Kind of at a loss for topics -- I could link to Penn and Teller's replaying of Luis Walter Alvarez's experiment showing you don't need a second gunman, but history's history and no matter what you think happened, it's long over. (Thanks to Whipped Cream Difficulties for the first link.)
Nope, I'm here to talk about Political Correctness. --Now you may cheer, thinking I'm about to rip speech codes and the kind of ninnies who get Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn thrown out of school libraries, and I suppose I am, too.
But what about you? I've had readers tell me none o' that John Scalzi SF has ever sullied their eyes, no ma'am, 'cos he is, you see, a Democrat and a lib'ral. There are folks passing up the amazing, pellucid prose of Kim Stanley Robinson on account he is Green-ish and has socialist leanings -- and never you mind that his work expresses some familiar concerns about individual rights vs. the collective or that he hammered out an entire novel about an underground, quirky revolution that seizes an entire continent. Across the aisle, nitwits are yet sweatin' over how to go see Ender's Game at the movie house without losin' their lefty street cred over supporting a man with such awful, horrible opinions on who otta be allowed to commit wedlock on whom -- and never mind that by the time the movie hits the screen, the guy who wrote the book the thing is based on has already seen about as much as he's ever gonna: Hollywood knows how to keep their money in town. There are folks who rail against Ursula K. LeGuin's fiction on account of her politics, both real-world and in print. And so on and so forth, all across the spectrum of political thought and personal philosophy. Is Robert A. Heinlein a staunch supporter of women's rights and/or* a dirty old man? Depends on who you ask!
Me, I kinda admire a writer who builds her own utopia and then pokes it full of holes (The Dispossessed) and while I think a world of Odonians would drive people insane at a far higher rate than she imagined, I'm glad someone ran the thought-experiment, especially in such an entertaining way. Would LeGuin and I agree on who to vote for, even for dogcatcher? Probably not. Do I read her work? Darned right I do.
See, over here, we have the writer, who may be a kind of mean guy with Red sympathies -- and over there, his work, which includes such libertarian classics as And Then There Were None. Yes, that's Eric Frank Russell, and yes, I have a shelf-full of his work.
Sure, an author's beliefs and personality influences what they write -- but the stuff's got to sell, too. Despite what those deconstructive critics are tryin' to tell ya, the work is not the person. It's just a glimpse through a bent kaliedoscope at some part of who they are and what they know. Charles Stross and H. P. Lovecraft would very likely have found themselves at odds on most issues from gay rights to the British Crown -- and yet Stross's yarns about the occult-intelligence agency "The Laundry" are just a Concorde flight (or step through an intradimensonal transatlantic portal) from Lovecraft's Innsmouth and Miskatonic University.
Read (or don't read) authors because of what they write, and let the politics go hang. It's not gonna pollute your head and you're not "sending a message" by not reading a talented author just 'cos you and them didn't vote for the same prospective oppressor.
Increasingly, we live in an over-polarized world; we might as well be Blue vs. Green (vs. White vs. Red) rioters in Imperial Constantinople. Depolarize. Read what you like -- and read to find out what else you'd like to read more of.
* Because I forget that to most people "or" is what I mean by XOR, while in my head, "or" is OR, with a truth table that runs: A=0, B=0, Output=0; A=1, B=0, O=1; A=0, B=1, O=1; A=1, B=1, O=1. For XOR, that last set, A=1, B=1 has an Output = 0 and all the others are the same as before -- which is how you end up with "one or the other but not both," the causal meaning of spoken alternatives, "either A or B," an eXclusive OR. What is it with you people? Mr. Boole? Mr. Boole?
4 weeks ago