More Science Fiction Fan Follies

I don’t know if I can really claim to be a science fiction fan – I am not hard-core, at any rate. I have had my moments with particular authors in the genre, I’ve been to a couple of cons (Salt Lake City and Albuquerque – the con here in San Antonio costs too much at the door for my budget) – I have all of Blake’s 7 on VHS tape (taped from broadcast on Salt Lake City’s public TV station in the early 1990s), most of Babylon 5, and I have purchased every on of Lois McMaster Bujould’s Vorkosigan novels when and if they present themselves in paperback. Oh, and I really enjoy Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, but they’re not really science fiction – more fantasy with a wry twist. I watched Star Trek when it was originally broadcast – but who of the age that I am now didn’t, unless their parents were Luddites who wouldn’t have a TV in the house?
And Dad worked as a scientific sub-contractor for NASA, now and again. Something to do with circadian rhythms and space travel might possibly affect them, either positively or negatively, so –yes, science!

I guess I can say that I’m a kind of casual sympathizer; it’s not my own genre as a writer, but I dip into it now and again, and I have a writer friend or two of the online-variety who are a great deal more serious about science fiction. Because of this mild interest, I have been casually aware of the great SFWA bru-hah-hah of recent months, mentally crossing myself and thanking the deity that at least those who scribble historical fiction seem to be much less prone to epic fits of politically correctness and inclined to go off on witch hunts directed against those who offend. Or maybe they do – and I just don’t know; the only professional writer’s association that I belong to is the Texas Association of Authors – and they seem to be more about … well, promoting books, authors and local events. Whatever the current active leadership of the SFWA are epically pearl-clutching about, the TAA doesn’t seem to give a damn. But it’s a state organization, in a state which seems lately to be more focused on economic and societal realities, not every politically-correct momentary interest that appears, dancing across the intellectual horizon.

Anyway – (Yes, I do have a point and I am getting to it) following on the latest round of Savonarola-like fiery cleansing of those determined to be unclean from the holy halls of SWFA membership, there is a new and rather painful issue arising. Of course, I can appreciate the double or perhaps triple-strength irony of an organization which raised the holy banner of anti-sexual harassment and feminine empowerment on high, and whose members went on what amounted to a kind of Stalinist internet show-trial against those held to offend the most mightily … now discovering that Marion Zimmer Bradley – one of the most respected and feminist science fiction authors in their pantheon was complicit in child sexual abuse – by her husband at best interpretation, and herself at worst.

And that it was one of those weird open secrets among insiders and common knowledge among the inner circle – apparently – but just now breaking into the wider world of fans and readers. The freak-out is epic, and to me, rather personal. I very much enjoyed the Darkover novels, when I first discovered them in the early 80s, after coming off a tour in Greenland; cold, dark and very, very isolated – yes, I could relate to that. I even scribbled some fan-fic and submitted it for one of her anthologies. (Without any luck, I might add – she had stopped accepting fan-fic by the time I got around to it.) There is a certain amount of cognitive dissonance here, you would understand; a writer whose books I rather enjoyed and who had a good reputation for mentoring younger writers is revealed as having conducted herself in a manner quite the antithesis of the public persona. I am pretty certain that if I went back and re-read those books of hers which are still on my shelf that I would not enjoy them now nearly as much. Mind you, I don’t demand that writers whose books I enjoy have a perfectly blameless personal life and innocuous political opinions – but I do draw the line at child abuse.

Finally, there is the element of hypocrisy involved, one which I watch with a certain amount of glee – schadenfreude, even. The Social Justice Warrior element within SWFA, who went all Savonarola on Larry Correia, Vox Day, Orson Scott Card, and Sarah Hoyt, among others, for politically incorrect thought-crimes, ought to be just as righteously steamed about reverencing and/or enabling a pedophile and sexual abuser of their own child. Correct? No? Well, then – please explain why it’s bad when someone who disagrees with you on certain social or political fundamentals, but perfectly okey-dokey or at least excusable when someone whom you do agree with commits serious crimes. Ah, yes – another spectacular SWFA melt-down, resulting from the violent collision between reverencing a past honored member of the in-group, and application of their own rule-book.

I still haven’t made up my mind, though – if I ought to get rid of the Bradley books entirely. Maybe I should just put them in a box in the garage until I do make up my mind.

(Cross-posted at my book blog and at

27 thoughts on “More Science Fiction Fan Follies”

  1. SF has all been downhill since Heinlein published “Stranger in a Strange Land.”

    Just finished the second and final volume of his biography – interesting man and a great storyteller.

  2. You could be an admirer of Stalin, Mao and Trotsky and nobody at SFWA will be offended. In fact, that will raise their opinion of you. Just one of those little things that make you go hmmmm.

  3. “nobody at SFWA will be offended”

    I should not have written “nobody”. I’m sure that some would. But the fact remains that being politically incorrect will get you blackballed while being a commie will not–in fact will get you praise and support–because the “social justice” people who seem to dominate things now have rather curious standards of right and wrong.

  4. I am finding it cruelly apt to apply their own rule-book, in this particular case, though — and I expect that others are also savoring the schadenfreude as well. I forget which one of Alinsky’s axioms it is, though – about making them live up to their own rule book.

  5. Were I to be a published science fiction author, at this point I think I would actively avoid mention on the SFWA site. I don’t think I would like the association.

  6. I read a couple of her Darkover stories back in the day, and though they were competently told they were so larded with hatred for a straw-man Christianity that I found them wearisome. Her wikipedia bio is pretty creepy, though maybe she changed her mind near the end.

    But the coverup by the powers that be in SF is horrible. I haven’t been to a con since 1979 (the local one is the infamous WisCon), and I no longer have any regrets about that.

  7. SF has all been downhill since Heinlein published “Stranger in a Strange Land.”

    I would disagree with that. Pretty much anything Larry Niven and the Niven/Jerry Pournelle team has written is equal to Heinlein’s works, especially the Mote in God’s Eye, which RAH loved BTW, and Lucifer’s Hammer. Poul Anderson was another good author.

    Just finished the second and final volume of his biography – interesting man and a great storyteller.

    I just started the first volume. A lot of details about the man I never had heard about. With all the contacts he made in the Navy with a lot of sonn-to-be-famous admirals, especially Ernest King, I wonder how things would have turned out if he had not been tranferred from the Lexington to a destroyer, where constant seasickness caused TB to develop. Maybe Admiral Heinlein would have been in charge of a Navy space program in the 1960’s, like Rickover did for the Nuke Navy.

  8. My Top Ten SF writers…
    1. Robert Heinlein
    2. Larry Niven (including his various partnerships)
    3. Isaac Asimov
    4. Arthur Clarke
    5. Poul Anderson
    6. David Brin
    7. H. Beam Piper
    8. Gordon Dickson
    9. Ray Bradbury
    10.Orson Scott Card

    John Ringo and Taylor Anderson also tell pretty good stories. Sgt. Mom – you may have seen Anderson at various historical battle re-enactments around Texas.

  9. I believe Bujold’s “The Spirit Ring” is only available in hardcover. It stands alone from her other series. But it is very much worth your time, and close attention. As is all Bujold, of course.

    I’m wondering about Piers Anthony’s reputation and the positions of the various SF factions…

  10. As someone who has attended SF cons but no longer does (the hate gets tiresome after a while): at one con I chanced into a room, large room with a large number of people, who discussed the pros and cons of having sex with your pets. And they weren’t the most extreme sexuality I’ve [insert non-physical contact verb here] at cons.

    As to the character of authors and the effect it has on enjoying their work: I’ve seen all kinds of responses. Myself, if I excluded every adulterer, alcoholic, drug addict, monarchist, tranny, Nazi, Communist, pedophile, rapist, homosexual, lesbian, Moslem, or any other group which someone somewhere finds offensive, my shelves would be nearly empty.

    And on Wooten’s list are pedophiles, Mormons, heirs to fortunes, militarists, Communists, etc. (or so some have claimed of them—I won’t bother matching names to descriptions).


    The root of all this is the great cultural change from the Christian West via the Enlightenment to our glorious Green Communist future. It will only get worse as Red Greens feel they have less and less to fear from retaliation.

  11. And on Wooten’s list are pedophiles, Mormons, heirs to fortunes, militarists, Communists, etc. (or so some have claimed of them—I won’t bother matching names to descriptions).

    I could but won’t. I’ve known those details of the specific writers you mention for years.

  12. Me, I’ve discovered that I can forgive much regarding authors I like. There are some exceptions, though; enthusiastically lauding B. Obama, willfully and maliciously misusing the serial comma,not being clear on the proper use of an apostrophe when it comes to differentiating between the plural and the possessive … and enabling and/or cheer-leading child sexual abuse in their private life.
    I was raised as an old-form Lutheran; to us, there are things that are just wrong.

  13. I find my pleasure in many arts diminished by learning too much about the artist. I can’t enjoy “The Electric Horseman” now, though when I was much younger I thought Fonda’s performance note perfect for the role. A whole collection of Judy Collins albums, celebrating her clear pure voice, became junk to me after I read her auto-biography. The fluffy Rock Hudson /Doris Day movies aren’t even good bubblegum for me, once I learned that Hudson was gay and Day was basically a bullied spouse forced by a pimp husband to sell herself into scripts she hated. (I live in dread of discovering something unpleasant about Tony Randall…)

    Need to go watch _Amandeus_, I guess.

  14. Pounder, it is a lot easier to enjoy an author’s work when you, the reader, are ignorant of the author’s flaws. Some flaws matter to me. I won’t read propaganda I don’t like. Others polemics I don’t mind so much. I have stopped reading certain authors because I find them despicable, but I still have fond memories of enjoying their works before I saw their true faces.

  15. I can’t be the only person in the world who hated hated hated The Mote In God’s Eye.

    In general, new wave is far superior to golden age.

  16. I admit to being a Golden Ager. I cut my teeth on Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Tolkien and Arthur C Clarke. I think Frank Herbert’s Dune was one of the best things I’ve ever read. I liked the forward thinking, can-do, take no shit from your enemies attitude of the Golden Age.

    I can’t be the only person in the world who hated hated hated The Mote In God’s Eye.

    I thought it was interesting, but not great. I didn’t hate it though. Why did you hate it so much? The spiders?

  17. The Mote in God’s Eye was pretty good. Its later sequel was not.

    Supposedly, Heinlein strongly endorsed it was because of his enormous behind the scenes input.

  18. The Mote in God’s Eye was good, clean space opera, with some interesting speculative stuff in it and some good combat sequences.

    What’s not to like?

  19. I can’t be the only person in the world who hated hated hated The Mote In God’s Eye.

    That was one of the best Science Fiction books ever written. I will admit that Lucifer’s Hammer was better though. I agree that the Mote sequels were not as good as the original, but sequels rarely are as good or better.

  20. I would submit the name Iain M Banks to those who like wildly imaginative science fiction. Great writer. He was also an atheist, socialist, anti-Israel, pro-Scottish independence and environmentalist. You could see in his writing what he pictured the result of socialism would be and I found that enlightening even though I don’t believe it.

    Content warning: my boys won’t be reading his books until after high school; language, adult themes and violence.

  21. >>Great writer. He was also an atheist, socialist, anti-Israel…

    So basically an idiot. Good to know.

  22. Lucifer’s Hammer was even worse.

    I don’t know what I was expecting.
    But what I got was bored.
    And there was racism.

  23. And there was racism.

    And the troll reveals it’s political leanings. If you think Larry and Jerry are racists, then you are an idiot. They have also partnered with Steven Barnes on a few novels too.

    You also probably did not like Oath of Fealty either, or Burnning Tower, or even Inferno.

  24. Michael Hiteshew,

    “So basically an idiot. Good to know.”

    Idiot, no definitely not. Some disagreeable personal beliefs, yes definitely.

    I think one of Sgt Mom’s many points in her post is that you can enjoy the work of a writer without necessarily agreeing with them. And I find it to be a kind of peek behind the curtain moment to see what the writer and those that hold viewpoints that are contrary to mine envision in their version of the future.

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