Pixel Scroll 9/28 One Scroll To Live

(1) If film criticism ever becomes a duel to the death, people will say, never bet against David Gerrold when cinematic science fiction is on the line…. See his new review on Facebook.

All right, so let’s talk about SNOWPIERCER, a brilliantly produced movie that ultimately fails in the two most important ways a science fiction film can fail.

I’ll take the easy one first — the audience will suspend disbelief, they will not suspend common sense.

The idea here is that the Earth has frozen over. The only survivors are living on a train that circles the globe endlessly.

1) The Earth is frozen over because scientists have decided to put something called CW7 in the atmosphere to halt global warming. They do it with chem trails. It works too well. The planet gets too cold, everything freezes down so cold you’ll freeze to death in minutes.

Now, look — whatever that CW7 stuff is — you’re gonna have to put several million tons of it into the atmosphere to cools down the planet. That’s a lot of chem trails. It’s going to take a long time. Years. Decades perhaps. Even if you could retro-fit every jet plane in the world on its next scheduled maintenance, it would still take millions of miles. And you would think that as soon as the temperature gradients start falling too fast, not matching the projections, the scientists — or whatever agency behind it — would stop the process to evaluate the results. But no — whatever this CW7 is … bam, it freezes everything to a giant planet-sized popsicle.

2) Where did all that water come from? Even in this planet’s worst ice ages, there wasn’t enough H2o to make enough snow to cover every continent. ….

Unfortunately … even as an ALLEGORY this thing doesn’t work.

That’s the second and much bigger failure…..

(2) A killer review like that leads indirectly to the sentiment expressed in “Why Peter Capaldi Said No To Extra Doctor Who”.

It seems like eons pass in between series of Doctor Who. As with many shows which only run 10 or so episodes in a season, they’re over so quickly, and then there’s another year or more of wait before the show comes back. It turns out that the BBC would love to see more Doctor Who as much as fans would. However, the cast and crew, led by Peter Capaldi himself, have said no to requests for more episodes. The reason, according to Capaldi, is that while they could make more episodes, what they couldn’t do is make more good episodes.

(3) David Brin turns his thoughts to “Sentient animals, machines… and even plants!” at Contrary Brin.

In Brilliant Green: the Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso and journalist, Alessandra Viola, make a case not only for plant sentience, but also plant rights. Interesting, though science fiction authors have been doing thought experiments about this for a long time, e.g. in Ursula LeGuin’s novel “The Word for World is Forest” and in my own “The Uplift War.” Jack Chalker’s “Midnight at the Well of Souls” portrayed sentient plants, as did Lord of the Rings.

There is a level where I am all aboard with this.  Ecosystems are webs of health that combine fiercely interdependent predation/competition with meshlike interchanges of sight/sound/chemicals that clearly manifest types of cooperation, even communication…. as I elucidated in “EARTH.”

On the other hand, I also step back to see the qualities of this book that transcend its actual contents, for it fits perfectly into the process of “horizon expansion” that I describe elsewhere.  A process of vigorously, righteously, even aggressively increasing the scope of inclusion, extending the circle of protection to the next level, and then the next. See also this Smithsonian talk I gave about the never-ending search for “otherness.”

(4) And look for Brin to be in residence at Bard College in October.

David Brin, a scientist, a science fiction author and a commentator on the world’s most pressing technological trends, is in residence at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College from Oct. 5 to Oct. 25.

As part of Brin’s fellowship, he will mentor selected Bard students on their fiction and nonfiction writing. He will also offer a number of lectures and discussions. On Sept. 30, at 11:30 a.m., Brin will talk with Hannah Arendt Center Academic Director Roger Berkowitz and “Roundtable” host Joe Donahue on WAMC radio.

On Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. in Reem-Kayden Center 103, Brin will speak about his book, “The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose between Privacy and Freedom?,” with Berkowitz. On Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Bertelsmann Campus Center’s Multipurpose Room, he will attend a debate on “National Security is More Important than the Individual Right to Privacy.”

Bard College is located in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.

(5) Cheryl Morgan advises on “Writing Better Trans Characters” at Strange Horizons.

Trans people are a big thing these days in equality circles. People are asking what they can do to help the trans cause. Quite simply, the most important thing cis people can do for the trans community right now is to accept us as fully human; not as something to be gawped at and whispered over, not as a clever metaphor with which to discuss gender, but as ordinary people just like you. For cis writers, that means putting us in their stories.

I reject the idea that trans characters should only be written by trans people because cis folk are bound to get it wrong. While there are some really fine trans writers, there simply aren’t enough of us in the world to do what is needed. We have to be part of all fiction, not just fiction that we write ourselves.

(6) Kim Stanley Robinson defended his notion of future technology in Aurora as part of an article about science fiction realism for the Guardian.

Robinson makes no apology for the 21st-century tech of his 26th-century explorers, arguing that progress in science and technology will asymptotically approach “limits we can’t get past”.

“It’s always wrong to extrapolate by straightforwardly following a curve up,” he explains, “because it tends off towards infinity and physical impossibility. So it’s much better to use the logistic curve, which is basically an S curve.”

Like the adoption of mobile phones, or rabbit populations on an island, things tend to start slowly, work up a head of steam and then reach some kind of saturation point, a natural limit to the system. According to Robinson, science and technology themselves are no exception, making this gradual increase and decrease in the speed of change the “likeliest way to predict the future”.

(7) Les Johnson’s guest post about putting together a mission to Mars on According To Hoyt suits the current Mars-centric news cycle very well.

Since I work for NASA and have looked extensively at the technologies required to send people to Mars, I am often asked how close we are to being able to take such a journey. [DISCLAIMER: The very fact that I work for NASA requires me to say that “the opinions expressed herein are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer.”] Basing my opinion solely on information that is publicly available, the answer is… not straightforward. Let me break it into the three areas that Project Managers and Decision Makers (the ones with the money) use when they assess the viability of a project in an attempt to explain my answer.

(8) MARK YOUR CALENDAR:  April 3, 2016 will be the next Vintage Paperback Show in Glendale, CA at the Glendale Civic Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. STILL $5.00

(9) Editors Eugene Johnson and Charles Day have started an Indiegogo appeal to fund their Drive-In Creature Feature anthology from Evil Jester Press.

Get in line. Buy a ticket, and take a trip to the DRIVE-IN CREATURE FEATURE. Where the monsters from the classic films from the 1950’s to 1980’s shined on the large iconic sliver screens. Where the struggle between human and monsters came alive for the fate of the world. Monsters created from an experiment gone wrong, legendary beasts long asleep, now awaken by melting humans, visitors from a far off world that aren’t as friendly as they appear. Monsters like giant parasitic bugs and ancient sea beasts on the prowl. A mysterious plague turning the homeless population into Moss people. A government sponsored monster goes toe-to-toe with a monster of Celtic myth. and many more are included.

Intriguing tales by some of the best names in horror, including New York Times Best selling authors and comic book writers, Jonathan Maberry, S.G. Browne,  Elizabeth Massie, Ronald Kelly, William, F. Nolan, Lisa Morton, Joe McKinney, Jason  V. Brock, Weston Ochese , Yvonne Navarro, including cover art by Cortney Skinner…


drive in creature feature(10) Alamo Drafthouse has commenced its touring food and film event honoring the 50th anniversary edition of Vincent and Mary Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes.

During the months of September and October, Alamo Drafthouse locations nationwide will host THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES Feast, featuring a screening of the Vincent Price classic paired with a delectable multi-course feast using recipes from the book. Topping each evening off, Victoria Price – daughter of Vincent and Mary – will be in person sharing memories of her father before the film with her multi-media presentation “Explore, Savor, Celebrate: Life with Vincent Price.”…

In 1965, Mary and Vincent Price published A Treasury of Great Recipes — now regarded as the one of the world’s most beloved cookbooks. The book features recipes collected by Vincent and Mary at restaurants around the world, including original menus from classic restaurants and photographs by the great William Claxton. It has come to be regarded as “one of the most important culinary events of the 20th century” (Saveur Magazine) and was recently named the eighth most popular out-of-print book of any kind by Booklist. The 50th anniversary edition incorporates the original edition, unchanged and in its entirety, along with a new Foreword from Wolfgang Puck and A Retrospective Preface from Victoria.

Here are links to the rest of the schedule — San Antonio, TX – 9/28, Austin, TX – 9/29, Richardson, TX – 9/30, Kalamazoo, MI – 10/6, Kansas City, MO – 10/7, Littleton, CO – 10/14, Ashburn, VA – 10/20, Winchester, VA – 10/22, Yonkers, NY – 10/26.

(11) Vox Popoli has posted a political cartoon by Red Meat and Vox Day about the nonrelease of 2015 Hugo nominating data, “Cabal? What Cabal?”

(12) Dave Freer has an axiom about who it’s important for a writer to please in a post at Mad Genius Club.

That is something that many authors fail to grasp – and not just new ones. I recently read a diatribe by Adam Troy Castro – who missed this completely (He was attacking John Wright, who seems to be engaging his readers… who aren’t part of his publisher’s tribe). I quote: “has been abusing his publisher in public and attacking his editors as people” which is a bad thing, according to Castro “being an asshole to the people who give you money is not a good career move.”

The latter part of that is certainly true. What Castro seems to have failed to figure out is that the money doesn’t actually come from the publisher. It comes from readers – the subset of the public who love your work. If you abuse them, you’re dead. If your publisher abuses them (which is a fair assessment)… lose your publisher. Reassure your readers that this is not your attitude.

(13) Myke Cole, in “You are not crying in the wilderness”, tells why he writes.

Here’s the thing about writing: It’s really hard. It’s a LOT of work. You do most of this work alone and then you send it away and you have absolutely no idea whether it’s reaching anyone or not, how it’s being received, whether or not it means to others what it means to you. I have said before that I am no Emily Dick­enson. I write to com­mu­ni­cate, to receive a signal back from the array I am con­stantly sending out in the world.

I write to not be alone.

(14) Alex Pappademas shreds the new Muppets series in “A Rainbow Rejection” at Grantland.

The most fanciful thing about ABC’s muppetational but seldom celebrational The Muppets is that the late-night talk show behind whose scenes it takes place has a female host. In this regard, I support its vision. I support nothing else about The Muppets except the pilot’s use of the great Jere Burns, drier than a silica gel packet as always, in a B-plot in which he refuses to accept his daughter’s interspecies relationship with Fozzie Bear. His issue seems to be more about Fozzie being a bear than being a Muppet — at dinner, he makes snide comments when Fozzie compliments the salmon — but in a broad-stroke sense, I am with Burns on this one. I guess I’ve found the one marriage-equality hypothetical on which I’m a fuming mossback conservative: Turns out I am opposed to the sexualization of the Muppets and therefore to the implication that humans and Muppets1 can or should miscegenate.

This puts me roughly on the same team as the fainting-couch wearer-outers at the Donald Wildmon front group One Million Moms, who took a break from their courageous war on homofascist breakfast cereal and sinfully delicious lesbian yogurt on Monday to declare a fatwa on the new Muppets as “perverted” based solely on the ads — particularly the one that promises “full frontal nudity” and features Kermit the Frog in a casual locker-room pose. A clock that stopped in 1955 and should be thrown in the garbage because it’s an insanely and attention-hungrily homophobic clock is still right twice a day: There is nothing good about this ad, and perhaps you should not be in the Muppet-selling business if you can’t sell the Muppets in 2015 without adding the implication that Kermit fucks, let alone that Miss Piggy wants to fuck Nathan Fillion.

(15) Marc Scott Zicree has posted a new Mr. Sci-Fi video about the Profiles in History room at Monsterpalooza that showed items from his collection that will be going up for auction tomorrow.

(16) The Mets, one day after clinching the National League East, had their rookies take the super hero “hazing” to another level… Or, rather, they removed another level…


[Thanks to James H. Burns, Andrew Porter, the other Mark, SF Site News, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

396 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/28 One Scroll To Live

  1. @Kyra

    I’ve seen the same thing as Snowcrash. It was a lot more frequent when we had the really high frequency posts in a short period of time back during the pre-awards ceremony phase of the puppy kerfuffle. I’d click to newer comments and find myself one or more pages out of sequence. Almost certainly not you but a glitch.

  2. Kyra: I do two things; first, I click on every date, so they all change to my followed-link color. When it’s time to go to the next page, I look at the page=number in the address bar, and when I click datelink on the top comment of the next page, make sure it’s page=number+1.
    If the top comment or two is a comment I’ve already seen, I go back to the previous page and look for an unclicked comment, because it will have been in moderation when I was on that page. If the top comment on the previous page is also familiar (and newly un-clicked, because its url changed), I go back another page, and so on.

    The other thing you could do, instead, is to always reload the page right before clicking on the next page link. Especially if that link is in your “visited links” color. Then any new page would have had to have been created within a couple of seconds of the time you click that link.
    I missed a fair number of pages (What? Completist? Me?) before I figured out the problem.

  3. Re: comment-skipping — I’ve had that problem too. I was a little swoggled when I first realized what was happening.

    What I do is right-click and “open new tab” the datestamp of the last comment I’m reading. Then I know it’s safe to advance a page if there’s been an extra new page in the list, because it’ll be “next page” rather than “newest” comments.

    Not that I can really keep up. 🙂

  4. Following up on Bruce’s post, I was specifically uncomfortable when someone repeatedly referred to Snowpiercer as “Snowpisser.” That kind of crosses the line between “My I-statement about how much I dislike this” and outright belittling it. Particularly when it’s not a one-off but a refrain.

  5. I can understand the impulse; by the time I finished Frameshift by Robert J. Sawyer I was calling it Frameshit. Had I had a forum for it, I may well have written a rant using that pejorative name repeatedly, in my ire not thinking of how that might hurt anyone who didn’t loathe it.

    The reminder that tastes differ is always useful, but so is the reminder that it hurts when you see someone savaging something that you love.

    (On that note, I have given up on The Vorrh in disgust. Jeff VanderMeer gave it a blurb, but I had grown to hate pretty much everything about it. Cue the “what is wrong with meeeeeee” feeling.

    Next up, The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.)

  6. @Tuomas Vainio

    Criticism of David Gerrold’s Criticism of the Film Snowpiercer

    When responding to an enormously long written opinion with an even longer written rebuttal, fisking is probably the worst possible stylistic choice in the world. Especially when you don’t have a crystal clear, easily identifiable visual differentiation between your comments and those you are responding to.

    [4400 words later]
    I do not think I will comment further, even if you do decide to add more commentary.

    Thank the gods.

    I know that’s kind of an a-hole quip, but but seriously? That post was a hot mess.

  7. Dawn Incognito on September 30, 2015 at 7:36 pm said:

    (On that note, I have given up on The Vorrh in disgust. Jeff VanderMeer gave it a blurb, but I had grown to hate pretty much everything about it. Cue the “what is wrong with meeeeeee” feeling.

    Overall I thought it was OK but I can see why it is very, very easy to hate.

  8. A comment that I have to hit PgDn 27 times to get past is definitely into Get Your Own Flipping Blog territory, IMO.

  9. @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan: Is it mean of me to say “yay, I’m not alone in my feelings for Spin“? 😉 Those other people . . . well, there’s no accounting for tastes, heh.

    @James Moar: I was thinking of the Amazon “Look Inside” samples (I don’t Kindle), but they’re sometimes based on the Kindle samples . . . but yeah, sometimes pretty long, but with annoying gaps that start early, making it tough to actually read a coherent long section and decide how I like it. ;-(

    @Bruce Baugh: As mentioned above – no accounting for tastes (as the pups have reminded us, LOL). Don’t let your trust in people’s taste trick you into believing their judgement’s better than yours, or can be used as a stand-in for yours, or, well . . . anything! People have all sorts of reasons for liking/disliking things, and the exact same thing can annoy someone, while someone else doesn’t mind it or even loves it. It doesn’t say a thing about your thinking (or theirs). Taste is individual, and yours is as valid as anyone else’s (even if you happen to love Spin 😉 …I kid, I kid).

    Goodness. If I had a dollar for every TV show I loved that got cancelled, I’d be a rich man. But my taste in TV doesn’t suck; I just like some stuff no one else watched, apparently. I still miss “Prey” (Debra Messing co-starred in a SF drama! my first exposure to her!).


  10. Lexica: A comment that I have to hit PgDn 27 times to get past is definitely into Get Your Own Flipping Blog territory, IMO.


  11. Hampus Eckeman: Regarding Tuomas Vainio, have you seen his recommendation for next years Hugo?

    If there was anyone who didn’t see this coming from the moment the Aviation Muso made his guest post complaining about how there are too many self-published books eligible for Hugo nomination which aren’t getting enough consideration, they haven’t been paying attention.

  12. Meredith,

    It would probably be a quicker conversation if you assumed that I’ve known about the situation in Australia for considerably longer than you have and your quick googling is unlikely to change my mind on the subject.

    That would make sense if I had tried to get you to change your mind about that. The questions was whether that commentator was implying heavily that it was a good thing to have a policy to take Aboriginal children out of their homes (and, by extension, that it was somewhat unsavory to cite the comment in a blog post). I said that that doesn’t sound to me like the likely conservative position, and I produced other Spectator articles to back it up the idea that Spectator conservatives, at least, were saying something different.

    Supporting your view with Wikipedia didn’t help since as I showed you there are long articles on Wikipedia devoted to arguing that there are many different points of view on this, not only from controversial muckrakers but also from respected scholars and activists who saw problems with the report and/or film.

    From reading the article I linked to, there was already clear legal protection for white children, to help ensure that the state could intervene and give them care in cases of abuse and endangerment. If the courts would not extend those protections to half-caste or full-blood aboriginals, that could in fact be reason, initially, for wanting to have such a law.

    William Garrett South, the example you cited, espoused what sound like quite racist views. He had extreme views about rescuing young half-caste girls, since he looked for justifications to make them wards of the state. He explained this to politicians and the public by focusing on the (real) threat of sexual exploitation of half-caste girls as young as 11 in dangerous places like camps. The article did not describe him trying to extend this bureaucratic chivalry to full-blood girls in any systematic way.

    However, my objection was to your claim that the commentator, by objecting to the government line and its heavy-handed dramatic presentation, was “heavily implying” that she endorsed the views expressed by South. I heard her saying – she said other things, this is just the part that I agree with – that part of education is being encouraged to think deeply about moral issues rather than being handed all the answers in a tidy package. Disagree if you like, but talking about what my (presumed) views on Aboriginal issues are or claiming that I’m trying to change yours doesn’t further that discussion.

  13. Wow! Having just starting getting through an this thread’s comments I would just like to say how gratifying it is that something I said kicked of such a great conversation (well except for Brian Z’s invidious contribution). I only wish I had not been first asleep and then at work so been able to take part as it went on.

    Despite what Nicole said I would recommend the True Game books. Most of what the squickiness she talks about is in the last book of nine(they are short. I would expect some of the regulars here to knock them over in an afternoon), and there is nothing graphic. Plus Mavin the Manyshaped is a great heroine and ranks amongst my all time favourites. But since I have no idea how available they are(they were written in the mid-eighties) the queston may be moot.

  14. @Brian Z

    Then I have a very short answer for you: Yes, I still think that.

    But why do you care? Why would her racist beliefs about the aboriginal peoples and their treatment by the Australian government past and present change whether she is or isn’t right about encouraging children to think about things from all angles? If she’s right about that then she’s right and it doesn’t matter if she’s (horribly) wrong about something else. It just makes her example wince-worthy.

    ETA: And, ha, none of it has anything to do with message fiction!

  15. @Tintinaus

    Oh, no, feel free to continue it if you have something to say. I’m sure enough of us have the ticky box ticked to keep going.

    PS. The True Game books – much disableism, graphic or otherwise? I have a pretty hard nopenopenope out limit for that.

  16. Lexica,

    I made the mistake of not paying attention to the commenter name at first. After stuggling wjth the bad formatting, I did checm and Tuomas’s name was a godsend. I could skip his post, inconcerned. He never has anything good or usefil to say.

  17. Meredith, I’ll try to answer (succinctly) “why I care.”

    I could also take a stab at what it has to do with message fiction.

    But first could I ask you to clarify what you meant by the short answer is yes you still think that? I asserted that “part of education is being encouraged to think deeply about moral issues rather than being handed all the answers in a tidy package. Disagree if you like…” Do you mean yes you still disagree with that? If not, what is the “that” you still think? I don’t mean to nitpick but I’d like to clarify this so I can respond.

  18. @Brian Z

    Yes, I still think she holds racist views about Aboriginal Australians. (Which is what the original one referred to, but also:) Yes, I think that encouraging children to look at things from all ethical angles is a good thing.

    PS. I’ll be away from the thread for a bit so take your time.

  19. I would have thought Tuomas would aim for the Best Related Work category.

    It would be a book of filk style critiques of various SJW blogs, except the filking inserts would be cut-pastes of random unrelated Amazon reviews. That being said, I would still vote it higher than Wisdom from my Internet.

  20. @Tintinaus

    Don’t give him ideas! I don’t think the formatting would be any kinder on the eyes in an ebook.

  21. Thank you for clarifying. Rather than go back and forth, I’ll tentatively guess you also still think it was a bit unsavory of Vivienne to so much as link to that comment even if she didn’t quote the most damning part.

    As one of the other commentators there pointed out, policies promoting racial assimilation were often viewed as being more progressive than conservative. I started to wonder if you may think that all objections to showing that film without examining other viewpoints are racist, since you called the commentator racist for expressing the view that classrooms should be forums for thinking about multiple points of view, even about the difficult topic of European colonialism.

    I cared enough to comment here because I spoke up here some months ago to say that a Hugo award slate of Brad Torgersen’s friends and idols was a dumb idea, but I didn’t agree that Mad Genius fans and Baen books subscribers should be accused en masse of pursuing a blanket agenda of racism, misogyny and homophobia. I was immediately accused of being one of those “puppies” myself. (Meredith, I should point out that I don’t recall you being one of the most invidious of the anti-puppies attacking me at that time.)

    As for message fiction, let’s go back to Joanna Russ. If We Who Are About To were intended as message fiction in the most banal sense – a simple caution that patriarchy will always rear its ugly head – why would Russ have had her protagonist murder a child? Let’s take the new Man in the High Castle. I have no idea if the new show is any good, but it takes on new and heavy responsibility by going where Dick had refused to go – the East Coast – because he couldn’t face or stomach writing about Nazi collaborators in New York and Washington. In my view, the best message fiction should challenge every reader and provoke real discussion.

  22. Brian Z.: I cared enough to comment here because I spoke up here some months ago to say that a Hugo award slate of Brad Torgersen’s friends and idols was a dumb idea, but I didn’t agree that Mad Genius fans and Baen books subscribers should be accused en masse of pursuing a blanket agenda of racism, misogyny and homophobia.

    That wasn’t why you were labeled a Puppy, and you know it. You were labeled a Puppy for continually spouting Puppy Talking Points. Stop trying to paint yourself as an innocent victim. You aren’t.

    You also declared, repeatedly, that the Sad Puppies didn’t expect to take over the ballot and that they had learned their lesson, and you kept insisting that Kate Paulk wouldn’t be doing a slate for Sad Puppies 4. Now she’s announced that she’s doing… a slate for Sad Puppies 4.

    As was pointed out by another commenter a long time ago, you are massively in arrears at the Credibility Bank.

  23. you are massively in arrears at the Credibility Bank

    *scribbles this quote down for future use*

  24. @Brian Z

    I’m afraid you seem to have greatly misread my comments. I didn’t say I thought she was racist because she thought children should be encouraged to view things from different angles – that should be clear from the bits where I said children should be encouraged to view things from different angles and also that I didn’t think her being right about that had anything to do with her also being racist.

    I said she was racist because of her defensive comments about how white people shouldn’t be seen as being the ‘bad guys’ of history, explicitly in the context of the removal of aboriginal children (which was indefensible – did you read those laws? indefensible), and also where she framed it as removing them from ‘disadvantaged’ homes, as if ‘disadvantaged’ has ever been a legitimate reason by itself for removing children from their parents, and as if aboriginal Australian families would have ended up disadvantaged magically without any causes that could be linked back to white people.

    So basically: I said she was racist because she said racist things. Nothing to do with teaching children to view things from other angles (although lets just say I have my doubts that she also encouraged her students to view things from the angle of the creators of Rabbit-Proof Fence – still, no proof one way or the other).

    I didn’t ask why you cared enough to comment here. You can tell by the way that wasn’t part of my question. I asked why you cared whether I thought she was racist when the bit you agreed with (teaching children to view things from as many ethical angles as possible) wasn’t related to the racist bits. They’re separate issues. She said racist things. She also made a decent point that it’s important to teach children to view things from more than one angle. Entirely. Separate. And so you didn’t answer my question: Why do you care whether I think she’s racist when it has nothing to do with the bit you agree with?

    Also: You’re wrong. I think Vivienne Raper should link to her sources. I can still find her sources unpleasant, and I often do, but it would be worse not to link to them.

  25. Your question definitely wasn’t “why do you care enough to comment about it on The Spectator,” since I haven’t. More generally, I do care enough to comment on File 770 despite all the unpleasant reactions. I admit to sometimes pulling on my trolling boots when I felt provoked to do so, but if my sole driving purpose were to feed my ego I bet I could find more satisfying and/or outlandish ways to do it.

    Why do you care whether I think she’s racist when it has nothing to do with the bit you agree with?

    I don’t feel personally involved in your failure to have a meeting of the minds with that person, no. But you comment here, where I do object to blanket accusations of racism. And I don’t read conservative magazines much, but I do feel pleased I see comments on them that are more than just foaming at the mouth.

    Thanks for sticking up for acknowledging other points of view, whether inside an Australian classroom or when talking about Vivienne Raper’s personal blog.

    Look to Windward, Iain M. Banks

    The Speed of Dark, Elizabeth Moon

    Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

    Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie

    Little Brother, Cory Doctorow

    Learning the World, Ken MacLeod

    Accelerando, Charles Stross

    Farthing, Jo Walton

    Ragamuffin, Tobias Buckell

    River of Gods, Ian McDonald

  27. @Brian Z

    Your question definitely wasn’t “why do you care enough to comment about it on The Spectator,” since I haven’t.

    Where on earth did this come from? I’m starting to think you read an alternate universe File770 where everyone else’s comments say something different from what they wrote in this universe. It would certainly explain a lot.

  28. Meredith, maybe it comes from the alternate universe where people respond honestly to the question “why do you care” by telling you why they care.

    I do take your views seriously, so I read the comment again carefully. She found what in Australia is commonly called “black armband” history to be galling, especially when extended beyond Australia to all of the history of European colonialism. I take that to mean she thinks white people shouldn’t be seen only as (or as the only) bad guys in world history. Do you think they should be seen only as (or as the only) bad guys in history? If so, would disagreeing with you be automatically racist?

    I did read the laws, and I certainly don’t see how they could be defended. If the commentator had said those laws are correct or defensible, I wouldn’t object to your calling that racist.

    She did object to a heavily stereotyped portrayal of:

    the administrator who organized for the aboriginal children to be ‘stolen’ from their remote, disadvantaged communities (in the earlier part of 20th century)…

    Your interpretation of that is:

    she framed it as removing them from ‘disadvantaged’ homes, as if ‘disadvantaged’ has ever been a legitimate reason by itself for removing children from their parents, and as if aboriginal Australian families would have ended up disadvantaged magically without any causes that could be linked back to white people.

    My reading of that comment would be not that she thought it was perfectly OK and a wonderful idea to remove lots of children from their families, but rather that she felt the motivations – there were also laws to protect disadvantaged white children – were more complex than portrayed in the film.

  29. Is it just my settings, or has the Spectator now deleted all those comments from the original post? That would be ironic.

  30. Ay carumba. Would anyone believe me if I said I shared Vivienne’s link because I imagined there was a potential point of agreement in it?

    Countervailing views sound to me like a sword that cuts both ways, which is part of why I assumed it was a reasonable thing to share.

    It’s my bad for not tracing the comment all the way back beforehand. I really only reacted to what I read in her post, knowing I don’t generally agree with the Spectator (I did read the article) but finding her conclusion interesting for what it had to say about style, since I also take issue with cartoonish villains of just about any stripe, which is not at all to say human beings don’t commit evil. Nearly the opposite, in fact: all evil is committed by human beings. (How’s that for a Human Wave formulation, Brian?)

    I’ll say for the record that I have no doubt that systematic abuses have existed and continue to exist in many places in the world. That’s not to say everyone ever accused is guilty, but it is to say it’s possible, and when the potential victims lack power (and I dare say few people in the world lack power more than the children in question here), it’s our obligation to take that possibility very seriously. For me, the original Spectator comment thus comes across as poorly couched at best and potentially racist at worst. I’d like to assume the best, but see the start of this paragraph for guidance.

    Finally, though we were somewhat successful here at disagreeing, I wish I’d held onto it and found a better way to ask the question that was raised, because I do continue to think it’s a very interesting one that goes to the heart of much of the current debate about what fiction should be “for.” I tried to deflect that, I guess, by raising Lathe of Heaven in connection with it, so maybe I’ll reiterate that question: any thoughts on sci-fi that treats this subject well?

  31. I’m sorry, Meredith, I don’t think anyone has given you a direct answer on disabilism. Here’s my best take: for all that I can personally enjoy Tepper and enjoy her as a voice in the wilderness, she can really, horrifically get it wrong on disability issues, so I cannot recommend her for you.

    I haven’t read all of her work, but she often has characters imply that people with genetic disorders should not reproduce. These suggestions are usually in the context of a culture completely re-evaluating how reproductive decisions are made, as she has pointed critiques of how our current system fails to work. Some villainy is partially explained by a lifetime of pain and disability. She expresses the notion that providing people with chronic depression the right to suicide is a compassionate and pragmatic choice. I am sure other people could contribute examples, and please forgive me any phrasings that minimize the offenses rather than present them neutrally. I have rewritten this four times, and it is not getting any clearer, dangit.

  32. @Will R.

    Not your fault. I should have ignored attempts to engage me on the comment subject matter, since it wasn’t going to be a productive discussion and I was basically happy with what I’d said in the first place.

    As for sfnal books that do it particularly well, I’m not sure. I think sf/f’s habit of good/evil battles tends to mean that both sides don’t get a fair shout. I can think of more bad examples than great ones.


    Thanks. Reproduction issues and disability isn’t a subject I want to see handled badly so I think I’ll steer clear…

  33. @Brian Z. Looking back at my comment above, I hope my mention of you doesn’t sound snarky; it wasn’t meant that way. I actually wondered if that could be part of a definition of Human Wave (as you see it, at least).

    Also, I’d be especially interested in your take on sci-fi that addresses these issues.

  34. @Cora B– I mean, in the 1970s the Muppets Show did their own interpretation of the Stonewall riots starring Gonzo and a bunch of pigs
    Had to go check that out–I got all excited thinking there was something I’d missed. An unseen episode, at last.
    Sorry, I remember watching that back then. I wouldn’t call it an interpretation of Stonewall but it’s still fun.

  35. @Tintinaus:

    Despite what Nicole said I would recommend the True Game books. Most of what the squickiness she talks about is in the last book of nine

    Quick response*, since I’ve already burned far too many pixels in the other thread: The particular squickiness I’m talking about, in which it is implied that a life of constant pain in a deformed body causes moral stuntedness and evil, happens in the second book, Necromancer Nine. There may be a more charitable way to read the scene of Zniva naq Crgre’f ernpgvba gb qvfthvfvat gurzfryirf nf Gur Qhcrl naq Sngzna, but no one with a lifetime of experiencing disability and ableism first hand should be expected to find one.

    Shades of ableism in the first book, King’s Blood Four, might be read into scenes in which physical appearance seems often conflated with moral stature. Several aspects of gur gerngzrag bs Znaqbe’f naq Qnmmyr’f qvfsvtherzrag made me very uncomfortable.

    The moral desirability of having a Midwife at your childbed to ensure the newborn is morally fit to live is introduced very early on, but I think not explicitly until Necromancer Nine (again, I understand that to be book 2). It’s hammered on hardest during the three books of Jinian’s trilogy, which I’m honestly not sure is supposed to be read after Mavin’s trilogy or before. Certainly the ultimate Aesop of Jinian’s trilogy is that we should be less squeamish about euthanasia and execution, because human shape doesn’t guarantee a human soul, and it’s cruel to allow something without a soul to live.

    I can’t see this being a good recommendation for Meredith, or for anyone else who feels the effects of ableism keenly. But of course mileage varies; not all people who are targeted by an -ism will react in the same way to an particular expression of -ism, or even see it as an expression of the -ism in the first place.

    *Well, I tried to keep it quick. I should probably step back from these discussions because I don’t want to be misunderstood as accusing Tepper fans of being bad people, and it looks like in the other thread I’ve already begun coming across that way. I’m sorry!

  36. Sorry Will R I didn’t mean to ignore your question, just preoccupied. Let me find time to ponder and then try to flesh out my thoughts on this.

  37. Nicole,

    Everyone can have opinions on books that are different so don’t let that worry you. Thiat is the way good convos happen. Tepper can be problematic in places where she “messages” too hard, and when I wrote above I had forgotten the Dupies, and the Monster pits. I remembered after posting and was all “oohhh, F*k! Hmmm, that could be problematic.”

    A couple of things though. I think something that hasn’t been made clear, is these books were written for a Juvenile/YA audience. So while there are problematic aspects, these are phrased in a way suitable for a younger audience. And second, I have no idea what you are alluding to regarding Mandor and Dazzle.To my recollection they obgu fhvpvqrq jura gur vzzhgrnoyrf jrer thneqvat gurz, hanoyr gb snpr gur jnl gurve zntvp nffvfgrq ornhgl naq orthvyzrag jrer gnxra sebz gurz, yrnivat gurz qvfsvtherq naq vtaberq.

    If anyone were to read the TG books, I would suggest chronological, not written order. That way you at least get a fill of Mavinly goodness.

  38. a life of constant pain in a deformed body causes moral stuntedness and evil

    Sorry, but this is an entirely wrong interpretation on Nicole’s part. The big reveal is entirely the flip of that that. No one, perfectly formed or otherwise is guaranteed Bao, but without Bao you aren’t fully human(or flitchhark, or Shadowperson, or gnarlibar).

    On the whole, I expect that the treatment of the disabled would be no better or worse than in any early middle-age society. It is shown, for instance, that one community looks after its mad since they have probably been touched by their God.

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