James May on Jack Vance

An excerpt:

When Jack Vance, one of the greatest writers of SF and fantasy, died in May of 2013, one of SF’s new breed of racialized feminists, Aliette de Bodard, multiple nominee and winner of SF’s highest awards, the Hugo and Nebula, Tweeted, “I don’t actually think I’ve read any Vance. Should I?”

Had Jack Vance been a non-white gay woman, de Bodard would’ve sent up rocket flares when he died, since she is well acquainted with the most obscure women, non-white, non-Western authors in SF and fantasy. De Bodard represents a culture within SFF that fetishizes a black mid-list SF author like Octavia Butler whose influence and talent compared to Vance is minimal but whose race, politics, and gender represents a trump card. Vance represents the complete opposite: devoted to word and artistry to the exclusion of all else. And yet Vance has been enrolled in a de facto supremacist ideology by radical feminism by fiat and so is of no interest to them whatsoever other than an example of a smotheringly oppressive patriarchy. Aside from that, an SFF writer who had never read Vance is like an Egyptologist missing a dynasty or two. It’s betrays a rather stunning disinterest and lack of knowledge of one’s own literary ancestors and history of one’s own genre.

On her blog and Twitter, De Bodard never ceases recommending literature according to the race and gender of those writing it; whether they’re actually any good or not seems immaterial. It shouldn’t be any surprise that in this new climate, de Bodard is relentlessly nominated for awards based on her own patronized and pandered to racial identity and that of her stories rather than her skills, which are nominal.

Some people saw this coming years ago, such as Gary Westfahl:

“In all the science fiction of the last half-century, the influence of the pulp tradition is, to any knowledgeable reader, not merely palpable but overwhelming. It would seem an era that science fiction scholars would be eager to study in depth.

“In the case of science fiction, the process of excluding the pulp magazines from the history of science fiction can already be observed in a number of critical studies, some of them well respected, for reasons that demand little discussion. Stories from the pulps cannot qualify for preservation on the basis of their literary quality, which is uneven at best, and given our contemporary commitment to diversity, the literature of the pulps appears to be discomfitingly and overwhelmingly white, male, North American, heterosexual, and middle class.”

The truth about SFF’s politically correct is they don’t admire any part of America’s past but condemn it wholesale, the whole ball of wax. The same is mostly true of America today, which they routinely portray as an oppressive, misogynist and racist gulag.

What is an art community that doesn’t know who its Jack Vance is? In the visual arts, what if the greatest expert on Van Gogh died and an artist said, “I’ve heard the name ‘Van Gogh’ but I’ve never seen the work; should I?” Aside from the laughingly obvious fact the answer wouldn’t depend on a dead artist’s race and gender, as is so painfully obvious with now deceased Octavia (one true cross) Butler, the answer depends on what you imagine a world of artistic endeavor looks like that doesn’t know Hemingway, Hendrix, Rembrandt, Lloyd Wright, and by extension Frazetta, Shelley, Poe, Heinlein, Lovecraft, Wells, and Burroughs. Some of the people on the wrong side of that answer are as predictable as machines:

“Cecily Kane ‏@Cecily_Kane Jun 24 Re: misogyny in SF/F. This is a rough day so far and it’s only lunchtime. *clutches new O. Butler stories*”

SFF author Michael Swanwick addresses this issue at his blog in a post titled “Losing Our Literary History.” In it Swanwick writes:

“…somebody reported attending a panel of fantasy novelists at Comic Con where a reader asked if any of them were influenced by Lord Dunsany. None of the writers had ever heard of him.”

To me, if that’s true, it’s stunning. Dunsany is a key voice in the evolution of fantasy literature and people who were fans of that literature used to be connoisseurs; without Dunsany there is no H. P. Lovecraft. When fandom failed a half-century ago there was the fan/historian/editor/writer to pick up the slack and and bring back into focus a lost voice such as Lin Carter did with Robert E. Howard and many other fantasy authors, and Sam Moskowitz did with William Hope Hodgson. What is a fan who has lost the ability to connect the dots in the evolution of his own genre? Worse, what kind of a writer is that? For an SFF writer to not know who Jack Vance is is like an architect not knowing what the Chrysler Building is. What will that architect build?

This is from an eye-opening monograph on the Death of SFF at the hands of SJWs

My comment:

SFF =/= SJW for the simple reason that no literature, speculative or not, survives the ignorance of its partisans concerning their own field. Certainly no field survives the willful, blatant, vainglorious, aggressively insolent ignorance of partisans who entered the field solely to destroy it, or, as they would say, radically transform it.

To evolve a field into new forms, as classical music grew out of baroque, is fundamentally conservative, because it honors older forms by building on them. Modern painting did not grow out of the Preraphaelite movement, or the Mannerists before them, because it merely destroyed, and did not create, leaving a wasteland, a junkyard, a cesspool.

Cesspool science fiction winning awards makes puppies sad.

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