So apparently Jim C. Hines didn’t like my response to Tor.com’s blogger wanting to end the default to binary gender. http://www.jimchines.com/2014/01/fiskception/ Jim is one of those noble crusaders, best known for raising awareness and protecting authors from the evils of having attractive women on book covers (you know, that stuff the marketing department does in order to try and get people interested enough to pick up our product in stores long enough to read the back cover blurb, to try and better sell our books).
If you want this to make sense, make sure you read this first. https://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/ending-binary-gender-in-fiction-or-how-to-murder-your-writing-career/
I’m unfamiliar with Hines’ work. I think I might have been on a panel with him at a con once because it sounds familiar. I actually thought he was the new SFWA president, but that’s somebody else. I looked him up on Wikipedia. We’re the same age. He has an eight year head start on me for being published, so he’s been around. We’ve even written the same number of books.
Interesting. He wrote a “rape awareness novel”… I taught hundreds of women how to shoot rapists while certifying them to carry concealed firearms. I’m sure me and Jim will get along super good.
So let’s have some fun.
Since it is very confusing for the readers to fisk the fisk of a fisking, I’m just going to have me and Him here, and I’m not going to quote my entire original response. My comments are in bold. Hines are in italics.
This is gonna be a long one.
Not really. He mostly hits and runs and does some check listing. I’m the long winded one.
The backstory: Author Alex Dally MacFarlane wrote an article called Post-Binary Gender in SF: An Introduction over at Tor.com, calling for “an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories.”
One week later, author Larry Correia wrote a response to MacFarlane’s piece, called Ending Binary Gender in Fiction, or How to Murder Your Writing Career. (Side note: you’ll probably want to avoid the comments on that one.)
That last part is very interesting. You’ll probably want to avoid the comments… Why? Because I don’t edit them in anyway or “massage” them? Between the blog post and the corresponding Facebook post, I’ve got a few hundred comments. Of those, there are a handful that are very mean (this is the internet) but most of them are reasonable, and interestingly enough I’ve also got homosexuals and transsexuals who posted in the comments who thought the original Tor blog post was as ham fisted as I did.
I tried to ignore it. There’s no way I’m going to change Correia’s mind about this stuff, any more than his post changed my thinking. But of course, there are a lot of other people lurking and participating in the conversation,
He’s correct. Arguing is a spectator sport. You don’t waste your time on the already decided, you convince the undecided, and give ammo to your side. If there isn’t an audience, don’t waste your time.
and while I know this is going to do bad things to my blood pressure, I think it’s a conversation worth having.
Heh… My blood pressure is fine. Arguing with lefties on the internet is what I do to relax.
In my last fisk, I talked about how the blog post was angsty emo bullshit.
I wonder which is more angsty … an author calling for our genre to move beyond binary gender, or another author spending 4000+ words about how people like MacFarlane are symbolic of everything that’s wrong with the genre, and are destroying fun.
The original. Obviously. Nice check listing though. I wrote lots of words, ergo, that’s angsty… Or it could just be that I’m a WRITER who averages 3k of paying fiction a day, I threw that thing together while I was waiting for the matinee of I Frankenstein to start. Considering half of those words were a cut and paste of the original Tor article… Man… That means Jim Hines just wrote SIX THOUSAND WORDS to respond! Holy shit. That’s hard core!
PROTIP: Your editor does not like to pay you for the words you cut and paste from other people’s blogs. 🙂
Destroying fun? Quite the contrary. If you’d bothered to read the comments then you know my readers have had a whole lot of fun with this. Oh! You mean destroying the fun of reading sci-fi and killing off our slowly dwindling genre. Well, yeah. That’s sort of the point.
I wrote my post for the aspiring authors who might read Tor.com and think that Ending Binary Gender in Sci-Fi was good advice. I pointed out that when you write with the goal of checking boxes to satisfy the cause of the day, your writing will probably suck.
I agree that if you’re writing a story with the kind of checklist Correia describes, you’re probably going to get a bad story.
Yep. But I said it in a mean way that hurt their delicate lilac scented feelings.
But what exactly are the suggestions Correia objects to? MacFarlane never says all writers must now include at least one non-binary character. She says only that she wants readers to be aware of non-binary texts, and wants writers to stop defaulting to them. Not that authors should never write cismale or cisfemale characters. Just be aware that there are other choices, and make conscious choices about your writing.
Uh… No. That’s not what she said. For example, from the original:
– I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories.
—I want to never again read entire anthologies of SF stories or large-cast novels where every character is binary-gendered
I then went through why that was really dumb from a business perspective.
Jim then cherry picks through hundreds of comments to find the following super offensive hatey-hate monger, which proves that not only am I a bad person for allowing this hate speech, but my readers are knuckle dragging Klan members.
From the comments to Correia’s piece:
- “I am so tired of these pretentious twats. Err, dicks. Err… pre-op alternative genitals.”
That was an attempt at humor, as in I want to call you a name, but I’m not sure what the proper post binary gender acceptable genitalia are.
- “The hilarious thing is my books are filled with characters who are non-white, non-male, non-straight, occasionally trans and from a mixmaster of genetic and cultural backgrounds … But I don’t write books for leftist pussies so they’ve never read my books.”
Ah, interesting. I notice you cherry picked this one and left out the fact it was written by well known and successful science fiction author Michael Z. Williamson, whose books actually have tons of homosexual and transgender main characters, including the primary PoV in a few, yet the SFWA crowd you hang out with actually despise him even more than they dislike me, because as a libertarian and an immigrant, he argues against big government and statists.
- “If this is the level of education of the typical WorldCon voter, it’s no wonder the GOOD writers don’t win awards. These loonies wouldn’t recognize good writing if Earl Harbinger yanked out their guts and used the intestines to piece out quotes from Jane Austen.”
Yep. Somebody said something mean on the internet. Holy shit. How will you live?
Do we really want to start arguing about what one’s commenters say about one’s audience?
Why, yes. Let’s do exactly that.
From those same comments Hines warns people not to read:
- Aaaand once again the LGBTWTFBBQ community I refuse to participate in does not cease to disappoint. As a transgendered Iraq-war Veteran enjoying the GI Bill benefits awarded by my beautiful country I have plenty of time to read again, and I own everything Grimnoir, Monster Hunter, or Lorenzo-related (coolest character I’ve read yet Mr. Correria, please do it again, and take more of my money), I think I derive a special amount of amusement from this exchange.
Because you see, in the end, Alex MacFarlane doesn’t give half a shit about me, any more than she does about the ozone or whatever. She simply, today, finds me to be a convenient bludgeon with which to cow all the lesser unenlightened beings into her groupthink, including me. (Confusing logistics there, but yes, that’s how the LGBTWTFBBQ community treats any non-card carrying socialist.) Tomorrow she may not, she may decide to throw me under the bus for polar bears or food stamps soaked in methadone or whatever.
Whereas the kind Mr. Correia just wants to sell me books. In these books, monsters are fought (both the creature and man types) by badasses I want to drink with.
- Good lord. I’m an active member of a number of liberal groups, I regularly have discussions on cultural gender norms and sexuality, I actually think a study of historical gender narratives might be kind of interesting, and this kind of crap makes me want to vote Republican just to spite this person. Writing a character as non/alternative-gendered because you wanted to increase the diversity of the cast, instead of because said identity fit the character, means you’re writing backward.
For those of you who are decrying liberals as a group, keep in mind that this person is about as representative of the average liberal as actual racists are of the average conservative, or Alex Jones is of the average gun owner
Wow. Feel the hatey-hate mongery of the Monster Hunter Nation.
As for that first one where you play the humorless finger shaking card, here is the rest of the joke you left out:
Let’s not be Cisgendered Gendernormative Fascists. They’re obviously “twicks” and “dats”. Except for the ones that excrete eggs/and or sperm, and please, not on the rug. . .
How dare you be so domainist! Think of all the plants, fungi, molds, and plankton you are discriminating against! You should also be including seeds, spores, and mitosis in your post-binary gender message lit.
How dare people make jokes about such a super important topic? Don’t they realize the internet is for serious business?
I pointed out several of my posters on Facebook said their polite and disagreeing comments on the Tor.com site had been deleted.
If Tor.com is deleting comments for disagreement, then that’s a serious problem. But skimming through the 100+ comments on the article, I find plenty that disagree with MacFarlane, or argue with what she’s saying. Tor.com does have a moderation policy, so I’d expect comments that violated that policy to get booted. Beyond that, I don’t know the details of the allegedly polite commenters who claim to have been booted for not cheerleading enough,
He doesn’t know the details, so good thing he warned his readers not to read those details from my readers in my comments.
so there’s not much more for me to say about this one.
Except for when he does again later.
Hines obviously doesn’t get most of the running jokes here on MHN, so he’s totally oblivious why I talked about the Typical WorldCon Voter, but luckily you guy know how to combat the scourge of Puppy Related Sadness.
Because calling for an awareness that not all people fit into a simple binary gender system = KILL ALL THE SCIENCE FICTION!!!
Already pointed out, so we all know that’s not what she said.
What’s killing all the science fiction is the preponderance of boring ass message fic turning off readers and causing the genre’s sales numbers to shrink.
In other news, I believe we should do something about racism in this country, which actually means I WANT TO DESTROY AMERICA!1!!!1!
Well, Jim, that depends on what that “something” you want to do about racism is. If it is throwing more tax money at failed bullshit social programs that have destroyed the nuclear family in America’s inner cities, equal opportunity nonsense, race baiting, or the other typical divisive nonsense the democrats use to keep Americans divided into easily managed voting blocks, then I would have to say that is bad for America.
Now, if you want to bring up racial issues in your fiction, and do it as a compelling part of the story, awesome. I’ve done that, repeatedly. If you want to write some heavy handed message fic, then it will probably fail miserably. That was sort of my point that you insist on missing.
Adding a cut-tag here, because I am a merciful blogger…
Not really, because what follows is a confusing mishmash of the original, my response, and Jim’s response to my response. Mercy would be taking the original behind the barn and giving it the Old Yellar treatment.
How dare people want things! How ridiculous that people want things I don’t personally agree with! You empty headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction.
I suspect Jim is new at fisking.
Then I mistakenly referred to the original author as a he, and even put in that I wasn’t aware what sex Alex was.
- 1. Alex MacFarlane is female.
Hines pounces like a cat!
2. You ask what the default is that she wants to end. She answers that in the following paragraph. Which doesn’t seem to stop you from running off to declare gender = chromosomal/biological sex.
Don’t you just hate when words have definitions and stuff?
Cismale gendernomrative fascist? Whatever.
Jim wasn’t around for that part. See, as a writer who doesn’t “massage” his comments in any way other than deleting spam and the occasional crazy person death threat, I will often have people who disagree, and sometimes even really hate my guts, show up to argue with me, and holy crap, I actually LET THEM. (liberal bloggers just gasped) Somebody called me that term as an insult. I had to look it up. It made me laugh, so I’ve been using it ever since. (it means man born as a man who still identifies himself as a man and thinks men are usually men and women are usually women, and fascist) We’ve been laughing about it for a year now.
Because if you use the word cismale or gendernormative in a regular conversation and you’re not being ironic, odds are you are a pretentious douche with a gender studies degree.
What Correia is displaying here is his awareness that he’s making an assumption, his awareness that the assumption might be wrong, and his unwillingness to do 30 seconds of research to verify his assumption. Either because he’s lazy, or because he doesn’t see any need to treat people he disagrees with respectfully. Or both.
I didn’t look up the author’s sex and mistakenly referred to her as a she. Of course, I don’t actually give a shit what sex Alex is, because I’m going to judge an idea on its merits rather than the sex, race, national origin, orientation, or religious beliefs of its creator, and this was a dumb idea, but hey, hate monger or something.
But if Jim had read the comments, he’d know that one of my smart readers pointed out I was simply paying homage to Left Hand of Darkness with the Him pronoun. 🙂
As for me being the lazy writer… In 5 years I’ve published 10 novels, a couple dozen short stories, 1 novella, several hundred blog posts, and for most of that time I still had my day job as the finance manager of Utah’s small business of the year, where I managed millions of dollars worth of complex military contracts and government auditing. So safe money is on I just don’t give a shit.
I talked about what Tor.com wanted us to do. Hines disagrees with my assessment.
Read more carefully. The Western cultural norm is to genders; that doesn’t mean two genders is exclusively a Western cultural norm. See also, nickels are coins, but not all coins are nickels.
And yes, male and female are cultural norms in pretty much every human society EVER! Except Mesopotamia, India, Siberia, Illiniwek, Olmec, Aztec, Maya, Thailand, Lakota, Blackfoot, Indonesia, Swahili, Azande, and all of the other cultures that historically or currently acknowledge the existence of more than two genders.
Wait a minute… Other than the long dead obscure ones, I’m actually familiar with a few of those cultures and I call bullshit. Now, I’m not a gender studies major (my degree is in accounting, because I like not living on food stamps while begging my local college for a guest lecturer position) but I think in most of those he’s trying to cite like India and Thailand there was a small contingent of the population that was gelded, served as sex toys, or other corner cases, but even then, the norms in each of those would be male and female. And a couple of those he cites have to be a wild ass guess, because anthropologists know dick (or whatever the acceptable post binary genitalia is) about some of those civilizations.
But even if true, pointless, since I’m giving advice to aspiring writers, and unless they’re trying to sell books to the Olmecs or ancient Mesopotamia, then everything I said about sticking to story first and foremost rather than message of the day stands.
I said: Also, nitpick. Gender was a grammar term for how you referred to the different sexes. Being male or female is your Sex. Or at least, that’s what the word meant until colleges invented the Gender Studies major for those students who found Liberal Arts way too academically grueling.
Paraphrase: “Ha, ha. People who disagree with me are dumb!”
If you got a student loan in order to get a college degree that barely qualifies you to work at Starbucks the rest of your life, then pretty much. Please, gender studies masters who are living in their parent’s basement, go occupy some street somewhere and demand a bailout for your student loans.
Hmmm… You might be sensing Larry Correia doesn’t have much respect for the soft degrees. YOU THINK?!
I then said that I think story comes first. Never message. Story. I explained why this article was bad advice, in depth, repeatedly.
I … actually, I pretty much agree with him here.
Because I am totally correct. They know it. However, a mean right winger said hurtful things and interrupted the circle jerk of like-minded people telling each other how brilliant they are, so the wagons must be circled.
People read for story, not for checklists or quotas or lectures. I see nothing in MakFarlane’s article to suggest she believes any differently.
Except for the parts where she did.
Calling for authors to be more thoughtful about their craft doesn’t mean you’re telling authors to abandon story for MESSAGE.
And Jim does as much disservice missing the original’s point as he does missing mine, so now Jim is trying to re-explain what Alex meant. Good thing that poor young woman has this brave white guy to come in and explain what she REALLY meant to say.
But you know, readers also tend to enjoy stories where they can find characters like themselves. Which is easy if you’re a straight white dude, and gets progressively more difficult the further you stray from that default.
Oh, bullshit. Let’s analyze this for a second… Readers want to enjoy stories where they can find characters like themselves, but to libs like Hines, that always comes down to race and sex, or whatever convenient little box you can put people in. Fuck that. My average reader is probably a white male in his thirties, (judging by my sales and fan base I meet on tour, straight white males are the biggest single group, but really my fans are actually very diverse, but run with it for right now) yet my main series characters are a half-Polynesian mutt, a teenage Okie girl, and a man who grew up in foster care and is of indeterminate genetic heritage (who passes at different times for Hispanic, Indian, or Qatari).
Only my readers do find something of these characters like themselves, only it isn’t race. Owen’s culture is “military brat” and “gun nut” and “has issues with authority”. The first group of fans that “find characters like themselves” with my first main character were Libertarians. Faye is a homicidal maniac with a good heart. Lorenzo is a snarky asshole. They’re all people who get shit done. That appeals to readers who like the concept of get shit done.
Second, from a purely nuts and bolts writing perspective, if what Hines is saying is true (which thankfully it isn’t) then if you actually want to make lots of money, you would write your books with whatever demographic it appeals to, which would mean even less diversity in characters (which they supposedly want) or if you wanted to write about transgender people, you’d be limiting yourself to one tiny market.
Luckily, Jim is full of shit, so we can basically write about whatever type of character we want to, and if it is entertaining enough, we can sell that story. If what Jim said was true, then who would read about Miles Vorksogian? What’s wrong with all those white males who love Honor Harrington? Could it be that character is far more important than checking a box on an EEOC form? Unpossible.
Maybe if we want to write enjoyable stories, we should try looking beyond the same old default that’s been done again and again throughout the history of the genre.
You know what they call something that has been done again and again and again? A trope. Do you know why tropes show up so often that there is a hilarious webpage that chronicles how many times different tropes show up in different things? Because tropes WORK. If they didn’t work, writers wouldn’t keep using them.
In fact, I then very carefully explained that there is nothing wrong with using diverse or oddball or unique characters, cited some of the grandmasters of sci-fi who pulled it off, and then pointed out that when it was pulled off, it was because they were story first, message WAY later.
Yep. Putting message before story will tend to bore your reader.
Now, if the only way you can imagine including a “non-default” character in your story is to make it a Message Story, then guess what — you’re probably a shitty writer. You can have gay characters in a story without making it a Gay Story. Austistic characters without having to write an Autism Story. Black characters without having to write a Race Story.
So what the fuck is his problem? Oh, wait. I’m not a fucking cheerleader for stupid shit that tends to produce bad writing.
It’s a pretty big world out there. Why are we so scared to write about more than a limited, narrow piece of it?
Duh. We’re not. Only those of us who are actually making a living at this are going to write whatever character we find the most compelling for that situation, rather than suck up the special interest group of the week.
I then pointed out that transgender types are a tiny group within the human population.
Oh, yay. We’re back to quotas and checklists.
Because if somebody insists we cram them into every story, that isn’t realistic or truthful to what humans are.
Ignoring the uncited and inaccurate statistics here, let’s flip this around.
What? I said that about 1 in every 50,000 people have a sex change. That was based on a couple seconds of cursory Google searching, and the best answer I could find was some wild ass guesses, and since I threw this together between breakfast and leaving for the movie theater, I’m sorry I didn’t cite it like a fucking college paper, professor.
As for my only other stat, if you’d read those comments that you warned people away from, somebody brought up the extremely rare Klinefelter Syndrome and its 47th chromosome, and I even had a roommate with that so I’m pretty damn familiar with it. But only a small percentage of men with the extra chromosome show any symptoms, but if it makes you feel better you can pull of one of those .99s.
How many musclebound manly white men do I have to write about in my stories in order to convince people like Correia that it’s not a secret subversive left-wing liberal Message?
Interesting. Where in everything that I wrote did I ever say you need to write “musclebound manly white men” or imply anything even sort of similar to that? In all of my fiction, and all of my main PoV characters, I’ve got only one character that fits that description. But Jake Sullivan would still think you are a subversive left-wing pussy, but he thought the same thing about FDR. 🙂
How many big-busted blonde women need to throw themselves on my hero’s penis to satisfy his insecurities that non-white, non-male people might start to have an actual voice?
Again with the wildly incorrect guesses about what I write, with some really strange race baiting going on as well. Do you think it would upset Jim to know that I’m legally considered a Latino, and I grew up in a poor immigrant community? Probably not, because any diversity that thinks liberals are full of shit is the wrong kind of diversity.
But let’s humor Jim and think that bit of nonsense through. An author writes a manly white male protagonist who has sex with beautiful busty women. Yes. I too appreciate Captain Kirk. But wait… if readers choose to purchase this book, how does that harm some other author who wants to write about Hir Schmister Captain Fluffy Von Rainbow Tear and the Starship ElfSparkle? You see, writing isn’t a pie. If somebody else gets a bigger piece of the pie, that doesn’t suddenly make your piece of the pie smaller. (libs also struggle with concept when it comes to wealth) When you produce a product you take it to the market. If your product is appealing, then people will purchase it. The more people it appeals to, the more people who will give you money. If somebody else produces product also, and people buy that product instead because they like it better, that’s their choice. You can demand that this other author no longer write about Kirk, and instead write about Captain Von Sparkle Tear, but why the fuck would they listen to you? They’ve got pie.
I said that someone will bring up that gay people make up 1-4% of the population, but that’s irrelevant, because most of them still identify themselves as the sex they were born with.
Right, so you’re throwing bad statistics out about a made-up argument that you acknowledge MacFarlane didn’t even bring up.
First. Not a bad stat. http://www.gallup.com/poll/6961/what-percentage-population-gay.aspx That’s from Gallup. Second, I talked about lots of stuff the original article didn’t bring up, because this is my blog and I’ll talk about whatever I feel like, and I’ve had this particular argument with the literati twaddle-peddlers before, so forgive me if it bleeds over into the next one.
I think you’re wrong, because kitties are cuter than puppies.
Which has nothing to do with anything Correia actually said, but that seems to be how we’re playing the game now.
Says the man bringing up big breasted white women throwing themselves on penises…
Fragment? I think he started to type something and then got distracted.
In talking to readers, I find that most of them assume SF/F books will portray worlds dominated by straight white folks. Not exclusively, mind you, but the representation in our genre is most certainly not that close to the world we currently live in.
Wait… So now you’re saying that statistics and quotas should match the world we live in? I thought that was bad before when I pointed out transgender people are a tiny minority and if they showed up in books as often as they show up in real life, we’d never see them at all?
Meanwhile, all the hatey-hate mongers like Mike Williamson, John Ringo, and Sarah Hoyt are pushing all sorts of odd human boundaries in their sci-fi. Maybe those Typical WorldCon Voters you’re talking to should actually read stuff from the people they’re supposed to hate?
I talked about how if you change up a character, it should only be done for a good reason.
I agree. When you make a choice about character, you should have a reason for that choice.
Again. He agrees all my nuts and bolts writing advice is correct, but I’m bad, because of diversity or tolerance or whatever the buzzword of the day is.
Making a character male or female is a choice. Making a character white is a choice. Making a character straight is a choice. But it’s a choice often made because these are the default, and the writer is lazy.
Uh huh… Hear that writers? If your character is white or straight, or you didn’t make the choices that the super tolerant Jim C. Hines made, that’s just because you’re lazy… and totally not because that was the best fit for that particular character.
I talked about how check box diversity for check box diversity’s sake is tiresome and compared it to a little kid trying to blow your mind with how tall his Lego tower is for the 50th time.
I’m not sure what sci-fi he’s referring to, and I’m a little skeptical about how much of it he’s actually read, given his arguments.
Remember earlier, when I was making fun of gender studies majors? The difference between me and Jim is that when I insult somebody, I’m not a big pussy about it. I think he’s trying to imply that I’m not well read. Not only does Jim know that I’m a white guy who writes sexy white on white action, he knows how many books I’ve read. (sure, poor kid with nothing better to do than go to the library, who then put himself through college working at a bookstore, who then taught himself how to write fiction through read other people’s books, obviously hasn’t read much) Of course, we talk about various message fic done wrong and right in the different comment threads, but he warned you not to read those, because you might be exposed to hate or something.
But I find stories that explore a more diverse world, that present different characters and stories I haven’t read a thousand times before, to be much more interesting. There’s comfort and enjoyment in reading the same-old genre tropes and tales too, but Correia sounds a lot like he’s bashing a genre you’ve never read.
I never said you couldn’t explore a diverse world or have different types of characters, and in fact, explicitly stated repeatedly the opposite, but it is easier for Jim when the scarecrows he’s arguing with are wearing white hoods.
Also, screw you. My LEGO tower is AWESOME.
Sorry? What was that? I got so fucking bored that I fell asleep and hit my head on my desk.
And then I wrote more that pretty much goes exactly against what Jim is accusing me of.
ProTip 2: If the only reason you can think of to include characters who aren’t the default is because MESSAGE, you’re a shitty writer. You might be a popular writer, because there are certainly plenty of people who want to devour books that don’t challenge them in any way, but that doesn’t make you a good writer. That’s probably an argument best saved for another blog post, though.
Wonderful. I’d love to hear Jim’s take on what makes somebody a *real* writer. I like the disdain for popular (it was deserving of an underline!) I might not care for Twilight, but she’s a real writer. You might not like Harry Potter, but she’s a real writer. Basically, if somebody is willing to give you money for your stuff, you are an honest to goodness professional.
Note how judgmental Jim is here about what he deems to be “good”. People read books that don’t challenge them? How dare people enjoy themselves in a manner you don’t deem appropriate! Because once again, people like Jim are all about diversity as long as you agree with them.
It’s so much easier to argue with people if I deliberately misinterpret and oversimplify what they’re saying, isn’t it?
BWA HA HA HAAW HAW! Snort.
Then I’ve got 4 paragraphs giving advice, and how writers should use whatever character best accomplishes the task, and if some particular type of person doesn’t show up, if any reader cares enough to think about it (which they won’t) they can just assume that those people exist but didn’t show up in your book.
“Those People exist in my stories. They’re just not important enough to have speaking parts in this book. Or those other books. Or the majority of the books in our field.”
Heh… Pot. Kettle. Because of course, there aren’t any diverse or interesting types of characters in speculative fiction, a genre which includes stuff like shape shifters, and beings of pure energy, and psychic space dolphins… Yet earlier, Jim accused me of not being well read in a genre that has gender bending authors Robert Heinlein, Piers Anthony, Spider Robinson in it… Go figure.
I discovered that the original author was in her mid-twenties, and made a joke about it, because I know when I want advice about my writing career, I want if from somebody who just got out of college.
“MacFarlane is wrong because I’m older than her!”
No. She’s wrong because her wish to end default binary gender in sci-fi is foolish. I’m sure relative inexperience helped her come to that conclusion, but then again, that doesn’t explain the Typical WorldCon Voter who feels the same way, and their average age is one hundred and four.
Heh… Jim is new to this “internets” thing.
Yay. But yes, there are in fact people who think that maybe — just maybe — we should have stories that are more than mindless fluff perpetuating the same tired stereotypes.
Good. I’ve said repeatedly that writers should write whatever they feel like. This should also work both ways though, so when a writer chooses to write something you don’t like or you don’t approve of, even if it is big breasted white women jumping on manly penises, maybe you should just let that artist express themself, rather than sneering at them for not checking the proper box on your Liberal Butt Hurt Form.
There are also people who recognize that all stories carry certain assumptions and messages and “truths.” Good Triumphs Over Evil.
I didn’t know you guys still believe in those concepts. Oh wait, you’re being ironic.
Freedom Is the Bestest Thing in the Universe.
You want to know why I sell tons of books compared to most of you statists? That actually is my standard message. 🙂
Intellectual Arrogance Will Destroy You.
Okay, that one made me giggle. One note though, disagreeing with you assholes doesn’t make somebody anti-intellectual, because that assumes you deserve the title. Intellectual my ass. Judging by all my fans I’ve visited at NASA and Rocket City recently, we’re all laughing at your humanities degree.
If Correia thinks his own personal bullshit doesn’t shape the stories he writes, then he’s a fool.
Again, in the very post he’s flailing about trying to fisk, I clearly said we all put messages into our stories, only you need to concentrate on the story first if you want to make it as a professional, and lay off the heavy handed message fic until you’ve got the skills to pull it off.
Also, damn. Bitter, much?
BOOM! Internet Arguing Checklist FTW! #2 Disqualify That Opinion, subcategory: You Must Be Angry.
But yeah, when I watch my favorite genre shrinking, and I see fewer and fewer Americans reading because they’ve been turned off or they’re tired of being insulted or preached at by their entertainment, and I watch people like you trying to shove political correctness down new writer’s throats, it makes me biter. I’ve seen skilled and talented young writers come along and damage their careers while trying to incorporate all the liberal angst box checking into their fiction. I’ve seen the SFWA types rundown people they disagree with, or actively campaign against some writers because they fall into some category of diversity that it is okay to hate. I watch no talent hacks attack grandmasters like Mike Resnick for sinning against the proper groupthink, even when the Resnicks of the world have done more to promote sci-fi and fantasy to the masses than a hundred Scalzis or Hines or Jesmins or Haydens or whichever activist it is out there railing against the proper cause of the day, and telling our customer base how stupid, backwards, racist, and hate filled they are.
Don’t worry, I’m sure there will be another panel at WorldCon called “Why is Sci-Fi Readership Shrinking?” and then the answer will be shit like ending binary gender.
I said something similar in the last post, about message fic being boring and turning off readers. (what would I know, I’ve just got hundreds of comments from fans who’d given up on reading for these exact reasons, before being drawn back by something they actually enjoyed).
You know what’s boring? Yet another book about manly straight white dudes doing manly straight white things.
Pause with me, gentle reader, and think about who is really the one filled with bias and hate here… Manly straight white dudes, doing manly straight white things? Like what? If Hines is bitching about popular books that people actually purchase, then I’d assume those “manly white” things would include things like having adventure, exploring new worlds, fighting for their beliefs, and having a really good story. You know, stuff readers actually like to purchase. I’m not the one saying that other races, sexes, and orientations can’t make awesome characters, he’s the one implying readers are all stupid and you just want WHITE MAN SMASH!
As much as Jim has tried to take me to task, he’s only really helped demonstrate exactly what I’ve been talking about.
You can’t preach about how boring conformity is bad for the genre, then spend 4000 words arguing with someone trying to challenge a piece of that genre conformity.
Like I said, cut and paste, but I’m assuming Jim doesn’t come from a STEM background.
And again, characters? Write whatever tells the best story. The only boring conformity I’m against is this bland politically correct leftism masquerading as intellectual thought.
Okay, obviously you can do that, but I think it’s rather silly.
Apparently I’ve got thousands of readers who disagree with you, but we’ve already established you think they’re all hateful and stupid.
I made fun of university humanities speak.
Writing should be simple and basic. “Invisible prose.” Because Conformity. Or something.
Yep. A standard liberal SFWA member is lecturing one of the handful of outspoken conservative sci-fi/fantasy writers about conformity.
You realize that’s what El-Mohtar is saying, right? That we need to stop recognizing women writers as curiosities, noteworthy because, “Hey look, a woman wrote something good!” That we need to move past the assumption that all of the great works of literature were written by men. That we need to stop ignoring women’s accomplishments just because they’re women.
So, the guy hung up on forced diversity, angry at white people doing white things, is lecturing me, the person that doesn’t give a shit what equipment the writer has, about recognizing people’s accomplishments… But don’t worry, the brave sensitive white male champion has swooped in to explain what the female minority author REALLY meant to say. 🙂 (oh, how that irks them so).
Because nothing is going to make an author successful like copying things that were unpopular before.
MacFarlane: “I want to talk about these books and stories that don’t get a lot of attention, and expand the kind of stories we read and create.”
Correia: “Copying unpopular stuff will make you unsuccessful!”
Good thing Hines is such a more eloquent communicator than the original author to clear that up.
Bored now. I hope Correia moves on to something new and interesting soon. The same old misreading and straw-manning is getting dull.
As usual, I’ll leave the relative entertainment value up to the audience to decide. 🙂
I then got into the nitty gritty of making it as a professional author, and how that requires quality over message. I also pointed out that most of the beloved message fic stuff isn’t commercially viable. It is a good way to get praised by the popular kids at SFWA while making very little money.
I went into the report for the Guardian that revealed most published authors don’t make very much. Contrary to the image many aspiring authors have, most of us don’t make enough to live on. Most of us keep our day jobs and write on the side as a second job, or we’re supported while our spouse works. The average makes somewhere around $30k a year (if I recall correctly it was like $28K). Only the top 1% makes over 100k.
I’ve done very well for myself. I’m financially blessed and successful. I’m well into that 1% now. Part of that is luck and being at the right place at the right time, but most of it is from hard work, being analytical about my market and how to grow my fan base, being a self-promoting machine, but most of all, trying to tell an entertaining story that will make my fans happy.
I pointed out that you could either take the advice of somebody who is making it as a professional writer, or you could take the advice of somebody who just got out of college.
Correia makes more money than you. Therefore he’s right.
On the topic of making a living as a writer, damn right I am.
I’ll certainly grant that Larry Correia is a successful writer.
And oh how that infuriates some folks. 🙂
Therefore you should do what he does.
Concentrate on story first, and message way down the list. Yes, yes you should.
So is Ursula LeGuin. Who wrote an amazing novel about non-binary gender that’s still popular today. Therefore you should do what she does.
Ah, but if you read the comments that you tried to warn people away from, you’d see the part where LeGuin went and spoke at a university and explained that Left Hand of Darkness wasn’t ever intended to be message fic, she put STORY FIRST, and wrote what she was interested in at the time… Which is what I’ve been saying the whole time.
Look, NOBODY IS SAYING THAT STORY ISN’T IMPORTANT, or that you shouldn’t put story first.
Except for when you insult other authors for their character choices, or call them lazy for not doing what you want them to do? Or that you need to end the norm? Or that you never want to read another book with gender norms again? But that’s totally not telling people what to do! You’re just guiding them so that we can all be diverse in the exact same way!
That bullshit may work on the new writers who don’t know any better, or the squishy headed ones forever interested in appeasing the cool kids or someday joining the cool kid’s clique, but those of us who’ve been through this grinder and who understand how to write and just want to make a living can safely tell you to go fuck yourself (in whatever post binary gender manner you choose to go fuck yourself in) then we write what we want.
What they’re saying is that there are more stories out there, and more characters, and more possibilities to explore.
Set that straw on fire! You know a crazy possibility to explore? A future where consumers still purchase science fiction novels because leftists suck wads have failed to drive everyone away.
She said she wanted a conversation, I said just not in the blog comments…
Oh for fuck sakes, how about reading the blog and Facebook comments you warned everyone not to read, where people have reposted their comments that were removed? Wait. I forgot. I’m talking to a leftist, where eyewitness testimony is anecdote not evidence. Now, if that testimony was quoted in Salon or Mother Jones, that’s evidence.
Yep. How dare she wish for books to more accurately reflect the diversity of the real world…
Wish in one hand… I’ve already explained that repeatedly, and if your speculative fiction did accurately reflect the real world, and it took place anywhere other than Space Berkley, you probably wouldn’t have any transgender characters anyway. Luckily, your fiction can reflect whatever reality you choose to build, so you can write whatever you want.
Characters who are not straight or white or cisgendered male or whatever Larry Correia and most of the rest of the world thinks of as the default have a reason to be included in the story. (Fortunately, white dudes like me don’t need a reason to exist. We’re the normal ones, you see. We’re supposed to be here.)
Can’t you just feel the white guilt oozing through the page? Jim Hines is extremely sorry that human beings have been mean to each other in the past, and he is genetically responsible for all of your suffering. How dare you not have a rainbow of fruit flavor in every book! You are keeping your imaginary people down!
It is okay, Jim, we Warm Beige People forgive you. (for the record, that’s what these Home Depot paint chips say I am. I’m the same color as Cheech Marin). Though I’m pretty sure my badass conquistador ancestors would still think you’re a pussy.
Back to the nuts and bolts of writing, EVERY character needs a reason to exist. If you have a character in your story, why are they there? What purpose do they serve? That guilty white people stuff is just bullshit. If it makes sense for a character to be white, or black, or gay, or a space whale, or a leprechaun, write it. Worry about making your readers happy first, because no matter what, you’ll never make the Jim Hines and tor.com bloggers of the world happy, and you should probably still feel guilty about something.
Here’s a reason: because people other than your narrow-minded “default” exist in the world. Because if you want to write a story that’s in any way reflective of the real world, you have to acknowledge that fact.
Sigh… Note how they’ve gone from END THE BINARY GENDER DEFAULT to the much milder acknowledge people are different. That’s all bullshit though, because as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, sci-fi has no problem acknowledging and exploring how people are different, but no matter what the activist outragers will find some new thing to get outraged about. Remember, to a liberal, being a victim gives you super powers.
I talked about some of my characters that deviated from the norm.
“See, I wrote about a gay cross dresser, so you can’t accuse me of being homophobic!”
Correction. I’m not homophobic because I’m not particularly scared of gay people. I wrote about a badass motherfucker in a setting that is all about badass motherfuckers murdering the shit out of each other, and giving this particular supporting character this one trait made the narrative more interesting and allowed for some fun lines like “I’ve never met a transvestite I couldn’t take in a knife fight.”
Just not the ones that disagree in the blog comments.
Again, try reading the comments. Also, you seem to be accusing MacFarlane of deleting comments, when I suspect it’s the Tor.com staff who are responsible for moderating. I’m not 100% sure on that, but I suspect you’ve got your snark crossed here.
Holy shit… Yes, Jim, I really did think that the website of a massive publishing house which has its own in house moderators was having their guest blogger manage the website. If my snark is crossed, your snark sleeps in a helmet.
And back to the mockery and criticizing the author’s age rather than her ideas.
That part wasn’t even about her age. It was about the whole attitude about how sci-fi is all about dropping truth bombs and rocking the reader’s bourgeois little worlds.
Well that was fun. My congratulations to anyone who read this far.
Why? Do you normally have a problem with readers finishing your writing? I don’t have that problem.
As a reminder, I do moderate comments here, because
I’m a freedom-hating commie because I don’t have time or interest in trolls, name-calling, threats, etc.
Meanwhile, over on the right wing hatey hate monger’s various feeds, we leave up pretty much everything because we actually believe in free speech.
You’re welcome to comment, but as Wil Wheaton says, don’t be a dick.
And since Will Wheaton is a hypocrite that doesn’t seem to mind being a dick to Republicans, the Tea Party, the NRA, or anybody who makes up the half of the country who agrees with those groups, I wouldn’t put too much faith in that. But maybe that’s just because I fondly remember how Will Wheaton likes to blame the people most likely to prevent mass shootings for all the mass shootings.
So anyways, my whole point is don’t pay attention to the cause of the day types urging you to cram Special Topic X into your book. Even if you do, they’ll find something new to be outraged about tomorrow. Write whatever you want to write. Have fun. Get paid.
EDIT: Just check Facebook and Twitter. So it turns out in typical statist fashion that the proper goodthinkers are petitioning my publishing house, Baen Books, that they need to distance themselves from their awful authors like me, Williamson, Ringo, and Kratman (as in a bunch of their bestselling authors) before we tarnish Baen’s image. So… threats of boycott against a publishing house they already don’t like, to not purchase books by authors they already hate… Yep. That’s the free speech I know and love from the lefties. Thanks, Concern Trolls!
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