Saturday, February 01, 2014

Rant Mode: ON

     I've just about had it with people in general.  Especially partisans, which is pretty much everybody.  And double especially with the guys on one side or another who set out to "explain" why the dammnable types on the other side are brain-bent, immature, illogical, intolerant and incapable of reason.

     ...Though I admit to thinking they're all right: we develop our damfool notions first, and come up with "reasons" for them in hindsight.  From Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Rick Santorum, not a one of them has an internally-consistent philosophy or set of positions on the supposed issues, and as for any connection they might have to reality, forget it.

     There's politics and then there's the stuff we do to get through each day -- and to be able to look ourselves in the mirror afterwards -- and they don't have nearly as close a connection as we think, or at least not 'til Congress raises taxes or debases the currency or both, which as near as I can tell is their actual job no matter which party is prescribing the warpaint patterns or Ritual Grunts.  And even when that happens, we run to our old familiar lares and penates, we check our well-worn shibboleths and fetishes and read the same decaying chicken innards to determine the significance of it all--  And it ain't even crap.

     Take the current tempest-in-a-toilet-bowl over, of all the damn things, the use of binary gender tropes in SF and fantasy.  Some nitwit wrote an essay about how she or he (or whatever) wants to never again pick up an SF or fantasy novel and find in it characters who are nothin' but girly-women and big ol' boy men, and who lust for nothing but their binary opposite.  Nope, sayeth the pundit, that rubbish has got to go.  (Possibly he, she, etc. did not have parents, or was injured riding a bicycle to their wedding, but I speculate.) I am pretty sure the person who penned that bit is not the Editor-Emperor and High Admiral of genre fiction, but a great hubbub and furor has nonetheless ensued.   This has now grown, in a lumpy, cancerous fashion, assigned "conservative" and "liberal" sides, with very little actual relation to the fictional sex lives or butchness/femmeness of an author's characters.  (Heinlein seems to have got stuck on the conservative side, which must have Johann/Joanne Smith, Friday and Andy Libby Long well-puzzled) and one author who has taken up cudgels (or possibly a windmill-lance -- the landscape of the debate makes Bob Clampett's Wackyland look dull) on the conservative side has a character in his body of work who is a classic overachieving gay male closet case.   Meantimes, we can find a few on the other side who have got yarns fulla 1950s-model families....

     It's bullshit.  At every level and in every way, from prescribing how writers should cast their works to nattering away at one another about it, it is a complete waste of time.  Writers whittle characters for their roles; Genly Ai and Bedap are who they are for a reason, same as Ham Brooks and Monk Mayfair chase skirts and Bron Helstrom doesn't. Likewise cultures; I found Whileaway staggeringly conservative in mores and behaviors while the world of Venus Equilateral was not so much so. YMMV.*  Readers vote with their dollars and in an increasingly "flat" playing field for writers, what publishers will buy means less and less when writers can bypass them and get the stuff to readers directly.  (Sometimes this results in writers finding traditional publishers after the fact -- witness Marko Kloos, Larry Correia and probably Hugh Howey.)  Buy the stuff you like; buy it new if you can, buy copies to give as gifts.  Don't buy what you don't like, and if you're buying books for train-wreck amusement, buy them used. 

     Most of the noise comes from SF fan-types.  Fen.  Lemme 'splain you: fendom as a whole is a mind-destroying hive of scum and villainy, as pure and perfect an example of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds as can be found.  (Individually or in small groups, they're as fine a bunch of folks as anyone, mind you; it's just the swarm that's toxic).  When they thunder by, no patch of praire-dog holes can stop 'em.  And I'm kinda glad to see them kept busy -- but dammit, there's writers wading in, which means they are not writing new and interesting fiction, and that ticks me off.  Plus, this is friendly fire.  Or fragging.

     And all that mess?  It's a microcosm of the larger world.  Which is why I'm about done with people in general and partisans in particular.  Me, I'm not conservative, I'm not liberal; I don't want to police your vocabulary or your bedroom and I darned sure don't want any form of Authority doing so against your will unless you're a killer or a kidnapper, or otherwise engaged in force or fraud.  Is that a highly rational, logically arrived at stance?  Oh hell no.  It's the one I like best, is all.

     Same as the crazy crap you believe, whether you admit it or not.  Which you probably won't.  And I'm about done with that, too.
* Go wild sortin' those references out.  Or not.


Drang said...

Do please note that Larry Correia's point is mostly that putting the message before the story is passageways. Was it Dorothy Parker who wrote of an author selling his birthright for a pot of message?

Drang said...

"Bassackwards" =/= "passageways"!

Roberta X said...

I have noted it -- it's just that there's hours and hours of his time, and armies on both sides and... Well, geez. The time and effort would have been better spent getting ice cream or frozen yogurt or witchetty grubs.

Anonymous said...

Preach it sister.

Eck! said...

Read most of that and in my own way and from a viewpoint where WTF is normal I only suggest the initial writer needs a lesson in language.

A good story is just that.

As to the manifesto Corriea fisks
well. Because education happens.


Wolfman said...

I'm going to spend HOURS chasing these references! Thanks!

Ken said...

Any day with a Doc Savage reference is arguably a good day. (Also, for an amusing twist on a Doc Savage story in different camouflage, I commend the reader to the novelization of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension, penned by the screenwriter his own self.)

Roberta X said...

The Buckaroo Banzai film is probably the best Doc Savage movie ever anyway.

Bob said...

LOL. I'm always entertained when you go off on a rant, Roberta. It reminds of what Florence King once wrote of Southerners, quoting SC novelist Blanche McCrary Boyd: Southerners are polite as cattle, except when they're not. When they're not, they might shoot you or chase you around the yard with a hatchet."

And thanks, also, for lares and penates. Anyone who sends me to the dictionary to improve my vocabulary I have nothing but admiration for.

Bear said...

Well, damn. Looks like I went and got accidentally politically correct. Turns out not all of my characters are '50s-style hetero. And here I thought I did that simply because it made sense for where I was going with the characters.

PC... -shudder- It's almost enough to make go rewrite those books.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Fen make me ill. I haven't been near a convention since the 1980s for that very reason.

Roberta X said...

...Yes, isn't is *amazing* when you set out to write entertaining stories set in a realistic world, the cast quite often gets all....various.

I would not go so far as claim that SF has led the way in inclusiveness -- try as we might, SF stories are often a dialog with the times in which the writer lives -- but in the face of a green-skinned tentacular horror from the stars, a merely trilateraly-symmetrical, Victoran, overgrown land-crab or even just the unforgiving empty spaces between places with perceptible up and down, the difference between one's own dirt-colored skin and that funny-talking guy or gal over there whose hide is the hue of dirt from somewhere else gets to looking a bit moot.

Anonymous said...

Bob Clampett was a GOD!


Anonymous said...

Some nitwit wrote an essay about how she or he (or whatever) wants to never again pick up an SF or fantasy novel and find in it characters who are nothin' but girly-women and big ol' boy men, and who lust for nothing but their binary opposite.

Oh. Well, technically, that's not what the article said. The article said that they wanted to end the default of binary gender, i.e.: that people would pick up an SF&F book, and in the absence of other descriptors, presume that the women were girly-women, and the boys were big-ol' burly boys.

Yes, it's pedantry, but there's been enough misrepresentation of the content of the article (by the author herself!) that I figure it's worth correcting the record about what the article actually said.

I thought the original fisking that Larry did was worthwhile, because he really does get a lot of budding authors looking for advice from him, and if they're looking for advice from him, they're probably looking for advice elsewhere as well, and the advice in that column was (IMO) bad. So counteracting it was a worthwhile task.

I'll agree that the intervening kerfluffle almost certainly unnecessarily took up good writing time. ;)

perlhaqr said...

Uh, that last one was me.


Roberta X said...

Ummmmmm.... No, geez-dammit, that "default" as you have descrobe is in the reader's heads. There's no "ending" that, not even with mandatory Hungarian. People do sort out their fellowbeings by...well, gender-as-presented. This is gonna happen, among other things because we're hardwired to play instant games of "Kiss, marry, kill" in our interactions with the other humans.

Heck, it's even worse by your read -- the critic doesn't wanna just though-police SF/F writers, but *everyone* who ever read the stuff.

perlhaqr said...

Yeah, I didn't say it was better... ;)

markm said...

Bob: Off-topic, but where in heck does a phrase like "polite as cattle" come from? That's assuming it wasn't intended to mean "not at all polite."

In my experience (helping my Dad raise a small herd of beef critters), cattle are large crude creatures that will turn right just because they think you want them to go left. And that's just the ball-less ones (heifers and young steers). If the castrating rubber band happens to slip off before the young male becomes a steer, "bull-headed" will become a gross understatement by the time he's half-grown. (That point, about 500 pounds, was when Dad realized Billy was becoming too dangerous and took him on a short trip. Billy came back as a large pile of paper-wrapped freezer packages. I don't know if it was the young age, the mostly grass diet, or the testosterone, but Billy was some of the best meat I've ever tasted.)

Anonymous said...

I love a good Clark Savage, Jr., reference. People don't trot out Monk, Ham, Renny, Johnny, or Long Tom often enough, and that means for sure Pat Savage hardly ever slips back for a while either. And I could stand to see a bit more of her any day, even if Bronze Guy always steals the show.