(1) APPROACHES TO MILSF. Greg Hullender’s review of “Infinity Wars, edited by Jonathan Strahan” for Rocket Stack Rank includes this analysis:
Make Love not War
The stories take the following attitudes toward the military:
Hate it. Soldiers are doing evil: 7
Despise it. Soldiers are wasting their lives: 3
Admire/respect it. Soldiers are heroes: 5
All of the recommended stories are from the last group, which is a little odd. It’s perfectly possible to write a great story from an anti-military point of view or with an anti-war message (e.g. Catch 22), but that’s not what we find in this volume. Perhaps it’s just a lot easier to write good military SF if you don’t actually hate the military.
(2) I SCREAM. Freddie In Space and artist Frank Browning invite you to cool down with Ben & Jerry’s Horror Movie Ice Cream flavors. There are over two dozen like this –
(3) LET DARKNESS FALL. Coming October 10 at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination:
The recent solar eclipse transfixed the world. People in the path of totality marveled at the corona and how the air temperature dropped briefly and, in some parts of the country, the cicadas began to sing as if it were night. But the eclipse also offers a world of possibilities for scientific discovery. Jay Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College, joins us at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination to discuss his observations of eclipses–66 solar eclipses, including 34 total solar eclipses–and the NSF and National Geographic supported discoveries these have yielded. Dozens of cameras, including a pair of frame-transfer CCDs, were trained on the corona to isolate the specific emissions of 13-times-ionized iron (“the coronal green line”) and 9-times-ionized iron (“the coronal red line”) at high cadence, to attempt to distinguish among models for how the corona is heated to millions of degrees. Dr. Pasachoff will discuss this work and plans for future total, partial, and annular eclipse observations over the next few years, including the 2023 and 2024 American eclipses.
(4) REFORMAUTOMATION. The Babylon Bee promises “New Martin Luther-Shaped Amazon Echo Will Rudely Answer All Your Theology Questions”.
Dubbed the “Amazon Luther,” the new device is programmed to answer all your theology questions in the Reformer’s trademark aggressive tone and style.
An Amazon rep gave a demo at the press conference announcing the device, showing off some of its dynamic responses:
“Luther, can you tell me about the Pope?”
The Pope is a mere tormentor of conscience. The assembly of his greased and religious crew in praying is altogether like the croaking of frogs, which edifies nothing at all.
“Luther, am I a good person?”
You are a sinner, you’re dead, you’re eaten up with corruption. Every free choice of yours is evil and not good.
“Luther, is Joel Osteen a solid preacher?”
Yes, Joel is an excellent person, as skillful, clever, and versed in Holy Scripture as a cow in a walnut tree or a sow on a harp.
(5) DANIEL OBIT. Actress Jennifer Daniel (1936-2017) died August 16. Her film appearances included the Edgar Wallace Mysteries film series, Gideon’s Way and the Hammer horror films The Kiss of the Vampire (1963) and The Reptile (1966).
(6) WE LIVE IN HIS VISION OF THE FUTURE. The New York Times eulogizes architect Gin Wong, who died September 1: “Gin Wong, Who Designed Futuristic Buildings in Los Angeles, Dies at 94”. He put his creative mark on the city with CBS Television City, the Los Angeles International Airport theme building, and his 1960 design of a Union 76 gas station in Beverly Hills:
— that remains one of his most beloved and enduring. With its red, swooping canopy angling toward the sky, the gas station wed the space age to the mundane task of filling up in a city devoted to cars.
Mr. Wong designed the gas station while working for his former teacher and mentor, William L. Pereira, around the time that he was also credited with creating the startling, spider-like Theme Building at the Los Angeles airport. Writing in The Los Angeles Times in 2010, the critic Bob Pool called the building “part spaceship, part flying saucer” and said that Mr. Wong had “set out to create a futuristic building that would both reflect its relationship with aviation and stand the test of time.”
…While running Mr. Pereira’s company in the late 1960s, Mr. Wong oversaw the design of the Transamerica Pyramid, the striking 853-foot-tall building that pierces the sky in San Francisco.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
- September 23, 1846 — Planet Neptune was discovered.
- September 23, 1962 — The Jetsons aired its very first episode.
- September 23, 1968 — Charly premiered in theaters, based on Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
(8) SFF MADE IT HAPPEN. Lezli Robyn thanks the sff community for donating to her GoFundMe appeal all the money needed for her eye surgery.
I am feeling so very overwhelmed, happy, and so very thankful. Gofundme donators have now raised the entire $8000 needed for a new and 100% successful cross-linking surgery on my eyes to halt the progression of my Keratoconus !!! I would love to thank my family and friends and the many authors, editors, publishers, artists and readers/fans of the sf/fantasy field for amazingly generous donations made to the surprise fundraiser my boss, Shahid Mahmud (who deserves the most thanks!), created to help me raise the money.
I have so many people to thank. I am especially thankful to the readers who donated—the people who, like me, might not have too much to spare, but still donated anyway. Even one of the first fans of my writing, a voracious reader, donated and left such a lovely message on my fundraiser (I’m looking at you, Jo Van Ekeren) that it moved me to tears.
In fact, I have been brought to tears several times over the amazing outpouring of generosity of the donations and the lovely messages written by those who have shared the fundraiser all over the web. And, let me tell you, it’s quite the bittersweet experience for me when I cry. My tears fill in the thinned parts of my corneas that the Keratoconus has eroded over the years, creating a more even, rounded, surface. So even if it was sadness that had caused my tears, for that split second my vision sharpens I experience a moment of wonder and surprise as I see how beautiful and vibrant the world really is, until gravity or the blink of an eye causes the tears to fall to my cheeks.
So, I thank you for the tears; I thank you for your generosity. I have always maintained that the sf/fantasy community operates a lot like a family. It might be a sometimes dysfunctional and controversial family at times, but it is a field notorious for paying it forward to the younger generation. Well, you guys have paid it forward this month to give me sight, in a field I like to think is full of vision for the future, and I can’t show my appreciation enough. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.
(9) LAW LAW LAND. A new legal specialty: “An Accident On The Moon, Young Lawyers To The Rescue”.
…Boggs and her two teammates are the North American finalists for this year’s competition, and next week they’ll go up against teams from South Africa, Greece and India for the big prize.
Each team argues both sides of a case set in the future, in space. This year’s case is, in the broadest terms, about a traffic accident on the moon….
Titan believes that Perovsk’s mining operation is releasing pollution and contaminating experiments, so they send a rover to investigate.
“They collide,” says Boggs. “Now everyone’s upset.”
Perovsk sues Titan over the damaged equipment in the International Court of Justice. Titan accuses Perovsk of breaking the law by polluting the moon. It’s unclear who should pay for what, and why. Rovers don’t carry insurance, and there’s a larger question about who has the right to use, or pollute, the moon in the first place.
Boggs says the case exemplifies one of her favorite things about space law: it’s ambiguous.
“It’s sort of hard not to say anything controversial in space law because everyone has a different opinion about what space law should do,” she explains. Space law is largely based on two treaties, the Outer Space Treaty and the moon Agreement, plus more general international law applied to space. But there’s tension within the treaties about what space should be used for.
(10) IT’S GREAT TO BE A GENIUS, OF COURSE. Brian Niemeier, in “The Convergence of Science Fiction”, joined a YouTuber to share his unique insight into sff history.
YouTuber Max Kolbe recently had me on his show to explain how the SJW convergence of tradpub science fiction happened. Max is particularly interested in the sudden shift from stories that took the Christian worldview for granted to overtly atheistic, anti-religious works. We discussed how John W. Campbell ended the reign of the pulps and how the Futurians fomented a Marxist revolution in SF publishing.
The Futurians? So…. The SJW Convergence happened…before World War 2? Before Heinlein published his first story? Before the invention of the paperback? Not just before TOR books was started, but before Tom Doherty enrolled in kindergarten? Talk about reductio ad absurdum….
(11) IN VINO SFF. Paste says “Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Commemorative Wine Will Be a Thing”.
We’re used to something like a coin, a keychain or at the very least toilet paper as commemorative items—but Square Enix, along with The Wine House in Los Angeles, are taking the more classy route. The two wines offered will be limited edition, one being “a 2016 Château des Bois red wine with hints of strawberry” called “Ifrit Rouge,” named after the classic fire summon from Final Fantasy. Along with Ifrit Rogue will come its counterpart, “Shiva Blanc” (after an ice summon), “a well-balanced 2015 Château des Bois white wine.”
Both bottles will be adorned with a 30th Anniversary logo, and will be packaged in boxes featuring art of the summons the drinks are named after. Of course, you have to be of the legal drinking age of 21 to order these online, with Ifrit Rogue available online here, and Shiva Blanc here. According to The Wine House’s website, these will ship in the beginning of this November to arrive by the end of that month
(12) CLASSICAL AND NEOCLASSICAL TREK. Alex Zalben watches a succession of Star Trek series pilots/first episodes and tweets his judgments. This pair will get you into the thread.
Best part of the plot is that a race of intergalactic swingers want to watch Pike bone, which is VERY 1960s.
— Alex Zalben (@azalben) September 22, 2017
tbh Q in a Starfleet uniform can get it pic.twitter.com/8MNTqFfsWd
— Alex Zalben (@azalben) September 22, 2017
(13) RECALL BOOK WE WILL. If this Saudi artist is never heard from again, you’ll know why:
A social studies textbook in Saudi Arabia was recalled for including a photo depicting a Star Wars character next to a king.
The black and white photo, by Saudi artist Abdullah Al Shehri, features the small, green Jedi Yoda seated next to King Faisal as he signed the United Nations Charter in San Francisco in 1945.
…Shehri, a 26-year-old artist who goes by the nickname Shaweesh, created the image as part of a series that inserts pop culture characters into historical photos and learned it had turned up in a textbook through a text from his mother.
“I am the one who designed it, but I am not the one who put it in the book,” he told the New York Times.
Shehri said he decided to insert Yoda into the photo because he reminded him of King Faisal and is the same color as the Saudi flag.
“He was wise and was always strong in his speeches,” he said. “So I found that Yoda was the closest character to the king. And also Yoda and his light saber — it’s all green.”
Sure, absolutely, I don’t doubt it for a moment.
(14) THE WAY THE FUTURE WASN’T. Noah Smith in “What We Didn’t Get” in his blog Noahpinion compares the successful predictions of the cyberpunk era to the failures of 1950s sf writers to adequately foresee the future and concludes that the reason Silver Age writers didn’t adequately predict the future was that “we ran out of theoretical physics, and we ran out of energy.”
If you watch Star Trek or Star Wars, or read any of the innumerable space operas of the mid-20th century, they all depend on a bunch of fancy physics. Faster-than-light travel, artificial gravity, force fields of various kinds. In 1960, that sort of prediction might have made sense. Humanity had just experienced one of the most amazing sequences of physics advancements ever. In the space of a few short decades, humankind discovered relativity and quantum mechanics, invented the nuclear bomb and nuclear power, and created the x-ray, the laser, superconductors, radar and the space program. The early 20th century was really a physics bonanza, driven in large part by advances in fundamental theory. And in the 1950s and 1960s, those advances still seemed to be going strong, with the development of quantum field theories. Then it all came to a halt. After the Standard Model was completed in the 1970s, there were no big breakthroughs in fundamental physics.
(15) THE KID WHO NEVER STOPS INVENTING. Well, that kind of negativity won’t fly with Molly!
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
Harold Osler: I’m not sure how many people your ‘they’ covers, but certainly not everyone associated with the Puppy campaigns is Catholic. Wright is, and I think Hoyt. Correia is a Mormon. VD is alleged to be a Baptist. Don’t know about Torgersen.
I assume the activity Cora referenced in the above quote is related to the Mormon Puppy contingent.
It has most definitely been interesting to watch the Pups push back the convergence of SFF from this Century, to late 20th Century, back to the mid-20th Century, and now even further. Soon all they’ll have left is Gilgamesh and, well, I feel like there’s some subtext they won’t enjoy there (not to mention its pre-Christian origin).
Aside from kerfuffley shtuff (as an aside, we’re having our own kerfuffle here in Berkeley [I’m in North Oakland, but the kerfuffle is in Berkeley], with Milo Yiannopoulus defending his sacred right to call everyone who disagrees with him fat and ugly, and helicopters I could hear from my house until a little bit ago)…
Finished The Wee Free Men. Loved it. Love Tiffany Aching. Moving on to Monstrous Regiment soon, but just embarked on Bound in Blood, aka God Stalk 5. That’s right, I’m on the first fifth in the Kencyrath series! It’s been a while, and I was worried that I’d forget everything, but it’s coming back to me. I’d forgotten just what a wild ride the last two books were.
Speaking of The Wee Free Men, does anyone know how Scots feel about the portrayal of the Pictsies? I’m pretty sure the dialect they speak is Scottish, and I was wondering if people found that off-putting (mostly due to the Pictsies’ fighting, stealing, and general drunkenness)?
@contrarius: If there are preserved specimens of the presumed extinct North American locust (and the preservation technique doesn’t destroy DNA) someone could sequence their DNA and compare it with the living grasshopper species.
Never met anybody who didn’t just find it amusing. If anything I found the drunken Scot soldier character in Wonder Woman more of an irritating stereotype.
It was an embarrassingly long time before I realized that Shockeye (of the Doctor Who episode “The Two Doctors”) was the English view of the Scots presented as an alien lifeform.
I believe Torgersen is also Mormon.
I am shocked (shocked, I tell you) that the discussion of noise-making insects has completely ignored the noble cricket.
(Although katydids, as a member of Ensifera, are sometimes classified as a type of cricket, they are quite distinct from Gryllidae or “true crickets”.)
Red Panda Fraction on September 23, 2017 at 8:03 pm said:
I see what you did there! 😀
@Charon D: would law firms move all their new lawyers to offices on, say, Venus to extend their potential billable hours? Why would that make a difference? Hours are 3600 seconds, not a fraction of a day.
@Jeff Warner: Wanting to make things different is the very antithesis of conservatism. That’s a little broad; ISTM that restoration of some past, rather than freezing the current moment, could for some values be considered conservative rather than reactionary. Of course, the first problem (as the Puppies show) is determining what the past actually was….
@Chip – sorry about that, attempted reference to an extremely old joke.
@Cora – Aloha! Looking forward to a con-a-thon next year when I hit Worldcon, SF Comic Con and Hawaiicon in relatively rapid succession 🙂
That has been done for at least some of the species, but I think the survey is not complete.
Also interestingly, supposedly the species was so abundant previously that few people bothered to preserve any, and modern scientists have been forced to examine locust bodies that have been found frozen in — I kid you not — Grasshopper Glacier in Montana.
Things you never knew you needed to know!
No, sorry. Look at those pics I posted links to. Cicadas are flyers and burrowers, not jumpers. It is the katydids that are like giant leafhoppers.
Yes, I *can* pedant all day long. 😉
Wasn’t Jamie the highlander in that?
And its interesting to see Heinlein go from saint to atheist.
Wright (whose corner of the canine world Niemeier seems to be affiliated with) was never totally happy about Heinlein. We need to be careful about attributing too much unity to Puppy campaigners.
I actually think it’s true that the world of SF is in some ways more hospitable to religion now than it was in the Golden Age, so it makes sense form some points of view to see the Golden Age as where thing went wrong. Of course, this does make it difficult to create a narrative of corruption of the Hugos, since the corruption on this theory was in place before the Hugos started.
Contrarius, they are leafhoppers. It’s just that they suck on roots, not leaves. (All you have to do is look at them.)
(Wikipedia: Cicadomorpha is an infraorder of the insect order Hemiptera which contains the cicadas, leafhoppers, treehoppers, and spittlebugs. There are approximately 35,000 described species worldwide. Distributed worldwide, all members of this group are plant-feeders, and many produce either audible sounds or substrate vibrations as a form of communication. The earliest fossils of cicadomorphs first appear during the Late Permian.)
@IanP: Yes, Jamie was in that episode, too. Shockeye of the Quawncing Grig is red-haired with enormous eyebrows, from a culture described as violent and primitive and wears something like a tam o’shanter (and looks a lot like Blackadder’s Scottish cousin McAdder); the folks who conquered Shockeye’s planet are trying to “civilize” them.
I just returned from a local production of Little Brother. I don’t think it translates well to the stage. At least this version didn’t. Also, the entire cast was very young. It would have played better with some of the older parts played by older actors. I still enjoyed it quite a bit. And I don’t have any better idea how to adapt it.
No. They belong to different superfamilies. Leafhoppers belong to superfamily Membracoidea, and cicadas belong to superfamily Cicadoidea.
Compare in mammals the infraorder Arctoidea. This infraorder contains both bears and seals. Are seals therefore just slippery bears? No, of course not. Are either seals or bears just oversized weasels, which are also in the same infraorder? Again — no, of course not.
Again — no, cicadas are not leafhoppers.
I’m not sure how many people your ‘they’ covers, but certainly not everyone associated with the Puppy campaigns is Catholic.
The statement could probably be revised to say “They want right-wing Christian science fiction”.
(14) “We ran out of theoretical physics, and we ran out of energy.”
Suspension of disbelief department:
Alas, Noah Smith’s piece recapitulates one of the reasons I took several decades off from reading SF (returning only when a friend pushed the “Ancillary” series on me in 2014). Space fiction came to look increasingly like fantasy to me, with the wizards and elves and forests replaced with more science-looking elements. “This could be a possible future” didn’t seem very plausible any more, for the space stories. Even the near-future, solar-system stories didn’t seem to really get a grip on the costs ($$$, energy) involved; I came from the era when the movie “2001” was new and seemed like a plausible extrapolation of where we might be three decades after the movie was made.
Another science bit which pulled me away from SF was Stephen Jay Gould’s book “Wonderful Life,” which I interpret as striking down all those SF stories where humans are in any way related to the aliens, or there is any sort of common origins or similar designs (upright bipeds) with other intelligent alien life. (There goes Star Trek and the Hainish cycle.) My interpretation of “Wonderful Life” is that humans are (1) the product of a lot of randomness, and (2) tightly interwoven with the rest of life on earth down to the microbes.
Over the decades I’d put those thoughts about SF in the back closet. Sigh.
Am I right in thinking that science fiction has now been destroyed by horrible SJWs before most (all?) of the main Puppy figures were even born? At this point I think I’m very safe in saying that the perfect, lefty-free sf field of their youth never existed.
I watched the TNG pilot a year or so ago (for the first time, probably; I watched a lot of Star Trek when I was a kid but which episodes is a mystery, aside from catching an episode of DS9 which had me convinced that Riker was an awful, Kira-kidnapping fiend for years) and was deeply shocked by how incredibly terrible it was. I was expecting it to be a lot better, more like mid-late TNG, or at least vaguely enjoyable rather than a very slow trainwreck. I would never recommend anyone start with Encounter at Far Point. If that had been the first Trek I was ever exposed to I doubt I would have kept looking.
I’ve been working on catching up with Lady Trent, and assuming it sticks the landing in book 5 I think it will be on my nominating ballot for Best Series. (Also, I realise I’ve mentioned this, er, a few times, but quitting one of my pain meds is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Wish I hadn’t been threatened into staying on it for a couple more years under (literal) pain of total withdrawal of pain medication. I can read soooo much more stuff now, I love it. And emotions! I have the energy to have them beyond ‘mildly pleased’ and ‘mildly annoyed’! Very exciting, and most importantly, makes reading quite a bit more enjoyable.) Not a trilogy, but at least not ten or more books, and the way the character work and story arc and world building develops over the series is really quite delightful.
Also, dragons, but personally I would have liked more dragons. For a series about a dragon naturalist very little time is spent with, you know, dragons. I feel a little cheated, but so long as I ignore the part of my brain having a tantrum and wailing about being promised dragons where are the dragons MORE DRAGONS – ahem – it all works exceedingly well, and the writing is quite lovely.
“New York editors” ? Is that an archaic spelling of “(((editors)))” ?
I’m glad to see another favorable report of Lady Trent as a series. I’ve only read the first book, which I enjoyed, but I did not think it was earth-shatteringly good. OTOH, a lot of series take off after the first book, so it’s good to know that this one goes up rather than down. And dragons!
And it’s great to hear that you’re feeling better!
I thought the first book hadn’t quite settled in to the writing style or world building, and the character work (aside from Isabella herself) was a bit thin, but I’d got all of the first three in the same sale and I liked it enough that I figured I might as well keep going. It was definitely worth it – it gets much better as it goes along, and more quickly than I thought, say, the October Daye series did (which I liked well enough by the time I got caught up with it – and really liked the short fiction – but didn’t really grab me until book 5ish).
There are a couple of SF works that explicitly address “Wonderful Life” (or at least the address the Burgess Shale discovery that inspired “Wonderful Life”) – “Darwinia” by Robert Charles Wilson has creatures evolved from the weirder Burgess fossils, “The Difference Engine” has the Burgess discoveries occurring in an alternate history, and the “Jarts” in Greg Bear’s “Eon” series look like one of the Burgess fossils, too.
One of the best addressings of historical contingency in SF is in Kube-McDowell’s “Alternities” in which undetectably minor changes in history in the late 1940s lead to multiple versions of 1980s America in which (for example) the President in 1980 is someone you’d have never heard of in any of the other versions. Most authors assume unlikely convergences just to provide the reader with recognizable names and attitudes, no matter how unlikely that is).
Thanks for the input. I’m ambivalent about October Daye, but I’m certainly familiar with series getting better over time. For instance, I very nearly stopped reading the Harry Dresden books after the first two, and only continued because I was so strongly encouraged to by other folks who had already read further into the series. 🙂
I’ll try to get the next Lady Trent into the TBR lineup before too long. So many books, so little time!
For the entomologically interested, there is an excellent book titled Locust by Jeffrey Lockwood, an entomology professor from the University of Wyoming, about the history and mysterious disappearance of locust swarms in North America.
(10) Personally, I think Science Fiction started hitting the skids around Gilgamesh. Or possibly Ramayana.
And if not then, the SJWs really ruined it with The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle.
All downhill since then, I tell ya.
I put a piece I’d written about Farah’s Heinlein book on the 9-19 scroll, but thought I’d drop a link here for those who might be interested: https://file770.com/?p=37802&cpage=2#comment-717876
And somewhat more connected to topics in this scroll, the issue of the SJW past of SF!
@Anne Goldsmith: @Aaron So, do you think someone should tell them about Mary Shelly? Or that H.G. Wells was a member of the Fabian Society (for a while) and believed in world government? Surely that means the SJWs have been in charge all along!
Aaron replies: Maybe if we point out that science fiction has always been full of what they call “SJW ideas”, they will leave the genre and go have their self-congratulating masturbatory sessions elsewhere.
Exactly! Your comments reminded me of a couple of paragraphs I researched and wrote for an essay on “Identity and Science Fiction” which is now in limbo.*
Two works of science fiction often considered among the founding texts of science fiction, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895), span the 19th century. Scholarship analyzes these texts’ connections to revolutionary movements although, as Elizabeth A. Boles argued in 1994, literary scholars often ignore the issues of imperialism in 19th century works such as Frankenstein. While a good deal of scholarship focuses on analyzing the feminist elements of Frankenstein (Pon, Randel, Youngquist), other work emphasizes the extent to which the novel engages with class relations and differences (Perkins), with imperialism (Spivak), and with the scientific racism of 19th century (Mellor, Smith). Scholars note the impact that H. G. Wells’ class identity had on The Time Machine (Huntingdon) as well as the critical positioning of his novel in relationship to modernism (Hovanec).
An ongoing example of the contemporary relevance of Wells’ novel can be seen how the names ‘Elois’ and ‘Morlocks’ were used to characterize different groups of science fiction fans in the Sad Puppies and Rapid Puppies campaigns against the Hugo Awards (Felapton, Wright 2015, 2016). The Sad Puppies and Rapid Puppies were led by conservative sf writers and fans who claimed that changes in the Hugo Awards winners, specifically, more white women and people of color receiving awards, proved that science fiction was contolled by elite liberals, or Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) (‘Puppygate’). Mike Glyer, in the online version of his fanzine, File 770, has collected links to numerous posts relating to the Puppy campaigns, listed as “The Compleat Litter of Puppy Roundup Titles.” The Hugo debates share ideological and rhetorical similarities with GamerGate (Waldman).
*The essay was originally written for the proposed 2nd edition of the Cambridge Companion to SF which was being edited by Farah Mendlesohn, Edward James, and Niall Harrison but which will be changing hands soon. I’m not sure if this essay will continue to be of interest to the new as yet unnamed editors since it was not a topic dealt with in the first edition, and is explicitly about fandom rather than sf literature. Most literary scholarship on sff does not acknowledge fandom or deal with reception studies. The editors invited me to write it based on my work about Racefail ’09, and it’s about the ideological conflicts in contemporary Anglophone sf fandom and my argument about the necessity of sf scholarship drawing on sociology to deal with the complicated issue of “identity politics” (and admit racism is an issue in sff).
About the progressive nature of sf as a genre: I’m in agreement with Andrew that change need not always be progressive or that the genre of sf as a whole is automatically progressive: ‘Progressive’ as a political term doesn’t just mean ‘in favour of radical change’, but implies a specific view – or at least range of views – about how that change should go. Ayn Rand, for instance, favoured radical change, but would not normally be called progressive.
I remember Joanna Russ’ comment about how much of future sf had the gender relations of 1950s suburbia (and of course how very very white sf has been until recently.
I also am not sure fantasy as a genre can be dismissed as inherently conservative (though a lot of sff academics used to think so!).
@Harold Osler: (10) Why don’t they just be honest and say that they only want right-wing Catholic science fiction?
As others note, not all the Puppies are Catholic. I think it’s more accurate to say they want fundamentalist sf. All the world religions have their fundamentalist/conservative/orthodox groups as well as their liberal/progressive groups, all calling themselves Catholic, Muslim, etc.–well, I don’t know about Mormons, beyond their excommunicating feminists, so maybe there’s not a liberal LDS strand/community.
I save links to the more liberal/radical Christian groups and philosophies to share with my students who want to argue that they are following God’s will in “hating the sin” of homosexuality.
@Contrarius: Are either seals or bears just oversized weasels, which are also in the same infraorder? According to David R. Palmer, they (or at least polar bears) are….
The “Pulp Revolution” puppy offshoot is centered around the Castalia House blog and Cirsova magazine. Central figures are people like Jeffro Johnson and the other Castalia House bloggers as well as the Cirsova editors. I have no idea of their religious beliefs, though they keep on harping at how pre-1937 SFF was written from a Christian POV, even while offering examples of authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.P. Lovecraft who clearly were not even remotely writing from a religious, let alone a Christian POV.
Regarding the puppies, I’d say that they want a conservative Christian SFF, denomination optional.
I really don’t know what to think about the anti-politically correct, anti-SJW movement. Am I not supposed to like Heinlein and pulp fiction any more? I thought that those were supposed to be what the puppies liked and were disappointed that stuff like that just wasn’t getting awards anymore. Am I also suppose to hate Dune because the Fremen are Islamic Buddhists? I’m so confused.
Soon all they’ll have left is Gilgamesh and, well, I feel like there’s some subtext they won’t enjoy there…
Gilgamesh and Enkidu were totally gay for each other for no valid plot reason. It was pure Sumerian Justice Warrior virtue signalling.
@P J Evans, I think I was too subtle in my remark.
@Mike, the red wine is spelled two different ways above, Rouge and Rogue.
@Various, thanks for the interesting and edifying entomological discussion. That locust did look a lot like a grasshopper to me, too.
I saw a cicada once in Hoboken NJ, where I live, and it looked like a very small alien invader. Creepy.
@Mister Dalliard – Careful, Superversive Pulpists have delicate sensibilities!
Meredith: “I watched the TNG pilot a year or so ago…and was deeply shocked by how incredibly terrible it was. I was expecting it to be a lot better, more like mid-late TNG, or at least vaguely enjoyable rather than a very slow trainwreck. I would never recommend anyone start with Encounter at Far Point. If that had been the first Trek I was ever exposed to I doubt I would have kept looking.”
That was my exact reaction when I watched it on the initial broadcast. I was a TOS fan from a very early age and expected something a lot better than that. I skipped TNG entirely for well on twenty years and still haven’t watched that much of it.
Funny you should mention that book! Oddly enough, I know just the quote you’re referring to: “And polar bears — 11 feet long (not true bears at all; mink family — dispositions to match).”
But Palmer was writing more than 30 years ago, and I don’t know how much actual knowledge he had even of the taxonomy accepted in his time. Polar bears are indeed in the same family as all other bears, and are most closely related to brown bears. Scientific name Ursus maritimus. Bears are family Ursidae; mink/weasels are superfamily Musteloidea, family Mustelidae.
As for the book Emergence — I just recently bought a used paperback of Emergence, which is very notable given that it’s probably the first dead-tree work of fiction I’ve bought in several years (if you don’t count books I’ve bought for gifts). And I had to order it from the UK, to boot! The *paperback* cost me $30, which is just unheard of for me (I couldn’t care less about owning first editions and so on).
So why is this book exceptional for me? Well, I had been thinking about a couple of its scenes for years — and years — like, twenty years or so — but I could never remember its title or author. But somebody on sffworld was finally able to put my memories together with the right book just a few months ago, and I had to get my hands on the actual book (which is out of print and not available legally in ebook).
No such thing as coincidences! 😉
One episode of Star Trek: Discovery down and number 2 started. So far not terrible and very pretty to look at but vulnerable to trying-to-feel-realistic-but-making-no-sense.
The Catholic thing is more of a general influence than that common among the far-right SF arena. The influence is around the way they have their own mythology around the European middle-ages and Catholic philosophers – specifically Thomas Aquinas (hence non-Catholic Vox Day’s frequent citing of Aristotle via Aquinas)
@Ultragotha: It’s all been downhill since Le Sorcier des Trois Frères…
@Contrarius: I understand that taxonomy has been changing; my 1967 bio class mentioned only 2 kingdoms (out-of-date even then, from what Wikipedia says) vs at least 5 now, and from what I read in Discover the pace of change has been increasing. However, I remember a biologist (zoologist? had worked at the Bronx Zoo) being very upset over that line ~25 years ago, so I suspect Palmer was wrong even by the standards of his time.
I think part of the puppies’ mistaken idea that older SF is more conservative may come from a point of illogic I’ve seen in many other cases: since old people tend to be more conservative on average than young people, this means (the thinking goes) that people in the past must have all been conservative, because they’re all so old they’re dead. 🙂
The fact that the war (literal in some cases) between the left and the right dates back at least as far as Ancient Greece, and probably much farther, is a shocking revelation to some people.
Even those who may acknowledge specific cases (e.g. H.G. Wells was pretty blatantly socialist) may tend to assume that any from olden times who fails to state a political position must have been a conservative.
@Xtifr Gotta have some way to follow posts.
If you’re signed up with WordPress you can subscribe to File 770’s posts and comments. That’s what I do. Here’s the page.
@Lis Carey: The Puppies remember an entirely alternate history of fandom, which really, should be no surprise to any of us.
I think their ultimate goal is, if they repeat their “Big Lie” history long and loudly enough, their version of history will seep into the general consciousness as the “correct” one. And who’s to say it wont succeed? After all, it did work on that person on Twitter…
@Bonnie McDaniel Thank you! That’s helpful, but I’d prefer to -eyestalk- individual posts than get updates on comments on all posts. Bit too much email.