More on the Politics in Writing Brouhaha

Here is a rant by Sarah Hoyt about more of the culling and potential for discrimination that is taking place in the Science Fiction Writer’s Community. I’ve said here (and I’ll say many more times) that it is possible and nearly always preferable to separate a writer’s politics from his or her writing. Within reason, of course, and I’m not looking to split hairs but to have an actual discussion. I might not like the way Isaac Asimov behaved at conventions around women and specifically about how his hands would occasionally orbit their asses (or even collide), but I enjoy his non-fiction and his shorter fiction and consider them primary influences. (The Foundation trilogy is a collection of novellas and stories. It’s also slathered in awesomesauce.) I think some of the things Orson Scott Card said about homosexuals are absolutely reprehensible, but Speaker for the Dead is one of my two favourite books about xenophobia and dealing with alien species. (The Fuzzy Papers is tied with it, though Speaker does hit me in the gut a little more.) And outside of science fiction, there are a few contemporary authors who have said a few things I find a little ignorant regarding communism and socialism, and I might not ever accept a dinner invitation from them unless they’re willing to debate at length, but they’ve also written some awesome books, books I am not ashamed to recommend.

Here’s the thing:  If Mr Card wrote a book about a gay man who was half a person and couldn’t succeed at his quest or mission simply because he was in love with another man, I would have no problem not reading the book. But to the best of my knowledge, his books aren’t about that. They’re about finding one’s way, or living with guilt, or understanding something utterly alien. Ditto Asimov. His stories were about living in the future and dealing with science, not about occasional gropes and insensitive comments. Of course, such things are reprehensible, but they didn’t figure into his writing.

Since reaching adulthood (and especially after I joined the Navy) I’ve learned to look at complex things in a complex manner, and I used to think that all adults either did so or at least tried to. It’s part of rational thinking, I believe. I might totally disagree with a friend’s politics (and he with mine) but if we read the same books, like the same music, do the same kinds of things on our off-time, we can be friends. I look at writers the same way. I don’t pick up a book thinking “Here’s someone who agrees with me writing things that are agreeable and that furthermore, all right-thinking people agree with.” If the author does work in something that I disagree with, well, hopefully he or she explains why this is done. Then I will either change my opinion or add to it, and give it a little more depth. It’s a challenge to one’s thinking apparatus. An exercise. I suppose if you have no desire to ever grow as a person and never improve your thinking muscles, you might like to read pap that has been pre-approved and pre-screened to have all the right political points and opinions, written by someone who feels the same way. But then again, you probably shouldn’t be reading a traditionally challenging art form like science fiction, a genre that challenges you to think what if this happens. Or what if things were different. Not what if everything were perfectly created in my own image of perfection. If for no other reason, this will make a crappy story, but I hope everyone reading this can see that that will also make for a reader who doesn’t like to think, ever, and that’s rarely a good thing.

Enough of my own ranting. Here’s Sarah Hoyt’s article. Have an awesome night.

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2 thoughts on “More on the Politics in Writing Brouhaha”

  1. I know a “like” button is a bit of a lazy reader’s way out, a chance to give a drive-by “thumbs up” without actually engaging with anyone, but sometimes when I’m tired and/or grumpy and/or sick, or even, joy of joys, all three at once, I really wish you had a plain old “like” button on your blog.

    And sometimes I still manage to say plenty even when I think I’m too whatever to bother. Shut up and WRITE, Jen. LOL.

    I completely agree with what you’re saying. There ARE times that I just can’t turn off that part of me that says, “but that artist is a HORRIBLE human being” but thankfully, not too often. It DID stop me listening to Ted Nugent – not that he was EVER on my playlist, but I didn’t ALWAY change the station when his music played – but I DO draw the line at threatening the life of a sitting president, irrespective of their politics or yours.

    ANYWAY, I’m all about the run-on sentences and overuse of capital letters, all to say a big “me too.”

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