NK Jemisin wins, so the haters gotta hate

NK Jemisin won another Hugo award this year — her third in a row — and she gave a powerful acceptance speech. Read the whole thing, but this was a notable piece.

But this is the year in which I get to smile at all of those naysayers—every single mediocre insecure wannabe who fixes their mouth to suggest that I do not belong on this stage, that people like me cannot possibly have earned such an honor, that when they win it it’s meritocracy but when we win it it’s “identity politics” — I get to smile at those people, and lift a massive, shining, rocket-shaped middle finger in their direction.

Exactly right. The most fervent practitioners of identity politics are the old white guys who feel their entitlements are being challenged.

Here’s another excerpt:

I have gritted my teeth while an established professional writer went on a ten-minute tirade at me—as a proxy for basically all black people—for mentioning underrepresentation in the sciences.

I’m not sure who that was, but I know there’s no shortage of racists ranting about “identity politics”, so the field is wide open on that one. I thought immediately of Vox Day, though, who called her an educated, but ignorant half-savage and has long been whining about all the SJWs in science fiction.

So I had to go look and see how Vox Day was taking this repudiation of his position and the ongoing defeat of his slate of “puppies”. Not well, I’m afraid. He’s plumbing deep wells of dishonesty now. You see, that a group of people he detests are winning all the rewards and recognition means the he thinks he has won — after all, giving an award to a half-savage means the Hugos have now self-destructed and there’s nothing left but a great big crater. And even better, he thinks he has nuked the Hugos for the past three years now.

It’s a thriving crater populated with new and interesting writers, but he’s not going to read any of them anyway.

But what most appalled me is that he quotes the full text of Jemisin’s speech…but removes all of the punctuation and paragraphs, and then sneers mockingly at it. The comments are full of people thinking that Jemisin is illiterate because of that intentional dishonesty, and whining about how women can’t write.

That’s the kind of poison I’d expect of a hack like Vox Day, but what really disappoints me is that he quotes Robert Silverberg.

But in her graceless and vulgar acceptance speech last night, she insisted that she had not won because of ‘identity politics,’ and proceeded to disprove her own point by rehearsing the grievances of her people and describing her latest Hugo as a middle finger aimed at all those who had created those grievances.

He says “her people” and “identity politics”, not noting his own hypocrisy, and bashes her for vulgarity.

You might want to read these reviews of Silverberg’s own book, Up the Line.

Robert Silverberg wrote this libidinous, vulgar carnival ride in 1969 and it was nominated for the Hugo Award. This represents my 25th Silverberg work reviewed and I have come to accept that his lasciviousness makes late era Heinlein look like a boy scout. There is just going to be sex in a Silverberg work, lots of it, and this one has all the sensitivity of a bawdy limerick, reminiscent of Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love and All You Zombies – readers of those books will instantly know what I’m talking about.

Robert Silverberg was clearly a big fan of sex back in the late 1960s, and I’m sure he wasn’t the only one. But in Up the Line, he absolutely revels in it. He doesn’t miss a chance for his (all male) characters to fornicate with women at every possible opportunity both in the future and the past, in dozens of exotic time periods in Byzantium, Constantinople, Rome, etc. The act may be as old as time, but that doesn’t stop Time Courier Judd Elliot from trying to bed his great-great-great grandmother Pulcharia with a lusty enthusiasm and complete disregard for all social taboos that have existed for millenia. Sure, it’s generally a serious no-no in society to screw your ancestors, but when she is as saucy a sex-kitten as Pulcharia, well who can blame Judd? At least that is the irreverent tone this book tries to achieve, billing its main character as the “Tom Jones of Time Travel”.

So when did 83-year-old Silverberg become a hypocritical prissy prude? I’ve read lots of Silverberg, and it’s absurd for him to look at Jemisin’s speech and complain about “graceless and vulgar”. He’s written much more vulgar stuff — and what’s really got him upset is that a black woman was bold and critical.

Sheesh, I missed the worst bit of the Hugo awards

Since I didn’t watch the awards presentation at all, I missed George R. R. Martin making a colossal flaming ass of himself. Here’s a summary:

The host for this year’s festivities was George R.R. Martin and he spent an awful lot of time talking about John W. Campbell, noted fascist and racist. Pretty sure that between Martin and Bob Silverberg, Campbell (noted fascist and racist!) was mentioned more than the aggregate of the folks being honored. I aged approximately 67 years during Silverberg’s segment.

We were treated to tales of how Martin is Just Like Us while he was broadcasting from the movie theater he owns for funsies. I lost count of how many times he mentioned that fandom used to be so much smaller that Worldcon was in a hotel and that there was a banquet with rubbery chicken (no one cares).

Because it’s such a goddamn fucking shame that fandom is so much larger and diverse than it was 50 fucking years ago. Because the people nominated for and winning awards aren’t exclusively white and male. The first woman to win a Hugo Award–in any category–was Anne McCaffrey, who tied with Philip José Farmer in 1968 for her novella, “Weyr Search.” The first Hugo Award was given out in 1953. It was fifteen years before a woman won. Four-time nominee James Davis Nicoll has done more work in this area than I have, and I recommend that y’all look very closely at that giant table of doom.

I’ve done a bit of searching–not much–and I can’t find a comparable analysis around race and the Hugos. But I can say that N.K. Jemisin was the first Black person to win the Hugo for Best Novel. In 2016. In 2016.

Speaking of Jemisin, Martin made the decision to first mention her unprecedented accomplishment of winning the Best Novel three years in a row–no one else of any race or gender has ever accomplished a Best Novel hat trick–and then attempt to undermine it by talking at great length the time Heinlein won three Hugos in nine years, culminating in some sort of shaggy dog story involving a white dinner jacket and Stranger in a Strange Land. I’ve forgotten the details because Heinlein is irrelevant to the discussion.

What I haven’t forgotten is this: George R.R. Martin repeatedly mispronounced the names of nominees and, in one case, a publication which was nominated. All the nominees were asked to provide pronunciations for their names in advance. The fact that Martin chose not to use that information is disgusting and racist as fuck, as nearly without exception the names he mispronounced were Black and brown. He mispronounced FIYAH, a publication owned, edited, and written by Black people.

This is thoroughly beyond the pale, especially since those segments were pre-recorded and CoNZealand could have asked him to re-do those segments and pronounce peoples’ names correctly. Names are important. They have power.

Read The Whole Thing. There’s more, much more. I’m rather appalled at his behavior, and the fact that he chose to go on and on praising Campbell, after the award that used to be called the Campbell award was explicitly renamed because of his terrible behavior (cancelled!), and when one of the awards he was handing out was to Jeanette Ng, who had called out Campbell.

Jeanette Ng took the best related work award, for her acceptance speech last year at the Hugos upon receiving the John W Campbell award for best new writer, in which she called Campbell a fascist who set a tone “of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists.” The prize was later renamed the Astounding award.

Imagine a dumpster fire in a train wreck. That’s what this awards ceremony sounds like. The organizers who made a whole chain of stupid decisions have apologized; Martin has not.

In conclusion, let us shoot George R.R. Martin and Bob Silverberg into the sun where they shall bother us no longer.

That’s too much work, and far too expensive. How about never allowing those two to speak at a con ever again? Simply never inviting them, either? I expect it’s inevitable that Game of Thrones will get another nomination, if he ever finishes it — how about not?

By the way, I have good memories of reading Silverberg, and a couple of years ago I re-read Hawksbill Station, one that I’d last read as a teenager. It’s a time-travel story, and Hawksbill Station is set in the Cambrian! On re-reading it, though, I discovered that it is the most sexist, awful piece of crap, a real shit-show of a story, and I was so ashamed of Teenaged Me, and I don’t think I could ever read another Silverberg story.

Hugos announced!

I’d noticed the nominees earlier, and I was dismayed to see that I’d read relatively few of them. You’d think with being a virtual prisoner at home since March, I’d have had plenty of time to get a lot of light reading done, but no…increased teaching responsibilities ate up the spring, and this summer has been a slough of despond consumed by worries about teaching in the fall. I was able to muster some cheers for Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade, but mostly I didn’t know the competition. Now I learn the winner was Arkady Martine for A Memory Called Empire, which now has to go on my list. Will I have time to read it? Unlikely. It’s August. Classes start early this year.

Most of the news sites that mention the Hugos seem to be focused on George R.R. Martin, because he had promised the latest Game of Thrones book by this date. He has since said it will be next year. Do you care? I have long been discouraged by the sluggish pace within the books in addition to the ridiculously long delays (and accompanying excuses) between the books that I gave up on them a few volumes back, have mostly forgotten what happened in them, and am not interested in re-reading them to catch up enough to want to touch the next one, which might be out in 2025 at this rate. Besides, the last season of the HBO adaptation was so godawful bad that it has fouled the whole series.

Bye bye, George. Your novels have procrastinated themselves into oblivion, and I’ve got some Arkady Martine to read. Also, Nnedi Okorafor has a graphic novel? And I still haven’t read Amal El-Mohtar’s and Max Gladstone’s This Is How You Lose the Time War, despite meaning to get around to it for ages? At least I did read Jemisin’s Emergency Skin, so I’m not a total loser.

How I’m spending my day at #cvg2019

Well, how I plan to spend my day. I might get carried away on a whim or stumble across something unexpected.

11:00am-12:00pm @ Hyatt 2 Greenway HI Weird Biology
12:30pm-1:30pm @ Hyatt 4 Great Lakes A2 N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy
3:30pm-4:30pm @ Hyatt 2 Greenway HI Books to Read Right Now
5:00pm-6:00pm Magic Schoolbus Party Room (5123) spider salon
7:00pm-8:00pm @ Hyatt 4 Great Lakes A3 AMC’s The Terror
8:30pm-9:30pm @ Hyatt 2 Greenway CDE Paranormal Minnesota
9:00pm-9:45pm @ Hyatt 1 Nicollet Ballroom Pounded in the Tingle
11:30pm-12:30am @ Hyatt 2 Greenway B ASMR

I’m presenting at the ones in bold. I’m bringing Common House Spiders to the Salon, I plan on that being more of an interactive demo.

I have the least confidence about making it to the ASMR panel. I’m curious, but it’s late and I might fall asleep. Actually, if I popped in I wonder if I’d find the entire audience asleep.

The SJWs are taking over Science Fiction!

I’m not particularly fond of circular logic, but it sure gets used a lot. Here’s an example: there are more men working in tech than women, therefore men are better at coding than women. It’s easy to find people who accept that reasoning without a qualm.

But those same people balk at another example: more women than men are getting published in science fiction now, therefore women are better writers than men. They go to extraordinary lengths to rationalize away the current difference. Why, the SJWs must be actively discriminating against men! I can prove it using math, because men are also naturally better at math than women!

I have found the most remarkable example of this “proof”. This fellow has gone through back issues of various magazines and tallied up the number of male and female authors published — and also the number of “not real sex” authors, which sort of tells you right there what kind of regressive asswipe we’re dealing with. He comes to the conclusion that there’s a huge discrepancy in the numbers of F&SF stories getting published by men and women, and that it’s the product of a conspiracy by SJWs to actively harm men. Really!

It’s been obvious for a long time in publishing that men need not apply, you’re not welcome. But now in the 2% where men were actually allowed to compete, it’s been completely taken over by social justice warriors who don’t care in the least about equality, but want to actively harm men both as professionals and readers.

In order to demonstrate this, he engages in some amazing cherry picking and distortion of the statistics. He plugs numbers into a spreadsheet and then does some weird analysis. For example, here’s the month-by-month counts for a podcast, the Escape Pod. The thing is, there are huge numbers of podcasts out there — why is he selecting this one? Is he going to exhaustively summarize the state of the podcast genre (no, of course not, because that would be a huge undertaking), or is he selecting this one because it will support his claim? You know it’s the latter. I looked it up, and here’s one of the criteria for entries in the podcast:

We are especially interested in seeing more submissions from people of backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented or excluded from traditional SF publishing, including, but not limited to, women, people of color, LGBTQ or non-binary gender people, persons with disabilities, members of religious minorities, and people from outside the United States.

If you identify as part of these or other underrepresented groups, we welcome and encourage you to indicate so when you send us your story. We acknowledge the reality of unconscious bias and will make our best efforts to account for it during the editorial review process. Our goal is to publish fiction that reflects the diversity of the human experience.

So yes, they intentionally are casting a wide net, and are trying to bring in diverse writers. They aren’t discriminating against men at all.

So let’s see the numbers.

So a podcast that is actively encouraging diverse submissions still includes 20 stories from men, vs. 30 stories from women. That’s not bad at all. But wait: what’s that number? He’s saying that there are 50% more stories by women than men? That’s odd. How does he get that?

Looking at several of his examples, it becomes obvious: he’s taking the difference in the number of stories by men and women, and then dividing, not by the total number of stories, but by the number of of stories by men. It’s a way to amplify and exaggerate the differences — it allows him later to claim that some magazines publish 247% more women! 306% more women! Aaaiee! It’s a bullshit statistic, though.

And then there’s this interesting table: these are the long-standing big names in SF publishing: Asimov’s, Analog, and F&SF. There are more men getting published in the established magazines than women! You would think this would be a troubling statistic for his thesis.

So magazines that encourage diversity in their authorship get fewer submissions from men, which is totally unsurprising. What is odd is that a couple of magazines buck the trend. Why? Our intrepid investigator has an explanation.

The oldest of the old guard of magazines still seem to be a safe place to submit if you’re a man. Now the numbers look very skewed in men’s favors and a feminist might cry foul here saying that these magazines actually discriminate against women. This is where they’re wrong. A source that will remain nameless told me that the editor of Asimov’s, Sheila Williams, prints male to female stories in the ratio of submissions she receives. Even though the monthlies look a little suspect, if these periodicals still work in an old way of proportionate representation of submissions, this is probably an accurate picture of what Science Fiction authors make ups are overall, and what one should expect were that more the case.

Uh, wait. This is actually a bit bothersome. I expect the role of the editor is to select the best quality stories for publication, without regard for the identity of the author. This guy is actually saying that this is not true for Asimov’s — that they have a quota system. If 60% of the submissions for that month are from men, they decide that, regardless of quality, 60% of the published stories for that month have to come from that pile? So all the guys have to do is throw lots and lots of trash at the magazine, and they’ll effectively squeeze out stories from women authors?

Excuse me, but I don’t really believe that. If true, though, that works both ways, and all the women have to do to break the male hegemony at Asimov’s is to submit, submit, submit stories. Fish the crappy stuff out of the wastebasket and send it in anyway — it probably won’t get published, but it will enable more of your sister writers to get in.

Which is why I don’t believe this story.

But then take a look at his conclusion.

If you’re a man, even with the skewed results of the legacy three magazines of Asimov’s, Analog and F&SF, that are vocal about the fact that they’re proportionate in representation of submissions, you’re hosed. An analysis of all the markets that accept these submissions on a monthly basis (I left out Lightspeed Magazine which has dead even results), the total discrimination against men is big. The totals of all stories published in this market survey over a year are:

Men: 426

Women: 487

Which means women have a 14.3% advantage just in sheer numbers of stories published. If the industry holds with ratios of 4:1 submissions, and say the accepted represents about 1% of all submissions, it means there’s about 91,300 submissions in the industry. Rough estimates puts men at 73,040 submissions and women at 18,260 submissions.

First look at that bit I highlighted: he threw out a data point because Lightspeed Magazine happened to have equal representation of men and women authors — that is, he discarded data that didn’t fit his hypothesis. You don’t get to do that! He doesn’t even seem to be aware that this is a great big flaming no-no in data analysis. Of course, given how he chose to inflate numbers throughout, it’s not surprising that he’s clueless here.

Second, he’s claiming that discrimination against men is big, yet all he’s got to show for it is a difference of 426 to 487? What’s the statistical significance of that? Wait, scratch that: his methodology means that at best he’s confirming a bias he favored with his process, which isn’t particularly interesting. He intentionally selected magazines that are trying to acquire a diverse audience, so of course he sees some underrepresentation of men. It doesn’t say there’s a conspiracy, or that men are being harmed.

Third, to amplify his claim of discrimination, he brings in this other statistic: men submit more stories than women with a ratio of 4:1, so there’s even more invisible bias! To back up that claim, he mentions a submissions tracker and market database called The Grinder. I poked around in there, but didn’t see a way to pull up stats on women’s vs. men’s submissions — maybe someone could explain how you do that. But the thing is that in his one specific example of Asimov’s, Analog, and F&SF, he claims that the proportion published is representative of the proportion submitted, and it’s nowhere near 4:1. I also rather suspect that those magazines that encourage submissions by underrepresented groups also tend to get relatively fewer stories from your traditional white male engineering types, so the 4:1 doesn’t hold.

But given that 90% of everything is crap, I don’t find submission rates to be particularly compelling, so that line of argument is also crap.

But here’s my bottom line: of course there is bias! It’s everywhere! Some places will favor women, others will favor men. Go to your supermarket and look at the magazine racks: there are magazines “for men”, and magazines “for women”, and they tend to propagate some ugly stereotypes. In a field like science fiction that tends to encourage innovation and change, and that like all literary fields goes through waves of new emphases, there will be times when people are trying to shake up the old staid tropes, and that means that the previous beneficiaries of convention will fall out of favor, and will find it harder to publish. People are looking for new twists and interesting ideas in their fiction, and of course if you want to write stories exactly like the ones you read 30 years ago, you’re going to be discriminated against.

Or you’ll find a niche publishing market.

Really, I don’t choose my preferred reading material by the color of the author’s skin, or what genitals are slung under their pants. I read Nnedi Okorafor, or Scott Lynch, or Ann Leckie, or NK Jemisin, or China Mieville, because they challenge me with new ideas and good writing. Sometimes to get new ideas you have to encourage new perspectives, which tends to disrupt the Old Guard.

But here’s another factor that influences what authors I favor. The good ones (even the white male authors!) will read those new authors, too, and praise what they like and grow and change themselves to value those novel approaches, and their writing will get better.

The bad ones will read stories by authors different from themselves and resent it, and run away from the challenge, blaming others for their lack of adaptability and talent.

But don’t worry, White Men! You’re just as capable of writing great stories as people who are not White Men, as long as you don’t get tangled up in your persecution complex.

The 2017 Hugo awards are out

The winners have been announced, and they are NK Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, Ursula Vernon, Amal El-Mohtar, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Marjorie Liu…hey, wait a minute, those are all lady names. Obviously, this must mean that women are genetically predisposed to write the best science fiction and fantasy. The evidence is right there! I’m sure the people who argue that existing sex differences in anything can’t possibly be caused by socio-cultural factors will agree because they hate that kind of stuff. They’re just going to have to acknowledge that women are biologically better writers.

Oh, there was the usual effort by the Sad/Rabid Puppies to get some of their nominees on the ballot, and they did have a few works they pushed — none of them won. Not even the transparent attempt to steal credit from good authors by naming them succeeded. They nominated, for instance, China Mieville, Neil Gaiman, and the movie Deadpool…they lost, too. I suspect there might be some weak negative effect, even, where attaching Vox Day’s recommendation to an otherwise good book causes some negative votes. Not that it matters; all the winners were rewarded fairly on their own merits.

One interesting twist: the Puppies, for some reason, really really hate Rachel Swirsky’s If you were a dinosaur, my love, which was nominated for a Hugo in a previous year. I like that story a lot, so I don’t quite get the hatred, but OK, they’re allowed…but this year they intentionally went looking for an opposing story, something with dinosaurs in it, so they could simultaneously sneer at both Swirsky and Chuck Tingle. They picked Alien Stripper Boned From Behind by the T-Rex, by Stix Hiscock. You can’t hold that against Hiscock, though.

Hiscock also said she didn’t know anything about Beale, and seemed to be unaware (before the interview) that he was responsible for Alien Stripper getting on the ballot. She was a little hurt that he would use her novelette as a way to mock the Hugos, especially since it doesn’t seem like he’s even read it. (It’s possible Beale picked it specifically because of the Rabid Puppies’ hatred of the award-winning novelette If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love.) “I guess I’ll cry a little, laugh a little. But I’ll be ok. Jokes are pretty hilarious sometimes,” Hiscock said.

Still, Hiscock said it’s an honor to be nominated, even though she probably won’t be able to attend the ceremonies in Helsinki because of the expense. And even though Beale might’ve gotten Alien Stripper on the ballot due to sheer pettiness, the bank error is definitely in Hiscock’s favor. Book sales of Alien Stripper Boned From Behind by the T-Rex are through the roof.

It didn’t win, even though the author is a woman, and we now know that women naturally have superior writing skills.

But I ordered a Kindle copy of Alien Stripper Boned From Behind by the T-Rex anyway. It was free. The author seems nice. Besides, I’ve already read all the winners.

The 2016 Hugos

hugoaward

Man, they’re just torturing puppies. The Sad/Rabid/Pathetic Puppy slate got repudiated again by giving awards to people who earned them.

The winner of the best novel was The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin. This book is not light reading: three different narrators gradually coming together in a complex fantasy story set on a world with frequent apocalyptic geological catastrophes, held together by by wizards who focus on calming seismic events…or in some cases, triggering them. This is a story with a lot of hard detail and psychological nuance. It deserves this award.

The best novella (and for me, it literally was — this was my favorite SF story of the past year) went to Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. This was classic hard SF — humans live in space, engage in interstellar travel, and meet alien species, some of whom want to kill us. And at the same time, it doesn’t erase 90% of the human species by turning starfarers into an American monoculture of endless variations on Captain Kirk.

Both of those are written by black women. That has got to sting the Puppies, who hate “SJWs”, which is actually a code phrase for “doesn’t think white men necessarily deserve all the things”. There’s also no way to call these token awards — these were stunningly good books.

Most of the rest of the nominees I hadn’t read — especially that very popular “No Award” that seemed to beat out offerings from Castalia House. Of the ones I did read or saw, I did not much care for The Martian by Andy Weir, which won best long form dramatic presentation, although I will admit that the book was a fast-paced page turner, and the movie was slick. I just objected to an engineering wish-fulfillment fantasy presented as science. That one is going to be long forgotten while people will still be watching Mad Max: Fury Road. I noticed that one episode of Jessica Jones also won best short form dramatic presentation.

The best thing, though, is that when awards are given on merit, rather than racial and gender bias, you start to seen great new voices being appreciated.

NK Jemisin’s acceptance speech is worth reading. For completely different reasons, Vox Day’s weird rationalizations are also worth reading, to see the depth to which the puppies will sink. He calls Jemisin a half-savage, claims her win was primarily a vote against the Puppies, claims credit as kingmaker for The Martian’s win (it was a very popular movie and book, you know, without Theodore Beale’s “help”), and declared that coming in second place was a great victory. He also comes right out and says that the goal was to burn the Hugos.

I would be embarrassed to be associated with these goons

The indignant defenders of Vox Day are still ranting away. John C. Wright, who is apparently a fairly popular SF writer, has written an angry denunciation of all those corrupting leftists who have tainted an awards ceremony. It’s remarkable; it’s an essay for which the descriptor “spittle-flecked” is entirely appropriate, and I am surprised that a professional writer would produce something so incoherent. The bottom line: he longs for the good old days when one could be a racist, sexist asshat and still be rewarded for your writing.

At one time, science fiction was an oasis of intellectual liberty, a place where no idea was sacrosanct and no idea was unwelcome. Now speculative fiction makes speculative thinkers so unwelcome that, after a decade of support, I resigned my membership in SFWA in disgust. SFWA bears no blame for all these witch-hunts, or even most; but SFWA spreads the moral atmosphere congenial to the witch-hunters, hence not congenial to my dues money.

I’m not even going to try to go over the details of this irrational mess; Foz Meadows has taken care of that. I just have a couple of general questions for Wright.

  • If you’re standing up for the principle of “intellectual liberty”, why is so much of your essay an attempt to argue that your favorite “speculative thinkers” weren’t actually saying the horrible things they are accused of? One problem here is that Wright is terribly unconvincing: he makes excuses for Orson Scott Card’s homophobia and Vox Day’s misogyny, either by abstaining from actually quoting them or by claiming that their words were taken out of context. When Card writes something like this, claiming that gay marriage will destroy ‘normal’ families

    Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

    I fail to see how context redeems it. I read the whole thing; it is most definitely a standard bizarre homophobic rant against giving gay people the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexuals.

    Or when Vox Day made his racist, misogynist attack on N.K. Jemisin, it’s damn hard to find any way to excuse this:

    … those self-defense laws have been put in place to let whites defend their lives and their property from people, like her, who are half-savages engaged in attacking them. … Jemisin’s disregard for the truth is no different than the average Chicago gangbanger’s disregard for the traditional Western code of civilized conduct. … Unlike the white males she excoriates, there is no evidence to be found anywhere on the planet that a society of NK Jemisins is capable of building an advanced civilization, or even successfully maintaining one without significant external support from those white males.…Being an educated, but ignorant half-savage, with little more understanding of what it took to build a new literature by “a bunch of beardy old middle-class middle-American guys” than an illiterate Igbotu tribesman has of how to build a jet engine, Jemisin clearly does not understand that her dishonest call for “reconciliation” and even more diversity within SF/F is tantamount to a call for its decline into irrelevance.

    So one problem here is that it is blatantly dishonest to pretend that Card is not homophobic, and that Vox Day is not a racist and misogynist. They are. It’s not a matter of the “thought police” and “witch-hunters”, as Wright tries to claim, propagating untruths about these authors. It’s their own words that condemn them.

    But here’s the big point: if Wright is really trying to wrap himself in integrity and commitment to a principle, it shouldn’t matter. An author could be a baby-raping cannibal, and by Wright’s own insistence that we should judge a work solely by the quality of the writing and not the personal failings of the author, we should ignore the baby-raping and the cannibalism. So why does he spend so much effort trying to minimize the odious political and social views of Vox Day? Revel in them! Go ahead, admit that he’s a contemptible woman-hating racist (as he is!), and then insist that even this terrible excuse for a human being should have his work judged entirely on its merits.

    But Wright lacks the courage of his convictions. Apparently it is important to minimize the defects of his heroes.

  • Why is this an issue of left vs. right at all? That’s what Wright pins all the blame on: a particular set of political views.

    The lunatic Left planned and struggled for years, decades, to achieve their cultural influence. Let us imitate their perseverance, and retake our lost home one mind, one institution, at a time. Start by praying.

    This is a very familiar whine. But step back and look at what people actually object to in Vox Day and others: Racism. Misogyny. Homophobia. Religious bigotry. The very things Wright unsuccessfully tried to minimize in his protagonists. I will charitably assume that Wright deplores racism, misogyny, homophobia, and bigotry of all kinds.

    So why, oh why, do these right-wingers so obligingly associate support for equality with the Left, and identify so readily racism and misogyny etc. with the Right? It is fine with me if they want to draw the dividing line that way, and it’s true enough that the Right has done a wonderful job of shackling themselves to inequity and discrimination and oppression, but I can still imagine (with increasing difficulty, I admit) a conservative wing of American politics that doesn’t necessitate despising every segment of society other than white men.

    And now not only is the Right carrying a lot of unpleasant obligate baggage, but we’ve got a political party afflicted by and ideologically dominated by the Tea Party — and they call us the Lunatic Left.

It seems to me that the real problem here is that wingnuts don’t want to be held accountable for their ugly views — they want to be racist and sexist, but how dare you call them racist and sexist, and worst of all, how unfair to actually penalize them in the court of public opinion for being bigoted scumbags.

But it’s actually quite fair. You’re free to accuse me of being a feminist, an egalitarian, an anti-racist, and I won’t deny it — I’ll actually take pride in it.

This is not an update

I can’t explain how things are going except to say…it’s complicated. Do try to keep up with others — I can’t. I worry that this is the end of a lot of good things, or rather, things that had to be the potential to be good, and that without many changes, we’re going to lose too many great people, and that conditions have become intolerable. Let me tell you that when I pressed “publish” on a certain post the other day, I knew that no matter how it turns out, the one thing I could be certain of is that I would be persona non grata in a large segment of the movement, and that I’d be spending many more quiet weekends at home in Morris in the future (which is OK, this is a nice place, and my day job is ramping up the responsibilities, and I’ll always have the blog).

But even if I’m squeezed out, it’s time to pick a side and build a better secular movement. You can’t do it by simply accepting what is and looking the other way. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. It’s especially important that you don’t walk past the standard set by the powerful men in the movement.

I’m a professional “biologist”!

Vox Day/Theodore Beale really is hilariously easy to trigger into paroxysms of foolishness. He now refers to me as a professional "biologist" in those lovely scare quotes, because he thinks his understanding of “genetic science” is better than mine. He explains what he meant by his remarks that he, a white man, and NK Jemisin, a black woman, are not equal.

You see, Africans are pure homo sapiens sapiens.  Non-Africans are not. NK Jemisin, being of African extraction, is almost surely more purely homo sapiens sapiens than I am.  Or, for that matter, than PZ Myers is. 

"Previous research has revealed that Neanderthal DNA can be found in the genomes of everyone who isn’t of African extraction. But, as Pääbo said, "The Denisovans had contributed DNA only to people in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Australia, and other places in Melanesia." In other words, modern humans entering Asia interbred with Denisovans. But the Denisovan DNA didn’t wind up circulating to other areas of the world the way Neanderthal DNA did."

So, everyone who isn’t African possesses DNA from other homo species, including Homo neanderthalensis and what is either Homo denisova or Homo sapiens denisova.  This is why I often mock those who believe in both evolution by natural selection and human equality, because humanity is not only NOT all the same under our skin, we are not, according to current genetic science, even all entirely the same subspecies.  If we apply their idiot logic, then I was actually claiming that I am not fully equal to Jemisin rather than the other way around.

Pure what? What is a “pure” human? Every single person on this planet belongs to the same identical species, Homo sapiens, so his distinctions by differences in alleles is irrelevant. I must also mention that his habit of capitalizing the binomial name is a bit irritating. We teach a class in science writing here that hammers on a lot of the scientific conventions, and we literally tell our students that one of the first signs you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t know basic biology is that they get the punctuation wrong.

The existence of individual variants, even regional patterns, is an expected aspect of the genetic complement of a population. A species is not ever assumed to be genetically homogeneous, so it’s ridiculous to point to one member with a particular admixture of genes within a group and say they’re more a member of the group than someone else with a slightly different genetic complement.

It’s pure typological thinking. Theodore Beale has a crude version of 19th century biology (to be generous) rattling around in his head, and he thinks it makes sense.


Oh, look, Sinfest has a comic just for Theodore.

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