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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.

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!

As an ex-Mormon kid who loved SF/F, it was natural that I grew up reading Card. Ironically, his gay characters in Songmaster and the Earth series (while problematic) were still the first semi-sympathetic gay characters I'd read, and part of my getting over the Mormon church's homophobic indoctrination. Weird, huh?

I've since come to terms with the feet of clay. I'm not buying any more of his books, but the quality, as I see it, has gone downhill. (Empire is due to be culled in the next culling. Goddamn, that was bad. The Boy bought it because he knows I loved Ender's Game but neither of us liked it.)

Songmaster actually taught me that men could have sex with each other and have relationships. I was 11. Thank you, OSC, for opening up a beautiful queer world that I would one day be a part of.

I had the same experience with Songmaster. (The whole "and then they DIED" thing went right over my 14 year old head, I have to admit.) I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that one. He is -- or was -- a true talent (Hart's Hope, Alvin Maker, Enchantment) and he's the one I do miss, but I'm hyper wary of dipping my toes back in that pool. Who needs it?

Until this comment, I'd never considered the thought that OSC himself may be gay, and what he spouts is what he has to tell himself to keep himself in the closet.

Hmm.

Doesn't excuse him, though.

I'm not buying more of his books, but I really enjoyed Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, and he was really kind to me when he found out I'd be going to Clarion. I'll still cherish the book he inscribed at that time welcoming me as a writer.

I certainly don't go with the view that all homophobes are closeted, but in the case of Card? I think it might be true. If you read his political columns where he goes on about how hot and desirable man-on-man sex is and how boring and difficult het marriage is and how laws must exist to keep men chained to women or they'll run off and fuck men like bunnies and the human race will die out.. yeeeeeah, think the guy has issues.

Hart's Hope was my fav.

I even got my battered, dog eared copy autographed.
THEN I found out how much of a bigot he is and well, now I want to burn the photo I have of me with him.}:(