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Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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An Open Letter
whale
catvalente
Seriously. You guys have got to stop.

You are showing your ass in public. I cannot overstate the aptness of this metaphor. This kind of behavior is exactly the same thing as running out in the town square, dropping your pants, and slapping your pustule-laden ass while babbling about the end times.

The Internet is the public sphere. It is not a private salon where only your friends will hear you and forgive you because they know you're a really nice guy at heart. Apologies to all, but fuck Usenet. That ship has sailed. This is becoming embarrassing for everyone. Why it's always people in my genre that feel the need to jump up and holler I have no idea, but seriously, knock it the fuck off.

I'm not going to try to talk y'all into, you know, not thinking stupid things, because I think we all know that's a lifetime's work and the truth is everyone involved has better things to do. Allow me, instead, to appeal to a baser, more primitive instinct than the basic fucking sense of decency that might lead you to not shit all over anyone different from you.

You are hurting yourselves.

It's a pretty simple equation, really. Limited lifespan divided by number of books it's possible to consume due to vagaries of money and mortality equals I am not buying your books if you behave like a fuckmuppet in public.

Oh, but it should be about the art, shouldn't it? We should separate the art from the artist.

Allow me to be frank.

I might be willing to do that kind of forgiveness for genius-level work. I can get through Aristotle and Euripides even if they aren't so hot with the chicks. Ditto Tolkien, Eliot, Henry Miller. I can stomach a little Lovecraft, even. I can just barely almost start thinking about Ender's Game and Wyrms because he wasn't spouting that shit when I read them. Hell, I'll even throw in Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale, (author is a neocon copyright illiterate sack of hubris) but Winter's Tale is the bargain basement lowest denominator level of genius I require before I even start trying to overlook your ass in my public.

For your derivative hacktastic doorstopper fantasy? Not a chance. You guys? Are no Winter's Tale. Y'all aren't even Wyrms.

It takes work and energy above and beyond the reading of the book for me to get over authorial fuckmuppetry. I am not sitting down to that task for pastel-covered, ______ of Made Up Word _______, sloppy Joseph Campbell blowjob extruded product. Especially since that product is likely colored by the personal beliefs of the authors, which are, in general, ugly and cruel.

Guys, learn this rule. Love it. Embrace it.

Every time you bloviate offensively on the internet, a reader swears off your work for life.


It is so easy to lose readers. A cranky day at a con will do it. A single bad book will do it. Insulting an entire swath of readers, calling them evil and immoral, or shouting their concerns down and swearing at them? Especially when SFF readership has rather a lot of the sort of readers you're likely to insult with this kind of nonsense? Will do it so incredibly efficiently it'll make Bookscan spin. Especially if you happen to be a midlist or indie writer, and can't weather decreased sales with a shrug and a grin.

Not to mention? If you really, in your heart of hearts, think there is a homosexual agenda, a PC army, a feminist conspiracy--why do you feel so comfortable and gleeful spewing bile about them in public? I assure you, the easiest way to determine who has power in a culture and who does not is to look at who feels safe to speak freely, and who does not. The homosexual/feminist/PC agenda? I'll give it to you in one sentence:

We would like to be treated as humans.

That's it. That's all. And that does not actually impinge on your right to be treated as same.

Some days I feel like the internet is a possessing demon, and when people I thought were on my team start slashing at me and mine with claws out, teeth bared, it was just their turn to be possessed. It's easier than dealing with the idea that I've misjudged people so badly. That I pass enough to earn the basic minimum of human treatment in person, but that thin veneer of passing is all that protects me from their dark, ugly internal drives, their fear, their rage. I don't want my "office" to be peopled with dangerously unfiltered folk who hate people like me, and only hug me when we meet because for a moment, I looked like them.

But I am digressing. I said I wouldn't try to change your minds. It's pointless. All I'm saying is that when given an opportunity to spend my $10 on a book by someone who hasn't personally insulted me and my friends, and someone who has? It's an easy choice. It's a predictable choice. And fortunately, not a one of you is making it any harder by writing such heartbreaking works of genius that I have to second guess that choice, even a little bit.

So, uh, thanks, I guess.

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Amal - great icon.

Cat - I was waiting to hear what you might have to say on this (these) matter(s), and may I say - you don't disappoint a girl.

You had me at "sloppy Joseph Campbell blowjob extruded product."

Nicely put. For the record, I couldn't finish Ender's Game because it was boring. Then I found out Card was a serious bigot.

I like Ender's Game, the whole series, really. I LOVE Wyrms. However, I will never pick up one of his books again. It's easy, because he's writing shit now, derivative of himself or angry anti-liberal nonsense. Helprin doesn't write genre anymore either. It's like they want the decision to cost me absolutely nothing!

And yet, I have to note that according to Bookscan, OSC is still selling enormous numbers of books and is clearly a tentpole for Tor to stay in business. In the circles in which we travel, it is likely harder to find someone who still rushes out to buy his books than to find someone doing an individual "boycott", but that clearly hasn't put a crimp on his bottom line.

If people really wonder why some writers keep saying awful things in public, it is because there is no reason not to, in the end. Hell, if the Scientologists can continue to have a major turnout for their annual competitions, this should be no surprise. (Plus, of course, there are plenty of right-wing crackpots who WILL buy books when they read right-wing crackpottery.)

I'd say Card is an anomaly. The people who have, of late, bloviated, are not nearly popular enough to take the risk and weather the decreased sales with aplomb. With the exception of Dan Simmons, whose example was not widely discussed or known.

John C Wright officially scares me and gives conservatives a bad name.

You shoulda read the post where he claims to have visitations from and talk regularly to saints and the Virgin Mary--only the said not to tell anyone so he can't get into it, really.

After the way this whole thing kicked off I don't even know what to think of reading authors I don't know well. I probably would have checked out Lamplighter's book prior to the panel from Hell. Now that I'm a girl and her apologies are getting less and less believable...I'm just done.

I'm really rather surprised that both members of a married couple pulled this in the same week.

And this is why you are a writer whose work I buy. Cause you write the entertaining and applicable shit. Rawk

I am not buying your books if you behave like a fuckmuppet in public. Hee. I love that, and could not have said it better myself. :P

Seriously, though, thanks for this.

For some people, having the internet is like having a bad case of Tourettes - all their least-lovable id-farts shouted at top volume to strangers. Sigh.

With the difference that Tourette's is a medical condition and the internet is an excuse and an enabling mechanism. That's like saying that listening to Depeche Mode is the same as being clinically depressed.

See, I feel that if these people are truly determined to be ineducable, they should keep showing their asses because then it's so much easier to identify and avoid them.

But the ass! If I'm going to stare at ass, I'd much rather it belong to someone I admire! I don't like looking at the equivalent of a giant, unwashed baboon's hieney. :)

For what it's worth, John, with encouragement from friends — including myself — has deleted that post.

And yet first he responded with more bile and then locked the post from further comments. The damage is done, and I certainly won't forget it.

but thank you. Sincerely.

The sad sad part about it is that you probably wouldn't be able to change their minds even if you devoted a lot of time and energy to it.

The other sad part is that a great many people in the world are split into such small groups that they only see their tiny little slice of reality and anything else is verboten! It takes effort to open your eyes and see another point of view and a lot of people aren't taught that growing up.

We seriously need to stop being ( insert term here ) with respect to each other and start just being people. People with equal rights, people with personal beliefs, people with separate faiths. People of all shapes and sizes and differing viewpoints and lives.

But still people.

I don't know what else to say. :-(

I hear you.
I have a box. I call it my Orson Scott Card box. It's where I put those authors whose -writing- I like, yet whose -personal viewpoints- I disagree with quite profoundly. It's the only way I can still enjoy those works of theirs I fell in love with to some degree or another before I learned how they felt regarding certain things. That way, my memory of Ender's Game, for example, isn't quite as tainted. Maybe I'll never read anything else by Card in my life, but at least I'll have that book, which made me happy when I was younger.

There are a handful of writers who've been put in my Orson Scott Card box. I cry a little every time I'm forced to expand its population.

In short: I agree with you that everyone deserves the right to be treated as humans. And a person's work isn't necessarily representative of their beliefs, and we don't always have to throw away the good stuff just because we learn unpleasant truths about the author... it just hurts when we do.



Since I only really like two of OSC's books, I don't need to make a whole box for him. And when one of these latter-day-internet-blowhards shows me a book that actually makes my equation lopsided, we can talk. But since their personal attitudes color their books, I'm not holding my breath.

What's with this year, this year?

corvaxgirl

2009-08-14 06:48 pm (UTC)

Was there some kind of sekrit meeting held where it was decided, o hai guys! lets make this yer fullz of race/class/gender/orientation fail as pussible LOLZ!!!! We're in ur community stealing ur respects!

Re: What's with this year, this year?

shveta_thakrar

2009-08-14 06:54 pm (UTC)

I think they're feeling their privilege threatened as more and more of us speak out, so they're reacting--like spoiled little children who were just told they have to share their sandbox.

*shakes head*

Not sure I would so love to have this sent special delivery to Will Shetterly and Orson Scott Card. I don't think Ender's Game makes up for Card's evil, and certainly don't think Winter's Tale is an excuse.

Just about the only person who's art is good enough to make me read in spite of his politics is Ezra Pound.

I say his because I'm not thinking of any women who behave that badly, though doubtless there are some.

Fortunately haven't read Simmons, and sure won't.

Yeah, there is a certain cache to male bloggers doing this, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a woman behave so badly.

I do love Winter's Tale, but I didn't know about the politics when I read it, and he's made the choice easy by never writing genre again. Not that I only read genre, but it's definitely a +5.

::applause::

Well said.

I understand where the sheer size of the Internet can -ironically enough- push people into like minded groups with little interaction beyond it. However, in a public profession such as writing SF/F, you will be exposed to other points of view. You depend on people with those other points of view to buy your work. How can you be so intolerant as to piss off a good amount of your potential readership?

And where the hell are other conservatives who should be pointing out that bigotry != conservativism?

You start to get the feeling like you're arguing with a Flat Earther after a while.

Given the number of people I know who are saying, "....who?", I'm starting to wonder if this is some kind of "any publicity is good publicity" bullshit stunt to get this second-rate hack's name out there. Not that he doesn't totally espouse the views he's spewing, but it does seem to have put him on a lot of folks' radars. :S

This sums it up. The Campbell line was priceless.

After reading Wright's post yesterday, I was cross-eyed with rage. I mean, I am the straightest mofo around, but that has no bearing on my empathy for ANYONE who gets denigrated so meanly and totally. And from a perspective that is inconsistent and based on "laws" that are highly subjective and designed to make some people feel good about their close-mindedness and lack of imagination.

He's a dick, pure and simple. So is Card. I read neither of them (although in high school aeons ago I was a big Card fan), and see no need to when there are plenty of other authors out there who write better and aren't dicks.

We would like to be treated as humans

This.

yes, definitely. all of it.
& i didn't know that about helprin, and it makes me sad as 'winter's tale' is an all-time favorite.

Me too. To his credit he has yet to say anything offensive about minority groups of which I am a part--that I know of. But his shit is arguably more damaging as people take it seriously and don't chalk it up to bigotry.

I agree with this. I have trouble justifying why I still really do like some of Heinlein's works - I'm not stupid and I have read To Sail Beyond The Sunset and The Number Of The Beast, so I have a pretty good idea where he actually stood on sexuality and women - but I think that some of his other works do make up in genius, and in sheer idea-stretching what his politics lack. If nothing else, what I can get out of a Heinlein book is a position to argue against, from a specifically-informed opinion, and that's often worthwhile. Wright, on the other hand, isn't writing anything that good, nor is he proving himself to be anything other than an amazing hypocrite. Card has gone down the same suck-hole. (I don't know Di Fillipo, nor do I read Mammoth Books Of Anything.)

It's hard to call myself a feminist and still read Heinlein some days, but as I say, at least I know that I'm not uninformed about his opinions in the event that someone wants to have a conversation, and some of his work is, to me, truly brilliant.

Heinlein ends up like a sci-fi version of Ayn Rand, for me: interesting ideas, terrible ideas, and an unjustified sense of superiority based on a messy mix of the two (Eldridge Cleaver's "Soul on Ice" has a lot of commonality with that mix, as well).

You can sift Heinlein (and Rand, or Cleaver, or whoever) for the interesting ideas, so long as you don't let the terrible ideas and superiority complex get you thinking you're [allthat+bagofchips]. So long as you don't let those pitfalls catch you, and your literary excursions don't net the author or estate any money, it's fine to cast the nets for the actually interesting ideas. Just keep your bullshit detector on and in good operating order :p .

At least, that's been my approach. I still enjoy authors like Card and Herbert, too, but I come toting my Fremkit full of grains of salt and my "Othering" polarized goggles.

Mr. Wright's disgusting, hateful posts have convinced me to never buy any of his books, to actively dissuage others from buying them, and to boycott TOR books too.

Aristotle says that when you work on being virtuous you become more human. Mr. Wright is active negating his humanity though he obviously thinks he's the virtuous one here because he doesn't fuck guys.

The problem with boycotting a publisher is that plenty of good writers who do not say these things are also harmed.

Like, say, me. My next book is from Tor.

(Deleted comment)
Yes, thank you.

And even if "I'll never buy your book again!" really does have no impact on the writer, it does have some impact on me: I will not look at my bookshelf and flinch, and be reminded of people who don't think I and my kin ought to be treated like not-quite-real-people. It's worth it just for that.

And saying, "This is not okay, and I won't stand for it, and I will do the only tangible thing in my power to demonstrate that it's not okay" is empowering, in the most straightforward sense of the word. Even if some of the authors -- even if most of the authors -- don't get a direct financial hit, it's still worth it. And some day, if enough people see and hear and agree, it may actually reach the point of being a financial hit.

Or maybe not. I don't know. But it's still a valid response.

boycotting bigots is good for ME

pir_anha

2009-08-15 06:06 am (UTC)

yes, this.

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