Prejudice, thy name is Steve

He was big, looked to be between 45-50, had a typical Texas drawl and a rodeo belt buckle.  He was in Reesa’s store buying a tatoo for his wife, and I was hanging around and keeping Reesa company.  He looked at me as I walked in and said, “Do I know you from somewhere?”  “Can’t think where,” I said.  “You look familiar.  Are you an actor?”  “No, but I’m told I look a bit like Alan Rickman.”  “Maybe that’s it.”  He didn’t seem convinced.

I didn’t ask if he read sf, or read at all.  He just wasn’t the type.

After about half an hour, I got really disgusted with myself for believing there was a “type” who read, and thinking that a Texas drawl and a rodeo belt buckle meant he didn’t read.  I went back out.  “Uh, do you read?”  “All the time.”  “Science fiction and fantasy?”  “Mostly science fiction.  I thrive on it.”  “Oh.  Uh, I’m sorry.  You may have been me on the back cover a book.”  “Oh yeah?  What have you written.”  “Jhereg?”  “No.”  “To Reign in Hell?”  “No.”  “Dzur?”  “Damn!  You wrote Dzur?  I’ve got that!  It’s on my stack…”

So, yeah, anyway, I apologized for prejudging him, and he was very gracious about it, and we talked about favorite writers for a while.  Cool guy, Texas drawl and rodeo belt buckle and all.

Let this be a lesson to me.

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0 thoughts on “Prejudice, thy name is Steve”

  1. I was prejudiced tonight while at the laundromat with Steve. I saw a guy there doing his laundry wearing a ‘born again virgin’ t-shirt. Now one either wears such a shirt out of seriousness or in an ironic hipster fashion. Because he had a Texas drawl I assumed the former…

    until I heard him talking to his friend about how to approach a girl to let her know that his girlfriend thought the girl was cute, and could they have a threesome?

  2. I just wanted to say, I have read your work for many, many years, from way back when I first discovered a used copy of Jhereg in a used book store when I was in the Navy. I wear the stereotypical Wranglers, Justin boots, and have the belt buckle, as well, and the Stetson, to top it all off with. AND, I know many, many rodeo riders, several of whom are strictly bullriders, who read, and LOVE your work. Don’t be so quick to judge readers by their appearance, as you have found. I’m glad you discovered that your readers cover a wider demographic than you at first thought. :)

  3. Alan Rickman? Alan *Rickman*? Really? And you don’t hit them for saying that? Well, no, you wouldn’t; but you don’t give them a dignified glare?

    My honest first response for almost all of my friends being told they look like such-and-such an actor is, “[Friend] looks better than *that*.” Uff da, Alan Rickman.

  4. What have you written.” “Jhereg?” “No.” “To Reign in Hell?” “No.” “Dzur?” “Damn! You wrote Dzur? I’ve got that! It’s on my stack…”

    Did you tell him…”Dzur not Jhereg? You gotta start at the beginning there Big Tex”

  5. At least the self awareness kicked in sooner rather than later. I never seem to do that in a situation when I’m able to recognize it in time to rectify it.

  6. As the saying goes: “Just because I talk slow don’t mean I’m stupid”

  7. It’s easy to fall into that. Like when you see a guy with a long beard and a cloth on his head in the train station.
    Or a guy sitting on the corner like he obviously lives there. Some of them just wanna be there.
    On the other hand, sometimes the prejudice is true; that’s how it got to be a prejudice…are wrong to prejudge when you turn out to be right?

    And only from his photos, I think Steve looks like one of my uncles. He’s a German-Dutch mix.

  8. I am a Yankee transplant to Athens, Georgia- moved down here in 1989. It took me a while to realize that the slow speaking is just a style. To a lot of Southerners, someone who speaks rapidly is considered rude, I suppose because if a Southerner is speaking rapidly it is because he is upset about something.

    I also had to get used to asking how someone is doing before launching into a conversation- even at work, I was coming across as rude if I called a co-worker and said, “Hi Steve, this is Paul- I wanted to ask blah blah blah..” Now I say, “Hi Steve, this is Paul, how are you doing? Great, me too. Do you have a minute for a question? blah blah blah” and then a similar farewell, perhaps wish them a good evening or weekend. Seems like a lot of trouble if you’re not used to it, but it sure greases the wheels.

    I read something a while back about some area in Africa where the custom is to ask how a person’s wife, each child, grandmother, grandfather, uncles, cousins, etc. are doing as part of the greeting. You’re not supposed to actually TELL them they are anything but “fine” but the whole thing goes on about 10 minutes. Thinking about that makes the 10 extra seconds I have at the beginning of every conversation seem like not such a big deal. :-)

  9. Mr. Brust,

    Will Jhegaala be available in Kindle format? Will any of the others? I adore your books (and bought a set for my nephews) and would eagerly buy the whole shebang again for my Kindle if they were on offer.


  10. Seems like a weird starting point to me. I really enjoyed Dzur… but I’m not sure I would have gotten hooked on the series if it started there. Too many pieces of the puzzle are missing I’d think.

    I try to not judge people and fail at it every day. I just remind myself that I’m being judged constantly to, so it makes me ok.


    You guys ever going to do another free for all topic? I had a question I wanted to ask, but hate thread hijacking.

    Congrats on being recognized though. Did you feel like a celeb at all?

  11. Steven–I think Bill Hicks has a little something that’d be relevant to your situation. Heh.

    I saw you in a bookstore once, doing a signing. You were wearing a lovely silk or satin shirt, maroon I think. Foolishly, I didn’t approach you, didn’t get anything signed nor even said hello.

    I aim to correct my previous lapse in action one of these days.


  12. To make up for it, you’ll have to create a part of the Dragaeran empire where the elves round up cattle and speak their magic spells with an accent that Vlad has trouble getting used to. Oh and they refer to Yendi as varmints.

  13. I don’t know how much you work personal encounters like that into your works…

    But that encounter seems very Vlad-like to me.

    I think we’re all subject to mild internal prejudice like that. Sometimes it’s justified, sometimes not. I think it speaks very well of you that you were able to recognize that you were doing it, and overcome it.

    I’d like to think that I do the same. But I know that I don’t always manage it. Bravo.

  14. *laughs* I’ve had that happen to me before too. I mean, someone thinking I’m not the sci-fi/fantasy type. Actually some one I am close to just found out I love reading fantasy and they were shocked. I’m not a cowgirl, but I’m one of those artsy fartsy types that seem to only read the “classics”.

  15. Kit @ 8 : Check out some of the shots of him from the horrible Kevin Costner Robin Hood thing.

    Thuvia @ 11: Not sure, we’re talking about stuff like that.

    Gww @ 12: You got it.

  16. And all this time I thought you were trying to look like Mickey Hart circa Skull and Roses.

  17. I think “Horrible Kevin Costner Robin Hood Thing” should be the official name for that “film.”

    Did they set out to find the worst possible actor for Robin? Was Keanu Reeves unavailable? How about Gilbert Gottfried? Yuck.

  18. Re: Robin Hood. It’s sad when the most photogenic actors are the arrows.

    Alan Rickman as the sheriff

    But I guess Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham is slightly more Steve-like, at least in hair and clothes, then Rickman as Snape.

  19. Just out of curiosity, what do (or did) you perceive your average reader to look like?

  20. I own all your books and have enjoyed them all (even Freedom and Necessity). And I’m an unabashed conservative, right wing, gun owning, and churchified Republican-type. So next time you see someone get out of a BMW wearing a suit and tie, keep in mind that particular capitalist pig might be a fan.

  21. Prince John: And why should the people listen to you?

    Robin Hood: Because, unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent.

  22. Oh, also, check out Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist from the Broadway musical Avenue Q. There is a real recording on YouTube too, but the camera work is horrendous and the audio is just as bad, if not worse.

    True, Country is not a race, but I think the song’s lesson still applies. Steve, you’re no worse than the rest of humanity, the fact that you even questioned your judgment says a lot about your character, I wouldn’t have gave it a second thought. *shrug* But then, I am an asshole.

  23. Ker-thwap @ 21 Interesting question; never thought about it.

    SteveM @ 22: Heard and acknowledged, sir.

  24. Steve,
    I feel the need to say that I am also a “Lifelong” Fan and have been pleased to introduce your work many of my friends…just in case your ego needed another boost! (I own all of your novels as well and have read most of them several times…and the others several more…)

    The first thing I thought of when reading your comment was similar to several others: “How could anyone start with Dzur and not feel lost??”

    But…whatever it takes to bring another fan to the fold!

    Thank you so much for sharing your talent and your thoughts with me. It is greatly appreciated!


  25. Steve,

    This is completely bratty of me (hooray for the internet), but I could swear you’re the one I’m trying to quote, and I can’t find the reference anywhere.

    Could you please tell me if you have ever written a Preface that mentions hanging a plaque above your computer which says something to the effect of “Be As Cool as You Can Be?” I could swear that was you.

    PS – I’ve been reading your stuff since the Book of Taltos came out, and am a huge fan of the entire series. Particularly the books where Vlad confronts his self-contradictory attitudes about the minority culture he comes from, which have been a very vivid reflection of my own struggle with my ethnic background. I never would have thought that the main character of Jhereg would make psychological commentary on the way I live my life.

  26. Amul @ 27 : First of all, thanks.

    Second, I have quoted, on a number of occasions, advice Gene Wolfe once gave a certain writer. The advice is to tape a 3×5 index card above your computer, and on the card write, “I’m going to tell you something cool.” The advice has been attributed to me a couple of times, but it is actually Mr. Wolfe’s, though I certainly subscribe to the spirit.

  27. Amul@27: Chiming in to agree with you here — one of the things I like best about the Draegaera series is how he uses the Dragaeran/Easterner relationship as a metaphor for race relations. It’s always struck me as both clever and insightful.

  28. Kit@30: I’ll try not to get into the whole “No, what is cooler is how he…” debate, tempting though it is. The phrase “race relations” implies a relationship between two different people, though, and what I was complimenting was the treatment of Vlad’s internal struggles with his identity as an Easterner and as a Dragaeran citizen whose never been East.

    Look up the Indian slang term “ABCD” to get a better idea.

    Also, Kit, I notice the phrase “a humorous erotic science fiction novel” in your bio, which makes me want to beg some criticism from you on a futuristic erotic horror short story which spewed up out of nowhere. I work primarily in the visual arts, but there are some words rattling around in my head that could use a little feedback and encouragement.

    I’m pretty sure, though, that there are quasi-legal concerns about you reading that. Would your Voluptuaries be interested in gaining a photographer?

  29. Amul@31: Thanks, that’s interesting slang and an interesting perspective on Vlad.

    The Society is open, at least in theory, to other types of artists as long as they are willing to give feedback to other artists and keep up with the schedule. At the moment we seem to be in a bit of a transitional phase, and are looking primarily for more serious, “publication-oriented” writers/artists rather than more casual experimenters. If this suits you, you are welcome to apply for membership and we’ll give you serious consideration.

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