Wingate, #500: Yes. Nominated by people who insist that the Hugos are supposed to represent the best of the field in any given year. I think something is off with their definitions.

SamChevre, #509: It's not uncommon (at least in the conservative world) to think of liberty as costly; as such, more liberty implies less of other good things.

It's also not uncommon, in the conservative world, to think of liberty as a zero-sum game, in which any scrap of it that goes to someone else is taken stolen from them. I submit that this formulation is reasonably fungible with yours, because the unstated corollary of what you said is that other people have to pay for conservatives' liberty.

cofax, #515: Hydra, hell. That's Doc Doom.

#562 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 04:27 PM:

kate @559:

Taylor's mythologizing, with this notion that they're "moving the goal posts" from some previous state where author behavior mattered. Historically, author behavior hasn't had any effect on what got published and read. Fan history is full of holy fuck, famous author used to do WHAT to female/underage/etc fans? Hardly evidence of any kind of disincentive. Very inclusive, right?

Except, not. And this ties back to this very thread, in point of fact, for the reason why.

Because as a rule, every jerk whose behavior is tolerated means a group of other people will be driven off, in the same way that members of this community would be driven off if I didn't protect the space from trolls and loudmouths. The same way Day tried to drive Jemesin out of the community of authors. The same way Correia's sneers at "snowflakes" are meant to belittle authors who are writing stories he doesn't like, and which are being read by people who don't like his stuff.

I don't know what potential authors are being put off by the notion that all foulness is fair behavior in fandom, but judging by what I've enjoyed lately, I strongly suspect they're the ones who would write the things I'd like to read.

Shorter me: in my experience, every choice silences a voice. The best we can do is to choose as justly, mindfully, and kindly as we can.

(Besides, the guy in the conversation who actually buys writing for a living said, "I've enjoyed works of art that were created by murderers", and mentioned that he edits work by right-wing authors. I suspect that most of the works whose lack of publishing success is being blamed on politics are not catching editors' eyes for some other reason. But in these glorious days of self-publishing, that's not necessarily an obstacle to finding one's readership.)

#563 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 04:45 PM:

I suspect that most of the works whose lack of publishing success is being blamed on politics are not catching editors' eyes for some other reason.

They whine a lot about publishers deciding who's going to be a best-seller and editors controlling what gets published, and never seem to get that writing what people want to buy is an important part of it.

#564 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 05:10 PM:

I have said this before in the context of marriage equality, but it's far more widely applicable than that:

When it comes to a choice between people who are fighting for the right to love and people who are fighting for the right to hate, I know which side I'm on.

#565 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 05:25 PM:

Elliott Mason @431: Heinlein['s] ... writing was aimed specifically at making status-quo folks uncomfortable and attempting to push the Overton window.

Actually, my sense is that Heinlein was about attempting to widen the Overton window.

#566 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 06:18 PM:

I went ahead and read "Opera Vita Aeterna" and in fairness I think it should be noted that the horrible-purple quality is present only in the first couple of paragraphs. For the vast majority of its length the writing rises to the level of "mediocre". In some ways that's too bad: if it stayed that way throughout, the story would have a certain Plan 9 From Outer Space entertainment value.

I found a certain amount of interest in the intellectual debates presented. I never found myself caring about any of the characters. The story as it currently stands is rather badly structured: it starts too early (the entire opening scene is completely superfluous and should have been omitted) and ends too early (we get action and emotion implied by an epilogue that really ought to have been written directly, as it may well have been the most interesting and involving part).

And having read the story I'll now say that it's quite plain the title is incorrect Latin. Day's claiming it's Italian bespeaks an inability to admit error that anyone over the age of 8 ought to find embarrassing.

#567 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 07:04 PM:

I also went and read "OVA". In my view, it is not one of the five best SFF short stories published in 2013, and it is not one of the hundred or so short stories published in SFF in 2013 that anyone would in good faith recommend to LonCon as among the five best from which LonCon should choose the Hugo winner.

#568 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 07:08 PM:

cofax 515: You do realize that, in 99% of published fiction (written or filmed), these beliefs identify you as the bad guys, right?

Also in the real world. Though if he's talking about absolute monarchy, there's a certain amount of fiction where no one but the King/Queen (or them and a small set of nobles) has a real franchise, though political power [the entire fictional history of the Barrayaran Empire is incorporated here by reference, making the rest of that sentence redundant]. And only the better writers make the ambiguity (or outright wickedness) of monarchy clear.

lighthill 560: A relief. Thank you. And thank you again for the poem!

Lee 561 (and others): I'd like to point out that I drew the comparison to Eye of Argon back here, though wrt its contest suitability (which according to David does not hold up), not wrt to its grammar.

Also, Eye of Argon has a plot. A stupid, thud-and-blunder plot, but a plot.

#569 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 07:36 PM:

Kevin Riggle @471 – If you are interested in really good and readable Christian apologia, I recommend Dorothy L. Sayers. Or, if you’d just like a cracking good radio play on the life of Jesus, read her The Man Born to be King.

Brad DeLong @535
Abi’s moderation Genius is spoken of in awed whispers as far away as Galaxy z8_GND_5296.

Xopher @549 Our local Ice cream truck, for some *unfathomable* reason, plays fracking Christmas music ALL SUMMER LONG. Gargh!

#570 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 08:27 PM:

Yep, OVA fails in whichever direction one wants to test it. It is trite, boring and lacking in plot and structure. The prose isn't even consistently purple enough to be amusing.
The religious elements lack both dimension and originality of argument.

#571 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:01 PM:

abi@541 - Arrgh*. And reading that article and its comment thread is making me late for going and playing old-timey music, which has its own issues. There's an old-timey group called the Carolina Chocolate Drops, one of whose members talks about "We're probably the first generation of African-Americans who could play this music without our parents whooping us for playing that minstrel-show stuff", but also talks about how much of American roots music comes from them, including the banjo and a lot of the syncopation that makes it different from the Irish and English tunes that white Appalachian folks were playing.

(*Not that Turkey in the Straw or most other traditional tunes involving poultry end well for the birds involved.)

(Let's see if 0, 1, or two copies of this get past the evil Internal Server Error.)

#572 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:27 PM:

Bill Stewart @571: I kind of want to sing Sacred Harp now and then, because HARMONIC ECSTACY, but on the other hand I strongly disagree with a bunch of the lyrics ...

#573 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 10:54 PM:

Elliott, this is what filking is for. Among other things. There's a perfectly acceptable hymn lyric for this tune, for example.

Don't even necessarily have to know the tune (though it helps).

#574 ::: lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:04 PM:

Oh, wait. That tune still *is* the current German National Anthem?? Wow, I feel ignorant.

Ah well, I guess a lot of countries have anthems where we don't sing all the verses any more. ("Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.")

#575 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:04 PM:

Bill, #571: I posted that link to my Facebook page, and someone I used to know from contradance is responding very peculiarly -- first 2 comments not engaging with the topic at all, and then a link to a clip of the tune being played in "Steamboat Willie". I'm beginning to wonder (not entirely based on this incident) if this is turning into that awkward moment when you realize that someone you used to know has turned into someone you don't want to know. Not prepared to make a final judgment on that yet, though.

#576 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2014, 11:42 PM:

Abi@462 – Yes, honestly, I was responding to the surface statements and letting y'all do the heavy lifting of responding to the underlying pathology. Because I feel it's useful to do both, in any given discussion.

As a queer woman, absolutely, I prefer not to have vulnerable populations (and writers) driven off, and, more to the point, I prefer them to be encouraged. (Different emphasis and framing.)

But I just think it's often necessary to explicitly say, “No, no one's actually repressing your voice or not allowing your work to be purchased. Your weird ideas about the world are both weird and wrong. Though feel free to keep communicating (and harming your case).”

Xopher@573 – My congregation had some problems with it when we sang it awhile back. (As, ISTR, part of an anniversary celebration.) Had a guy who was Jewish in origin who had issues with it. Can't say's I blame him. Reclamation's a difficult process, obviously, and in some contexts it'd be perfectly reasonable to sing it to that tune.

#577 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:14 AM:

In a different context with a different subset of the people I know, a friend was working through potential blog titles, and was really invested in using a word which is mainly now a slur against non-brilliant non-neurotypical people. Zie kept repeating that it had a loooong history (before being coopted into 1800s medical terminology, which turned into abusive classification, which turned into the general usage being 'stupid' only perjoratively) of use meaning the PRECISE THING she wanted it to mean, and that there is no better word in modern English for conveying that sense, and seriously, she doesn't mean it derogatorily so why is it a problem??

Several people with personal connections to people who have been slurred with the word kept saying, "Yes, but it's still not ok." I pointed out that "faggot" used to be a perfectly useful word for something that we don't really have a modern non-phrase single word for, but because of the (relatively recent, compared to the 1500s) current usages it's not really ok to use it.

Maybe once a word acquires a slur meaning, it's just nuclear linguistic waste for ... some period of time? Are there examples of words currently and non-controversially in ordinary non-slur English usage that were in living memory mostly slurs? Wondering about the potential half-life.

Queer doesn't count, IMHO; it's still aggressively being reclaimed. Gay is close, but still retains a lot of its perjorative sense (as witness high school students and their "that's so gaaaay"). Sissy is still definitely a slur. Did black use to be a slur? I know for a while there was activist pushback on a variety of terms for African-Americans, but I'm not up on the history of that.

Also not counting: words that mainstream usage claims are neutral but that are still hurtful and used as attacks on groups (like dummy, which despite its uses in ventriloquism and bridge and the very popular line of how-to-do-stuff basic knowledge books, is still very hurtful).

#578 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 07:02 AM:

re 572 et seq: Not only does the German national anthem use the same tune, it is still the case that all the places mentioned in the first verse are still not in Germany. OTOH the tune was written by an Austrian. And the Maryland state song still refers to Abraham Lincoln as a despot and a tyrant.

#579 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 08:39 AM:

C. Wingate @578:

And the Maryland state song still refers to Abraham Lincoln as a despot and a tyrant.

And, to circle back to the "offensive and non-offensive lyrics for a tune" thread, it is to the tune of "O Tannenbaum".

#580 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 09:20 AM:

C Wingate @ 578

I would note that only the third verse of the original "Deutschland ueber Alles" is the German national anthem. (And as a national motto, Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit has some advantages over Gott mit uns.)

On the subject of incongrous lyrics with the same tune, I grew up singing Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost to this tune. It threw my wife (who grew up with the more common lyrics) for quite a loop the first time she heard it.

And now for something completely different.

I liked the Wheel of Time; it was one of my favorite early series (I read the first 7 books in about 2 months, which was insane, but fun (I was working and in school at the time).) There's no way to read the whole thing, so here is my recommendation for reading at it. Read books 2 (The Great Hunt), 10 (Crossroads of Twilight), and either 6 (Lord of Chaos) or 11(Knife of Dreams).

I don't recommend starting with the first book in the interests of time; it's setting up a huge series, so there are too many characters introduced in a fairly stock/stereotypical fashion. That works really well in the context of the overall story (you see them change from stock characters to people) but makes the first book seem weak. In my opinion, 2,6, and 11 are very strong books, 10 is the one where the weaknesses are most evident (that, and the 11 to 12 transition).

#581 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 09:35 AM:

lorax wrote @ #579

...to circle back to the "offensive and non-offensive lyrics for a tune" thread, it is to the tune of "O Tannenbaum".

But so is John Bangsund's Notional Anthem.

#582 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 09:36 AM:

So where do we go to find out who runs "Orbit" so we can figure out who we should politely inform that they are making a huge mistake?

#583 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 10:07 AM:

Incoming!

Orbit UK have chosen to only release samples pf three out of the four Hugo novel nominees they publish

And they're the UK publisher of Wheel of Time.

Orbit announcement

I think the fine details of contract terms fixes who can decide, and then corporate policy comes in, but our recent campaigning visitors will see it differently.

#584 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 10:32 AM:

Bill Stewart @ #571, The Carolina Chocolate Drops are amazing. And very up-front about the fraught history of their music. (One of their albums is called Genuine Negro Jig.)

#585 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 11:08 AM:

Antonia 583: Hmm, I'm confused. Does that mean the US and UK contingents of Hugo voters will get different packets?

#586 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 11:14 AM:

Xopher, I'm wondering the same thing. (And putting those three books on reserve at my local public library, Just In Case.)

#587 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 11:28 AM:

Apparently it doesn't. Apparently it means the packet will only have those previews, for everyone. I think Scalzi's hypothesis makes a ton of sense.

I will try to borrow the three Orbit ones, though I'm not sure I can deal with Parasite, not because of Mira/Seanan, who appears to be a delightful person, but because I have a strong aversion to horror.*

*Everyday life is plenty frightening enough. I don't need anything else adding to my burden of fear. Also, I have empathy even for fictional characters, and that doesn't go away when I put a book down, being irrational and not subject to such formulas as "it's only a book." Made the mistake of watching a horror movie the other night, and it ended with the aliens abducting the kid, and the parents (who did everything they could possibly do to prevent it) being prosecuted for his murder. No ending, no resolution, really. It keeps bothering me.

#588 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 11:33 AM:

I've spent my life only knowing Turkey in the Straw as an instrumental piece of music-- I didn't even know it *had* lyrics, and I think that's typical for the culture.

Does it make sense for it to become a bad thing if the forgotten lyrics are publicized?

#589 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 11:34 AM:

Xopher @ 587... Mira/Seanan, who appears to be a delightful person

She is.

#590 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 11:37 AM:

Xopher, re horror: that is precisely how "The Prestige" affected me (the movie; I haven't read the book). It would NOT leave me alone. **shudder**

#591 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 11:41 AM:

Cassy B., and anyone else who would be swayed by my (spoiler-free, I think; existence of all aspects mentioned can be intuited from the back cover matter or the first few pages) opinion: I recently read Ancillary Justice, and it is an outstanding work of mindblowing science fiction. She does things with multiple viewpoint that are insanely complicated stunt writing -- and manages to stick the landing as simply if she were only walking down the street. It delves into the natures of identity, gender, culture, violence, and imperial colonialism more deeply than anything else I've read in the past five years. It would make an amazing paired read with Rzzn Ohyy'f Obar Qnapr, if you have that handy for tearing through right after. (rot13ed title and author because pairing the two books is something of a mild spoiler for whichever one you haven't read yet)

I'm mildly miffed that it stops at the end in a way that implies it's the first half of a whole story that continues in the next book, but that's really my only complaint.

I haven't decided if I've got the resources to buy a supporting membership and vote, but I am now no longer surprised AT ALL at the number of Ancillary-Justice-related panels that were proposed for WisCon this year (the first time I'd heard of the book).

#592 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 11:57 AM:

Charlie, Mira/Seanan, and Ann have issued a joint statement about Orbit's decision. Gist: not their decision, not their editors' decision, and please don't write nasty letters to Orbit.

#593 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 12:23 PM:

Nancy, #588: "Turkey in the Straw" is a popular kiddie song, and certainly had lyrics when I was growing up (although they were sanitized in much the same way that "Sixteen Tons" got sanitized for kids). Publicizing the history serves the same purpose as being aware that Ogden Nash wrote some nasty fucking racist shit in addition to his delightful light verse.

IOW, no, we do NOT want to conveniently forget things like this just because thinking about them makes us uncomfortable.

#594 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 12:58 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 587: Parasite didn't strike me as horror, though I may be unclear on the definition. I never head to the horror section of the bookshop, or seek out movies with that label. The novel doesn't have anyone cackling over a knife, or the like.

Elliott Mason @ 591: I thought Ancillary Justice was fantastic. My book group, which sometimes spent all of 5 minutes on the book we'd just read, and then went on to happy nattering, talked about Ancillary Justice for about an hour. It's interesting, and suspenseful, and chewy.

#595 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 01:47 PM:

I've got all three of Ancillary Justice, Neptune's Brood and Parasite already, so the Orbit decision doesn't really effect me personally. I liked all three books. At the moment, the order they would go on my ballot is:
Ancillary Justice
Neptune's Brood
Parasite

I don't really see Parasite as horror although it does have interesting themes touching on the nature of identity.

Hopefully the Orbit decision won't hurt them too much.

#596 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 01:55 PM:

Just as there are books about crime which are not Crime, and books about romance which are not Romance, I would guess there are books about horror which are not Horror.

#597 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 02:38 PM:

I had understood that "Mira Grant" was Seanan's Horror nym. No?

#598 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 02:41 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @597, "Mira Grant" is Seanan McGuire's horror-writing nym. (At least, the only Mira Grant novels I've seen previously are zombie novels...)

And she's a delightful person. Also an excellent singer.

#599 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 02:56 PM:

Since, on miragrant.com, the welcome states:
Welcome to MiraGrant.com, the home of horror author Mira Grant. If you want to survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse, you've come to the right place.

I would not disagree with the definition any further.

#600 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 02:56 PM:

Let me be clear. I only said "apparently" about Seanan McGuire because I don't know her personally. My experience of her is limited to

  • her reputation, which is stellar
  • one panel at a WorldCon, where she was utterly delightful, and
  • a few interactions on Twitter, where she's been fun and interesting.
I was trying to make it clear that if I don't read Parasite, it will not be in any way because I have anything against her. If it seemed that I was dubious of her qualities as a human being, I apologize for that erroneous impression.

#601 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:02 PM:

On the subject of religion in SF&F: three of the books I've read recently contain characters who are Muslims, pray five times a day, and clearly believe in the tenets of the faith: Alif the Unseen by G Willow Wilson; Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed, and God's War by Kameron Hurley.

#602 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:04 PM:

Xopher,

one panel at a WorldCon, where she was utterly delightful,

Were you at her how-to-destroy-the-world-with-disease panel? (I don't recall the actual name of the panel), but it was an absolute hoot...)

There weren't enough chairs; I was one of the people sitting on the floor along the wall.

#603 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:14 PM:

Bill Stewart@389: Quaker weddings don't have officiants. The meeting clerk might end up filling out government paperwork, if that's required in the current century...

For "century" also read "locality". In the US the requirement for an official paper-signer differs state by state. I have friends who are not Friends who were married in Pennsylvania without an officiant, and friends in other states who are Friends who had to have the clerk of their meeting sign their license. (One Quaker tradition I do very much like is the one that all members of a meeting are equally witnesses to the marriage, and thus all sign the marriage certificate, if not the official version filed with the state.)

On religion and weddings in general, especially for fictional religions: how important are weddings to the religion in question; and, if the answer is "no more than any other personal milestone", how likely is religion to be visible (to an outsider) during such a personal milestone? The answers to both are variable for non-fictional religions and societies (compare the Catholic sacrament of marriage vs. a Jewish ketubah, for example, on the first question), so I'm not sure how much of a marker of religiosity a Barrayaran wedding should be.

#604 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:31 PM:

Serge Broom@476: Cue in Patsy Kline's "Crazy"?

This miscued over here and I wound up with Annie Ross's "Twisted" on repeat loop.

#605 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:33 PM:

C. Wingate @578: "OTOH the tune was written by an Austrian."

Hayden, no less.

#606 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:33 PM:

C. Wingate @578: "OTOH the tune was written by an Austrian."

Haydn, no less.

#607 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:51 PM:

Xopher, #600: You are not alone in this. I do know Seanan, and she is a delightful person, and I adore the Toby Daye books and the two Velveteen collections. I am also happy for her that the InCryptid books are being as popular as they are. But I will not be voting for Parasite, nor will I be reading it, because I Don't Do Zombies.

Note, in the context of the current discussion, that this means I will not be voting for an author who I personally like, and whose personal politics I very much agree with, because one of my requirements for voting for a Hugo winner is that I have to like the book.

#608 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:52 PM:

dotless I @ 604... You're welcome. :-)

#609 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:53 PM:

The joint statement by McGuire, Leckie & Stross was clear, well-worded, dignified. I have sympathy for the writers & hope Orbit's decision doesn't affect their Hugo chances.

The Orbit announcement? Annoyed me and made me wince at the double-speak.

#610 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:59 PM:

Cassy, I think it was a panel about podcasts. The only think I really remember about it was that Seanan and Mary Robinette Kowal were both there and both great fun.

#611 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 04:35 PM:

By the way, the Pope seems to be implying that Vox Day is wrong about elves and souls, unless there is some theological basis for distinguishing between elves and Martians . . .

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/pope-francis-says-he-would-baptise-aliens-9360632.html

#612 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 04:51 PM:

I'm hoping that my vacation off at the Kalamazoo medieval conference hasn't made me entirely miss the fascinating conversation sparked by SamChevre's comments in religion in SFF. You see, I agree wholeheartedly with his observation on the rarity of positive portrayals of the intersection of religion and SFF (and especially fantasy/magic and SFF), which is perhaps unexpected because my own background and my writing defaults would normally place me as "part of the problem".

Just as writers steeped in our sexist culture -- even if they personally are women and/or feminists -- too often default to foregrounding male characters, I automatically default to writing non-religious cultures because my own internal landscape takes atheism as the default. Which is why I was a little surprised when I found myself writing a historic fantasy where the main characters--one of whom has a strong magical talent--are casually sincere believers in their equivalent of Catholicism and where the magic in the setting is deeply intertwined with religion in a positive way. And yet, it was the only thing that made sense for those characters and that culture. Writing that aspect was possibly the most difficult part of the novel and the part I'm most proud of getting "right". (Or, at least, a number of close friends who are seriously and sincerely religious tell me I "got it right" and I'm willing to trust them on it.)

But a startling number of readers and reviewers have commented on the religious aspects of Daughter of Mystery to the effect of "Wow, this is refreshingly different from what you usually find in fantasy novels." Which does tend to reinforce the conclusion that someone who is looking for positive religious protagonists to identify with would find them thin on the ground in current SFF. I blog about it here, in case anyone is interested.

#613 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 07:31 PM:

Lee @ 607: But I will not be voting for Parasite, nor will I be reading it, because I Don't Do Zombies.

Parasite is the beginning of a new series unrelated to Grant's Newsflesh series. It doesn't do zombies either, so far as I can tell. However it does do tapeworms and that might be worse. You can always tell yourself zombies aren't real.

#614 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 07:51 PM:

Mira Grant sleeps with a machete under her bed, and recommends that you do the same.

And apparently her UK publisher has also been using the machete on their Hugo packet nominated works; at least I won't feel bad about not reading the whole WoT.

I don't do horror novels/movies either, but I do like thrillers, and political fiction, and Feed was an excellent political/journalistic thriller that happened to have zombies in it. I probably wouldn't have read it if it hadn't been in the Hugo packet (though I've been reading her Toby Daye books), but it seriously rocked, and I had bought both of the next two volumes in dead-tree format before they hit the Hugo packets.

#615 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 08:00 PM:

@#613 Paul Duncanson: I would have to disagree. I've read _Parasite_ and it is, indeed, another fucking zombie novel. So very tired of zombies.

I hate zombies, but actually loved her "Newsflesh" trilogy, which read much more like sf than horror. She uses many horror tropes, but the emotional construction is more like sf, to me. That said, I disliked _Parasite_ because I think she mangled the reveal badly. It read more like sf than horror, again, but it's structurally broken.

#616 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 08:06 PM:

I know Taylor is gone, but I do want to say one thing. I find it bewildering that so many people fail to equate poverty with a lack of liberty. The idea of being free and poor is something I see a lot in US politics, and all I can think is that these people have never been poor. Nothing constrains choice so much as not having sufficient food and shelter. Nothing controls one so thoroughly as a truly terrible work environment with no options. If there was anything likely to drive me into the arms of communism, it is this bizarre fantasy that poverty does not constrain freedom. (I'm dating a communist at the moment, and the communist argument that one's relationship to the means of production is the primary identity, and indeed the only one of importance, also drives me spare.)

#617 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 08:08 PM:

rea@611 Brother Guy tweeted that he and "another Jesuit" were mentioned in a Huffpost article on the same topic.

#618 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 08:17 PM:

On the Orbit decision:

I've bought one book because of having read another book by the author in the Campbell packet (Lauren Beukes' Zoo City). Another (Throne of the Crescent Moon) I first borrowed from the library, and then put it on my wish list; my Dad bought it for me for Christmas. I don't think the books in the Hugo or Campbell packet have deterred me from buying any books I would have bought otherwise; I can't afford to buy all the Hugo nominees every year, so without the packet, I'd only vote for what I can get from interlibrary loan. (The odds of my local library having them are near zero; it has an okay selection of classic sf but very little new.)

I'll try to get those three by interlibrary loan, but I'm not sure I'll be able to -- it depends on the time of year they were published. The PINES system, which covers most of the counties in Georgia, doesn't allow you to borrow books by interlibary loan from another county until that county's residents have had it to themselves for six months exclusively. So anything some Georgia library other than my local one bought in 2013 should be available by July, but if some of the nominees weren't published until near the end of the year, I'll have to wait until then to order them, and who knows if they'll actually arrive in time for me to read them before the voting deadline. (I already tried to borrow Ancillary Justice, back before the nomination deadline, and found that it hadn't been in the system for six months yet.)

Some of the commenters on John Scalzi's blog are talking about ranking the three Orbit books below No Award, which seems to me inexplicably perverse. It's been made abundantly clear that the authors had no control over the decision.

I suspect the Orbit corporate suits will be confirmed in this decision when one of their nomineees wins anyway. Even with voters having to (shock horror!) go to a bookstore or library to read the Orbit nominees, I'd be very surprised if Correia wins and moderately surprised if Jordan & Sanderson win.

#619 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 09:05 PM:

rea #611: From the comments to that article:

ManuMza: "One philosopher asserted that he knew the whole secret… He surveyed the two celestial strangers from top to toe, and maintained to their faces that their persons, their worlds, their suns, and their stars, were created solely for the use of man. At this assertion our two travelers let themselves fall against each other, seized with a fit of… inextinguishable laughter.” -- Voltaire’s “Micromegas” in 1752.

I should look for a translation of that....

#620 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 09:14 PM:

Jim Henry @ 618... Putting a book below 'no award' because people won't get it for free? There's too much of that attitude elsewhere on the internet.

#621 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 09:26 PM:

Serge Broom #620: And as someone pointed out at Whatever, that attitude tends to support Holman's position that the expectation of freebies has gotten out of hand.

But as I said on Whatever, the decision may (or may not) be sound tactics, but I still think it's bad strategy.

Anyone else notice that this has managed to change "Science Fiction's topic du jour? Admittedly, there wasn't much discussion left for the old one, especially after we finished with the piñata.

#622 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 09:36 PM:

Me #619: Found a translation (that was easy!): Voltaire's Micromegas.

#623 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 09:37 PM:

lydy, #616: Hear, hear! "Money can't buy happiness" is one of those abusive platitudes used to keep the poor from rebelling against their Proper Place. Money sure as hell CAN buy peace of mind, after which happiness becomes much easier to obtain. It would be very hard to convince me that any family described as "poor but happy" would not be just as happy if they were less poor!

OTOH, I also agree with you about that facet of communism. I am not my job! Even when I had a regular job, that was not the first thing I thought of when someone asked me "what I did". My stock answer to that question was to describe, not what I did for a living, but who I was, which happened to include that but it was fairly far down the list. These days, being self-employed, more of my identity is invested in my work than there used to be, but it's still not by any means all of who I am.

#624 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 09:52 PM:

rea @611: unless there is some theological basis for distinguishing between elves and Martians

I don’t see what the two have to do with each other. Elves are immortal beings of Faerie (or Germanic folklore and mythology). Martians are (presumably) mortal beings from another physical planet.

Elves, like humans, have ears. Must it therefore be the case that Martians also have ears?

#625 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 09:56 PM:

623
I'd say "I read maps" - and then, if they indicated interest, go into more detail. (Utility company. Maps are important. We had a bunch that were on linen. They all got scanned to really high-quality PDF files while I was there - and that was the second time they'd been scanned.)

#626 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 10:07 PM:

@#623 Lee: I think that in much fiction written, say, more than 50 years ago, "poor but happy" is a construction that means "part of a community." One of the wearing things about poverty is something frequently referred to as envy, but which I think is actually something else. I'm not sure what. But there is an emotional toll that one pays when one frequently associates with many people who have greater access to luxury and comfort than one does. One of the things that inequal access does is separate and isolate. If everyone you know can afford to take riding lessons, but you can't, you not only miss the riding lessons (and let's face it, horses are cool), but you are set aside from the social net in this instance. That isolation can perpetuate in non-obvious but very damaging ways. One wouldn't necessarily say that this person was poor, but their distress is still quite real and reasonable.

On the other hand, "poor but happy" usually implies a family that lives within a web of people who have similar circumstances. I think that one of the things it frequently implies is significant social capital. And social capital is probably more important than actual money in terms of creating happiness. But when you get down towards the bottom, when actual eating and shelter are at risk, when acquiring those things uses up so much time and energy that you can't build good communities because where's the time, money matters a whole fuck ton.

#627 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 10:38 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 621... Anyone else notice that this has managed to change "Science Fiction's topic du jour?

Damned right I did, and I'm much happier for it.

#628 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 10:43 PM:

Lydy Nickerson #626: An excellent point! I'll note:

But when you get down towards the bottom, when actual eating and shelter are at risk, when acquiring those things uses up so much time and energy that you can't build good communities because where's the time,

When you get down that far, it's not just time and energy that prevents community building. At that point you have people forced to compete for the means of life. As a modern example, you can't build community with someone who's liable to steal the money you needed to feed yourself, or your kids. Nor with someone whose food money you may need to steal (and who knows that). Much of modern civilization depends on keeping poor folks above that level, or else on containing/excluding anyone who is at that level.

(And that's why the folks who claim that "welfare" should be abolished, or limited to the "deserving", are preaching flat-out evil.)

#629 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 10:44 PM:

Lydy 616: Earlier today, someone on Twitter (please don't name them here) made the following snide joke:

There is an authoritarian right and a libertarian right, just as there is an authoritarian left and an authoritarian left.
I replied:
The authoritarian right wants to enslave all but a few through government means; the libertarian right prefers economic ones.
In the more general connection to this thread, I think most on the right think "freedom from" is more important than "freedom to" (to use phrasing from the villains of that o-my-God-no-it-isn't-SFF novel), but forget that freedom from hunger and want are just as important as freedom from active persecution.

#630 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 10:53 PM:

Dave Harmon #621:

A change in the "Science Fiction's topic du jour"? Different day, different topic?

Per the Orbit announcement, it is "a complex issue". With Loncon memberships now exceeding 7500 that's a lot of potential downloads, and even though not all those would have translated to lost sales, it's still a significant consideration. The Orbit announcement may be suggesting this but I have no way of piercing through its vagueness.

We've had it mentioned that the writers do not get any royalties directly from having their work in the Hugo packet, so the benefit of fen goodwill & improving their chance of winning by getting it in front of more voters has to be weighed against potential loss of revenue for the writers & the publishers. There is also a sense that Hugo voters are entitled to getting all the nominees in the packet which didn't help (even though that hasn't always happened & even though it has always been down to the publishers' generosity in making the nominees available on a case by case basis).

I am disappointed that the Orbit nominees won't be in this year's packet but as a voter I'll do what I can to get acquainted with the nominees so I'm an informed voter. If I don't get to see a nominee, I'll leave it off my ballot which is what I'll do for best dramatic presentation as I won't have seen all nominees; seems unfair to do otherwise.

The compromise of having an extended excerpt doesn't work for me either; it's like being asked to judge a triptych on the basis of viewing one panel. (Excerpts are fine for the Campbell-not-a-Hugo where we are asked to vote for the writer, not a specific piece of writing)

#631 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 11:31 PM:

A late comment, but I think most of the speculation about ethnicity/gender/etc. of the departed piñata totally missed the likeliest point.

I have many times seen right wing Internet "culture warriors" take the rhetorical tack, "I say oppression and discrimination against X [does not exist|is justified] and oh by the way this isn't bigoted because I am X". Virtually every time it's been possible for someone to check it, it's turned out to be a total and pathetic lie.

Of course there are people who are screwy enough or have enough self-hate to advocate direct discrimination against or disenfranchisement of a class they belong to - but I believe they are tiny in numbers next to the number of internet trolls who happily make up complete bullshit about their identities.

(Also, I'm afraid the weak grasp of English is totally in line with recent USAian high-school graduates, and not a few college students. Consider the gems Fragano posts from his students.)

#632 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 11:51 PM:

There is also a sense that Hugo voters are entitled to getting all the nominees in the packet which didn't help (even though that hasn't always happened & even though it has always been down to the publishers' generosity in making the nominees available on a case by case basis).

Unfortunately I don't know any way to get humans not to price things in like this. It's the same way bonuses at work go -- the first year it's a pleasant surprise, the second year you're gratified when it shows up, the third year it's planned into your budget. It's not that people are ungrateful, but we're really good at recognizing patterns. It's one of the reasons nonmonetary perks can sometimes work better than monetary compensation.

I wonder how long Orbit's "extended excerpts" will be compared to what's up on eg. Amazon. I read through the first bit of Parasite and couldn't figure out if I wanted to read further, so I was waiting for the Hugo voter packet to try again. Now I have a harder call.

(It's not really that buying the books or not will make a material impact on my budgeting, thankfully, and I'm not opposed to giving Seanan money, it's just that I'm trying to buy fewer books I don't read, and this is getting in the way of that. Personal problems, really.)

#633 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 12:04 AM:

Clifton: I don't know about Collingsworth, but Day himself claims to be part Hispanic (I think, certainly part POC) and firmly asserts Larry Correia is. (The latter seems plausible, what with the surname.

Are these claims refuted anywhere? Because I do actually think it's poor form to deny someone's self-identification without proof. Not that I deny the usefulness of skepticism, but I tend to prefer seeing it applied as 'trust but verify' over 'don't trust at all'

That sometimes the proof of some self-identity claims is within the same sentence or paragraph is true, but doesn't refute the usefulness of beginning with a baseline of what the person themselves claims to be. (As with some trolls' claims to be rational thinkers being followed by an argument composed entirely of fallacies, or many of the people discussed on the Dysfunctional families threads)

#634 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 12:58 AM:

Lydy--

I suspect that when "poor but happy" is true it may mean "had little money but we were happy." I'm thinking of things like owning land that has little or no market value (so low if any taxes), but your family has a solid log cabin standing on it, and/or the feed yourself/your family mostly if not entirely by farming (on the subsistence/kitchen garden level, perhaps), fishing, gathering, and hunting.

That lack of money still limits people's choices, but it's different from going to bed hungry and/or being burdened by debts you can't even make a payment on.

I also suspect this attitude contains a certain amount of romanticization of the frontier, including the idea of being able to move on if you're unhappy where you are.

#635 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 01:46 AM:

#626 ::: Lydy Nickerson

I also used to occasionally see "we didn't know we were poor"-- which I think was something people would sometimes say of their childhoods. And yes, non-dire poverty and family and friends in similar circumstances.

#636 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 03:29 AM:

As someone who is not a seventeenth-century Puritan (and occasionally mistaken for one), I'd like to point out that it's possible to comment on the Internet under something that isn't one's real name - and to have good reasons for doing so.

I'd also like to point to the existence of authors such as Luther Blissett and Wu Ming as examples where a name published under is radically misleading as to authorship. (Cf also N. Bourbaki.)

#637 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 04:00 AM:

Lenora Rose @633:

I am Jewish, but only on my mother's side. I don't have a Jewish name or pepper my conversation with Yiddish, and I'm not practising (much), so people tend not to know unless I tell them.

This means I don't experience anti-semitism directed at me personally. I have gentile privilege in most situations.

If I knew someone disliked me, I would consider it bad form to proclaim my Jewishness and then characterise their dislike as anti-semitism.

Theodore Beale, like George Zimmerman, may be part-Hispanic but certainly does have white privilege.

#638 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 08:42 AM:

Elliott Mason @577:

I don't think it was in living memory, but "puppy" used to be a pretty dire insult, usually used by older men toward young men. (I'm not sure how long ago it fell out of use in that sense; I did a search for "puppy" in the Project Gutenberg etexts on my hard drive, and it looks like roughly half of the uses in books that don't actually have a dog as the main character are derogatory toward a young male human.)

I think it was David Graeber, in Debt: the First 5,000 Years who said that historically, if a gift is given several times in a row it becomes a customary tribute. The custom of the Hugo Voters' Packet is only a handful of years old, but it already feels to many people -- even me, though I recognize the feeling as irrational and try to ignore it -- like it's so important a custom that it's a huge violation not to participate.

Maybe this will lead to some procedure for compensating authors and publishers for books etc. included in the Hugo packet. I'm pretty sure some publishing professionals have said that it would be really tricky to do so legally, though -- that paying authors for Hugo packet ebook copies would require renegotiating contracts re: ebook rights for various territories, or something? But maybe authors could start negotiating new book contracts to include some new Hugo-packet provisions, so they'd have the option of giving away copies to Hugo voters or sharing pro rata in some pool of money set aside for packet-participating nominees by the Worldcon, similar to the way the Humble Ebook Bundle works? SFWA might be the right people to figure out the appropriate language for such Hugo-packet contract provisions, and they might have the clout to get publishers to accept it. And meanwhile WSFS could be figuring out how to compensate Hugo nominees for participating in the packet, but that might take longer.

#639 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 09:09 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #635: "we didn't know we were poor"

Well, I didn't,, but that was largely because as a young spectrumite, I was basically blind to social nuances. As I found out later, my sisters certainly did know. (Also, we weren't on the ragged edge -- Mom was a divorced teacher with 3 kids, but she was also smart, creative, and determined.)

#640 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 09:29 AM:

On "poor but happy"--I think Lydy Nickerson @ 626 captures my sense of my childhood.

I think a key thing to note is that social capital and having a valued place in a community are important to people, and some methods of increasing economic well-being damage social capital and communities.

#641 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 10:12 AM:

Jim Henry #638: In some sense this is a matter of "where the water ends up". There's been a new flow lately, which has just encountered an obstacle. Damifino how it'll turn out.

#642 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 11:25 AM:

I wonder how much of "we didn't know we were poor" was dependent on the absence of a relentless popular media message to the effect of "you must have XYZ to be maintaining even a minimally acceptable standard of living"?

#643 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 12:01 PM:

SamChevre @ 519: In the actual world of humans, religion is almost as omnipresent as music; in the SFFSF world, it's very rarely there, even in the background. If I had abi's skill with words I could find a more precise and polite way to say how floored I am by this claim. I can't speak for the world as a whole, but I think it's fair to say that religion in the contemporary US and western Europe is far less omnipresent than music; look at the statistics of churchgoers, or even people who say that their faith is important to them (IIRC a larger number). How often do you see people davening, saying a rosary, or even wearing a religious symbol, versus performing on street corners, listening to such performers, humming or whistling during other activities, etc.? As for the rest of the contemporary world:
- How extensively can you reasonably speak for it?
- How much SF is set in a world resembling it? (This is of course a burning issue in itself -- but your charge was that SF is dissimilar to the real world in the particular of religion, not overall.)
         wrt fantasy with a western-medieval setting: I have seen so much backing and forthing about how significant religion was \as/ \religion/ (i.e., as personal belief rather than another political power or lever) that I doubt claims of it being necessary to a realistic fantasy of that setting. (Plausible, maybe; but so is a story in which it isn't relevant.) For fantasies of other settings, see previous.

C. Wingate @ 578: I grew up in Maryland (although I went to school in Virginia and elsewhere from age 8) and never encountered those lyrics; if I still considered myself a Marylander I'd be appalled that MD couldn't get rid of them when Alabama could get rid of the Confederate battle ensign in its flag.

Xopher @ 587: I avoid straight horror, but didn't find McGuire's previous SF too horrific; I voted it low because I thought it was slapdash, mindless action. Seanan herself is definitely delightful, but you have to keep your ears sharp when she's around because she talks very fast -- clearly and to the point (which makes attention even more important), but very fast.

Lila @ 590: you should read Prestige-the-book, if you can stand Priest's standard massively-unreliable narrator(s). (rot'd just in case someone thinks it's a spoiler: the novel should be headed with the quote -"Gurl qba'g xabj juvpu bar bs hf V nz gurfr qnlf"-)

Clifton @ 631: In the physical world the power structure has always been able to find minorities to speak for it; cf Clarence Thomas and Dinesh D'Souza. I'm sure there are frauds on the net, but I see no reason to assume there aren't also plenty of posters who are not lying on this issue; WASPs aren't the only ones who can be blind to their inherited advantages.

#644 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 12:10 PM:

What I said @ 540 was said sincerely and with the knowledge that I might be responding to a lie.

If what was said to us was true, then what I said I feel to have been appropriate for me to say. If what was said to us was not true, then the blame is on the liar and shame on him. I'm okay with it either way.

#645 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 12:30 PM:

Regarding religion and SF&F, a couple of points, sketchily executed at the moment:

1. We're conflating several things here:

* religion (in the sense of a theology and/or organization)
* practice (rituals, services, prayer)
* faith (the interior life)

Now, these three things are, if not inextricable, certainly deeply linked. My religion guides my practice, and my practice influences my interior life. Likewise, the nature of my faith and the sorts of practices that appeal to me helped me determine which religion I wanted to be part of. And back and forth, and round and round. But they are not the same things.

I bring this up because we're blurring them a lot in this conversation. To pick one example, I always assumed that Cordelia had private practices that were never described, for the same reason Bujold doesn't write much about her sleeping or any about her going to the bathroom. And Cordelia talks about faith, and talks about the world from the perspective of a theist. But one doesn't see it in her overt membership of any religion, or in her narrative voice. Which brings me to...

2. I have rarely encountered any characters whose narrative voice has a faithful component. I've rarely found ones who talk to God, or include the divine in their internal narratives. Ivanova does it in "Babylon 5"; Estraven has a bit of it in The Left Hand of Darkness. It happens here and there, but it's not something that seems to be part of our genre that often.

I didn't realize how much I missed this until I read a piece of nonfiction, The Butterfly Mosque by G Willow Wilson. Although she's describing a journey into Islam, and my own journey is more of an inward spiral centered on Catholicism, I had a flash of this is part of me; this is a thing I do, too.

I wonder if that's part of SamChevre's feeling of the pervasiveness of religion: if it's part of your headspace, it's always part of your headspace.

I don't know. Feel free to dissect and poke at this. I'll think more as I cycle home.

#646 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 12:47 PM:

I may be an atheist, but I very much enjoyed tv series "Nothing Sacred" and "The Book of Daniel". It's a shame that not enough people did, which is why neither series lasted long.

#647 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 01:55 PM:

Tatterbots, #637: As someone pointed out elseNet, the argument "he can't be racist because he's not white and only whites can be racist" is predicated on the assumption that being part Hispanic = not white, which is a pretty damn racist thing to say in and of itself.

Of course, it's also true that people of Irish descent used to be considered "not white". Race is a completely artificial construct; unfortunately, racism has little to do with "race" and everything to do with "status".

CHip, #643: I was thinking something like that, but couldn't figure out how to say it. I suspect that in the real world, how "omnipresent" religion is depends heavily on how important it is to you. I'm not religious, so I rarely notice it. If I think about it -- yeah, there are churches everywhere, and religious bumper stickers, and people wearing religious jewelry, but most of that slides right past me the same way that product placement in movies does. Where I do notice it is in politics, because that has a direct affect on my personal life. Somebody saying that there's such a thing as "legitimate rape", or somebody saying that I shouldn't be allowed to vote because I have a vagina? Yeah, damn straight I'll notice that.

But music? You can't walk into a store or a restaurant without hearing music playing. There are (as you mentioned) a lot of street-corner buskers. There are a helluva lot more billboards for concerts than there are for churches. Movies and TV shows have soundtracks. Kids are taught to play music in school. There are multiple awards shows for music, and they're considered Major Events in the same way that the Academy Awards are. Music is a constant background for our lives.

#648 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 02:22 PM:

While this could go into the open thread, it might be more useful here: The Woman Who Coined The Term White Privilege

The thing was, he was a very nice man. All the men who attended the seminars were very nice men—also quite brave men, because they’d catch flak on their campuses for going to a women’s college to do a feminist seminar. And I found myself going back and forth in my mind over the question, Are these nice men, or are they oppressive? I thought I had to choose. It hadn’t occurred to me that you could be both.
#649 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 03:38 PM:

Abi #6456 - I thought Cordelia talked about the world from a sort of enlightened agnostic sort of stance, not a theistic one. WHich could be a tribute to Bujold's writing, that different people can interpret it well enough to suit themselves yet not get out of shape over the matter.

I also think that Chip #643 is correct in that religion isn't as omnipresent as music, at least in the UK and some other places. Some forms used to be more open and demonstrative, oddly enough demonstrating their faith tended to irritate holders of other varieties, so there was some pressure to not make it massively overt and in your face. Sure, there's plenty of churches, and politicians still mumble the same prayers and homilies that they used to, but they certainly don't seem to be motivated by religion.

Judging by the books I have seen, the aim of religion is to saturate your life in every possible way, from sleeping and eating to work and travel and everything else. Not everyone manages this of course

#650 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 04:18 PM:

guthrie: "God's plan for your life can be deduced from the talents He gave you" is a quote, I believe.

#651 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Kevin Riggle @ 532: ... I'm trying to buy fewer books I don't read, and this is getting in the way of that. Personal problems, really...

A personal problem, perhaps, but not a unique one.

#652 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 05:03 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @648: Thanks for that link - interesting interview. The comments, however, were depressing (I should know better than to read the comments, I know).

#653 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 05:08 PM:

Xopher #650 - but that makes no sense, and supposes rather more self knowledge than is commonplace.

#654 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 05:20 PM:

That may be, guthrie, but the point was that it's Cordelia talking, and is explicitly theistic.

#655 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 05:29 PM:

guthrie @649:

My impression of the UK vs US (remember that I grew up in the US and spent the first decade and a half of adult life in the UK) is that there's a huge difference in the acceptability of overt religiousness in society.

In the US, even outwith the political sphere, there are many areas where the default assumption is that everyone is a Christian (specifically, a Protestant). If you grow up in one of those places, then religion is pervasive.

The fact that this is not the case for much of the UK (though some of the more remote Scottish villages in the Highlands and Islands are an exception) is ironic. Which country has an established religion? Officially, I mean.

Judging by the books I have seen, the aim of religion is to saturate your life in every possible way, from sleeping and eating to work and travel and everything else. Not everyone manages this of course.

I am struggling to articulate why this comment gets right under my skin, but I have to confess that it does. To try to break it down:

First of all, you're telling a practitioner about something that she practices based on what you've read in books. Hello! I'm a member of a religion! I have real-life experience of this stuff! And I'm kind of an over-explainer! Feel free to ask me about my experiences of religion. I may be able to supplement what you have read in books.

Secondly, "religion" isn't actually one single thing. There are lots of different religions. Some of them want to prescribe what you eat, what you wear, where you work, etc. (This is what I described as "practice" in comment 645.) Some of them only do it part-time (on Fridays during Lent, for instance). Some of them don't do it at all.

And third of all, the thing that saturates my life, that is with me when I wake up and when I go to sleep at night, the thing that I try to pay attention to when choosing to do or do not, say or be silent, is not religion. It's what I called faith up in comment 645. It's the inner, mental life, the mindfulness toward a thing that I care about. The practices my religion suggests are not, from where I'm standing on the inside of things, to control my life. They're to distil and refine this inner thing, which is the very thing I see so rarely in the voices of the characters in the genre fiction I read.

Also, please note that I'm taking a risk, talking about this. I'm exposing something that I care about, and something that I know many people feel contemptuous of. I get the feeling that you may be one of those people, but I am trusting that you, as a member of this community, will take a moment to think through how you approach this topic. If you can find a way to be a little less clinical, I (and maybe some of the other people involved in these matters, if they want to) may be able to explain how the world looks from where we're standing.

If not, not. Sometimes this community isn't a workable place for all of the conversations we'd like to have.

#656 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 05:45 PM:

Xopher @654 - I'm sure I've heard similar ideas from people who are mehtheists or agnostics or whatever; in Cordelia's case another reason she simply does't seem theistic, apart from the lack of any apparent attempts at putting some sort of religion on Miles, is the lack of religious type activities that has already been noted.

As for Abi, yes, the UK has an established religion, it seems to function as a moderate social glue and method of ensuring many people don't take religion too seriously. Obviously I don't want you to keep talking about it if it is difficult to do so, the difficulty I find is in understanding things which can be so personal and hard for others to understand without being somewhat clinical, so perhaps we should stop here.

#657 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 05:57 PM:

Thank you abi.

My experience and interests are somewhat different to abi's; related, but different.

My experience and observation is that experience of the numinous is neither reliably detected[1] nor reliably gained[2].

I'm extremely interested in organizations and institutions and the way they shape communities and participants. (Everything from independent churches like I grew up in, to the anarchic bike clubs that organize Slaughterama or the NACCCS, to the various sorts of guilds and chapters of Reformation Europe, to modern corporations and bureaucratic states--I find fascinating.)

So given my temperament, and my interests, what I notice in the world and not in speculative fiction is religious institutions, and people's connections to those institutions.

Now, one goal of a religious institution is (in my opinion/observation) to preserve and promote what can be learned from (unreliable and occasional, but repeated across people and time) experience of the numinous. And "religious" institutions--groups with which people are affiliated that do that[3]--seem to be an commonplace of the human landscape.

1) In other words, whether the experience existed outside your head is very rarely convincingly clear. Keeping track of what's real, and what your brain is lying to you about, is something I have to do to manage functionality given my struggle with depression.

2) In other words, even if you can sometimes access the experience of the numinous by some means, it doesn't (for most people) always work. (And in many cases, the means are costly in time and energy--fasting is a good example.) (It may work in reality and not in perception--that's my understanding of the Christian idea of the sacraments--but the experience isn't reliably available to most people.)

3) I'm putting "religious" and "organization" in quotes, because some of these groups are not "organized" in any formal sense and some are not "religious" in the normal sense (some group meditation practices, for example.)

#658 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 06:00 PM:

abi and guthrie: at the risk of intruding, I sincerely recommend that you not continue this conversation. The opportunities for misunderstanding are acute and perhaps not worth the risk.

My opinion only, you will do what seems best to you both, of course.

#660 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 06:10 PM:

IJWTS that I love "mehtheist".

Also, that experience of the numinous =/= religion. Either is possible without the other. I used to be religious (enough so that I got a degree in religion with the aim of becoming a priest). I am no longer religious. But I still have experiences of the numinous, which are both profound and valuable to me. I just don't believe they're coming from God. (YMMV, and I claim no standing whatsoever to make comments about anyone else's religion, experience of the numinous, or whatever.)

#661 ::: DDO ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 06:46 PM:

(Delurks)

Regarding state religions in the UK: It's probably worth noting that not all components of the UK have an established, official church. Neither Northern Ireland and Wales have had one since the local sections of the Anglican Church separated themselves from the Church of England, becoming the Church of Ireland and the Church in Wales respectively. And the established church in Scotland is a different denomination to the one in England.

#662 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 06:55 PM:

guthrie @ 649

Approaching your comment from a different direction that abi, I think "the aim of religion is to saturate your life in every possible way" would be better stated as "the nature of [some] religions..."

I speak for traditional understandings of Christianity here--draw parallels with other religions at your own risk. Christianity claims to state facts about the world; to the extent that claim is affected, it is likely to affect every portion of life. For a non-religious parallel, think of the claim that "lead causes brain damage, especially in children;" to the extent that is true and accepted, it will affect what you eat (no sugar of lead in your port), what you work at (no jobs painting with lead paint), what you use for vehicle fuel, etc. This is the nature of claims about reality, not specifically the nature of religious claims about reality.

#663 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 07:19 PM:

I'm a lifelong Brit, and one of those default Christians. Back in the sixties it wasn't so strange that everyone went to church or chapel.

Things are not quite so heavily ingrained now, a politician who claims this is a Christian country is challenged. We're still at the working-things-out stage.

I'm not formally affiliated with any religion. I have come to the conclusion that there are so many claiming their version is the one true faith that there is no way of knowing who is correct. So I try to be polite and judge people by what they to to others. I cannot damn anyone, but some people...

However it happened, this universe is wonderful, isn't it.

#664 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 07:25 PM:

Just as a random thought:

A lot of SF is set in the future, and a fair bit is set far in the future. Telling a far-future story in which there is little or no religion is a statement about what you think the future might plausibly be like. I don't think the lack of religion in The Culture was an accident on Banks' part--instead, I think he'd say (we can't ask him, alas) that The Culture doesn't have religion for the same reason it doesn't have money or disease--they advanced past the need for that kind of thing.

Now, I don't know how likely this is. Perhaps a few hundred years from now, religious people will be extremely rare in whatever society we have. I have my doubts, but I really don't know enough to have a strong opinion about how likely this is.

That's distinct from authors who don't handle religion or faith well, or ones who have a current or near-future world in which it has no important role, or use religiosity as a marker for ignorance or xenophobia.

#665 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 07:32 PM:

The other thing I've noticed is that here are a lot of stories set now or in the near future, in which religion is kind-of a black hole. Nobody is particularly religious, faith or prayer or ritual or belief simply don't have a place in anyone's life in the story. I think this often represents a blind spot--for many people, religion is not an important (or even present) part of their lives, but for many others, it shows up--they go to church on Sunday, or they have some church-related activity, or they follow some kinds of observances (keeping kosher, say), or their religious beliefs affect their choices sometimes.

I think of this a little bit like the common feature of fiction that omits (say) gay characters. It's not that any one story like this is flawed, but when you see a large-scale pattern of almost never seeing a gay character in fiction, you suspect that it represents a blind spot of the writers. (Though, tying in with my previous post, you could write a story in which there were no gay people in some far-future world. But it seems like that would need some kind of explanation.)

#666 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 07:34 PM:

Lee @647: As someone pointed out elseNet, the argument "he can't be racist because he's not white and only whites can be racist" is predicated on the assumption that being part Hispanic = not white, which is a pretty damn racist thing to say in and of itself.

Apologies, I thought that was how "Hispanic" was used in the US. Where I live, it's not used much as a category, so I was unclear on the definition until I looked it up just now. Sorry about that.

#667 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 07:38 PM:

I think the question of representation of religion (religious institutions, religious behavior, religious individuals) in SFF is quite pertinent in the context of recent discussions of diversity in fictional representations. However pervasive the presence of religion may or may not be in one's micro-environment, it's one of the identities that one tends to notice the absence of when looking for reflections of the self in fiction. And, as with all identities, the complexities of intersection can mean that stories that represent that aspect may fail (or cause bounce-off) in other aspects. (For example, it's quite likely that many readers who might otherwise be appreciative of the treatment of religion in my novel would bounce off the fact that the central romance is between two women.) The question of the pervasiveness (or not) of religion in real life seems to me entirely separate from whether one can find one's personal experience reflected in the fictional genres one loves. Statistics are never a guarantee of representation.

#668 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 08:12 PM:

I suppose that how pervasive religion or music seems to be depends on where you live as well as whether you are yourself religious. Around here (one of the outer suburbs of Atlanta) there are a lot more churches than live music venues, and though probably most people who aren't deaf listen to music on the radio and own some recorded music they listen to fairly often, I suspect there are more regular churchgoers than people who are similarly deeply involved in music, as performers or frequent concertgoers. (There's overlap, of course; probably a large fraction of the concerts in this area are hosted by churches, and involve more or less religious music.) In other areas I'm sure it's the other way around.

abi @655, distinguishing religion and faith, says much of what I would like to say and more articulately than I probably would. I suspect that it's a lot harder to convincingly portray this aspect of a character's inner life than to show them practicing their relgion in overt ways; I've intermittently tried to do both, in my own stories, and I think I've rarely if ever succeeded at the former. It's been a long time since I've read it, but I think Gene Wolfe's The Book of the Long Sun might be a good example of both.

#669 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 08:25 PM:

One story that gets at the complicated differences and similarities between "religion" and "faith" is Ursula K. LeGuin's novella Paradises Lost. (I believe it's in Birthday of the World.) On the generation ship, there are rules designed to make sure that no one religion interferes with any other religion. These rules never really bother anyone; they know that some families are Jewish and some are Muslim and so on, but no one really practices and religion just isn't a thing the ship inhabitants worry about.

Now, a quite considerable percentage of the ship population happens to believe that the ship itself is heaven and that landing on a planet would be falling from heaven, naq guvf tebhc nygref fuvc'f erpbeqf gb xrrc gur fuvc sebz ynaqvat va beqre gb cebgrpg vgf npprff gb urnira, but that's not "religion" in the sense of the ship's rules, is it?

It is faith, though, and belief, and practice.

#670 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 08:27 PM:

It occurs to me that a certain amount of the last post might be considered a spoiler for Paradises Lost. Would Abi or some other moderator be willing to ROT13 the text between "falling from heaven" and "that's not 'religion'"? Thank you!

[Done! —Idumea Arbacoochee, Rotter of Thirteens]

#671 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 09:40 PM:

I've just finished reading Goblin Emperor, and one of the tensions in the story is between the protagonist's need for religious meditation and the surrounding culture's disdain for more than lip-service religion.

#672 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 10:28 PM:

Tatterbots, #666: First, I wasn't suggesting that you were making that argument yourself; it was fairly clear to me that you were quoting it from elsewhere. If what I said came across as criticism of you personally, I'm sorry.

Second, you are quite right that it is used that way in a lot of US political discourse, most of it coming from people I consider despicable. The interesting thing about "Hispanic" specifically is that there are people (George Zimmerman being the canonical example) who seem to think they get to play that card both ways -- they're white or not-white as it suits whatever argument they're making. In the context of the current discussion, Beale does not hesitate to range himself on the "white" side of the argument when talking about N.K. Jemisin, but his acolytes are quick to play up the "not white" angle when he's called on his virulent racism.

#673 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 11:46 PM:

Non-whites can be racist. It's just not racist when you're discriminating against WHITES. POC very frequently discriminate against PO some other C.

#674 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 05:01 AM:

I think that Amazing, Arthur Clarke, Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov have a lot to do with the fact that SF is very much more atheistic than mainstream culture.

For SF on TV, Star Trek in the US and Dr. Who in the UK are perhaps the definitive visions, and are fairly consistently atheistic.

And for fantasy, Tolkien is the 800lb gorilla. While Xopher pointed out earlier that The Silmarillion is full of demigods and angels, and several appear in disguise in LoTR, gods and the supernatural are treated in a very different way to how religion looks in our world. The demigods are facts of the landscape - characters like the humans or elves (if generally a lot less interesting).

Nobody much says prayers, nobody goes to a church or religious ceremony, there are no priests, nobody refers explicitly to what a god or gods might want, and (movie Gandalf apart), Hobbits and Men have no clue about any possible afterlife.

But nobody disbelieves in the gods, either. Bad people disobey them and follow Morgoth or Sauron, or they rebel and try to choose their own path (as Saruman does and Galadriel is tempted to do), but just as there is no recognisable religion, there is no recognisable atheism.

The only times anything religious occurs at all are occasional prayers to Elbereth, mysterious references by Gandalf to higher powers (but he's an angel and would know), and then, in Numenor: temples, priests and sacrifices and worshippers.... of Morgoth.

#675 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 07:02 AM:

#674 – I'd add Jack Vance to the list of authors who have intentionally or otherwise promoted atheism in SF. All those portrayals of religions with ludicrous trappings and sinister or hypocritical behaviour, as in The Blue World (the Bezzler priesthood), Emphyrio (the Temple of Finuka), The Anome (the Chilites) and the Cadwal Chronicles sequence (multiple examples, notably Monomantic Syntoraxis) ...

#676 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 07:06 AM:

Another aspect of religion (some people have touched on it here) is the Jovian/Promethean pattern. I've talked about that here before, so I won't rehash the whole thing, but that conflict/cycle between hierarchy and revelation is more or less continuous, and "there is only one religion" doesn't escape it. The interaction may not be front-stage, but it will shape how both types of religion act, and the relations between secular and religious authority.

If there's an established church which prescribes how to contact the divine, just how do they react when someone finds another way? If anyone with appropriate abilities or training can do it, what happens when the two people disagree on the results... and one person is much more powerful than the other?

#677 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 07:39 AM:

Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom stories (from 1912 on) consistently show gods and religions as fakes and lies.

Mind you, the science is all mad science, too.

#678 ::: brotherguy ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 08:09 AM:

In a sense, religion (or sexual orientation for that matter) in a story is something like Chekov's gun. Every character has some orientation towards sex or religion, jus as I am sure every Russian dacha in the 19th century had a gun; but if you explicitly show a gun in act one, it's expected to be an important element of the story by act five. The lack of explicit mentions could simply be an artifact of story-telling; if your story isn't going to use it, it's cleaner not to bother showing it.

(And less likely to distract all the folks who might say, "that sort of gun wasn't available until 1895, what are you doing with it in a story set in 1878, you've *roon'd* the story for me!!!")

#679 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 08:12 AM:

Niall McAuley@674

Note that the Enterprise in the original series has a chapel area. Crewmembers Tomlinson and Martine were about to be married there in "Balance of Terror" when a distress call was received.

#680 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 08:42 AM:

brotherguy, I have two problems with that.

First, as has been discussed in these pages before, the longer the story the less applicable the Chekhov's Gun rule is.

Second, in practice "not mentioning sexual orientation" generally means "erasing queer people." Heterosexuality is considered part of the background, and mentioning a male character's wife doesn't trigger the CG rule.

So: no, actually. Not at all. If I appear in a story, the author shouldn't have to "use" my queerness by Act V. Criticism of them for not doing so is homophobic.

And yes, I do think practicing religious people are part of a realistic background as well. "Wait, the author never USED the fact that that character says the Rosary on a daily basis" is an absurd criticism.

#681 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 08:55 AM:

I think that "rooned the story" is a valid concern. I'd be confident that I could insert Roman Catholics into a story and include an internal view of their thoughts, but I would be concerned about putting any other real religion in there - dangerous territory and a real risk of giving offense. Some RCs would probably take offense at my depiction, too, but I know enough about it to be confident I have an authentic image, even if it is not universal.

The reaction to VD's story shows that trying to file the numbers off a real religion doesn't guarantee that no-one will take offense, and even inventing a whole religion will have sincerely religious people think it does not match their ideas of what a religion is.

Obviously, inserting "In the 21st century, everyone saw sense and gave up that religious nonsense" Clarke-isms into every novel is also going to grate, but just keeping the whole subject offstage is probably lower-risk than trying and maybe failing to make it authentic.

#682 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 09:19 AM:

Niall, this is why a broad cadre of beta-readers is so valuable.

Oh, wait, that means having friends of many different religions, he said smugly.

Now if I could only finish a damn story, he continued much less smugly.

#683 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 09:26 AM:

Regarding earlier conversation about Parasite: I'm in the middle of it right now, and honestly, I'm enjoying it greatly. So far it's really not feeling like Another Zombie Novel. My read is that it's intended as SF rather than horror, and so far it's working very well as SF. I mean, I'll see how the plot develops, and I obviously don't yet know how the reveal is handled. But I very much like the narrator's voice, and suspense is building interestingly and enjoyably.

I bounced off the dense exposition in the second chapter of Ancillary Justice, though I'm planning to give it another go once I'm done with Parasite.

Both of those, and Neptune's Brood (which I really, really enjoyed), are available fairly inexpensively in e-book form -- I think I paid $8 or $9 for each of Parasite and Ancillary Justice, and something like $11 for Neptune's Brood.

Also, reaching back to conversation about Gaudy Night, Murder Must Advertise, and Busman's Honeymoon: Gaudy Night was the very first Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane book I read, and it was so fantastic that I immediately went and read all the others and became an insta-fan. I re-read them constantly now, as comfort reading. I will say, though, that I was struck in Busman's Honeymoon by just how much emotional work Harriet feels responsible for doing.

To vaguely tie things back to the original topic, I'm struck by the same thing when I re-read certain Heinlein novels (including I Will Fear No Evil and Number of the Beast) -- the unspoken assumption that women have the responsibility to do all the emotional management in a relationship, and are responsible for arranging things so that the man never knows there had to be any effort at all. Women should always be thinking of what the right answer is to any potential relationship conflict, considering all the angles to determine what will make the man happiest. It's just part of the landscape as the characters interact, providing minor challenges and triumphs as the women succeed in managing situations.

I tried to do that for a while, having picked up on it from Heinlein. It's exhausting, and I could never quite pull off making the emotional work invisible. So I kind of tripped over it in Busman's Honeymoon, and it adds a tension and a sadness for me, even to the happy parts.

#684 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 09:27 AM:

Regarding earlier conversation about Parasite: I'm in the middle of it right now, and honestly, I'm enjoying it greatly. So far it's really not feeling like Another Zombie Novel. My read is that it's intended as SF rather than horror, and so far it's working very well as SF. I mean, I'll see how the plot develops, and I obviously don't yet know how the reveal is handled. But I very much like the narrator's voice, and suspense is building interestingly and enjoyably.

I bounced off the dense exposition in the second chapter of Ancillary Justice, though I'm planning to give it another go once I'm done with Parasite.

Both of those, and Neptune's Brood (which I really, really enjoyed), are available fairly inexpensively in e-book form -- I think I paid $8 or $9 for each of Parasite and Ancillary Justice, and something like $11 for Neptune's Brood.

Also, reaching back to conversation about Gaudy Night, Murder Must Advertise, and Busman's Honeymoon: Gaudy Night was the very first Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane book I read, and it was so fantastic that I immediately went and read all the others and became an insta-fan. I re-read them constantly now, as comfort reading. I will say, though, that I was struck in Busman's Honeymoon by just how much emotional work Harriet feels responsible for doing.

To vaguely tie things back to the original topic, I'm struck by the same thing when I re-read certain Heinlein novels (including I Will Fear No Evil and Number of the Beast) -- the unspoken assumption that women have the responsibility to do all the emotional management in a relationship, and are responsible for arranging things so that the man never knows there had to be any effort at all. Women should always be thinking of what the right answer is to any potential relationship conflict, considering all the angles to determine what will make the man happiest. It's just part of the landscape as the characters interact, providing minor challenges and triumphs as the women succeed in managing situations.

I tried to do that for a while, having picked up on it from Heinlein. It's exhausting, and I could never quite pull off making the emotional work invisible. So I kind of tripped over it in Busman's Honeymoon, and it adds a tension and a sadness for me, even to the happy parts.

#685 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 09:42 AM:

brotherguy @ 678... Chekov's gun in the knave?

#686 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 10:29 AM:

Niall McAuley makes a good point, which I think I've seen discussed elsewhere in terms of "writing the other": you need to balance the need to have a realistically diverse lot of characters with your own limitations of knowledge and experience that will affect how convincingly you can write characters of different types.

The way I've handled it so far, mostly, is to have the viewpoint characters of my longer stories set in some version of the real world generally be Baptist, agnostic, or Catholic (all of which I've been at some point), but show some non-viewpoint characters of other religions. At some point I should probably try to write a viewpoint character of a religion I'm not and haven't ever been part of, but know something about. Getting it wrong would be less disastrous, probably, if they're one of several third-person viewpoint characters rather than the sole first-person narrator.

#687 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 10:30 AM:

It just occurred to me that religion is "accepted background" in the Darkover series. There are at least 2 gods, Aldones and Zandru, and an order of monks who seem to believe in something at odds with those. (And who are not very much respected by much of the nobility, but that's because they're pacifists, not because they're religious.) But I don't recall much in the way of actual religious observance aside from the monks.

Re Heinlein, a thought that hit me in the middle of the night: why do some of his fans appear to believe that his stories are immune to visits from the Suck Fairy?

#688 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 10:32 AM:

Caroline @683/4 I'm struck by the same thing when I re-read certain Heinlein novels (including I Will Fear No Evil and Number of the Beast) -- the unspoken assumption that women have the responsibility to do all the emotional management in a relationship, and are responsible for arranging things so that the man never knows there had to be any effort at all.

That is an extremely interesting observation. I think that I may have had that expectation at least strongly reinforced by Heinlein, if not started there. I need to think about this some.

Re the broader discussion of religion and its representation (or not) in SFF, in addition to the distinction between religious organizations, religious practice/ritual, and personal experiences of faith or the numinous, I think there's a distinction between religion in culture vs. religion in individual life. The culture (or subculture) might or might not be prescriptive about expected religious practice. It is likely to be prescriptive about attitudes toward religion, whether that's "Of course you believe, everyone else does," "Only fools waste time on such silly superstition," "Don't ask, don't tell," or any of the myriad other possiblities. Certainly every story doesn't need religion at its heart any more than every story needs physics at its heart. And I grant that fiction, especially, short fiction, has to select from the possible details of a story's social background, and the fact that religion is not mentioned doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. But in addition to having a fondness for stories in which religious practice or faith forms part of a character's identity, IMO casual mentions, used as a way to enrich and deepen the characters' background, should occur more often than they do.

#689 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 10:38 AM:

I've just read Jack Williamson's The Legion of Time, one of the Retro Hugo nominees for Best Novel. It was a fun, fast-moving story, but I'm not sure it actually made sense; it will definitely rank lower on my ballot than the three I'd already read, The Sword in the Stone, Out of the Silent Planet and Galactic Patrol. (I'll probably rank those three in that order, but I may change my mind after re-reading them, which I'll do if I have time after reading the current year's book-length nominees in various categories.) I'm not sure if I'll read Carson of Venus or not; does it stand alone tolerably well?

I'd had the impression that Michael Swanwick's Hugo-winning "Legions in Time" from 2003 was a pastiche of or sequel to The Legion of Time, but looking it up and reading a Swanwick blog post about it, it seems it's based more on an A.E. van Vogt story.

#690 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 10:42 AM:

Caroline @683/4 & Otter @ 688: I'm struck by the same thing when I re-read certain Heinlein novels (including I Will Fear No Evil and Number of the Beast) -- the unspoken assumption that women have the responsibility to do all the emotional management in a relationship, and are responsible for arranging things so that the man never knows there had to be any effort at all.

I thought that was the general culture, and we were just soaking in it? And that it's not gone yet?

#691 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 11:03 AM:

Lee @ 687: Re Heinlein, a thought that hit me in the middle of the night: why do some of his fans appear to believe that his stories are immune to visits from the Suck Fairy?

Perhaps some of the people who don't see the suck fairy in Heinlein haven't actually re-read him lately, and just have rosy memories? I have rosy memories. I loved Heinlein as a teenager. As I moved through my 20s, his later fiction was coming out, and I didn't enjoy it, and stopped reading his books. As time passed, I returned to his books to find the suck fairy had visited, big time. Some of that was style—I no longer tolerated info dumps—some was the women. Some of it was noticing, and squicking, at how often he returns to the theme of incest*. I didn't read him for years, and then my reading group picked Podkayne of Mars. I bought the edition that had the ending as published, his original ending, and his letter to the publisher defending his original ending. I don't see how anyone who considers women full human beings with the right to choose how to live their own lives could read that book and not throw it across the room.

There are authors that I love and re-read while squinting past the suck fairy. These include Dorothy Sayers and Josephine Tey. The goodness outweighs what I perceive as small irruptions. I can only speculate that the women in Heinlein that I cannot ignore aren't a big deal to the people who re-read the books with enjoyment.

*Once and I'd assume that he wanted to épater la bourgeoisie, but he keeps returning to it! Mother, daughters, brother and sister...

#692 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 11:06 AM:

I think I've read all of Clifford Simak's novels, and many of his short stuff. I met him once and he was exactly what I'd expected from his stories. Yes, I loved his stuff. I wonder how it'd feel going back to it. Maybe I should start with "The Big Front Yard" and "The Way Station".

#693 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 11:16 AM:

I think the reason the HEINLEIN YAAAAY crowd doesn't think he's ben hit by the Suck Fairy is because they don't see the things the Suck Fairy introduces as bugs.

#694 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 11:32 AM:

#691, janetl:

Yeah, the suck fairy has visited Heinlein's books... and I read most of them for the first time as an adult, so I don't even have childhood's rosy memories.

I think I have all of them, too. (Rocket Ship Galileo took ages to find; I finally ran across a beat-up copy in a used bookstore.) The only ones I re-read are his YA novels -- the "boy scout" books. They're the sort of short, unchallenging, fun adventure that I want when, say, I'm at home sick and don't have the mental energy for a bigger book or a book I haven't read before. True, there aren't any girls in them as actual characters. That's not what I read them for.

His later books... um. Not really inclined to re-read them. I call it his "dirty old man" phase.

#695 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 11:55 AM:

Janra #694: Asimov actually wrote (pseudonymously, which word my iPhone tried to turn into a Dreadful Phrase) a book titled "The Senuous Dirty Old Man". And yes, that's a "how-to".

#696 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 12:07 PM:

There are two different types of Suck Fairies. I'm primarily affected by the one that deals with style. The dialogue in SIASL bothers me in a way that the more problematic content does not. I'm used to being appalled by the ideas in books. I'm seldom not appalled.

#697 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 12:07 PM:

Dave Bell @663: I cannot damn anyone

Overheard exchange, from Back In The Day:

Frustrated Coworker (under his breath): "Goddammit..."

Other Coworker: "Damn it yourself. I'm busy."

:-)

#698 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 01:16 PM:

Dave H., #695: He also never made any secret of the fact that he'd written it -- and the book itself was a parody of something called "The Sensuous Woman" (by a pseudonymous "J") that was all the buzz at the time. I'm inclined to cut him some slack on that one, on the grounds that it was the same kind of self-deprecatory humor that Shatner finally learned to use.

#699 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 01:38 PM:

I've read seven of Clifford Simak's novels, I think, and two or three collections -- a couple of them as a teen, the others as an adult. I just read Way Station for the first time a year or so ago, and Cemetery World a few weeks ago. Way Station would be high on my list of favorite sf novels, and Cemetery World was a lot of fun, though nowhere near as good as Way Station or City; its main flaw is that it's set about nine thousand years in the future and the future looks too much like mid-20th century Usonia.

#700 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 01:40 PM:

Dave Bell @663:
However it happened, this universe is wonderful, isn't it.

Just wanted to pull that out and say how very much I agree.


Cally Soukup @671:
I've just finished reading Goblin Emperor, and one of the tensions in the story is between the protagonist's need for religious meditation and the surrounding culture's disdain for more than lip-service religion.

Yes, that struck me too. I know exactly how he felt.


Caroline, OtterB & janetl:
the unspoken assumption that women have the responsibility to do all the emotional management in a relationship, and are responsible for arranging things so that the man never knows there had to be any effort at all.

See also, this very long and involved discussion at Captain Awkward. There's a lot else that the guy under discussion said that's horrible and cringeable, but the degree to which he expected the woman to be serving his emotional needs to the exclusion of hers is certainly a material factor in the situation.


To add a couple of useful titbits to the conversation, here are two stories that I think are relevant:

"Shetl Days" by Harry Turtledove is one of the better examples I can think of on how the daily practices of a religion can affect a person's inner state.

And Ruthanna Emrys' recent piece, "The Litany of Earth" is an excellent story about a character's religious life, interior and exterior, in a society that doesn't share her beliefs.

These are both stories about religion; all the rituals and practices are Chekovian. So they're not "yes, that character is religious, so what?" stories; they're like plots where the character's color or sexual orientation is relevant to the plot instead of just being. But I liked them a lot, and saw something of myself in both characters.

#701 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 01:55 PM:

Janra:

ISTM that a lot of Heinlein's later books were visited by the suck fairy before the first time I read them. I don't really mind if an author wants to f--k his mother and sisters and daughters (modulo not doing anything with unconsenting or underage participants), but I don't want to read about that stuff.

One thread I noticed only on rereading was the unsavory notion of a trusted uncle or godfather raising a girl to be a woman, and then marrying her. That trope appears at least in Time Enough for Love and in The Door Into Summer. I'm not sure if the same idea happens elsewhere--there are certainly echoes of it in To Sail Beyond the Sunset, with Maureen and her father, but that's her biological father and so even squickier IMO.

#702 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 01:57 PM:

Jim Henry @ 699... For years, Michael Cassutt tried to adapt "Way Station" as a movie, then as a tv series, then back as a movie, and it's a shame he never could make it happen.

#703 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 02:12 PM:

brotherguy @ 678: "In a sense, religion (or sexual orientation for that matter) in a story is something like Chekov's gun."

To expand on Xopher's point, what elements "stand out" has a lot to do with your expectations going into a story, mixed with the expectations of the story itself. In another story, the weird, must-be-explained part of the gun on the mantelpiece could be "wait--there's a fireplace!? But this is a space station!"

On religion in SF, it seems to me that there is a large majority that ignores it or deprecates it, a small chunk that takes it as a Theme, and very, very little where it is simply there.* This seems a close parallel to how non-heteronormative sexualities are treated: it isn't quite verboten or shocking, but it is A Thing, and if it is included in any meaningful way then it tends to become what the book is About.

I wonder to what extent it is a founder effect: early science fiction was written by scientifically-minded non-theists, and that both attracted like-minded folk and encouraged theists to keep that element marginal. As a depiction of a future society, it at least strikes me as a plausible extrapolation of religious practice in the industrialized world. Religious participation in the US, Europe and Japan is in decline: completely vanishing seems unlikely to me,** but it's within my sfnal Overton Window. As an account of a medieval society though, it totally fails. The more I run into it, the more it annoys me. Here I blame D&D: it makes picking a deity a sort of sub-classing game mechanic for priests and paladins, but meaningless for everyone else. There's no numinous, even among the divine, so why bother?

* I can't decide if it falls into the second or third category, but either way let me put in a rec for Walton's King's Peace, which has multiple cleverly and thoughtfully done religions.
** My non-theistic understanding of my experience of the numinous is that it is a reaction to being part of something larger than yourself--I doubt there's a level of technology that will obviate that.

#704 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 02:22 PM:

Lila #660 - I came up with 'mehtheist' myself a couple of years ago, but I just found it in Urban dicitonary, dating from 2010. How annoying, I hoped I was being somewhat original.

#705 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 02:41 PM:

abi:

Thanks for the link to Shetl Days. Wow.

#706 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 02:45 PM:

Lydy Nickerson @ 616: "(I'm dating a communist at the moment, and the communist argument that one's relationship to the means of production is the primary identity, and indeed the only one of importance, also drives me spare.)"

Perhaps I am misunderstanding your friend's meaning, but that irks me. The primacy of class identity is a pragmatic observation rather than a claim about what ought to be so. The way work subsumes every other aspect of being human is pretty much the core argument why capitalism is bad.

What, then, constitutes the alienation of labour? First, the fact that labour is external to the worker, i.e. it does not belong to their essential being; that in their work, therefore, they do not affirm themselves but deny themselves, do not feel content but unhappy, do not develop freely their physical and mental energy but mortify their body and ruin their mind.

Acknowledging class is not a revelation of communist truth, but a recognition of the foremost crime that capital has committed against humanity. One organizes around class not because it is valid on its own terms, but because it is the axis of oppression. It is what stands between us and ourselves.
/tangentialrant

#707 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 03:20 PM:

I suspect Heinlein's apparent inability to understand why guardian-ward incest is inherently creepy in a way that other incest is not is based in his naive libertarianism. Anything short of physical force or the threat thereof I don't think he understood as coercive.

#708 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 03:24 PM:

Like the people who gave Cordelia charge of Gregor's education, he failed to recognize kinds of power that are not synonymous with force.

#710 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 04:14 PM:

re 707: I'm thinking that a large part of it also is that he never had any kids of his own.

#711 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 04:58 PM:

C. Wingate @ 710: Yeah, that, too. It has a lot of bearing on his views of family issues. It's kind of funny that people take Heinlein so seriously on how to organize a family when he had Kip in Have Spacesuit, Will Travel point out the incongruity of a childless teacher directing kids about their family structure. Kip was wrong, of course, because the teacher could certainly have expertise without personal experience. And I just undercut the point I made, didn't I? Which I guess is the difference between debate and discussion.

#712 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 05:37 PM:

As someone's pointed out here before, Heinlein wrote TEFL in the 70s (and TSBtS inherited that universe). Back then a "sexy future" was rather in line with the counterculture.

Regarding the incest thing, he may have been taking the line that the incest taboo was a primarily social construction aimed at avoiding genetic problems, and given genetic analysis and repair, it would go away with the other various sexual constraints. He should certainly have known about the Westermarck effect, but of course that's environmentally triggered (thus manipulable) and unreliable in any case.

#713 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 06:24 PM:

Addendum: Note that the other issue of incest -- the ethical and psychological issues of combining a custodial relationship with a sexual one -- is mostly avoided by the examples I recall from his work.

#714 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 06:59 PM:

#710/711: While it is a common belief that not having experienced something yourself means you have no credibility in discussing it, I do not think that is true in all cases. In the particular case of a teacher who doesn't have children of their own, I believe it's quite possible for the teacher to be credible on the topic of parenting. However, it requires that the teacher be very good at both observation and analysis, so as to be able to pick out the commonalities of good or bad parenting. This reasoning, BTW, could also apply to a celibate priest engaging in family counseling. The office itself doesn't make the expert, but neither does it rule out the possibility of expertise.

#715 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 07:06 PM:

There's a Spider Robinson Callahan's story about a child molester (child who molests an adult). I'd class that with Heinlein's incest stories. Heinlein and Robinson aren't trying to epa't us bourgeois- they are Bourgeois, sure as that Frog artillery guy who ran the Brits out of France and won the Hundred Years war. Sure as us. They don't want us to think, perverts = good. Or bad. They want us to think, Hell of a Story.

#716 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 07:29 PM:

"The Way" in Drake's Hammer's Slammers universe seems to fit "religion in an SF world, not positive or negative, it's just there, and as much a part of the landscape as Christianity was in the 'here' he stole from". It even comes with after-the-fact worldbook writing that explains it and its development, including Drake's take on what the mercenary life does to the religious' belief (a not unmixed reaction). Yes, there is also the rabid religious, which are just one of the types of Starred Sneetches the Slammers are paid to kill - or kill for. But even some of *them* are shown to be better than the secular Americans Dutch Frisians of the "real world".

I am noticing in this discussion that a Chekhov's Gun test for normalcy seems to exist. If, in the view of the person in question, a particular statement of fact is a Chekhov's Gun case, then it isn't normal. If it isn't such a case, it is normal.

For example, in one of the topics of discussion here, "mentioning a man's wife" is "normal" - we don't (generally) expect that this is a plot point that will be a loose end if not addressed later (but, of course, it was a huge plot point in The Forever War, for instance. That it is a Chekhov's Gun is a hammer-blow surprise, or at least it was at the time, and was intended to be.) "Mentioning a man's husband", to some, is not "normal", and if that isn't a plot point in the book, then it's a "you can't mention it and never use it" issue. Of course, *that* might be the point (or at least a point) - "Look, people, this gun isn't a Gun. It's just life. Deal with it."

Similarly, if something isn't mentioned, and it's normal in the person's world, then *that* seems to be either the Chekhov's Gun-shaped lack of dust on the mantelpiece ("why isn't that here? What does it say about this world that this isn't present?" If it's not explained by the end of the story,...) or an erasure.

To the people who get shot by that Gun (in that something that is totally normal to them either is never mentioned, or if it is, it has to be important to the plot), immersed in that reality as they are in real life, it is an affront, whether it be gays, POC, religious that aren't "power and privilege in the guise of religion", women who are people (as opposed to The Token Female or the Superheroine or the Chick or the Smurfette or ...), u.s.w.

It is also an affront to straight white males when they are treated the same way in literature. But, you know? One can't be taken care of all the time, and sometimes it's (y)our turn in the well. But that reaction? Imagine if it was "every story, every day", and doesn't just feel like it because 15% is a "gender-balanced crowd". That's what it's like to not be Privileged. Or so I'm beginning to understand at least.

And from my Privileged throne, it's nice to read about people who, just by the way, are queer, or black, or female, or Muslim (and female, perhaps); whether it turns out that they are protagonists in a story that could have been cast as a SWM of no particular religion, or whether it colours their life, or whether it strongly affects their life. Eventually, I won't notice it any more - because that's life in books, just as it's life in the world. Or maybe the other way around. For now, I do notice it, and appreciate the view. And if I need to see myself in literature, I can read...well, there's no lack of choices there.

I will admit I choose to bounce off people I'm expected to find funny because they're so weird, and fundamentalist antitheists (especially antitheist Author Avatars. Atheists, even proselytizing ones, I can handle). Again, my position is such that I can and still do find many and varied things to read and watch.

#717 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 07:36 PM:

Re: Heinlein: He is firmly in my camp of "authors who got so famous they could say 'No' to their editors." And that rarely succeeds. Most short Heinlein I can read and enjoy. Almost all of the doorstoppers, not so much.

I do agree with Jacque about the "widen the Overton Window" though. Sometimes with explosives, of course. And like all such attempts, sometimes the window just shouldn't be widened that much - but it's difficult to tell what is too much until people look through it.

#718 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 08:09 PM:

Bruce #715: Try this: Speculative fiction is largely about how things might be different, including differences in human society, f'rex sexual mores. In the 1970s, the idea of pansexuality being generally accepted was pretty different, indeed shocking to most. So was the idea of a child¹ having sexual agency. And you know, despite some advances, they still are. So, fair game for spec-fic.

¹ There's a side-issue there involving ages of consent and the "war on pedophiles", but I don't think it's actually relevant to the argument.

#719 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 08:13 PM:

There is this strange sub thread in Japanese animated series about brother/sister incest, and incest between step kids. I tend to watch it pass by at 40,000 feet heading out to sea, because I don't have any stepsisters...and my sister? As Spenser once put it, "I'd rather mate with a floor lamp."

#720 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2014, 11:43 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #673:
Your "Non-whites can be racist. It's just not racist when you're discriminating against WHITES." comment made me pause. I wrote a glib response but decided not to post that: I needed to think about it more.

This is what I've got so far (IMHO, YMMV):
I am very uncomfortable with the idea that my racism gets a free pass just because it is against whites (or any other group that is dominant or more powerful). I don't think the relative balance of power is sufficient to make it not-racist. "Everyone's a bit racist sometimes" is my own default mode which helps me be more mindful of what I think & do, and try to be a better person.

Let’s say I open a pizza restaurant, and decide that I won’t serve whites. I don’t think there is any debate on whether my behaviour is discriminating. It clearly is discriminating against whites. And I can’t see how you could say my discriminating against whites is not racist. In my mind, it is racist. There may be mitigating factors like redressing historical injustice that makes it acceptable(*) to discriminate against whites, but in my mind, that is not enough to make it not-racist behaviour.

(*)Yes, I do think that positive discrimination is acceptable racist behaviour.

#721 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 12:07 AM:

Soon Lee 720: Well, it depends how you define racism. It's certainly racial discrimination.

But in the US, racism (in the definition I'm using) is the systematic oppression of people of color. It's a system that overwhelmingly works to the advantage of white people and against the interests of people of color, even if it sometimes limits the actions of the former and occasionally reserves some spheres for the latter.

Marilyn Frye has pointed out that the wall of a prison keeps people from going IN as well as out; yet it's perfectly clear that the wall benefits the people outside and harms the people inside much more than the reverse.

So your hypothetical restaurant that won't serve whites is certainly engaging in racial discrimination, and that would certainly be illegal,* but it isn't racism per se, unless it contributes to the ghettoization of the area where the restaurant is located or something: that is, it becomes a part of the mechanism that oppresses people of color.

This isn't just a "no true Scotsman" argument. The reason I use that definition is that it prevents some of the most ridiculous abuses. Affirmative Action isn't racist, even though it uses race as a factor.** It's not racist to have an Asian Students Association, because that exists to help fight the systems that oppress people of color; it would be racist to have a White Students Association, because that works to support those systems.

For me the key is that the systems of oppression are not symmetrical. YMMV.

*Because the law has a false-egalitarian tendency almost as bad as that of the press: it forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges etc.

**And you know what? SCOTUS (at least the five inJustices who gutted the VRA and allowed Michigan's asinine law) can bite my white ass.

#722 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 12:29 AM:

Xopher #721:
Ok, then we have different definitions for racism. Thanks for clarifying.

#723 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 04:28 AM:

Would the treatment of white farmers in Zimbabwe count as racist?

As for Heinlein and incest: I'm forced to conclude there's something weird there. I considered the possibility that he might have known people in non-pathological incestuous relationships, but the relationships pretty much aren't onstage in his novels, except for the twins who weren't.

#701 ::: albatross: Ricky was the daughter of Davis' business partner. Davis wasn't raising her.

#724 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 05:17 AM:

Bruce @715: There's a Spider Robinson Callahan's story about a child molester (child who molests an adult)

??? I don't remember that one: title? More conte[nx]t?

#725 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 05:36 AM:

Jacque #724:

Google says it's Fast Eddie Costigan's Story in "Callahan's Legacy".

#726 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 05:38 AM:

Oops, not sure if my previous post constitutes a spoiler. Perhaps one of the duty gnomes should ROT13-ify it?

#727 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 08:07 AM:

In Henry Louis Gates' Colored People, he writes about one local white guy who was bitterly and vocally prejudiced against blacks. The black folks cut him slack over it, as a black guy they considered irresponsible had drunkenly run down and killed the man's son and that was what triggered it in him.

My uncle Roosevelt used the word "Jap" quite a bit, but I took into account that he'd been at Bataan and did forty-three months in a camp and saw and experienced horrible things--I only heard him tell one. That was enough--and kept my own mouth shut.

And there was the woman I knew whose anti-gay feelings were triggered by a very unpleasant experience in her teens involving what she thought was a threesome with two guys and turned out to be a humiliating experience for her. (If you've read River Road by C. F. Borgman, you saw a similar scene, though that woman was less humiliated than oblivious.) I said something about it once, then quit.

I'm not saying bigotry triggered by personal pain and experience is right. It's still wrong. I am saying that compassion and mercy still have to be applied, by those who can bear it, to those who are doing that wrong thing.

And those who can't bear to extend that grace to others? They deserve compassion and mercy, too.

Just don't be a fool about it, in any direction.

#728 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 10:25 AM:

abi and SamChevre: I do appreciate this line of conversation (as well as some of the difficulties of it), although I'm not sure I have enough brain right now to contribute usefully yet.

One thought that did come up on the religion vs. practice vs. faith aspects: I've mentioned that I've walked the Camino de Santiago, although I'm not a Christian. I may go into the reasons for that some other day, but for now it's sufficient to say that I didn't start out with a religious purpose of my own. At the end of the pilgrimage in Santiago de Compostela one of the questions you get asked is whether you walked for "spiritual" reasons, and your answer determines what sort of document they issue you. They don't define the term "spiritual", or require you to define it for them. I really had to work on figuring out my answer, and it was in my thoughts on and off for a long while before.

In abi's taxonomy, the religious aspects were fairly clear to me: I knew where I stood in relation to the Catholic church. The practice was as well: I was walking the pilgrimage and paying attention to its rules. However, this one question was framed so as to require me to interrogate my own inner life (faith, spiritual reasons, or what have you) enough to come up with that (literal) bit of an answer.

#729 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 11:15 AM:

Going back a few hundred posts:

@Xopher, 549, what lyrics to "Turkey In The Straw" do you know? Because I checked a couple on the internet and they match what I learned as a kid [tired mule, heavy load, etc.]

@albatross, 701, "the unsavory notion of a trusted uncle or godfather raising a girl to be a woman, and then marrying her." This was a common theme in 19th century literature, wasn't it? The only example my frustrating brain comes up with is "Sweeney Todd", though.

#730 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 11:28 AM:

On "Shtetl Days" (note the extra "t"): Fairly realistic, very depressing, yet somehow it's nice to see my religion in a story for once (in a while) even though I'm not religious. My family came from rural "Ruthenia", and a minor quibble I had while reading is that anyone speaking Polish would have been more successful than "a stab at" Ruthenian; these are the same languages with different alphabets (Ruthenian uses Cyrillic). Other minor quibbles that irritated me: puppik is misspelled and a pupik isn't a gizzard; schnaps isn't whiskey or whisky -- whiskey/whisky is fermented from grains, distilled and then aged; schnaps/schnapps is fermented from fruits and only distilled. I'd let that one go as in German it's come to mean any strong alcohol, but a pupik isn't a puppik. And what Jew wouldn't have said a loud "gevalt" when injured in a pogrom? (There's a joke about a man waiting for his wife to give birth, and the attending doctor soothes him until they hear a "GE-VALT!", and then he says "Now, it's time!"...)

It's a very Jewish story, to me, even without the religious aspect. The intellectual conversations and arguments about pilpul, the multi-levels of deceptions, the many lives they lived in their own society, and the twist that the future Nazis wiped out and then re-created Judaism -- it's all bittersweet humor, the kind we seem to specialize in, like all the Jewish jokes about Hitler.

My relatives escaped the ghettos by coming here, although not all of them got out in time. We still had the culture embedded within our lives. My Eastern European fiancee is more like me than my American ex, because Jewish culture strongly influenced Western Ukrainians, even into their vocabulary. It's why I consider myself to be Jewish without being religious, even as I could pass for non-Jew. Like "Shtetl Days", it's complicated.

#731 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 11:36 AM:

"I've spent my life only knowing Turkey in the Straw as an instrumental piece of music-- I didn't even know it *had* lyrics, and I think that's typical for the culture."

I'm still not sure it originally did. There are a fair number of instrumental tunes that get various lyrics set to them after they've gotten into circulation. For what it's worth, the Wikipedia article on Turkey in the Straw traces the tune back to the 1820s, but puts the earliest lyrics associated with it in the 1830s (though the article isn't entirely consistent about this).

If anyone knows of more definitive sources on the early history of the song, I'd love to hear about them.

#732 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 11:41 AM:

Just to be a little more exact, I do have "turkey in the straw, turkey in the hay" in the back of my mind, but I'd never thought about that as implying a full set of lyrics.

#733 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 12:01 PM:

This is really late, but I've been sick, as is my wont.

So we had all these folks insisting that it was vitally important for the rest of us to judge the work and not the author. Did any of them offer anything like a completely-work-focused reading of, say, Ancillary Justice, or something by N.K. Jemisin, or maybe by Ken McLeod? It seems like the louder one shouts about how it must be done, the less time one has to actually do it with regard to work by one's chosen enemies.

#734 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 12:23 PM:

Sandy B @729, Xopher @701

Re the guardian-ward thing, all the examples I can think of are not slimy but play on the social expectation that this is Not Done. All of these are possibly spoilers for the books involved.


Daddy Long-Legs, by Jean Weber.

the Mairelon the Magician books by Patricia C. Wrede. (if I remember correctly, Mairelon's mother says something like yes, marrying his ward was exactly the sort of minor scandal she suggested he get involved with).

The Mark of Merlin, a non-genre book by Anne McCaffrey, when the WW-II era teen girl is highly annoyed that her recently deceased father assigned his friend as a guardian she doesn't think she needs; she realizes later that her father wanted to bring them together. (The titular Merlin is a German Shepherd, not a wizard.)

#735 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 12:24 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 642: I suspect that's an element -- but so is the fact that the media are more pervasive; simply showing fancy goods without a strong endorsement can make people more aware of what they lack. But the thing I most take away from the we-didn't-know-we-were-poor stories I've read is the strength of the interpersonal networks (as discussed above), which are broken or absent in much poverty(*); I suspect a lot of the narrators have no idea how exceptional they were. cf especially single-parent families vs discussions of non-poor "supermoms"; some people have the strength/resource/... to make the very best of bad circumstances, but not having this isn't a moral failure.

(*) Possibly more nowadays, but I don't have figures to quote.

abi @ 645: thank you for clearly stating a point that I as an agnostic was leery of touching. I don't argue with other people's personal experience (and TNH is not the first case to force a more-rigid earlier version of me to realize that brilliantly incisive people can be faith-holders in the present day); what I objected to was the projection of this experience on the world at large. (I have dreams of reminding demonstrative ChINOs that their lord told them to pray in private, but I haven't seen any in a long time and would rather not seek them out.) I specifically focused on public cases to try to remove my own attitudes, including what I consider to be a legitimate personal grievance against a mainstream organized faith.

(wrt various) I would argue that I "experience the numinous" frequently \without/ any attachment to faith; music is a necessary prop for me, possibly in some of the ways that faith is a (necessary?) prop for other people. I do know how lucky I am to be able to experience this, thanks to some combination of genetics and a favorable environment that gave me the tools to participate.

Jim Henry @ 668: certainly geography makes a difference; that's why I tried for very-large-area statistics. The Boston area, despite having been founded by a near-theocracy, is much less visibly-religious (presumably relating to Massachusetts being one of the bluest states). I say this despite having regular rehearsals and performances in a church; Boston is an old city, so churches are a very common source of big infrequently-used inexpensive spaces. (The same holds true of newer suburbs; my other chorus rehearses in a temple for the same reason.)
      Atlanta may be more pervasively Christian than some other areas. Last year I toured the DC suburb I grew up in; 50 years ago it was very WASPy, where now there are several synagogues (in one of which a distant inlaw was ba*-mitzvahed -- half a mile from where I lived).

Xopher @ 680: the trouble with your linkage is that neither ]sexual preference[ nor religion is necessarily visible (unlike, e.g., ]race[). IMobservation, preference is more visible than religion, because more authors write as if sex (or at least pre-sex maneuvers) is a necessary part of their story -- but this gets back to Guy's specific argument that religion is plausibly less visible.

Lee @ 687: I always assumed that the "Cristoforos" represented whatever was left of Christianity after some centuries (millennia?) of isolation; as such, it's not surprising they'd be opposed to other gods.

Mycroft W @ 716: an excellent point about what is and isn't a Gun. cf Freud ("Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.")?

#736 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 01:17 PM:

Nancy 723: Would the treatment of white farmers in Zimbabwe count as racist?

I don't know enough about the dynamics of racial oppression in Zimbabwe to have a useful opinion. I was only talking about the way it works in the US (and maybe Canada, but I suspect there are important differences there too).

It strikes me as likely that a black-majority, formerly-colonial but now majority-ruled (mod the tyranny of Robert Mugabe) would have different racial dynamics than a country like the US (not that there are any, etc.) with multiple groups of POC, some of whom are indigenous, some brought here as slaves, still others here as voluntary immigrants (like the white folks); but I can't say exactly how.

John 727: One of your stories is not like the others. I haven't read River Road, but two of your stories involve members of a group doing actual harm to a person, and the third could be anything from

  1. The two guys were interested in each other and not her, and did nothing to give her any other impression, and she found that humiliating, to
  2. The two guys deliberately set her up to be humiliated by leading her to think they were interested in her, and then cruelly scorned her.
In case 1, she's just being a jerk because gay guys aren't available to her, in which case boo hoo. Case 2 is like your other stories, but there are lots of cases between the two.

Sandy 729: I never learned the song as a child. I was basing my comments on the first link in the article abi linked to, which calls itself Turkey in the Straw (first version), probably meaning the first recording (since the song is older than that).

OtterB 734: The story of Deirdre from the Ulster Cycle is a classic/legendary example. Conchobar hears a prophecy that Deirdre will be the most beautiful woman of mortal birth in Ireland (and also all kinds of stuff about kings going to war over her) and decides to have her raised in secret until she's old enough to marry.

As you might imagine, it does not end well.

#737 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 01:37 PM:

Xopher @ 736: Quite true. Having talked with her, I believe it was closer to case 2. I could be wrong. I cut her slack anyway.

#738 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 02:43 PM:

Jacque, #724: Soon Lee is right. Context: what I got out of it was n fgebat nethzrag gung ynjf ntnvafg nqhygf univat frk jvgu puvyqera ner synjrq naq fubhyq or nobyvfurq / zbqvsvrq gb nyybj sbe gur puvyq pbafragvat orpnhfr $RKPRCGVBA! Which I consider bullshit for reasons that should be tolerably obvious.

John A., #727: My take on this is well-expressed by an exchange I found in, of all places, a kid!Sherlock fanfic.
Mycroft: "Mummy, you can't expect me to turn off my powers of observation!"
Mummy: "No, dear, but I can expect you to exercise a modicum of courtesy in how you express the results."

People can think whatever they choose, but they can damn well be decent in public. AKA "if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all."

OtterB, #734: I think Elsie Lee's The Wicked Guardian might qualify, but it's not one of her better books and it's been quite a while since I read it.

CHip, #735: One of the ways that I have experienced the numinous is in contradancing. Not in every dance, of course, but there have been several occasions when I definitely got the feeling of being connected to something deep and universal. I would suspect that runners, in particular, may have the same thing happen.

Re the Cristoforos, yeah, that's about right. And you can tell how long it's been since I read any of those books, because until you reminded me I'd forgotten what they called themselves!

#739 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 02:44 PM:

OtterB @ 734: From what I remember, in the Mairelon example, the pov character is only technically the "ward" of the man who really isn't all that much older than he is. Snd she's only his ward for a year or so, I think--it didn't really strike me as all that bad. Meanwhile in the Weber, the girl is college age and doesn't know who her benefactor/guardian is until the end of the book, which I've always thought that that made it slightly creepier, since (ISTM) he did interact with her throughout the book and she's constantly writing letters to her guardian about her suitors, including him. Which was weird, and should have embarrassed the life out of him, in my opinion. The movie starred Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron, but--again, I seem to remember--the script changed quite a bit of the plot, so I might be conflating the two.

I hadn't remembered the MacCaffrey. Want a really creepy one? Try Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades. I loved that book when I was a kid, but the age and power differential between the romantic leads was really squicky, in retrospect. Heyer actually has a tendency to do that, particularly in earlier works--lots of older men with much younger women/wives . . .

#740 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 03:09 PM:

739
OTOH, in the period Heyer's set that one in, it wasn't all that strange. I've run into age differences like that in real life.

(The age of consent was 10 in New Jersey, until some time after 1880. I was looking it up because a third-great-grandmother was apparently married at the age of 13 going on 14. He was about five years older.)

#741 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 03:38 PM:

Lee @ 738: People can think whatever they choose, but they can damn well be decent in public.

Maybe they can't.

#742 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 03:59 PM:

I didn't catch this on first reading, but I'm pretty sure Bruce #715 has seriously mischaracterized Fast Eddie's backstory.

As I recall it, Ur jnf n puvyq jub jnf zbyrfgrq ol uvf hapyr; univat orra vagebqhprq gb frk, ur jrag ba gb gel vg bhg jvgu n (srznyr) sevraq bs uvf bja ntr. Fur gbyq fbzrbar, naq obgu gur hapyr naq Snfg Rqqvr jrer cebfrphgrq (Rqqvr nf gur whiravyr zbyrfgre bs gur tvey. Naq gung *vf* rknpgyl gur ceboyrz jvgu gur HF ntr-bs-pbafrag ertvzr. Naq ab, V'z abg fnlvat "bu, nqhygf fubhyq or noyr gb unir frk jvgu xvqf nalgvzr". Gurer'f cyragl bs bgure pbhagevrf gung unaqyr cebgrpgvat gurve xvqf sebz rkcybvgngvba cerggl jryy, jvgubhg pevzvanyvmvat frkhny be cebgbfrkhny npgvivgl *nzbat* zvabef. Abg gb zragvba gur znal fgngrf jurer ntr-bs-pbafrag vf 18, juvpu nzbhagf gb fnlvat "jr, gur tbireazrag, jvyy xrrc lbh sebz univat frk evtug hc hagvy lbh pbhyq ergnyvngr ol ibgvat hf bhg."

#743 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 04:18 PM:

Mary Frances, for my money, the power dynamics in Devil's Cub, though not ward/guardian, are a lot more upsetting than the ones in These Old Shades. Leonie, though young, is not a character to be coerced!

It still doesn't match up to the creepiness of Lazarus/Dora. Leonie was a teenager. Dora was FIVE.

#744 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 05:03 PM:

Lee @ 738: I hesitated to put in the two examples from people I knew, especially the second one, where, as Xopher points out, the circumstances are obscure and unknowable. Those are edgier cases than the first one. But that first one...look. In Gates' telling, which I accept at face value, a community of oppressed people came to a consensus that this particular person who oppressed them deserved a break on behavior that we and they all agree is wrong. I don't have the moral standing to question them on that point.

#745 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 05:30 PM:

Mary Frances:

I'm not exactly comfortable saying that this kind of situation would always be bad (always is a tough word when talking about humans), but yeah, in general, the role of guardian isn't really consistent with the role of suitor or lover, for lots of power-differential and bad-incentive sorts of reasons. (In similar ways, I'm sure there have been many wonderful romances between bosses and employees, but there are damned good reasons why pretty much every large organization has explicit rules against that sort of thing.)

Rikibeth: Yeah, the whole Dora / Woodrow thing was both creepy and in some sense a foreshadowing of the even more squicky sexual/romantic relationships later in the book.

Nancy: You're right. I guess it feels a little weird to me, just because I can't imagine trying to date the now-adult daughters of my long-time friends. It would feel like crossing a huge ethical line somehow, though I'm sure there have been perfectly wonderful relationships that happened that way.

As an aside, I think there's a big cultural assumption about dating/marrying people who aren't family, and the US norm is generally that you marry someone neither you nor your family even knew existed when you were a kid. (Though people do marry their old childhood sweethearts, or cousins/family friends they knew in their childhood, sometimes.) In a culture where it's more assumed that you will marry someone your family already knows and trusts, marrying the friend of the family you've known for years probably seems perfectly sensible[1]. Also, in some cultures, the norm has been for the man to be a decade or so older than the woman, I think. At least two Jane Austen books I can think of have the main characters marrying people who have been a presence in their lives since they were small girls, and who are related to them by blood or marriage.

[1] And thinking further about this, I wonder if this was partly a way of dealing with not having a lot of legal protections to prevent the husband mistreating his wife, beating her up or sleeping around on her or abandoning her for someone younger and cuter after a couple kids. If he and she are already bound together in lots of family connections, mistreating her will have consequences even if the law doesn't get involved. If they've known each other many years, she probably also has a pretty good sense of who he is, whether or not he has a bad temper or is likely to gamble or drink away their eating money, etc.

#746 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 05:43 PM:

Dave:

Yes, I remember that story. He portrayed the interaction between them as not exploitative or nasty (and contrasted it with the treatment he got in the orphanage he was sent to).

Like I said above, humans are complicated, and there probably aren't any simple rules that catch all cases. Age of consent laws are in some sense an exercise in drawing a really arbitrary line, since (for example) neither all 15 year olds nor all sexual situations they might find themselves in are equal. The hard thing is, we probably have to have the bright lines that we draw somewhat arbitrarily, just to make it minimally workable to enforce the laws that are necessary to protect people. Thus, even though not every adult/16 year old sexual relationship ever will be exploitative or bad, you may still arrest the adults in those relationships you find out about, and that may be the best you can do to balance preventing sexual exploitation of children by adults vs. sending adults to prison who don't belong there.

#747 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 06:06 PM:

Bruce:

I don't know--do I count as one of those people? I am definitely up for a content-of-the-books discussion of the works of lots of authors with whom I have big, fundamental disagreements. Wanna talk about the wonderful Culture stories Banks wrote?

#748 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 06:55 PM:

albatross @745: In my family, two of my aunts (one on my mother's side and one on my father's side) married guys they had known since they were children -- one married a next-door neighbor, the other someone she went to elementary school and high school with. (That was in the early/mid 1970s.) I think my paternal grandparents met in high school; my maternal grandparents met at a later age.

I don't know that any of the cousins of my generation have married someone they knew since childhood, but I have a lot of cousins and don't know most of them very well.

#749 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 09:07 PM:

albatross #745: and the US norm is generally that you marry someone neither you nor your family even knew existed when you were a kid.

Um, excuse me? It's not that long ago that "marrying the girl/boy next door" was a cliche. If it's less common now, that's because of the increased geographic mobility in modern society. (That is, lots of people heading to other states for college and/or jobs.)

albatross #746: You're not getting it. Lots of countries have rules where authorities can inquire and/or intervene regarding relationships involving people below some age. But most of those also have some discretion in how the authorities respond, and they can consider the particulars of the case. This is very different from "if she's a day under {18,16,etc.} it's rape rapeity rape, no matter what the minor says..." (Which is how AoC/statutory-rape laws work.) Much less, "...even if they were with someone their own age"! And then there's the way it feeds into (inter alia) our abusive prison system and the Mark of Cain supplied by Megan's Law....

#750 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 11:27 PM:

OtterB @ 734, Sandy B @729, Xopher @701: Re the guardian-ward thing
I'd include Laurie King's Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, though Russell was at least an adolescent, and not Holmes' ward. Laurie King doesn't duck the squick factor, but has them both grapple with it.

I loved the book The Time Traveler's Wife, but would periodically surface from its spell and think ick! I suppose that's not a guardian/ward situation, though. I didn't even consider going to the movie, as I imagined that visually it would be more disturbing.

#751 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 03:47 AM:

For some reason, the relationship in Heinlein that squicks me the most is Lazarus Long and his twin clone sisters. I think some of it is that they have (imho) no perceptible personality*, which is somehow amplified for me by their having only one personality between them, and that they've apparently never lived away from Long.

I'm also not too pleased by the mules-- they seem to sentient to be property.

And as a sidetrack, I also eventually figured out that a shirt-sleeve environment suitable for pioneering on another planet is wildly implausible. I wouldn't at all mind a story that included "pioneering" as a hobby on terraformed land.

*I may not be the best person to judge this-- I've never been able to tell Merry and Pippin apart, even though there are plenty of presumably trustworthy people who say one is more impulsive and the other is more sensible.

#752 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 06:25 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #751:

It took me until the first LotR movie before I was able to tell them apart easily in the books (despite having read them more than several times). Having the images of Dominic Monaghan & Billy Boyd in my head was the difference.

#753 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 06:56 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #751: For some reason, the relationship in Heinlein that squicks me the most is Lazarus Long and his twin clone sisters.

Aside from the relationship, they were created on a whim: "Gonna make some girls just like me...". Arguably author's whim as well, as IIRC they don't actually fit into any plotlines that aren't mostly sexual.

their having only one personality between them, and that they've apparently never lived away from Long.

Arguably one personality among the three of them. They are a demonstration that Heinlein's "male protagonist" and "female protagonist" templates are in fact the same character in different gender.

And the "never lived away from Long"... it's been a long while since I read TEFL, but what I'm remembering is that basically no-one has a whole world of people to explore, and they almost never bring back new friends (characters) to their current group. That is, even when they're supposed to be on a populated, cosmopolitan, planet, they still might as well be on a spaceship.

#754 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 07:08 AM:

Life on utopian Tertius just seemed insipid to me compared to the more historical parts of To Sail Beyond the Sunset/Time Enough for Love.

This could be viewed as authorial failure, or as support for Heinlein's idea that people need frontiers.

#755 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 09:15 AM:

Nancy: And another thought... How many places are there in TEFL where Heinlein describes or discusses the scenery his characters are passing through? Does he ever describe the Dora/Woodrow planet beyond "trees, frontier"? Does Tertius have any notable monuments, bridges, even museums? Do the space-travelers ever stop to admire a nebula, or a nice set of planetary rings? (Yeah, the Suck Fairy has been busy.)

albatross #745: I wonder if this was partly a way of dealing with not having a lot of legal protections to prevent the husband mistreating his wife, ... abandoning her for someone younger and cuter after a couple kids. If he and she are already bound together in lots of family connections, mistreating her will have consequences.

Other way 'round, I think. Close-knit, moderately isolated communities have been the norm for most of human history, with marriages and the ensuing interfamily relations being a major part of community structure.

Indeed, consider that laws/rules against inbreeding (not just sibling and parent/child, but often cousins and uncle/aunts, or further) are there because otherwise, in a small, closed community, maturing kids are liable to just pair off with some familiar¹ MOTAS of similar age... generation after generation.

In contrast, AIUI explicit rules against mistreating one's wife/child are needed mostly in larger, more urban or cosmopolitan communities. In a small closed community, the neighbors are always watching, and your FiL/BiL/etc. sees his daughter every morning down by the well or suchlike.² The bigger the community, the less those protections hold, so laws become needed.

¹ Usually outside Westermarck scope. I have a sneaking suspicion that the effect can collapse completely if there is no "un-effected" MOTAS available. Parts of the Woodrow/Dora tale suggest that Heinlein, or at least Woodrow, thought so too. I do not have the historical knowledge for more than a suspicion....

² "Is that a bruise on your face? I'll get my brothers and we'll give him some bruises!"

#756 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 11:03 AM:

@ #706 heresiarch

Perhaps I am misunderstanding your friend's meaning, but that irks me. The primacy of class identity is a pragmatic observation rather than a claim about what ought to be so. The way work subsumes every other aspect of being human is pretty much the core argument why capitalism is bad.

The center of the argument that Steven and I are having is that I think that people have strong emotional connections to identity which are not entirely mediated by their economic position in society, and that these forms of identity, and the power differential that exist around these identities are both important and not entirely economic. In particular, I believe that one's gender and race are important identities, and that power differentials based on those identities would not magically disappear if we achieved economic equality.

I agree that the way in which our lives are subsumed by our economic position is an indictment of capitalism. But I am somewhat more skeptical of just how objective this all is. It seems to me that our economic relationships are every bit as much a social construct as race or gender performance is, while if I understand Steven correctly, he feels that our economic reality is more scientific, more objective, and more real than our designated race and gender.

I think that the problems are linked and intertwined, and I suspect that the whole thing is a lot less scientific that Marx usually claims. I am vastly impatient with the argument that, for instance, race doesn't really exist, it's just a form of classism. I think that class and race both exist, and that they are problems that have a symbiotic or perhaps parasitic relationship with each other.

Does this make you more or less irked? And is this at least making sense, even if you disagree?

#757 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 11:16 AM:

#755 ::: Dave Harmon

Heinlein just wasn't a visual writer. He'd occasionally describe how something looked (a sequoia forest in Beyond This Horizon, Eunice's body paint, Jupiter in Farmer on Ganymede), but mostly.... well, it's not just the cities on Tertius, I have no idea how the rooms looked.

I'm not convinced this is a serious problem-- I've liked Heinlein's fiction for a long time, and I think he gets by on voice. It would have been better if he'd dropped more visual clues, but I have a notion that what writers need is a few major strengths rather than doing everything well. (This is not a well-developed notion-- I don't have a list of strengths.)

Bujold is another fairly non-visual writer. Some of her descriptions of people are vivid, and the gussied-up butterbugs are delightful, but I have no idea what Barrayar really looks like.

*****

As for protecting women by having them live in a social network, that depends on what the network wants. If the network supports decent treatment of women, it helps. If the network supports mistreatment of wives by husbands, the network makes things worse. Note how many people (husbands as well as wives) conceal abuse because they don't want the social consequences. The prototypes are different for men and women, but the effects are the same.

More generally, whether surveillance protects you depends on what people consider to be a crime.

#758 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 11:26 AM:

Dave #742- I gave the start of Fast Eddie's story. It's not pure squick porn, not like 'octupus rapes goat' stories, but Robinson expects an 'ick' from the reader all right. So did Heinlein in stories combining sex with some potential betrayal of family honor. They weren't going for 'everyone should do this'. They wanted 'Hell of a Story'.

Nancy #751- I really liked the mules. I wish Heinlein had done a Mule Liberation Front envoi.

#759 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 11:34 AM:

Nancy #757: As for protecting women by having them live in a social network, that depends on what the network wants.

Note that in a really small community, concealment of abuse isn't an option, and any ally is also much closer.

#760 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 11:47 AM:

Dave, even the definition of abuse is up for grabs. If a husband has been hitting his wife (not killing or crippling), is he mistreating her, or has she been deservedly punished?

#761 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 04:12 PM:

759/760 & prior: I've seen stories where an abused woman is pitied by her neighbors and family, but not protected. The feeling seems to be that as long as she is married to this man, she belongs to him, and there's nothing anyone else but God can do.

Of course, that was fiction. Reality could have been different.

#762 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 04:25 PM:

Nancy #760: But whatever law or social custom says, there will still be men who don't hit their wives at all, and those who hit them as much as they can get away with, and those who only do it when they're drunk, and so on... and everyone will know which is which, especially the women.

#763 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 04:33 PM:

I still can't quite believe this was once considered funny.

"You hear he has a temper/he'll beat you every night/but only when he's sober/so you're all right!"

(Granted that was a parody by a character who was afraid of being trapped in a bad marriage, but it wasn't presented with the level of horror I experience remembering it.)

Then there's "One of these days, Alice...the moon!" In that case, it's "funny" because she always shows absolute confidence that Ralph is not, in fact, ever going to hit her. But the fact that he thinks it's remotely OK to even say that to her, even if he has no intention of ever lifting a hand to her, speaks volumes about the culture of the time.

#764 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 04:53 PM:

Data point:

I was born in 1961 and grew up in a small town in central Georgia. When I was in elementary school (first or second grade, IIRC) I had a classmate who would occasionally come over to my house with his younger brother and ask politely if they could stay with us for a while, because his father was drunk again and was threatening his mother with a gun. Eventually Grandma or someone would phone with the all-clear. As far as I know, nobody ever called the cops.

Eventually the dad shot the mom and then himself. She lived, he didn't.

I don't remember exactly what year it was that the law in Georgia was changed so that the cops could bring domestic violence charges against someone even if the victim didn't want to press charges; but I remember it was well after this (maybe in the 1970s?).

#765 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 06:39 PM:

"There's only one 'P' in 'rapist'."

Remember that scene from 1978's "Superman", and later when the little girl tells her mom she saw a man fly then you hear mom loudly smacking her?

#766 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 06:55 PM:

#756 ::: Lydy Nickerson: "Does this make you more or less irked? And is this at least making sense, even if you disagree?"

I didn't mean I was irked at you! And it does make sense. What I am trying to say is: the arguments you are putting forward about class and gender and race to my mind *are* the rigorous, Marxist position, and I am irked by those, particularly other Marxists, that claim that they are not. That is all.

#767 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 09:26 PM:

A collection of unsorted thoughts.

* I thought I remembered guardian-marries-ward type situations in 19th century literature. (Emma was not actually such a situation. Fifteen years older, portrayed as wiser, but no actual authority over her.)

* As far as small communities and "you don't need a law as long as everyone's playing by the same rules": I read one week of the 1907 New York Times, and one of the stories was a man who was coming into town on a train to meet a young, female pen pal. The secret got out, and as I recall the train was met by a calm mob of neighbors and family. The man got back on the train.

* The "lord and master of the house" bit shows up in Kiss Me Kate, 1953, putting her in her place by spanking her. I don't know if it got any laughs in 1953, but in the 2000 revival it just didn't work. Nobody laughed, and the actors seemed like they were just going through the motions.

* There were a lot of excuses (throughout literature and detective novels, anyway) about "more men beat their wives; more women kill their husbands" and "The female of the species is more deadly than the male" and so forth. I have an unsupported belief that it was a lie told by people who should have known better. This 20-year-old internet result suggests that the current pitch/catch ratio for women is about 40/60. In other news, 1994 was 20 years ago. Whoa.

#768 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 10:02 PM:

Math geekery going on as I type:

FBI statistics from 2005 and 2011 seem to show that husbands kill wives five times as often as wives kill husbands, if I'm reading this right.

This 1995 report says
"Among all female murder victims in 1995, 26 percent were slain by husbands or boyfriends. Three percent of the male victims were killed by wives or girlfriends."

7300 total male victims * 0.03 = 219 male victims, 2600 * 0.26 = 676 female victims . Those aren't all spouses, but that's pretty much a 75/25 ratio . That's pretty bad.

Is it really getting worse over time?

... "Unknown" is 5600 victims total,in the 2011 numbers. Could that swamp the knowns? If 4% of unknowns were spouses who got away with it, equally distributed, that would make the numbers 220 to 760. I don't think noise in the signal makes a difference here, I think it's skewed, badly, and is probably getting worse.

#769 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 10:21 PM:

Sandy B @767, years ago I took a Shakespeare class. The professor taught (among other plays) "The Taming of the Shrew", which she described as "the most romantic play ever." I hated it. For the required ten page term paper, I wrote a detailed compare/contrast paper showing that Kate's treatment was torture and brainwashing, similar to that perpetrated on prisoners of war in Vietnam and on cult victims. (That last should give you some idea how long ago this class was...)

I'll give the professor full marks for integrity; the margins of my paper were filled with anguished red scrawls protesting my conclusions... but she gave me an "A".

I *still* hate that play.

#770 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 10:25 PM:

Dave @762:

[citation needed] on the "everyone will know" claim. Sometimes it's known and tolerated that a man is abusing his wife; other times it isn't known, because she's ashamed to have it known, or terrified that he'll hurt her even worse if she talks about what he's doing to her, or because domestic violence is so normalized that nobody talks about it unless someone is killed.

If "everyone knew" which men beat their wives, and how often, the culture would never have had the widespread myth that middle- and upper-class men didn't beat their wives.

Consider Lila's example: if that same couple were childless, would anyone have known that the man was regularly threatening his wife with a gun?

Also, if divorce is effectively impossible, how much good does it do a woman to have everyone know that her husband is beating her? That hypothetical information network might, possibly, make it harder for a wife-beater to remarry if his wife died. But it definitionally wouldn't have protected his first victim, because no information network would let everyone know that this particular harmless-seeming man was the one not to marry because he was going to beat his wife.

#771 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 12:20 AM:

Soon Lee @726: Oops, not sure if my previous post constitutes a spoiler.

Not a spoiler, in my recollection. Also, if that's the one Bruce is referring to, "a child molester (child who molests an adult)" is a very poor characterization of the relationship in question.

#772 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 02:44 AM:

Jacque@771, yes, it's a poor characterization of the relationship, but it's the phrasing that Fast Eddie used in the story.

#773 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 08:40 AM:

Sandy B @ 768

If I remember correctly--and it's been over a decade--the domestic violence level is far higher, and far more skewed toward "man harms woman", in unmarried than married couples.

#774 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 09:02 AM:

Bill Stewart #772: No. Just, no. Eddie used the phrase "child molester" to wind up his audience, before explaining that ur'q orra n puvyq jub jnf neerfgrq nf n zbyrfgre, sbe pbafrafhny npgvivgl jvgu nabgure puvyq. He did not define it as "child who molests an adult", nor did he try to claim that was what had happened.

Bluntly, Fast Eddie was and remained a sympathetic character. Robinson was not trying to excuse or justify child abuse, and he wasn't going for squick either -- he was highlighting one of the insanities of the American justice system.

#775 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 09:51 AM:

Vicki #770: Please note that I was careful to limit the "everyone knows" case to small, closed communities -- that is, a tribe or small town (very small by modern standards). Cities big enough to have middle and upper classes big enough to stereotype, are indeed a different case.

In Lila's story... Their Grandma certainly knew. I'd bet money their teachers knew, and their doctor. Depending on the housing, their next-door neighbors may well have known, along with various people who any of the above had confided in. It's entirely likely that all of the above either had nothing they could do about it, or simply accepted it as inevitable. (This is exactly where Nancy #760's excellent point comes into play.) While my "everyone knows" might be slightly overstated, certainly quite a lot of the people around them surely knew... it just didn't help, because on this issue Justice was locked out of the court by law and local standards.

Sandy B. #768: That ratio is actually better than I could fear. And of course the difference is largely in the contexts of the murders. IIRC, the means of killing are also drastically different: A man who kills his wife is likely to do so by straight-up violence, with or without a weapon. A woman killing their husband is much more likely to use some non-violent or indirect means, and/or to kill the husband in his sleep.

I'm not up to rambling about dominance mechanics just now, but consider this: In our, and most, societies, men have: More physical capacity for violence (sexual dimorphism plus different life training). More psychological propensity for violence (ditto). And far more slack from authorities for actually being violent.

#776 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 10:15 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 775: Please note that I was careful to limit the "everyone knows" case to small, closed communities -- that is, a tribe or small town (very small by modern standards). Cities big enough to have middle and upper classes big enough to stereotype, are indeed a different case.

Their Grandma certainly knew. I'd bet money their teachers knew, and their doctor. Depending on the housing, their next-door neighbors may well have known, along with various people who any of the above had confided in.

I don' think it's a spoiler (it's not that kind of book) to say this is one of the most--though not the most--heartbreaking parts of Uneevrg Neabj'f Gur Qbyyznxre, but I suppose I'll rot-13 it anyway, just in case.

#777 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 10:17 AM:

Dave #774- 'to wind up his audience'. Yes. Eddie was 'going for squick' all right. Of course it's not pure squick porn, which makes for inept stories. Of course Robinson wasn't trying to justify child abuse, certainly not as practiced by our justice system. Hell of a story. I'd like to see it on TV. Expect you would too.

#778 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 12:26 PM:

Cassy B @ 769: The last production of the Taming of the Shrew I watched made that explicit: without changing any of the extant dialogue (Though the play was abridged enough to run 60-65 minutes), it was clear Petruchio was hired not to date/marry Kate but to kill her and get her out of the way for her little sister. Kate's time in his house was clearly made slow torture.(And extremely emotionally painful for the audience). That it ends with her giving her "I'm tamed" speech to him after she's gotten loose and knifed him didn't quite ease the lashing the audience got.

I don't think i can read it again as Shakespeare intended it.

And yes, the spanking in Kiss me Kate was much more uncomfortable than funny when i saw it (Within the oughts but not that recently) -- and that was watching the movie where it's played up as okay, not a live show.

#779 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 12:36 PM:

SamChevre @773: There's an interesting paper about that. Basically it seems to be linked to the factors which lead to cohabiting rather than marriage (including e.g. younger age) rather than being that marriage per se is "protective"against violence in way that cohabiting is not.

#780 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 02:23 PM:

Dave #759, Note that in a really small community, concealment of abuse isn't an option

That would be really nice. But it's demonstrably untrue. Consider a 3-person family as an extreme test case of a "small community," with one parent abusing a child and concealing it from the other parent. The victim just needs to be intimidated into silence, or convinced the abuser's behavior is ok...some abusers are good at that.

I'm sure you weren't thinking of that sort of thing. Part of the problem is that people don't.
They think of a "small community" as a village, where people can ask their neighbors for help. Like what happened on Pitcairn island.

#781 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 03:00 PM:

Dave at 759

Remember also, though, that in a really small community:
- There aren't necessarily a lot of outside voices disagreeing with the community narrative.
- People are well aware of their interdependency on the other members of the community, even if they have some "awkward" habits in their personal lives.
- People can be very willing to pass things off as "just how Bob is" or "Marcy asking for it," because it's easier not to think about it too hard than to question whether your childhood best friend is really a bad person.
- If the town isn't on your side, there often isn't anywhere to go or any way to get there (or any way to support yourself once you do).
- Even people who support you may not be willing to risk their position in the community to help you out.
- After a while, with no consistent positive narrative, it all starts to feel horribly ordinary, even to the person being abused. It's hard to remember what it's like to be taken seriously and treated kindly, and it's equally hard to remember that you, yourself, are a person deserving of non-abusive treatment (if you ever learned that lesson in the first place, which is not guaranteed).

I dislike idealization of small towns/small communities. They can be just as abusive as larger cities.

#782 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 05:13 PM:

me @ 776: Should have italicized that second sentence, too. Sorry about that.

#783 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 10:05 PM:

Bruce #777: Winding up his audience isn't squick, much less even impure "squick porn". However, I did find it distinctly off-key for the Callahan's group (though ISTR that Jake's own story used a similar windup).

I'd like to see it on TV. Expect you would too.

Yeah, but the fun part of having it on TV, would be watching the reactions from various quarters! Alas, I wouldn't expect to see that happen anytime soon.

#784 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 10:12 PM:

Bruce #777: Also, telling a triggery tale is not automatically squick porn, especially when there's an actual point (or at least a blunt object) to the tale.

#785 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2014, 11:32 PM:

Serge, #765: The line I really remember from that movie is, "There's no Z in 'brassiere'."

Sandy, #767: "Kiss me Kate" is really just a modernization of "The Taming of the Shrew" (and in fact takes its title directly from the play). One idea that comes up fairly frequently in discussions of sexism in popular culture is the notion of doing a production of (usually) the play without the element of farce -- playing it absolutely straight, to illustrate the naked abuse in it.

Cassy, #769: Good for you! With any luck, you may even have given the professor some food for thought.

Bruce, #777: I emphatically would not want to see that on TV, and not just in the sense that "I wouldn't watch it". Yes, it's a disturbing story and points up a significant issue in our legal systems -- but you know as well as I do that if it ever got that kind of exposure, it would then be cited as an excuse (socially at least, if not legally as well) for exactly the sort of child sexual abuse that it was meant to portray as being the EXCEPTION to.

Adrian, #780: Not to mention the number of instances in which a child finally gets up the courage to tell Parent A that Parent B is abusing them, and is promptly punished for lying.

#786 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 12:51 AM:

Lee @ 785... That line too, yes. The things that used to be considered funny...

#787 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 01:30 AM:

We had our local community May Day maypole dance and picnic today. (Yes, it's three weeks after May Day, many years ago that fit in better with the local elementary school schedule and the weather's more consistently warm.) A bunch of the local musicians come and play, mostly old-timey and Irish and whatever the Mad Molly Morris Dancers' group feel like. (So yes, there was Turkey In The Straw among the tunes, sigh, which connects this to the actual thread.) Also various other traditions, like the park's donkeys being walked around, and the maypole being put up, using yet another new set of levers to make that easier, and the maypole being taken down again because somebody forgot to untie the ribbons while they were messing with the levers, and the maypole being put back up again, and the ribbons getting blown and tangled in the unusually strong wind when they finally did get untied, and much untangling until it was decided that no more untangling progress was going to happen, and musicians making snarky comments from the peanut gallery (well, from the shade, where we were at least out of the way of the ribbon-untanglers), and finally more dancing with the adults who sort of knew what they were doing on the outside ring and the little kids who were bouncing up and down with their ribbons mostly going in consistent directions in the inside. A relatively good time was had by almost all.

#788 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 01:49 AM:

Albatross@747: In a less busy moment, sure. But I was really looking for prior work, some sort of sustained effort over time to apply principles we're being told are so very important. Current conversations are good (and I need to re-read more Banks, this year I hope), but not what had really engaged my curiosity.

#789 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 02:11 AM:

Serge, #786: Well, the running gag about a reporter who can't spell is still funny. It's just the choices of words they used to illustrate it -- which, as I recall, was explained in the movie as being the result of Lois liking to cover the sensational stories and using purple prose.

#790 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 05:08 AM:

Dave Harmon@749

It's not that long ago that "marrying the girl/boy next door" was a cliche. If it's less common now, that's because of the increased geographic mobility in modern society. (That is, lots of people heading to other states for college and/or jobs.)

There's a wonderful statistic about how far apart married couples had lived before they were married: before the bicycle you generally married someone who lived within something like a mile and a half, afterwards that went up to something like five miles. The bicycle really was transformative in the ability it gave working class people to move around under their own steam. I can't find the exact statistic, but the reference is Perry, P. J. (1969): ‘Working Class Isolation and Mobility in Rural Dorset, 1837-1936: A Study of Marriage Distances’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 46: 121-41

#791 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 05:24 AM:

Cassy B@769
"The Taming of the Shrew"... ...I *still* hate that play.

It's one of those plays, like Merchant of Venice, which is difficult to say the least. I've seen a couple of productions, and Kate can be played a number of ways to retain her defiance. The thing with Shakespeare is the depth of character and the lack of authorial voice: these things are open to very differing interpretations. I keep coming back to Laurence Olivier's vs Kenneth Branagh's Henry V as examples of just how different a view you can have.

The Globe in London does a variety of productions, both modern and also "original practices" where the stagecraft is pared back to the Elizabethan. Whilst this has meant all male productions at times (themselves interesting), they have also done original practices productions with an all female cast: Josie Lawrence as Benedick in Much Ado and Kathryn Hunter as Richard III both stand out. I don't think they've ever done Taming of the Shrew as an all female version, but it would be a wonderful choice.

#792 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 05:37 AM:

KayTei@781
I dislike idealization of small towns/small communities. They can be just as abusive as larger cities.

Your points about isolation and nowhere to run are well made. I deeply love where I come from in rural Sussex, and have certainly never experienced any kind of homophobic discrimination there. But it's only now that I have lived in a very big city for a while, had the opportunity to meet a lot of LGBT people, encountered the breadth of their experience and, most importantly, married a really fabulous, kind and sexy man, that I could consider moving back there again. And that's coming from one of the most community minded, open and supportive villages I've ever heard of, where my 86 year old mother still gets knocks on the door on Mothering Sunday from six year old kids offering posies of flowers...

#793 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 07:52 AM:

Lee #785: it would then be cited as an excuse ... for exactly the sort of child sexual abuse that it was meant to portray as being the EXCEPTION to.

OK, you do not seem to be on the same page as me here. At this point I can't actually tell: Your page may be Bruce's misreading of the story which I tried to correct, or it may be something else entirely. So, just to have stuff out in the open, exactly what sort of abuse do you feel that the story is portraying "an exception" for?

Are you saying that Rqqvr'f (VVEP) snvyher gb qnza uvf hapyr nf na Rivy Puvyq Encvfg pbafgvghgrf raqbefrzrag bs gung zbyrfgngvba? Be ner lbh fnlvat gung uvf rapbhagre jvgu gur tvey qvq va snpg pbafgvghgr zbyrfgngvba, naq nalbar "rkprcg" Rqqvr jub qvq gung fubhyq unir orra chavfurq sbe vg? Be vf vg fbzrguvat gb qb jvgu gur guveq zbyrfgre, gur cevrfg jub jnf chavfurq ol Pnyynuna? Or something else?

#794 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 08:52 AM:

Well... I finally dug the actual book out of my back shelves, and I'm realizing I owe Bruce and Lee an apology. The story did indeed lead with Eddie as a "child [of 13] molesting an adult", with more complications than I'd remembered.

Summary: Gur hapyr pbafragf cbfg-snpgb, ohg vf frevbhfyl pbasyvpgrq, naq gurl bayl unir bar sbyybj-hc frffvba orsber Rqqvr yrgf gurve frperg fyvc gb gur tvey, ynaqvat uvz va ersbez fpubby naq gur hapyr va cevfba. Gur qvfphffvba nsgrejneqf vf nyfb n snve ovg rqtvre guna V'q erpnyyrq, naq fubjf gur onfvp grafvbaf bs gur vffhr. Gur puncgre urnqvat vf "Abj Arq, V nz n Znvqra Jba".

#795 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 10:12 AM:

Wasn't marrying the girl next door the basic plot of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" - next door being a bordello run by Phil Silver?

#796 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 11:00 AM:

Lee#777- I don't know if I'd watch it either, and I don't think it would work as well in isolation from the rest of the Callahan's series. I'd have hated it as a Michael Jackson video. But I'd like to see the whole Callahan's on screen, and this is part of the series, and it is a hell of a story.

Dave #794. You don't owe me an apology. I think we'd define squick differently, but that's obviously De Gustibus.

#797 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 11:45 AM:

Bruce #796: Well, at least I should apologize for #742, where you were right and I was wrong. And to Lee for #793, which wouldn't have happened if I'd pulled out the book first.

My basic position is that the age-of-consent/statutory rape regime is the unholy offspring of "solving the wrong problem", "something must be done, and this is something", and "the tool to hand is a really big hammer". There are better ways to protect kids, and other countries do them. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that any attempt at reform would would run into a "can't get there from here" situation, due to a couple-or-three congenital flaws in American culture. ("The past isn't dead... it's not even past".)

#798 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 12:09 PM:

dcb #779:

Yeah, I think there are a whole bunch of good things correlated with marriage, and it's pretty damned hard to imagine that much of the actual cause of those good things has much to do with a piece of paper from the state or even having had a big public ceremony in church.

In the US context, I think a big part of this is something Charles Murray has pointed out: There are a whole lot of good things that tend to cluster together, like marriage, education, economic success, low crime, few divorces, church attendance, few unwed pregnancies, middle-class or higher upbringing, political involvement, low rate of smoking, etc. Because they all cluster together, any one of them ends up kind-of being a stand-in for the whole cluster, though it's not clear which of them (if any) are causing the others.

My rather uninformed guess is that marriage is something of a stand-in for social class and intelligence and education. And also that single parenthood is really, really hard, so to the extent an unwed mother = a mother who's largely going to be on her own raising her kids, there's a pretty straightforward reason why she's going to in general be poorer and less successful than a mother raising her kids with a father (or another mother) who's actually committed to sticking around. The piece of paper from the state doesn't have much to do with the commitment, except that current US society, a lot of educated middle-class people use that piece of paper as a way of signaling that commitment and gaining some legal benefits from it.

Something similar is probably true w.r.t marriage and physical abuse in the marriage. The piece of paper from the state doesn't have any magical protective power, but different kinds of people do and don't get it, and that correlates with the kinds of people who do or don't beat up their wives/girlfriends, and the kids of people who do or don't have the social support network to make it hard for their husband/boyfriend to get away with beating them up. (Also, I suspect that a guy who beats the hell out of you every time he has a few too many probably doesn't seem much like great husband material.)


#799 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 12:19 PM:

In Jane Austen's novels, it seemed like the pervasive fear of women who weren't born with a lot of money was that they would either:

a. End up as spinsters, and thus living more-or-less on the charity of family members. (Or fall in social status enough to have to work, say as a governess or something.)

b. Marry badly, and thus fall in social class and standard of living. (Via marrying a drunk, a gambler, etc.)

c. Marry badly, and have her husband abandon her or sleep around.

I don't recall anything at all in her writing about husbands beating up their wives, though maybe that was just the background assumption, or maybe I missed the implications of some of that. That didn't seem to figure in an obvious way into the young women's concerns about marrying badly, but I suppose that was sort of implicit in the possibility of having a drunken lout for a husband.

#800 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 12:29 PM:

Dave:

In general, the murder rate among men is *enormously* higher than among women, both as perpetrators and criminals. Similarly, the incarceration rate among men is enormously higher. (Sometimes people point out the differences in these rates between races, but I'm pretty sure the differences in these rates by sex are much, much bigger.)

Murder is usually done by someone who knows you. (It's not easy even for really nasty people to actually kill someone intentionally, and everyone knows that the police and justice system take murder pretty seriously. So most people need a really strong personal reason to kill someone, which they just don't have with a stranger. (I think the most common exception is gang-related murder.) But I think women are far more likely than men to be murdered by a lover or spouse. This makes sense--most romantic couples are male/female, and in nearly all of those, the man is much bigger and stronger than the woman, and men are in general much more inclined to violence. I don't know what domestic violence looks like in gay couples, but I imagine the dynamic is somewhat different, because you usually won't have the size/strength difference. But I am speaking from ignorance here, so someone should correct me if I'm wrong.

#801 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 12:34 PM:

Me #797: Well, at least I should apologize for #742, where you were right and I was wrong. And to Lee for #793, which wouldn't have happened if I'd pulled out the book first.

OK, I need to work on a little something here. I hereby do apologize for these things: I'm sorry for going off half-cocked and calling folks wrong when they weren't.

#802 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 01:11 PM:

Dave H., #794: Guvf jnf cbegenlrq nf n pbafrafhny eryngvbafuvc, vavgvngrq ol gur puvyq, juvpu jbhyq unir pnhfrq ab qnzntr gb nalbar vs yrsg nybar, naq gur qnzntr jnf qbar ol vgf qvfpbirel naq gur (nethrq) zvf-nccyvpngvba bs puvyq frk nohfr ynjf.

Ubj znal nohfref nyernql hfr, nf gurve qrsrafr, n pynvz gung gur puvyq pbafragrq gb gur frkhny pbagnpg, be rira vavgvngrq vg? Gbb tbqqnza znal, gung'f ubj znal.

I read the story, and it did indeed make me think very seriously about these issues. The conclusion I reached was that these laws are in place for damn good reason, and that mucking about with them to allow for "far end of the curve" exceptions such as Eddie was portrayed to be would do far more harm than good.

albatross, #799/800: It's very likely IMO that Austen didn't write about it because people didn't talk about that in that culture and time. As recently as the 1960s-70s, there was still a strong cultural belief that domestic abuse either didn't happen or was a lower-class problem, even though we know now that it did happen among all social classes.

Several of Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January mysteries include domestic abuse among the upper classes either as a major plot point, or as something mentioned in the background. But Hambly is writing for the modern reader, who knows damn good and well that the more autocratic the society, the likelier it is that those at the top will abuse those beneath them in the hierarchy. This is a major shift in cultural awareness which has taken place almost entirely within the last 50 years.

I'm sure you're aware of this, but the differential incarceration rate between races is entirely a product of institutionalized discrimination -- the same offense being punished much more heavily when a non-white person commits it than when a white person does. And this is true across all class lines; it's one of the places where even the poorest of white people has white privilege. The fact that those incarceration rates are then used to defend racist attitudes and racial discrimination is circular logic at its finest.

Dave H., #801: Since I saw 793 and 794 at the same time and it was obvious that you intended the latter to supersede, I didn't even bother reading the coded section of the former. Apology accepted; it's all good.

#803 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 01:55 PM:

Lee @ 802

the differential incarceration rate between races is entirely a product of institutionalized discrimination -- the same offense being punished much more heavily when a non-white person commits it than when a white person does

I'd like to see some substantiation for that claim; for homicide, the statistics would contradict it quite forcefully.

#804 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 02:08 PM:

Lee #802:

That was my take on the Spider Robinson/Fast Eddie story, too. (Though it's been many years since I read it.) Yes, in that story, enforcing the law led to an awful injustice, as well as the built-in nastiness Eddie endured from his new caretakers.

But that's true of *every* law, up to and including murder. The best legal system we can possibly build will have some cases where we put people in prison who should have been left on the streets, and leave people on the streets who should be in prison. I can't see any way we could change the laws to exclude the injustice in the Fast Eddie story that wouldn't make things a lot worse overall. That's based on my not-too-informed guess about how likely positive sexual relationships between adults and 14 year olds (which I think was Eddie's age in the story) really is--I imagine that nearly all such relationships will be some kind of exploitation, even though I'm sure somewhere there will be an example of some couple for whom it wasn't like that.

w.r.t. the black vs white incarceration rates, I don't think you're right. One datapoint: the murder rate among blacks is something like seven times higher than the murder rate among whites, and it's really hard to imagine that being just an artifact of racist prosecutions and policing. (Also in most murders, the murderer and the victim are the same race.) I recall reading somewhere that the reported race of criminals in victim surveys tracked quite well with the race of people convicted for those crimes, as well. I'm no criminologist, and I could certainly be wrong, but the claim that the black and white crime rate are the same and the differences in arrests and incarcerations are *entirely* an artifact of how the criminal justice system treats blacks vs whites seems like a really extraordinary claim, which needs some strong evidence.

The closest to that evidence I've seen (again, this isn't my field) are:

a. I recall reading somewhere that blacks on average get longer sentences for the same crime than whites. That's a statistical difference which may have to do with racism, regional differences (more blacks in Alabama than in Minnesota), money differences (public defender vs private defense lawyer), or all kinds of other stuff.

b. I recall reading that blacks are more likely than whites to get arrested for drug possession, despite using drugs at about the same rate. Again, we're talking about a statistical difference, so there are a lot of possible factors that explain it.

But that seems *miles* away from evidence that the whole difference between black and white arrest/conviction/crime rates is some kind of artifact of the criminal justice system.

#805 ::: anhweol ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 02:33 PM:

#791

I once saw a student performance of "The Taming of the Shrew" with all the characters played by actors of the _opposite_ sex; a good way of subverting the play without having to change much else in the process.

#806 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 02:38 PM:

"Go soakth thy head, it swells beyond all measure!"
- Katherine to Petruchio in Moonlighting's "Taming of the Shew aka The Atomic Shakespeare"

#807 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 02:50 PM:

Lee #802: And why then, was Eddie sent to reform school?

How many abusers already use, as their defense, a claim that the child consented to the sexual contact, or even initiated it?

Ghod forbid anyone should ask the kid!¹ Not interrogate them, not "convince" them to testify for the prosecution, but make it clear that they have the choice whether or not to have the adult arrested, the adult does not get a say in the matter, and ask.

The "very large hammer" aspect comes into play here too. If you're willing to accept that some sexual relationship involving a child might not be equal in all respects to an outright rape, you can still judge the relationship unacceptable to society... and if so, you can consider some response to it short of tossing the adult into a prison's worth of violent criminals, to be repeatedly raped for years on end. But of course, that wouldn't let prosecutors, police, etc. brag about how they "bagged another pedo".

I've also a rant in mind about how "exploitation" is not synonymous with "abuse" (f'rex, consider most of the sports franchises), but I'm trying not to start typing it out, because frankly I don't have the energy or time for that, or even to continue this discussion much further.

¹ Also one of Eddie's complaints.

#808 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 03:22 PM:

I almost posted this in the open thread as "HLN: Arts and Theater section", but it seems to be appropriate here right now:

We recently saw the new Mark Morris version of Handel's Acis and Galatea, which I highly recommend. The story is a basic "Shepherd meets nymph, shepherd and nymph fall in love, jealous giant kills shepherd, nymph turns shepherd into a river" sort of thing. One thing that struck both of us was that when the giant, Polyphemus, is first presented in the dance he's shown "playfully" molesting pretty much the whole dance chorus, male and female -- "playfully", that is, in that while you can tell that Polyphemus considers it play, it is unambiguously shown as assault. We appreciated seeing that aspect made so clear, realizing how easily, or how recently, it might not have been.

#809 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 03:35 PM:

Dave Harmon @807:

I haven't read the story - I'm really not a Callahan's fan, but can I just stop you right here?

If you're willing to accept that some sexual relationship involving a child might not be equal in all respects to an outright rape, you can still judge the relationship unacceptable to society... and if so, you can consider some response to it short of tossing the adult into a prison's worth of violent criminals, to be repeatedly raped for years on end. But of course, that wouldn't let prosecutors, police, etc. brag about how they "bagged another pedo".

1. Do not start down the road of comparing things to "outright rape". If that's not the territory of "rape-rape" vs date rape, minimization and insinuations that the victim just changed her mind, it's no further than the next county over.

2. The age of consent exists for two closely-related reasons. One is to prevent adult-child relationships with power differentials; the other is because the law recognizes that children don't have the judgment to agree to sexual relationships. And any adult who is considering it should know that. No matter what the child says.

Let me tell you a story, ROT-13'd because trigger. Jura V jnf fvk lrnef byq, na nqhyg nfxrq zr vs V jnagrq gb tb vagb n ybpny tnentr naq qb fbzrguvat "sha". V fnvq lrf. Ur gura gbbx zr va gurer oruvaq gur genfu pnaf naq unq frkhny vagrepbhefr jvgu zr.

I have spent years working through the damage that that incident caused me. But, technically, I did say yes...and I'm still working through the damage and blame that that fact gives rise to. And even though I was incapable of adult consent, there's always someone who wants to say that because a small child said yes, it wasn't "outright rape".

3. Do not conflate the failure of the prison system to protect its inmates with justice, and do not use that failure to say that laws should not be enforced. Prison rape is wrong under all circumstances.

4. Do not project the attitudes of straw policemen who boast of "bagging another pedo" on the people in this community who think that children are incapable of consent.

5. (More generally) It's worth remembering that tossing around hypotheticals about rape and abuse in company of any size means you are, more likely than not, doing so in the presence of people who have been raped and abused. If you must do it, do it carefully and mindfully. You may think you're angry and hurt about the topic, but consider the possibility that there are bystanders who are having a much worse time.

- o0o -

I think we are going to draw this particular subthread to an abrupt close, before I get really, really angry.

#810 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 03:39 PM:

I've lately been reading feminist criticism of 'carceral feminism'. It's interesting stuff. I wish Ellen Willis were alive today.

#811 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 03:44 PM:

Many years ago, in the city where I then lived, there was a major scandal involving a counselor at a center for street kids, who had had a sexual relationship with one of the kids.

My daughter, who was on the periphery of that culture (a little older, and never had to run away from home) remarked that to her, such relationships seemed inevitable, because she had always found the guys in her age group to be ignorant and poorly educated and just not very interesting to hang out with.

She ended up, after a number of less satisfactory relationships, married to a man she first met when she was a child and he was an adult. All of my kids from that clutch ended up marrying people from an older generation.

I'm aware that this kind of thing figures in many abusive relationships across age groups, but I don't think it is always abusive. There will be some kids like my kids who were, let's say, precocial. That is, *actually* more mature than most of their age mates. (They also did things like go to college at 12, have a thriving business at 10 etc. Oddly, they don't seem to have gotten old too early.)

I felt I had to intervene only once. One of the girls was living with a man old enough to be her father, and while they were visiting once, I saw him treating her like a child (not something I'd seen before). I invited him "into my office" and told him that if she was old enough to have sex with (she was in fact, an adult at the time), she was old enough for him to treat her as an equal. He apologized and as far as I know, he didn't do it again. She had quite a temper, and I imagine she would have corrected him if I had not.

#812 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 03:45 PM:

abi #809: Fair enough, and I'm sorry for the upset I've apparently caused you and presumably others.

#813 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 03:48 PM:

I should perhaps say that I have since reared another clutch of kids, whose relationships are much more conventional. One is married, to someone almost exactly his own age and another is engaged to someone a few years older than herself. The other two remain as yet unattached.

#814 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 03:50 PM:

Sorry, abi, I didn't see your post in time.

#815 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 03:57 PM:

Dave:

The nightmarish prison where Eddie's uncle went, and the nightmarish orphanage where Eddie went, were both horrible places that ought not to exist. (And prison rape, and rape of juveniles in detention, are both horribly common in the US.) But those horrible places are sort-of independent of the way the age of consent laws work. You can have humane prisons where nobody gets raped and decent orphanages where nobody gets raped, and you still have to decide what to do when it comes to the attention of the authorities that a 14 year old kid is having sex with his adult uncle who's raising him.

And I just don't see any way that child protective services could respond to finding out that this was happening that wouldn't involve taking Eddie away from his uncle and making sure his uncle never had unsupervised access to minors again. Because my guess, based admittedly on very little data, is that this kind of relationship is probably not a good thing for the 14 year old, like 99+% of the time. (And if that's not true for 14 year olds, there's probably some age for which it's true--what if Eddie had been 12? Or 10? But really, I have a hard time thinking a sexual relationship between an adult and a 14 year old is at all likely to be a positive thing for the 14 year old.)

The alternative is having an overworked social worker and family law judge and prosecutor try to figure out which relationships are exploitative and which ones are not, over a very wide range of ages. (If there's no age of consent law, the judge presumably gets to decide about 17 year olds' having sex with adults, too.) I am really skeptical that the social worker and judge and prosecutor are up to the job of figuring out which relationships are exploitative and which aren't. (Though I guess the prosecutor still has the discretion to not prosecute the uncle.)

So I saw this story as being about a more-or-less unfixable tragedy, like a story about someone being imprisoned for a murder he didn't commit based on really damning circumstantial evidence. And I think that was largely Fast Eddie's conclusion, too, at the end of the story.

#816 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 04:00 PM:

Sorry, abi, I didn' t see your post until after I posted.

#817 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 04:30 PM:

Serge @795:
Wasn't marrying the girl next door the basic plot of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" - next door being a bordello run by Phil Silver?

This is one of the reasons I love that film so much: it works as a Roman comedy as well as as a modern one (in the same way that Donna Tartt's The Secret History works as a Classical Greek story as well as a modern one.)

If the Romans had had TV Tropes, The Well-Born, Unaccountably Virginal Girl In The Brothel would be one of the longest pages. It's all over Roman comedy, though it has no parallel that I'm aware of in the Greek. Cultural differences, basically.

Must watch it again, particularly since I'm now earwormed with the title tune.

#818 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 04:46 PM:

abi @ 817... And the romance's facilitation by the family's servant for his own selfish reasons *and* because he likes his naïve young master also popped up in Molière's plays.

#819 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 04:52 PM:

Serge @818:

That's because Molière's plagiarized from Terence and Martial*. So did Shakespeare. So did everybody, and Terence and Martial weren't using original plots either.

-----
* though he was careful to always call it "research"

#820 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 04:59 PM:

abi @ 819... Heheheh... A variation can often be found in the Marx Brothers movies.

#821 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 05:01 PM:

abi @ 819... Steal from the best, eh? A variation can often be found in the Marx Brothers movies.

#822 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 05:05 PM:

(I thought the first response had been eaten up)

#823 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 05:06 PM:

abi (819): though he was careful to always call it "research"

And now I'm earwormed with that.

Thanks, I think.

#824 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2014, 08:15 PM:

Julian Rathbone's short story "Damned Spot", which I have on my shelves somewhere, is both a work of historical fiction and meditation on the fact that historical fiction is a contrivance for a modern audience. In one scene, the young Shakespeare asks Marlowe for advice on the craft of playwriting, and Marlowe gives him the same advice, word for word, that Lehrer recalls getting from Lobachevsky.

#825 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 02:30 AM:

Marlowe is depicted as having a friend in Minsk?

#826 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 05:44 AM:

That's because Molière's plagiarized from Terence and Martial
The fight scenes are from Martial, of course.

#827 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 06:31 AM:

praisegod barebones @ #825: Just the basic advice, not the full case study.

James Moar @ #826: LOL. And when I say that, it actually happened.

#828 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 04:18 PM:

Trollope's _Watch and Ward_ is about marrying the ward; it might turn up in his _Reverberator_, too. And it's all over Gothics, with the motive often being real property, not the young woman: the ward has wasted her inheritance and needs to prevent discovery.

Lydy Nickerson, IIRC Marx himself was pretty clear on women being a class. One can even derive it from our relationship to the reproduction of labor (housekeeping, emotional labor, pregnancy and childrearing).

#829 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 04:28 PM:

828
More likely, the guardian is wasting the inheritance, and wants to prevent the ward from finding out (far easier when women didn't have access to bank accounts and all).

#830 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 04:34 PM:

yes, that's what I should have said! Only male wards are allowed to waste their inheritances (PHMT).

#831 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 06:01 PM:

Getting back a bit to the discussion that led us here, in the form I probably should have started with:

What SF/F books do a really good job of drawing you into a worldview that's not your own, but that's interesting to visit and understand?

I'm a sort-of lapsed-libertarian, a Roman Catholic middle-aged white guy with a job, a mortgage, a wife, and three kids. I'm not so interested in books that are lectures on what I should believe, or that are horribly dark and depressing, but I am interested in books that will help me see a side of the world I'm not used to seeing.

#832 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 07:49 PM:

albatross @831: I'm not sure if this counts, but there was a lovely Sherlock fanfic (possibly readable to people who haven't watched the show, if you're good at picking up incluing; no canon plot is involved) I read recently from the POV of a face-blind protagonist, called Say My Name.

#833 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 07:55 PM:

Without continuing the subthread, I'd like to try to complete my apology. Looking back at #807, it's clear that I had already become emotionally exhausted, and consequently was not writing "carefully and mindfully". I should not have posted it, and I am sorry for doing so and for all hurt it caused those who read it.

#834 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 08:54 PM:

albatross #831: When you say "not your own", are you specifically considering human-type viewpoints? Just glancing around my bookshelf:

Vernor Vinge's two space operas do passably well with alien viewpoints, and both Baxter and Bear occasionally succeed in doing so, but IMHO Brin does it better, especially in The Uplift War. And Don Sakers' The Leaves of October seems guaranteed to have me in tears no matter how many times I reread it. Robert Asprin does a surprisingly good job in The Bug Wars.

For more-or-less human viewpoints... There's Brin again -- offhand, Kiln People, where technology seriously messes with the human viewpoint. James Clemens' Shadowfall & Hinterland had human viewpoints, but very different from me. Feist's Kelewan trilogy offers a deeply foreign society, almost alien from my perspective. And then of course there's Octavia Butler (e.g. Imago), and Ursula Le Guin (The Wind's Four Quarters is particularly striking). Barry Hughart offers us #10 Ox and a spectacular view of his fantastic China, while Jane Lindskold¹ brings her fantastic ur-China (and several more "natural" viewpoint characters) closer to home. Faith Hunter's pretty good too -- Both her Rogue Mage and Jane Yellowrock series have interesting protagonists, and she's good at putting the reader in their heads.

¹ The other month, I told a mah-jong player in a coffeehouse about the trilogy, and she started looking it up online on the spot. Also, IIRC I spelled her surname correctly from memory for the mah-jong player... but just now, it took me three tries to kick out the spurious "e"'s.

#835 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 08:57 PM:

For nonhuman viewpoints, I heartily recommend Three Bags Full, which is a murder mystery from the viewpoint of a sheep. No, seriously.

#836 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 09:04 PM:

Thank you, abi, for your honesty and courage.

#837 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 09:46 PM:

Lila (835): I second Three Bags Full. It seriously works.

#838 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2014, 10:06 PM:

Cassy B @ 769: I saw a very spirited, mostly reversed-gender staged reading of Shrew some weeks ago, and was struck by a parallel to your description; the papers then were full of the Jared Remy case (a husband killed his wife after years of abuse) complete with descriptions of typical abuser's controlling behavior that sounded exactly like Petruchio's announced plans for Kate. (Remy appears to have been abusing steroids since his teens and been monstrous just from that, but he'd also learned all of the mind games.) You had a commendably honest teacher; I don't think I ever tested any of mine in that aspect, and don't know how they would have reacted if I had.

#839 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2014, 05:53 AM:

albatross @831:

Perhaps some of the Tiptree winners or honors books? That gives you a filter for quality and you can look at other reviews to winnow out any that are depressing?

Otherwise, I think Martha Wells (particularly Wheel of the Infinite or the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy) or Elizabeth Bear are good at choosing interesting protagonists and giving you a look at their worldview. Or how about Karen Lord, Nnedi Okarafor or N.K. Jemisin?

(Here are the recs of someone else who says "monoculture is boring".)

#840 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2014, 05:55 AM:

Post to try and shake free one lost in a server error.

#841 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2014, 07:54 AM:

For underrepresented human viewpoints, how about Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring? Ti-Jeanne, the narrator, is a teenager of Caribbean ancestry raising an infant in the severely urban-decayed parts of future Toronto. And she can see spirits.

Or Ursula LeGuin's The Telling, narrated by a lesbian anthropologist of Indian ancestry, who comes from a world ruled by an oppressive religion and has traveled to a world where religion has been forcibly banned? (My personal theory about this book is that it's the author's thought-experiment in which she attempts to construct a religion she can respect and admire. It's similar to Always Coming Home in that regard.)

#842 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2014, 08:50 AM:

If you read horror, Tananarive Due's The Between would be a good choice.

#843 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2014, 10:04 AM:

Lila @ #835:

That sounds promising. Who is it by?

#844 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2014, 11:13 AM:

Three Bags Full is by Leonie Swann and Anthea Bell.

A little more about The Between-- it's a horror novel with suspense/mystery elements and some science fictional flavoring to the horror.

#845 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2014, 03:31 PM:

For really alien viewpoint characters, I can strongly recommend Gwyneth Jones' Aleutian trilogy: White Queen, North Wind, and Phoenix Café.

For human viewpoints with a very different philosophy/worldview than ex-libertarian Catholic, I'd suggest most of Kim Stanley Robinson's oeuvre, and Steven Brust's.

As for non-white authors, I'll second the recommendations for Nnedi Okorafor and Nalo Hopkinson, and tenatively for Tananarive Due -- I've only read one of her books, My Soul to Keep, and mostly enjoyed it although it had more on-stage sex than I'm comfortable with. Among newer writers, I'll mention Zen Cho and An Owomoyela, who've published mostly or entirely short fiction so far.

#846 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 03:21 AM:

Dave Harmon @833:

Thank you for coming back to say that.

#847 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 07:23 AM:

abi #846: And I thank you: Carol Kimball mentioned your honesty and courage, and I'll echo that, but I also want to thank you for maintaining grace and compassion, even from within your own pain.

#848 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 07:48 AM:

I thought of another SF book that hit me with a very different viewpoint: Walter Moseley's Blue Light. I found the book intensely uncomfortable reading, but that was in large part because the protagonist's voice and viewpoint were so strong, and bearing a great deal of pain.

#849 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 10:01 AM:

Dave Harmon (848): Correction to be polite: Walter Mosley, not Moseley.

#850 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 10:12 AM:

Mary Aileen #849: Right, my error. (What is it with "e"s climbing into people's names lately? I haven't even been near Ye Olde Chocolatte Shoppe! ;-) )

#851 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 10:27 AM:

Dave Harmon@850: What is it with "e"s climbing into people's names lately?

Are you making a stand against the "QWERTY effect"?

#852 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 06:05 PM:

dotless ı#851: Heh. Interesting article. Reading the initial findings, my first thought was "neuropsych can be creepy", but going down the comments, I added "fortunately, it has a high bullshit quotient". And I was thinking of the spurious-correlations site long before I reached its appearance in the comments.

#853 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 08:00 PM:

Dave Harmon@#852: I realized a few seconds after hitting "post" on #851 that I should have said "raising a middle finger to the 'QWERTY effect'". Too many years of touch typing meant that I wasn't thinking of the actual keyboard position even when writing about the topic.

I think a bigger "neuropsych can be creepy" post on Language Log recently was the one about deep brain stimulation "causing" a taste for Johnny Cash.

#854 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 10:09 PM:

dotless ı #853: Hmm, I think they're making a mountain out of a molehill on that one. On the other hand, commenting there I came up with a nice neo-proverb: "Mother Nature doesn't care if we watch what she does, but she feels no obligation to explain herself."

#855 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2014, 01:15 AM:

Dave Harmon@850: I failed to receive a workplace email recently because it got sent to "davide.goldfarb" instead of "david.goldfarb", so I feel your paein. (I assume that one was just a fat-finger, of course, since e is right above d on the keyboard.) Fortunately it was also sent to a coworker sitting near me, who could just forward it.

#856 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2014, 05:11 PM:

@855 D. Goldfarb: ah, the elusive Italian-Jewish-American spotted in the wild! No wonder you're a bridge player.

#857 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2014, 12:16 AM:

What do you know, Vox Day isn't alone:

http://www.thebaffler.com/blog/2014/05/mouthbreathing_machiavellis

(It's not at all surprising that he should have political fellow travelers, but that they also have his SFnal bent is interesting.)

#858 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2014, 05:56 PM:

In re 857: By the end of the twenty-first century, the pre-eminent symbol of freedom, should freedom continue to exist, will be mushroom clouds over data centers.

#859 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2014, 11:53 PM:

Kevin Riggle @ 857

Nancy Lebovitz @ 533 has a link to a takedown of Reactionary madness that strongly references Moldbug. Were it not for that, I, like you, would be going, oh, god, there's more of them?

Instead, I'm mostly grateful someone else picked it apart so i don't have to read the original. And that the link is there to point to as needed in future. because other events this week lead me to think I might need to.

#860 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 01:18 AM:

Here's a link to the text of N.K. Jemisin's speech at WisCon.

You can't imagine, unless you were there, what it was like to hear her deliver it in person. First of all, her physical presence was awe-inspiring; then she lifted up her Aspect and wielded her Attribute. The mere words are worth reading, but hearing her actually speak them was amazing.

(This is in no way to detract from Hiromi Gato's speech, which was like having precious gems poured over open hands you're too stunned to close.)

#861 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 03:05 AM:

I shall be at Loncon, God willing, this year. I hope Nora Jemisin will be, too. As we are in some sense colleagues, fellow-members of SFWA, I hope that if she is there, she will allow me to be introduced to her. I want to tell her that she is right, and I was wrong.

I thought it possible that this was all overblown. I was wrong. I have read the materials. And now I have seen the news.

She is right. I was wrong. I must make amends, and the first step is say so, and to apologise.

#862 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 08:30 AM:

I hereby nominate Xopher to go to all the cons I can't go to and report back to me.

#863 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 11:54 AM:

*experiences brief fantasy of making a career out of con reports*

*laughs at self*

Thanks, Lila!

#864 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 04:54 PM:

Xopher: would that make you a ... con man?

#865 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 04:57 PM:

Unless he goes pro, Mycroft.

#866 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 05:09 PM:

Here, now that I have it, is the text of Hiromi Goto's GOH speech at WisCon.

She makes some specific political points, but mostly the speech is about story and the power of story. (Keep in mind when reading the political parts that she was speaking to WisCon, and could assume that people already understand the need for diverse characters; at the other end of the spectrum from erasure is cultural appropriation, and that's not a good thing either. Fortunately there's plenty of space in the middle.)

#867 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2014, 05:23 PM:

Annnnd I referred to her as Hiromi Gato in my first post...there were some jokes early on about that, but I really should have spelled her name correctly even so!

Mycroft and abi, I'll have to carefully consider the pros and cons of that.

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