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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.

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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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?

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*