Musteline yet Lacking a Male Member

A comment by Brad R. Torgersen about a recent unsightly eructation at the Guardian

http://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/when-ignorant-snobs-attack/

The piece he criticizes so sharply and ably is here:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/aug/29/space-opera-new-guardians-of-the-galaxy-ancillary-justice

You may read it if you wish, although I recommend against it. The column is the vaporings of a stranger to the science fiction field applauding the applause given a book called ANCILLARY JUSTICE on the ground that, let me quote:

It continues the tradition of feminist writing within science fiction, famously adapting its pronoun usage as the central character struggles to understand the alien concept of binary gender.

This battle for the political high ground, while it is often petty, is far from unhealthy. The future science fiction has forecast and helped to shape, the future we are now deeply enmeshed in, is a profoundly political place.

The theme of the column proposes that there is a political war going on in science fiction between evil reactionaries who want to enjoy stories and benevolent social justice warrior whose mission is to enlighten us.

By Klono’s brazen claws, does anyone actually READ these preachy novels of feelbad flounderheaded pontification-fests for fun?

Allow me to translate from the airy emptiness of Newspeak to the Vulgate: he is saying a novel whose only gimmick is the lack of the use of male and female pronouns in order to aid the attempt of social engineers, not to entertain science fiction readers as patrons of our craft, but to indoctrine and Pavlovitize them toward a false-to-facts neurosis about human sexuality, is healthy on the grounds that science fiction should be used not to tell entertaining stories about the future, but as a propaganda adjunct to the political program of socialist progressivism, which means pervert-loving, man-hating, white-hating, Christian-hating, liberty-hating, life-hating nihilism.

I note to any Martians reading these words that humans come only in two sexes, male and female, and that the Brahmins of political correctness have decreed that fairness to sexual perverts requires that sexual reality to be changed. Naturally, reality cannot be changed, but what people say in public can.

Therefore the gentleman writing this article rejoices in the idea that science fiction be made into a department of the Ministry of Truth, so that anyone speaking frank and plain truth about human sexuality, if he is weak minded, will come to fear that his opinion is in the minority and unpleasing to the society at large. Once the truth is unpalatable, unspeakable, outlawed as a hate crime, everyone is a liar. When everyone is a liar, everyone is a cynic, and cynics never embrace the ideals necessary to join a rebellion.

In short, the gentleman penning this piece is glorying in the prospect of perverting science fiction from its intended purpose and making it into an instrument to spread and glorify sexual perversion.

He is a hatred-filled freak of some sort. He is like some vaguely anthropoid weasel in his skanky slanderous approach to the topic, filled with sneers and innuendos,  and like a dickless eunuch in his moral code, filled with no courage and no grace.

He says

Baen books specialises in works of “military SF” that, behind their appalling prose styles and laughable retro cover designs, speak to a right-wing readership who can recognise the enemies of America even when they are disguised as cannibal lizard aliens.

Note scare quotes. Note the ad hominem assertion that the readership of a publishing house, not of an author, deliberately and effortlessly interpret any cannibal lizard aliens encountered in a war story set in space to be symbols of America’s enemies.

The ad hominem is the one sure sign of a Leftist, because, like the cat in The Last Battle, the Leftist has lost the gift of speech and reasoning, and instead can only spit at people whom they yearn to antagonize. The Left cannot argue, only yowl. Then they lick themselves and look smug.

Now, here is an earnest question for anyone reading these words: name the last science fiction book you read containing a cannibal lizard alien, or even an anthropophagic lizard alien.

Name the enemy of America which this lizard represented: the choices (I will list in reverse chronological order various foes from America wars) include Islamics, Serbs, East Timorians, Liberians, Afghanis, Cambodians, Bosnians, Haitis, Panamanians, Colombians, Hondurans, Iraquis, Viet Cong, Koreans, Nazis, Huns, Red Indians and Redcoats. And we fought the Empire of Spain at one point.

Next, name the last time you bought a book due to the publishing house name rather than the author’s name. (Baen may be an exception to this general rule, which would tend to speak to the quality of the editorial board, rather than the reverse.)

Finally, name the last time you read any science fiction book in order to recognize something from the current world and confirm your current political opinion rather than as escapism, to speculate about the future, or the wonders of the unknown.

(Does anyone aside from a mental defective read everything, including stories deliberately set in other worlds and other aeons, as being nothing but gossip about our local quotidian politics? What a sick way to live.)

Frankly, I can bring no maneating lizard aliens to mind except perhaps from the pages of OLD MAN’S WAR by John Scalzi, a gentlemen who is an open partisan of the Left. And there are the Gorn from STAR TREK, written by Gene Roddenberry, whose sympathies were certainly slanted to the Left.

Of course, there is much material written these days which I do not read and have no intention of reading, such as gimmicky books that instead of telling a story pull a stunt, like using no pronouns in order to challenge common binary notions of beancurds or something stupid and boring like that.

To be more frank, the last two military spacewar stories I read, FIRE WITH FIRE by Chuck Gannon and The Lost Fleet series by John Hemry, the bad guys in both cases were evil capitalists or syndicalists. Hmm.

So the comment is not true, and indeed is not likely to be believed by anyone who actually reads science fiction.

And I have quoted but two lines of many. The stupid article simply goes on and on in like vein, sneering at Space Opera (my own genre, as it so happens) taking aim at particular editors and publication houses based solely on their political leanings, urging with utterly unsubtle urgings, as if with clumsy Quasimodo-like grunts, that we all should abandon science fiction and merely read, breath, eat, urinate, secrete and excrete politics from now on.

Hail politics! Hail, horrors, hail! No more speculation, no more fiction, and no more science! No action, no adventure, nothing but cardboard politically-correct stereotypes! Nothing but leftwing talking points! Politics all day, every day, as if all the endless millennia of the future will be nothing but, us, us, us, the idiot generation, forever and aye!

And not normal politics, either. Normal politics is concerned with how to organize a society in peace and war to secure life and liberty. No, this is freakish cult of degenerate subhumans who dance beneath the moonless sky in the fever-swamps. The abormal politics of this strain of genetic defective is concerned with power and control. They want to rule us and ruin us. The do not want to control just the matters of taxation and warfare and other matters that are clearly political. They want to control everything in every aspect.

In this particular case, this particular defective wants to eliminate the limitation of having two sexes to a bisexual species, one assumes by eliminating truth, honesty, normalcy, decency and sanity. Hail, Azathoth!

I confess I was surprised to recognize the name of the gentleman, or, rather, the dickless weasel, penning such tripe.

*

When first I heard of one Damien Walter, who writes for an English far-leftwing newspaper, I heard that he, first, held forth to the public his opinions concerning the science fiction field, and, second, that he was living on the dole, having received grant money from Her Majesty’s government to write a science fiction novel, but — (as I italicize for emphasis, I invite the reader to envision me clutching my head as if against excruciating migraine-pain while veins pulse on my brow and blood spurts from my nose, yet laughing hysterically all the while like the Joker from a Batman movie) — but the worthy Mr Walter has never written nor published a science fiction novel at all. He boasts some short stories, or perhaps treatments, or perhaps scattered notes of some sort, but which have never appeared in any major magazine or anthology.

I work for a living. I know my field and my craft.

So, to hear the witheringly base and banal blithering of this dickless weasel, I thought at first amusing. He was no one I ever heard of, and expected never to hear about again, because he is nobody in the field, and brings neither insight nor amusing comment.

Does someone, anyone, take him seriously enough to read his material, or pay for it?

What he brings is pomposity — which the reader must assume is immense, if I (of all people) am able to perceive it through the thick, globose and odoriferous  clouds of pomposity I myself give off — combined with bitterness, lies, and ignorance. The difference between his pomposity and mine is that he believes in his. He is being serious. I do not believe in mine, and live in dread that one day, someone, anyone, might ever take me seriously.

The other difference is that I am not a weasel, since I am a man and a frank and direct man at that. Men work for a living. They tell the truth. They have modest pride and a sense of honor that comes from not living their lives at second-hand. Men laugh at themselves.

Unlike Mr. Weasel, or whatever his name is, I have a functioning male member able to produce children and delight my helpmeet. (Men also unfortunately boast about their sexual organs in a fashion that is both tasteless and really, really funny.)

Well, as it turn out, this dickless weasel writes this stuff all the time, and apparently has some poor souls who read his opinion. I assume, after this, they will no more.

I understand the appeal of writing insults — this column here is peppered with them — and I understand the appeal of holding forth on matters where one is uninformed — as too often, alas, I also do.

But I do not understand telling malign lies which one expects no one to believe.

The only point of that which I can imagine is to cement his loyalty to whatever gang he belongs to, or seeks to belong to. The way it works is that one makes so vehement and expression of loyalty to the gang, and so openly mocks and offends the foes of the gang, and so openly humiliates oneself, either by eating a toad or committing a crime, that all bridges of retreat are burned and avenues of escape are barred.

The dickless weasel wants to get in good with that no-name nutbag who wrote some stupid article no one read about eliminating binary bugmuffens or something in science fiction. He want the neurotics, the deviants, and the perverts to like him. This is the kind of self destructive behavior common to people suffering deep spiritual blindness.

Allow me to quote, as is proper, with poetry. I select a man who wrote one of the earliest of science fiction stories, ‘With the Night Mail’ our Mr Kipling:

Three things make earth unquiet
And four she cannot brook
The godly Agur counted them
And put them in a book –
Those Four Tremendous Curses
With which mankind is cursed;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Old Agur entered first.
An Handmaid that is Mistress
We need not call upon.
A Fool when he is full of Meat
Will fall asleep anon.
An Odious Woman Married
May bear a babe and mend;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Is Confusion to the end.

His feet are swift to tumult,
His hands are slow to toil,
His ears are deaf to reason,
His lips are loud in broil.
He knows no use for power
Except to show his might.
He gives no heed to judgment
Unless it prove him right.

The poet was speaking of a different type of fool, but you may tell me if you see, as I do, the parallel here.

More foetid than the fat fool full of meat is the one thing the world of science fiction cannot stand: the opinionated penman who esteems himself an opinion maker, but is neither a fan of the genre, nor reveres its dreams, but hates it and them.

He seeks to use this genre, not to enjoy it; to use science fiction as a tool for social change, in pursuit of some dream of socialist egalitarianism from the Victorian Age. He is, indeed, a century past his sell-by date, but fondly imagines himself to be the wave of the future. And yet he hates books about the future, or about heroes, or about anything.

Only books about nothing please him.

He exists only to crap on our festivities like a harpy, and deems himself a warrior and redeemer of some unnamed and already forgotten social cause. He is a warrior without bravery and a saint without sanctity. And, let us not forget, a weasel without a dick.

He can neither argue, nor defend himself, nor mount a sensible attack, nor come to negotiate a peace, nor can he win, nor retreat, nor shut up.

He is without talent, and cannot write, and without a soul, he cannot read.

I mean he can read words on a page. I mean he cannot grasp what he reads. And if his only dreams are of the next general election or of revenge against straight white Christian men who built the comfortable civilization he loathes, his capacity to dream is so cramped and crushed and crippled that there is no story small enough in all the golden age of science fiction that can enter so narrow a peppercorn as what serves him for a soul.

I do not know Mr. Dickless Walter well enough to say whether this description fits him at all points, and I pray to merciful heaven that I never hear enough of him to be able to make that call. But if any reader knows this creature, judge for yourself whether he fits the pattern I describe.

*

ADDENDUM: Thanks to an article much calmer and more rational than mine, Space Opera and the Soul of Science Fiction, penned by the insightful Joel C. Salomon, and an an element of the dispute unknown to me was brought to light, and here I must emphasize it.

Here is a link to the original article by Toni Weisskopf to which Mr Walter is apparently referring in his article where he scoffs “Baen’s chief editor Toni Weisskopf went so far as to issue a diatribe against any and all sci-fi that did not pander to this conservative agenda.”

Her actual quote is this: “But is it necessary to engage those of differing political persuasions to get this method? I feel the answer is probably yes. You don’t get a conversation with only one opinion, you get a speech, lecture or soliloquy. All of which can be interesting, but not useful in the context of creating science fiction. But a conversation requires two way communication. If the person on the other side is not willing to a) listen and b) contribute to the greater whole, there is no point to the exercise.”

In other words, Weisskopf says engaging those of differing political persuasions is useful only when both sides talk and listen and contribute to the whole. Walter says this is a diatribe against all who do not pander to the conservative agenda.

Taking both statements at face value, the conservative agenda is therefore robust debate; the leftwing agenda opposing this with fierce contempt is therefore an agenda of fierce contempt in lieu of debate. That is what Walter just said. Anyone who listens to both sides of the issue panders to the conservative agenda. Logically, this means the leftwing agenda is to smother debate.

Conservatives want leftists to speak, so that everyone will hear and know what Leftists say and are and represent; Leftists want conservatives to shut up, so that no one will hear, no one will know.

Leftists hate truth as roaches hate light. Leftism is fear. Leftism is lacking manhood.

Leftism is dicklessness.

*

ADDENDUM SECUNDUM: The International Lord of Hate, Mr Awesomesauce himself, Larry Correia, also weighs in as he Fisks the Guardian Village Idiot Yet Again, in prose as subtle and indirect as a steel toed boot to the groin, and just as fun when it is not you. It is like watching a 900 pound gorilla wrastle an anemic chipmunk, or, if I may use the phrase one last time, a spayed weasel. Go, Larry, go!

109 Comments

  1. Comment by Fail Burton:

    Funny how a guy who grew up in England and lives in N. Thailand sees all and knows all about America. If Walter actually knew what he was talking about instead of putting his disdain before the horse, he’d know things like the Man-Kzin Wars and mercenary-style SF as a popular sub-genre predate 9/11 by many years. Using Walter’s own ideology of intersectionalism which stipulates racial and cultural ownership of a thing, British space opera is as authentic and as derivative as Scottish blues bands. Black delta blues musicians aren’t taking up the bagpipes and then laughing back at the U.K.

    Amazing, Astounding, Weird, Galaxy, Super-Science, Wonder, and Startling aren’t Cockney accents I have appropriated from Walter but the name of my own SF magazines. They are as authentic as Muddy Waters and Johnny Adams. You can bounce my innovations back at me all you wish, the truth is Walter gets his ideas of America from TV and the internet, not actual experience. The irony of him then saying we use “blunt racial caricatures” is the bigoted Orwellian idiocy I’ve come to expect from Walter and all intersectionaiists. They are as daffy as they are routinely untalented.

    Walter either hasn’t read Banks or has a poor memory, since I remember people in space armor violently blasting each other and an alien entity out of existence with a variety of ingenious military devices. They are not “hippies” but the very meddling Blackwater/CIA types Walter claims to despise. Isn’t a main character in Harrison’s Light a massive warship? Is all that violence a ha-ha satirical kind I can’t detect? And that’s not including the ha-ha serial killer who murders a women in the opening passages.

    Walter acknowledges Ancillary Justice isn’t art, but transgender pandering and all about an author who has created a following lighting up “white straight cis guys” as endemically immoral brutes who want to punch her in the face vis-a-vis her womanhood, which apparently offends and enrages American men. But no, that’s no “blunt racial caricature.” Take away Leckie’s bigoted PC maunderings about radical feminism and her “artistry” would rightly be seen as about as compelling as the wrong side of an old Ace paperback double. Saying that is a “sign of an artform in fine health” is yet again confirmation Walter has read his Orwell and failed to understand the words set in front of him.

    Walter must not have ever seen ’50s SF paperbacks or any SF pulps if he thinks Baen’s covers are in any way retro. There is no connection whatsoever with the American mid-century school of design.

    I’m not leaving any comments at The Guardian this time around for the simple reason I am incapable of managing Walter’s entire mind.

  2. Comment by Stephen J.:

    I’m afraid I have to admit that I have in fact recently read, at least in part, a Baen SF novel featuring man-eating lizards: RAGNAROK, by Patrick Vanner, and the book *was* in part bought out of confidence that Baen would not publish a story denigrating the military, traditional heroism, or old school adventure. The Salamanders of RAGNAROK do not represent any specific real world foe of America, but do carry traits of many of them — they remind me most of an imaginary combination of Ottoman and Soviet empires with a large streak of modern jihadi contempt for Western/human culture. And it must finally be admitted that Mr. Vanner’s prose, while perfectly adequate to his purpose, is not really of more than workmanlike aesthetic quality; as the book is his debut novel I have no doubt he will improve, but he is not yet good enough that I would have to think someone else mad or stupid to call him “appalling” — I would think they were snobbier than I was, but that is within legitimate disparity of taste, I think.

    The thing is, though, that is *one* example. One. Nothing else that can be similarly described comes to mind from what I’ve seen on shelves recently. It is in some ways more dishonest, I think, to imply one example represents the whole in a way that plausibly suggests no further checking is necessary than to simply lie about the whole in a way that can be easily checked, because it is an attempt to manipulate responses and not just present possibly-wrong information. (Either that, or Mr. Walters is just so superbly lazy as to have glanced at one book and jumped to a conclusion confirming his own prejudices in precisely the way he accuses us of doing.)

    • Comment by Sean Michael:

      Hi, Stephen J:

      Your comments about Patrick Vanner’s RAGNAROK belatedly reminded me of how there IS another SF author using cannibal lizards in his stories. I refer to Taylor Anderson’s very interesting “Destroyermen” series. The premise of the serie begins with an American Navy destroyer fleeing vastly larger Japanese Navy forces in early 1942 in the waters of the Dutch East Indies and somehow passing over to an alternate Earth where humanity did not arise. THAT Earth has as the villains scaled down dinosauroids looking a lot like Tyrannosaurus rex who do eat both the Lemurians (an intelligence race descended from lemurs) and human beings.

      Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

      • Comment by Stephen J.:

        Hey Sean,

        You reminded me in turn of Alan Dean Foster’s AAnn, in his Humanx Commonwealth stories, though you have to go back to the ’80s and early ’90s for the majority of those. So perhaps there are at least a few reasonable examples of anthropophagous pseudo-reptiloids in SF. Hardly surprising, when you think about it — fictional alien species meant to be found fearful will resemble the things humans fear, and reptiles and man-eating predators are both still pretty high on that list.

        But this clash between “But the bad guys must represent some recognizeable real-world political antagonist today” and “Um, no, they just represent Bad Guys because a story needs dramatic conflict” is one of the biggest comprehension gaps between the philosophies being here argued, and it’s there I could really wish for a little more good-faith willingness to take people at their word. Sadly, too much of political correctness is founded on the belief that any bias which is not consciously proclaimed in a text must be unconsciously manifest in the subtext, so this seems unlikely.

        • Comment by Sean Michael:

          Hi, Stephen!

          I’ve not read Alan Dean Foster’s “Humanx Commonwealth” stories, so I can’t comment on them. But I did not think Taylor Anderson’s dinosauroid and cannibalistic “Grik” were meant to symbolize things feared by humans. In fact, TA shows the allied Lemurians/humans coming across other Grik who were not cannibalistic savages. What TA is showing, IMO, is that nations, cultures, peoples, can make bad moral choices. And that no races are inevitably COMPELLED to be cannibals.

          And I totally reject all and everything Politically Correct. Including the kind of boring, tedious, and dreary pseudo SF that Mr. Wright so ferociously excoriated.

          Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

        • Comment by Pellegri:

          I had the (very-literary-writer; he confessed repeatedly to not knowing much about SF/F) professor of a writing course I took over the summer “jokingly” suggest I rename an antagonist (who happens to have the perfectly serviceable name of Koschei the Deathless) into some sort of play on Vladimir Putin.

          Because he’s Slavic and evil, you see.

          • Comment by Jordan179:

            No doubt this very literary writer, open in his leftism to all the diversity of the world, had absolutely no idea who was Koschei the Deathless. And, in his deep grasp of history, could not imagine any historical Slavic bad guy other than Vladimir Putin.

            • Comment by Pellegri:

              Quite. It proved to be a somewhat disappointing class from the standpoint of getting actual help with the parts of writing a fantasy story I find difficult–worldbuilding, founding it in mythology, creating plausible snippets of constructed or borrowed language, etc.–not in the least because the professor’s grounding was … nowhere near those.

              Ah well. It did get me writing, so it was not a loss there!

          • Comment by Mrs. Wright:

            John and I both have books with a Koschei. He’s a GREAT villain!

            We should start a club.

      • Comment by Fail Burton:

        Star Spangled War Stories meets Land of the Lost, complete with Sleestaks.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      On the contrary, this is good news. My respect for Mr Walter increases if he actually had an actual book in mind which actually could be argued to be an example of what he means. This means merely that his judgment is bad, not that he is bad.

    • Comment by Fail Burton:

      Burroughs’ Mahars.

  3. Comment by AstroSorcorer:

    I expect he read one of John Ringo’s “Posleen War” books and blew a blood vessel.

    Let’s see: harkening back to my childhood in the 80s:
    There were the warring friendly and unfriendly extraterrestrial dinosaur peoples of the cartoon “Dinosaucers”.
    The Cylons in the 80s “Battlestar Galactica” were made by an imperial reptilian people, who anted robots to do all their fighting for them and went extinct.
    “V”in the 80s were disguised lizard space Nazis seeking to eat people. In the 2009 series, they promise to help mankind with solve all problems, offering free healthcare and “blue energy”.
    Ian Douglas has US Marines taking on ET space lizards in one of his books, amidst a whole host of hostiles.
    David Eike has created a paranoia cult based on reptoids secretly taking over the world, and asserts that the leading capitalists and English royals are such creatures.

    So, man-eating space lizards seem to end up representing a wide political diversity, when they represent anything at all other than a sci-fi character.

  4. Comment by Xena Catolica:

    I attempted to read “Ancillary Justice” last week. At the end of the first chapter, I had no inclination to read the next one, and returned it to the library. The non-binary gender thing struck me as a gimmick & while I might have tolerated it in an otherwise intriguing book, this was not that book.

    In a related tangent, has our Esteemed Host read C. S. Lewis’ “An Experiment in Criticism”? I read a quote from it recently which prompted me to buy it. It appears to address what is meant by “literacy” & I’m curious if anyone else has read it. I very much admire “The Abolition of Man” and “The Discarded Image” and this looks somewhat in the same vein (without the bracing fury of “Abolition”).

  5. Comment by Keith Glass:

    I think I realize what Mr. Walters is up to. He’s auditioning for a clickbait factory like “Upworthy”, or similar. . .

  6. Comment by Zaklog the Great:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-b-CfHbPGQ

    Yes, it’s true: This man has no dick.

  7. Comment by LugoTeehalt:

    name the last science fiction book you read containing a cannibal lizard alien, or even an anthropophagic lizard alien.

    John Ringo’s Posleen books. They aren’t supposed to represent Muslims, though. Among other things, the first book was written in 1999 and published in 2000, before Muslim terrorists were really on the radar screen.

    Sometimes a man-eating alien lizard is just a man-eating alien lizard!

    • Comment by Marc W.:

      Ringo is on record as saying the inspiration for the Posleen was the phrase, “The Mongol Horde in space.”

      So I suppose they could be Chinese, sort of thing (although calling a Chinese a Mongol will get you short shrift) as trying to warn us about the actual Mongols would seem a little superfluous at this point.

      I suspect if one were to search for a metaphorical substitute for the Posleen, it would be the “eaters,” or the “takers,” or even, to skirt the Forbidden Subject, “Moochers.” The Posleen literally don’t know any better than to do what they do. They’ve been messed up beyond belief by a group of cosmic do-gooders who, once they realize what they’ve done, basically throw their hands up, disavow responsibility, and go off to be inscrutable somewhere.

      Compare and contrast The People’s Republic of Haven in the “Honorverse,” which would make a lovely metaphorical stand-in for Western Europe and other welfare states. They aren’t literally cannibals, nor are they lizard aliens, but they constantly consume other star systems because their own is a hollowed shell created by allowing the unlimited growth of a dependent class.

      Indeed, the only thing that saves them is the fact that eventually their system HAS to start treating its citizens like adults – or at least not treating them like children – because there just isn’t any more excess capacity after decades of imperialistic war.

    • Comment by jic:

      Ringo must really like alien lizards; the main enemies from the *Troy Rising* series look like giant lizards. They don’t eat people though. In fact, since their inability to eat Earth foods was a minor plot point, they probably couldn’t even if they wanted to.

  8. Comment by Jordan179:

    I will speak in defense of adapting pronoun usage to alternate sexual systems.

    Recently, I wrote a chapter of a story in which two of the characters are Elder Things (Lovecraft’s aliens from At the Mountains of Madness, the tentacular city-building ones, not the blobby city-defiling ones).

    Now, the Elder Things are hermaphrodites who reproduce by emitting genetic material into pools, bathing together and budding off new Elder Things. Thus, they are both male and female and don’t have sexual intercourse in our sense of the word — there’s not even the emotional interaction which fish experience. They do have emotional sentiments, but they reserve them for work or hobby buddies, and indeed form “families” of several adults who share interests, and help raise offspring. They are very much Starfish Aliens — they may have been the trope coiners.

    I could call them all “it” but they are hardly inahimate. And neither “he” or “she” accord well with the biological realities. So I call them all “hee” with “hier” as the possessive pronoun. This emphasizes the fact that they don’t have a human sexual system.

    Could I imagine more humanoid, maybe human-descended sapients like that. Yes, I could, and I do, and I’m really going to have to write the stories just to watch all the leftists hate what I’ve done anyway.

    In my Mandate future, the humanoid Jovekin are engineered to dwell in habs in the upper Jovian atmosphere, where all must live in habs. Their original purpose was as workers and they were not supposed to breed, so they were designed to have no reproductive capabilities (of course, within a century of their creation, they had taken control of their birthing factories and were politically independent). Being psychologically not that inhuman, they have emotional sentiments and form intense friendships with one another — they have no capacity for specifically-sexual pleasure, but they do enjoy hugging and kissing and caressing one another affectionately, and they do this with those for whom they feel these intense friendships. I may adapt the pronouns I used for the Elder Things to describe them, as any one of our sexual pronouns would give the wrong idea about them.

    Also in that future, the Corporate Republic of Titan once created a warrior race to serve them as small craft pilots — the kshatryia which soon got abbreviated to “shatties,” and who wound up ruling Saturn. They are at the opposite end of the scale — they are fully-functional hermaphrodites and tend toward intensely-passionate and often long-lasting loves, especially with comrades. They, too, cannot be adequately described by our language’s existing pronouns.

    Of course, if I do eventually finish and publish some stuff about characters from these races, I will be hated and derided by the Left and told I’ve gotten it all wrong (because they know so much about asexual worker Jovians and warrior Saturnians, who hang out at their coffee shops all the time). But hey, I’m merely pointing out that an interest in the cultural and emotional effects of variant reproductive systems isn’t necessarily something only the Left can do.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      There is no need to speak to me of alternate pronoun usage. I wrote up a column on this point when it first arose:

      http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/02/overcoming-the-binary-gender-assumptions-in-science-fiction/

      Allow me to quote myself

      Dear postmodern reformers, you are ninety-four years out of date. In the seminal work of wonder known to mortals as VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS by David Lindsay, an author in every way more imaginative than any writer (myself included) writing today, effortlessly disposed of this issue.

      “Then he experienced another surprise, for this person, although clearly a human being, was neither man nor woman, nor anything between the two, but was unmistakably of a third positive sex, which was remarkable to behold and difficult to understand. In order to translate into words the sexual impression produced in Maskull’s mind by the stranger’s physical aspect, it is necessary to coin a new pronoun, for none in earthly use would be applicable. Instead of “he,” “she,” or “it,” therefore “ae” will be used.”

      The author here is using the concept of a third positive sex forcefully and boldly, but more importantly, the author is using the concept of a new sex in a fashion that is literal, typological, tropological, and anagogical. He is using the concept in a masterful way.

      What Leehallfae represents is beyond the scope of this short comment, but ae steps forth from the page as aer own person, fully human yet nothing like us, possessed of passions we earthly humans formed in but two sexes can almost understand, and yet, as with all real things, the real meaning of aer life slips from us. Yet there ae stands, but casting a solid and angular shadow across the landscape of the imagination. I defy anyone to point at another character like aer. Pemmer Harge rem ir Tibe of planet Gethen is far closer to us in spirit.

      The author here is using sex not to make a political point, but to tell a story deeper and stranger and more vivid than any ordinary story. If the shallow and noisy postmoderns dare to tread in the footsteps of Mr Lindsay, I wish them good luck.

      If they wish merely to scoff and scorn their own audience, I wish them silent. They are not our masters (and I, for one, am the disciple of another, whose burdens are lighter).

      • Comment by Suburbanbanshee:

        Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves. That David Brin thing. A bunch of Star Trek novels. (Heck, a bunch of Star Trek fanfics.) Lois McMaster Bujold. Vernor Vinge. Lots and lots of feminist writers down the years.

        Gender pronouns are fun toys to play with, but they are pretty darned old tools in the toolbox. Sentient starships are pretty old, too. Heck, I’ve even seen avenging bits of oneself, before this.

        So if this is all the excitement is about… it’s like announcing in 2015 that having Martians invade is a super-exciting and original plot twist.

        • Comment by Fail Burton:

          SEE!!! Martians invade the Earth from their secret bases under the canals of Mars

          SEE!!! The mysterious ray that turns people into jelly

          SEE!!! An invasion fleet like you’ve never seen before

          SEE!!! A brave experimental Earth ship set off to find alien help in the mysterious jungles of Venus

          SEE !!! Giant spiders that attach themselves to human lungs

        • Comment by Jordan179:

          One of the reasons I have no respect for the SJW alleged science fiction fans is their complete and aggressive ignorance of the history of science fiction. By “aggressive,” I mean that they get mad at one if one points out to them that their latest hobby-horse has been done before.

      • Comment by Jordan179:

        Dear postmodern reformers, you are ninety-four years out of date. In the seminal work of wonder known to mortals as VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS by David Lindsay, an author in every way more imaginative than any writer (myself included) writing today, effortlessly disposed of this issue.

        (*nods*)

        And other examples of aliens with variant reproductive systems began popping up in science fiction as early as the 1930’s. For instance, the aliens I wrote in that chapter — the Elder Things — come from Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, which was written in 1931 and published in 1936 (and is one of the stories that got me interested in xenofiction in the first place, when I first encountered it around 1973 at age 8-9). Lovecraft did something similar with his Great Race of Yith in The Shadow Out of Time (written 1934-35, published 1936). And from the 1940’s through 1960’s there was a steady flow of stories about alternate sexualties, often by Theodore Sturgeon.

        I grew up reading about this sort of thing. In the 1970’s and 1980’s. The reason why the SJW writers, critics, and fans don’t know about this is that they have chosen to be aggressively ignorant about the history of science fiction.

    • Comment by Fail Burton:

      You’re talking about the difference between writers who use principle to approach that and many other subjects in a larger and humanistic sense and people who use their own identity to only approach that one subject. The former are genuinely interested in a diverse range of subjects. The latter, as it is being used in SF today, is used to advance the moral and spiritual supremacy of one identity at the expense of another and there is no diversity, not in narcissism. The stupid irony is the PC accuse that principled Golden Age culture of SF of being supremacist white male freaks, interested only in white man stuff. Nothing could’ve been further from the truth. The PC smell their own stink. You’ll never see the wide range of themes in intersectional SFF you’ll see in stuff normal people write. The PC have no abstract interest in Dyson Spheres and Ringworlds. Women, gay, non-white, non-Western are the four most important themes. SFF comes in fifth and last.

      They are two completely different actions. One is actually genre speculative fiction with multiple themes, the other is one single unalterable theme poaching in SF. The QUILTBAG queer/PoC culture identity essentially becomes the genre. That’s why so many of these stories, Hild, “Wakulla Springs,” “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love…”, “The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere,” Paper Menagerie,” etc. have little or no fantastic element. Identity crowds out all else. It is also why their stories are so boring to everyone but themselves.

  9. Comment by luckymarty:

    In defense of ANCILLARY JUSTICE, although the gender pronoun gimmick seems to have attracted all the attention, it’s trying to use the protagonist and her/its arc to address a number of points other than gender, including the properly SF question of an artificial intelligence which has grown a personality beyond its makers intent — probably beyond its own awareness. And it’s really not a bad SF setting.

    I can even make sense of the pronoun business in the context of the world. Designing an AI system that ignores gender could just be a cultural blindspot, but one that defaults to female pronouns and doesn’t update usage is such a obvious bug that it can only be intentional. But when I imagine the ideology of the Radchaai meeting the obdurate reality of human gender and, in particular, masculine social dominance, I can easily conceive of them inserting “counter-discriminatory” elements into their programming. (Probably the author would reject my interpretation with horror, but I haven’t tried to investigate her own beliefs.)

    • Comment by Fail Burton:

      I’ll fill you in on her beliefs. She had a post on her blog where she made an analogy that America was like a restaurant where white heterosexual men are like waiters who punch non-whites, gays and women at random. She is a thoughtless fanatic.

  10. Comment by masgramondou:

    Does Damien drive a wickless diesel?

  11. Comment by jalazar88:

    John C. Wright, he whose buttocks are the sun and the moon, whose effluvia is the nectar of his subjects! Look upon his works, ye mighty, and despair!

  12. Comment by Marc W.:

    I think the saddest thing about people like this is not their ignorance, nor their self-satisfaction. Who among us could cast the first stone at sinners of those two stripes?

    No, the sad thing, the pitiful thing, the *pathetic* thing, is how paltry their dreams are. How limited their sense of the possible is.

    This is the Literature of the Possible! As Dr. Land said, “Attempt no project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.” Dream great dreams, and better ones!

    Does that mean my silly little stories about Dr. Solomon and his hapless assistant Ted are a waste of time? I like to think not, because hidden in Dr. Solomon’s misguided if mighty intellect, and Ted’s suffering insolence, is the idea that a curmudgeon like Dr. Solomon could reach out his hand, and change the world with the power of his mind.

    And that is the same spark that dances inside Iain M. Banks’ “Culture,” that magnificent band of gun-toting hippies, and the mindblowing futurism of our noble host’s “Count to a Trillion.” Belief that there is something better, something different, waiting for us, even if we as humans remain similar to what we are. We may be limited to possibilities, but possibilities are not limited. Believe that and you are welcome under my science-fiction tent. Believe that the future is just like today, only with uglier uniforms, and I know you not.

    • Comment by HMSLion:

      Yes. GOOD Space Opera inspires Great Dreams. Inculates a desire to become Great Men in their readers.

      I’ll admit it – I always wanted to be a Lensman of the Galactic Patrol. Intelligent, wise, just, courageous, possessed of perfect integrity…and sudden death with anything from bare hands to a battlefleet.

      And even in falling short, I’m a better man for it.

  13. Comment by Fail Burton:

    I can’t detect any mid-century American design elements in Baen’s covers. Gonna have to chalk it up to “I don’t like it so it’s retro and stupid.” The covers on the Baen home page are mostly pretty nice. Walter’s intellect reminds me of a Richard Powers SF painting so that’s pretty retro and snaggle-pussed.

  14. Comment by The OFloinn:

    Just when I had determined to write a pulsating interstellar adventure featuring grimly militaristic lizards in order to fill this unmet need, others have reminded us of the many precursor lizards, and the moment passes. Even if the roles are reversed and the giant spiders do not appear in any of them.

  15. Comment by Tegerian:

    Damien Walter is such an annoying little pissant, “The Queen Presumptive of the Whiny, Failed Writer’s Guild.”

    • Comment by LugoTeehalt:

      “Failure” would imply he has actually tried. He cannot be said to have “failed” to be a writer when he has not even written a single novel.

      Instead:

      Queen Presumptive of the Whiny, Wannabe Writer’s Guild

  16. Comment by Rose:

    Your takedowns are works of art, Mr. Wright. Dickless weasel is so simple yet encompasses the essence of the majority of leftist males in a nutshell – or should I say, nutless-shell.

    • Comment by Mrs. Wright:

      John got that from other members of the ELOE. He just ran with it. ;-)

      • Comment by Rose:

        Then he sprinted with it like Usain Bolt. Even if Mr. Wright did not originate the phrase, he expounded on the sentiment with his usual dispassionate eloquence – precise and brutal. And for that, we are all most entertained and grateful. The day Mr. Wright saw the light, Satan must have let out a mighty howl.

  17. Comment by Rose:

    Dickless weasel brings to mind another wordsmith who once used the phrase boneless ferret to describe an ignoble little leftist.

  18. Comment by T.L. Knighton:

    Remember, if you have a point to make, Damien Walter will do his level best to ignore it.

    And he’s pretty good at that kind of thing, too.

  19. Ping from Space Opera and the Soul of Science Fiction | Joel’s Musings:

    […] literary evisceration of Mr Walter’s screed at the hands of the incomparable John C. Wright: Musteline yet Lacking a Male Member. I tip my hat to you, […]

  20. Comment by JB:

    BILL,, THE GALACTIC HERO, by Harry Harrison-the Chingers are little lizards.
    ULLER UPRISING by H. Beam Piper-the Ullerites are six-armed bisexual lizards.
    Poul Anderson’s Dominic Flandry stories-the enemy Merseians are also lizardlike.

    Science fiction is usually basically the time in which it is written, unless it’s explicitly using the past. In America when it’s about the past it’s heavily involved with Western history-how could it not be? For examples, ULLER UPRISING is sort of the Indian Mutiny. Anderson’s Technic League stories feature armed merchant Adventurer companies ranging out among alien civilizations, including Injuns among the Stars, followed by an Imperial phase where competing static Empires grind against each other in a Great Game of espionage and war. Followed by the collapse of the Roman Empire. All that’s our Western experience explicitly, just jumbled around.

    People on the Left seek to end all variety, all experience, and with a furious, glorious Year Zero create a perfect ant-like balanced future where no one wants for anything and no one wants anything. Nothing asked, nothing given. Secular dessicated miracles all ’round! That’s all people like Damien Walter offer-venomous hysterical mundane fantasy.

    Re: your buttocks; basically an Arse of the New Sun?

    • Comment by wlinden:

      And there are cannibals in ULLER UPRISING, who are hated and feared by all the other natives.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Ahh… I was not asking for a list of lizardlike aliens. I was asking specifically for lizardlike alien maneaters, or, in keeping with the original post, cannibals, that is, lizard eaters, and which of America’s enemies they represent.

      But you touch on a deeper and very interesting point. Is rightwing fiction naturally more historically accurate, and leftwing more utopian? Small wonder that Eric Flint keeps being called a rightwinger (even though I have heard he is a faithful socialist) because the 1692 books are so historically based.

      • Comment by M. L. Martin:

        Star Wars Trandoshans (Bossk’s species) are known to eat their own kind, starting with their fellow hatchlings.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          Ahh … I was not asking for a list of lizardlike aliens. I was asking specifically for lizardlike alien maneaters, or, in keeping with the original post, cannibals, that is, lizard eaters, and which of America’s enemies they represent.

          Nor, should I say, was Mr Walter complaining at how many lizards there were in SF. He is not decrying Saurophobia, but racism, that is, using aliens as standins or symbols for the dusky ‘Other’ whom we Americans are alleged to hate and fear with an unique and inexplicable hatred.

          • Comment by Fail Burton:

            There are lots of PC cult members who honestly believe white SFF writers use aliens as stand-ins for blacks and then gun them down.

            SFWA member and SFF author and editor Carrie Cuinn states there was “a time when SF writers hid their racism by attributing negative stereotypes to aliens instead of non-whites…”

            That’s a brittle lie and they can’t come up with any trend of stories like that. Oddly enough, the PC don’t even disguise their disdain for white men.

      • Comment by Scholar-at-Arms:

        I think the gold standard for Mr Walter’s ” enemies of America disguised as cannibal lizard aliens” has already been mentioned: H. Beam Piper’s ULLR UPRISING, which not only contains alien lizards which eat their own kind, but also bears more than a passing resemblance to a real historical event – the Sepoy mutiny. In Piper’s story, the native soldiers, practically to a man, er, lizard, turn against the Ullr company in an unforeseen orgy of violence. They are Sepoys in disguise and let me ask all of you: when you run your mind over the list of America’s oldest enemies, who can possibly compare to the Sepoys? They were servants of the British Crown, WHO WE FOUGHT OUR FIRST WAR AGAINST, and that spilled blood runs thick, thick! Can any true-hearted American not be filled with rage when he remembers Cornwallis’ march to the sea, and how his pitiless Sepoy mercenaries burnt Atlanta!? By Gad, when I finished ULLR UPRISING I stood and saluted Mr H. Beam Piper, for showing me how to enjoy the victory of America over her very oldest enemies, even when they are disguised as cannibal alien lizards. If only he had still been writing when Baen Books was formed, so that he could continue to to fire up our patriotism under their auspices! Sepoy riflemen, Sassanid horse archers, Imperial Spanish tercios; the list of Americas hated enemies who can be effortlessly transformed into cannibal lizard aliens is nigh-endless! Let us salute the noble Mr Piper and his spiritual heirs for showing us this!

  21. Comment by Rose:

    DicklessWeasel and every other reality-challenged PC zombot are walking, talking PSAs. Whenever they open their big, blathering mouths the message is clear:

    This is your brain.
    *Splat*
    This is your brain on Leftism.
    Just say no.

  22. Comment by Zaklog the Great:

    Off-topic, but I can’t find the original thread anymore. There was a conversation here not that long ago that mentioned Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Someone said they had a noticeably Catholic tone to them and I disagreed. Having recently finished Skin Game, I must withdraw my objection. The funny thing is, what mainly changed my mind isn’t Michael Carpenter’s character, but *SPOILER ALERT* *SPOILER ALERT* Harry’s new daughter, or rather, her origins. When the book says that an act of love is an act of creation, and specifically the creation of a new life . . . yeah, that sounds kind of like something catholics would say. The blatant inclusion of a character like Carpenter is one thing, but sneaking something like that in through the side door (and by “sneaking” I mean no disrespect) is another thing entirely.

  23. Comment by Dr. Mauser:

    Lisanne Norman’s series had a species of Lizard bad guys. Valtegans or something like that. I don’t know if they ate the cat-people they had enslaved, nor if that would count as cannibalism.

  24. Comment by Jordan179:

    Walter either hasn’t read Banks or has a poor memory, since I remember people in space armor violently blasting each other and an alien entity out of existence with a variety of ingenious military devices. They are not “hippies” but the very meddling Blackwater/CIA types Walter claims to despise. Isn’t a main character in Harrison’s Light a massive warship? Is all that violence a ha-ha satirical kind I can’t detect? And that’s not including the ha-ha serial killer who murders a women in the opening passages.

    One of Banks’ novels has a Villain Protagonist who is introduced in a manner that is meant to make a casual reader think he’s a good guy, but who is in fact an insanely and violently-bigoted serial killer and terrorist who enjoys torturing AI’s (in one memorable scene, a rather harmless and friendly one) because he’s decided that they have no feelings or rights. I consider this good writing, because he’s showing how someone can be the worst kind of villain and see himself as a hero. Though, if Walter was choosing to attack rather than support Banks, he’d say “just like the right-wing concept of the Terrorists!”

    Walter would be right, too. Just not the way that he meant it.

  25. Comment by Malcolm Edwards:

    Any sentence including the phrase “science fiction should” or similar should in my view be disregarded (with the exception of this one, of course).

    I always read sf to open my mind to different possibilities. Whether they were (in your formulation) leftist or conservative was one of the least interesting questions to ask about them.

    Consider the elder gods:

    E. M. Forster, George Orwell, Olaf Stapledon and H.G. Wells were indubitably leftist.

    C.S. Lewis, H.P. Lovecraft, M.P. Shiel and J.R.R. Tolkien were indubitably conservative.

    I don’t know enough about William Hope Hodgson or David Lindsay to venture an opinion. It’s notable that Hodgson claims among his many contemporary admirers both China Mieville (leftist) and yourself (conservative).

    And do you know, I don’t care what their political opinions might have been. It is their imaginative visions which matter, and will make their work last (probably already have made it last) long beyond the time when their political views might resonate with their readers.

    As you probably know, C.S. Lewis greatly admired Olaf Stapledon as a writer, but was dismayed by what he saw as the underlying philosophy of Star Maker (which he characterised as “devil worship”). His response was not to blog about how awful Stapledon was, but to write his own trilogy of novels, starting with Out Of The Silent Planet, to articulate a counter-vision. That, surely, is a model for how to conduct a debate about ideas and philosophies in a literature which we tell ourselves is a literature of ideas.

  26. Comment by Sandy Petersen:

    I would like to staunchly take issue with Mr. Wright’s vile characterization of weasels. I kept ferrets (which are obviously extremely weasel-like) for many years, and they are adorable, doting pets, who love their owners, eagerly participate in play, and are always ready for an exciting romp. More people should own them. While they can, occasionally bite, they do so much less than cats or dogs.

    So please don’t characterize left-wing bloviators as “weasels”. Poor mustelids.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      To be fair, I did not call the fellow a ferret. I called him a weasel.

      But your point is well taken. Man is not only the saddest of beasts, but the only beast truly capable of evil. To liken any wild animal to a bad man is to insult the innocent and feral creatures.

      On the other hand, ferrets don’t read science fiction, so they will forgive me.

    • Comment by jic:

      Ferrets are domesticated polecats, not weasels. Calling Damien Walter a weasel taints ferrets as much as it does otters or badgers: not at all.

  27. Comment by Sandy Petersen:

    Also I own a horror novel in which alien lizards who eat humans and are disguised as humans most of the time figure prominently. I cannot at the moment recall the title, and anyway it is upstairs and I am too lazy to check it. But then I’m not sure that the horror genre, even if the bad guys are technically aliens, counts as real science fiction, though there is clearly overlap.

    But then horror has a lot more types of creatures that eat people than does science fiction.

  28. Comment by Fail Burton:

    I’ll again point out it is a mistake to continue to see Walter’s cult as a part of liberalism; identity advocacy and even supremacy are being confused with progressive and liberal philosophies. That’s because intersectionalism has falsely co-opted the mere appearance of skeins of 20th century anti-oppression movements the way medieval Germans claimed to be Roman emperors. But QUILTBAG feminists don’t ask you to read Lincoln, they ask you to read Peggy McIntosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” They don’t ask you to read John Locke but Joanna Russ’s “How To Suppress Women’s Writing.” They ask you to read Donna Haraway, bell hooks, Toni Morrison. Intersectionalists ask you to read work about identity that advocates identity written by those identities and that is never done without a context of spending the coin of other identities until the straight white man and the West is bereft of any legitimate claim to humanity. It is no coincidence these people worship SFF author Octavia Butler far above her actual place in SFF.

    There is nothing liberal about a philosophy that holds higher wisdom, spirituality and morality resides in skin, gender and geography. The mysticism with which intersectionalists invest gay women, PoC and the Third World is nothing more than a naked unchallenged worship. The true skein intersectionalists have gathered under their peculiar re-branding of feminism is more along the lines of Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy and Derrick Bell’s Critical Race Theory, not Martin Luther King or classic liberal thought. Walter himself once Tweeted “Google ‘intersectional’ and move on”

    Third Wave QUILTBAG intersectionalism hold philosophies that are far more in tune with neo-Nazism than liberalism. In principle the reality is that radical intersectional feminism is a neo-Nazi movement trying to pass itself off as an anti-oppression movement. There is no other way to explain its endemic racism and sexual bigotry and contempt for and break with traditional feminism. Intersectional feminism claims traditional feminists themselves range from the unconsciously racially privileged to racially supremacist and continue to do the dirty work of the white capitalist patriarchal supremacy while ignoring the concerns of gay, non-white and even disabled and non-Western women. However the truth is when you purposefully multiply so-called vectors of oppression until even a vulgar slang terms equals rape and using the word “lady” or insulting any woman for any reason (including a man altering a woman’s words) is a form of misogyny, that is supremacy looking for a Sudetenland, a Gulf of Tonkin, a Mukden.

    Genuine oppression doesn’t have to make up slavery, lynchings or Jim Crow. When one stipulates the effortless and widespread existence of misogyny, homophobia, white racism, white colonialism and Islamophobia with as much of an airy a wave of the hand as one dismisses the possibility of misandry, non-white racism, non-white colonialism, heterophobia and Christianophobia, that is cementing morality itself into identities determined solely by race and sex, not the failings of individuals or actual events. Intersectionalism is the complete opposite of the rule and rules of law.

    Other than hiding within so-called “Leftism” the way anti-Semites hide within “anti-Zionism,” SFF’s PC cult has nothing to do with liberalism.

    It is no coincidence Walter uses terms like “feminist writing,” “pronoun usage” and “binary gender” and then stipulates the opposite of that is a “conservative agenda.” Walter is a money-changer who shifts the meaning of words until not wanting to be racially and sexually defamed is a “conservative agenda.”

  29. Ping from Labor Day Miscellaneous Linkagery & Open Thread : The Other McCain:

    […] Wright also chimes in on the wretched Damien Walter. He sure writes […]

  30. Comment by JB:

    Mr. Wright; The comment thread has moved on, but you said:

    Is rightwing fiction naturally more historically accurate, and leftwing more utopian?

    I’m not widely read, but I’d argue Yes, it has to be. It’s pretty much given that rightwing people are more politically mature, and therefore have at least some historical awareness. You’d expect that rightwing writers would draw their examples either from real history, or from the modern world, which is vicariously (or viciously?) historical, since what’s going on today has roots in the varyingly long past. Leftwingers, whether useful idiots, malevolencers, or just well-intentioned fantasists, must conform to a secular paradaisical vision in order to maintain their leftwing malafides. So pretty much they have to be utopian, since utopia is all they are allowed to have. It’s also all they have to offer, not having any practical successes to point to.

    Also, rightwingers are naturally attracted to powerful stories, I think. The stories themselves, of course, vary in quality. The power and drama of History is unmatched and unmatchable. Everything in the now, simply by existing, is a reference to something that has been, so if you want to write a powerful story you’re going to base it on SOMETHING that has happened. You’ll use a powerful situation-which has already happened, or a powerful character-an amalgam of real heroic people, or you’ll use something going on right now, which as I said is by default rooted in the past. H. Beam Piper did this explicitly, translating pretty much anything exciting which ever happened into SF terms.

    There ARE new things under the sun, but it seems to be REAAAALY difficult to come up with them. Art-for-Art’s sake relies on the artist’s character to work, since it’s just the Artist noodling in Medium. The problem with that is it relies on individual character, and VERY few people are THAT interesting. People who spend most of their time in a studio (whether true-trained artists or lefty fakes), or who spend their time arguing politics instead of doing it, are just not going to accumulate the experiences necessary to have a good fund of stories to tell. Rightwingers, on the other hand, are probaly better than that, and might some of them have a lot of real-world stories to tell. More likely they’ll draw from History, which is an accumulation of interesting stories, and reading it is an improving experience.

  31. Comment by Malcolm Edwards:

    Wholly agree? Truly?

    Those utopian visions expressed in, inter alia, The Time Machine, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four?

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I wholly and truly agree with what he said, yes. Whether I agree with what you think he said, I do not know, not unless you tell me what you think he said.

      We are not speaking of the Leftist ability to criticize imperfections, or to make dystopias, which I assume could be just as dreadful as the dystopias of the right; we were speaking of the flatness of their utopias due to a fuzzy inability to grasp the lessons of history …

      … or so I thought. If I misread what JB meant, tell me.

  32. Comment by JB:

    No, Mr. Wright, you got my point. The Time Machine, Animal Farm, and 1984 are specific criticisms or explorations of ideas and situations, and are not recommendations for social improvement.

    Also, these books are hardly typical of anything, being well-known masterpieces and, furthermore, unique.

  33. Ping from Lightning Round – 2014/09/03 | Free Northerner:

    […] SF: When ignorant snobs, like Damien Walter, attack. Related: More on Damien Walter. […]

  34. Comment by Malcolm Edwards:

    “Leftwingers, whether useful idiots, malevolencers, or just well-intentioned fantasists, must conform to a secular paradaisical vision in order to maintain their leftwing malafides. So pretty much they have to be utopian, since utopia is all they are allowed to have. It’s also all they have to offer, not having any practical successes to point to.”

    This is what I was responding to. JB’s response to my comment seems to me like a classic circular argument, and I will indeed agree that, if you exclude any books which might contradict the point, the point is unassailable.

    I came across the following, which perhaps we might call Wright’s Law:

    I submit that any definition of Science Fiction that eliminates the most famous works of most famous writers in SF is a very bad definition indeed. (September 19th 2012)

    To which I would submit a corollary:

    Any argument about Science Fiction that excludes the most famous works of most famous writers in SF is a very bad argument indeed.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Again, I fear I do not understand your point. He is not saying Leftwingers cannot write science fiction. He is saying that they do better when portraying unrealistic utopian visions (Gene Roddenberry and Ursula K LeGuin spring to mind)than when portraying tales based on realistic historical events (such as the Sepoy Mutiny in Space).

      I agree with the idea which you prompted that the Left also do better when portraying unrealistic dystopian visions than when portraying tales based on realistic historical events. There are no real historical events of socialists actually accomplishing anything that ever made anything better for them to use as a template.

      I just do not think JB was saying or implying what you say he said.

  35. Comment by Malcolm Edwards:

    It may be that we are ships destined to pass in a state of mutual incomprehension.

    It may indeed be that conservative writers do better at rewriting actual historical events as science fiction, but to be frank reading about the Sepoy Mutiny in space would never have been a subject which attracted me particularly as a reader.

    More fundamentally I reject the notion of judging an sf writer first by their political bent; or that it says anything meaningful about the science fiction they might write, unless they clearly set out to write political sf. I say this equally about writers I know to have been left-leaning (say, Isaac Asimov or Harry Harrison) or conservative leaning (say, Poul Anderson or Jack Vance).

    I seem to have missed these tides of unrealistic utopian visions unleashed (if one can unleash a tide) by left-leaning writers.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      More fundamentally I reject the notion of judging an sf writer first by their political bent

      That being so, we are not ships destined to pass in mutual incomprehension, since I completely agree.

      Nonetheless, I merely note in passing that, for example, the Galactic Empire of Poul Anderson seems realistic, whereas the Galactic Empire of Isaac Asimov is saved by the power of centralized planning, and is utter unrealistic. This leads me speculate that leftward writers don’t have as good a grasp of history as rightward ones.

      I will ignore your snark against H. Beam Piper as unworthy of you and move on.

      I seem to have missed these tides of unrealistic utopian visions

      Well, THE DISPOSSESSED by LeGuin springs to mind as well as ALWAYS COMING HOME, ECTOPIA by E Callenbach, as well as THE FEMALE MAN by Joanna Russ, LOOKING BACKWARD by Edward Bellamy, MEN LIKE GODS by HG Wells as well as A MODERN UTOPIA, ISLAND by Aldous Huxley, PACIFIC EDGE by Kim Stanley Robinson, for starters.

      • Comment by Sean Michael:

        Dear Mr. Wright:

        I absolutely agree! Poul Anderson’s Terran Empire feels more REAL and plausible to me than Asimov’s Galactic Empire. Anderson’s Empire has a more “organic” feel to it because it had more plausible origins and reasons for existing (it sprang from the ruins of the earlier Solar Commonwealth and Polesotechnic League). For a discussion by Anderson of how he came to build his “future history” and the historical and philosophical framework he used I recommend to interested readers his essay “Concerning Future Histories” (BULLETIN OF THE SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS OF AMERICA, Fall 1979).

        Isaac Asimov’s Galactic Empire, except here and there in the original Foundation books, simply does not feel CONVINCING to me. A few years ago I reread the original Foundation books and, alas, found them mostly dull and clunky reading. It makes me wonder why I found them so fascinating as a boy but mostly boring now.

        And Mr. Wright’s comment about how, in Asimov’s Galactic Empire milieu, how utterly unrealistic he found the idea of civilization being saved by the centralized planning of the telepathic, mind adjusting mathematicians of the Second Foundation is a good point. One I had not thought of before.

        Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

        • Comment by Centurion13:

          @Mr. Brooks: I recall only two occasions where I felt a streak of disbelief go through what, to me, was an otherwise-unflawed narrative such as the works you describe.

          One was SF. The Vegan race of Heinlein’s “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel” was described as perfectly reasonable, perfectly ordered to point where the protagonist states something like ‘the biggest flaw of the Vegans is that they don’t have any”. And I remember the thought flashing into my head “but of course – the Vegans are not Fallen. No wonder they find us so curious – and alarming.” I was taken aback years later to discover Heinlein himself was an atheist.

          The other was Orwell’s “1984”, where it occurred to me about three-fifths the way through the book that I just could not buy the premise of a world state with that much control. That degree of evil combined with that degree of competence was simply not possible in the real world – it was quite literally an oxymoron. You could certainly put the two together in a book, but perfection of any sort requires at least a few of the virtues and the more evil you become, the fewer of those you retain. In other words, Orwell created a cautionary tale base on the combination of two mutually exclusive concepts.

          And they don’t just contradict each other, they cancel each other out. You’re left with a few nightmare images and some great quotes, but I could never take the story seriously. That’s probably a shortcoming on my part, but I just could not get over that glaring inconsistency which shot through the story.

          So, too, the Foundation. I was expected to think of humanity as being this seething mass of unpredictables with a penchant for self-destruction. But every character I met personally was profoundly rational to the point where two newlyweds spent their wedding night arguing politics. That’s very sensible, of course, but not much like a wedding night. The further I went in, the more the characters presented began to look less and less like men. I loves me some Asimov, but sometimes I think he stayed up late at night writing one too many of those science books. His robots showed more humanity than his humans did. There’s a place you have to get yourself to, to be able to imagine a human being detached enough to organize the life and death of billions and perfect enough to pull it off. And then imagine a whole world full of them. I can’t get there, and Asimov couldn’t take me.

          • Comment by John C Wright:

            “That’s very sensible, of course, but not much like a wedding night.”

            LOL and You get the prize for the Asimov-Jane Austin crossquote of the year!

          • Comment by Sean Michael:

            Hi, Centurion!

            Thanks for your comemnts! I too have read Heinlein’s HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL, but too long ago for me to really comment adequately about the book. But the idea of the Vegans being unFallen does interest me. Unless they were the ones who went in for casually exterminating all races they disapproved of, then I would have to disagree. My belief is that a trly unFallen race would not do things like that.

            And I would include George Orwell’s 1984 as being also SF. It should be thought of as belonging to the DYSTOPIAN brance of SF. Once understood as a dystopian cautionary tale, the implausible combination of pure evil and competence seen in the book becomes less of a strain to swallow.

            Btw, in some ways, I found Aldous Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD more plauslible as a dystopian tale. Using drugs and sex to keep the masses stupified and under control seems more likely than the sheer terror we see in 1984.

            And, yes, I think you made a good point about the characters in the Foundation books, that they are implausibly sensible and rational. Frankly, I found myself liking the bad guys in the Foundation stories more than I did the “good” guys. Such as Commissioner Chen, Cleon II, Bel Rios, and the Mule.

            But, I saw no comments by you about Poul Anderson’s Technic Civilization stories and novels. Do you have any thoughts about them?

            Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

  36. Comment by Malcolm Edwards:

    No snark intended about Piper. I didn’t recognize the reference, having missed the mention earlier in this thread. That story was completely unobtainable — buried in an obscure out-of-print anthology — in the time period when I might have read it had it been (say) half of an Ace Double. I assume problems with his estate must have meant that it didn’t get reprinted till 1983. I never viewed Piper as a first rank sf writer, rather as a decent second rank figure whose best work was some short stories, e.g. Omnilingual and, of course, He Walked Around the Horses. The latter was featured in an sf anthology intended for school use which we read in class when I was about 13, and was much admired, even by kids who had little taste for sf. It may have been the proximate reason why the first sf magazine I ever bought had as its cover story the first of his Kalvan stories.

    Four utopian novels published from within the genre doesn’t sound like too many … But that aside, I’m glad we’ve found something to agree on. When I came into the sf world, the general assumption was that what united us — a love of imaginative fiction — mattered more than our differences. Call me an old utopian, but I think that in losing that commonality we have lost something important.

  37. Ping from The Moral of the Story | The Common Room:

    […] and not so much about the story or the genre, and if you don’t mind some strong language, you will enjoy this.  I did, […]

  38. Ping from Denying SF, dissing Baen | Vox Popoli:

    […] not a Baen Books author, the inimitable Tor Books and Castalia House author John C. Wright has also weighed in on the matter as only he can. I daresay his criticism of Walter is considerably more entertaining, and more […]

Leave a Reply