Random, disorganized, scattershot thoughts on Cook’s post

I’m talking about this post.  And, yeah, my blog post makes no pretense of being organized or coming to any conclusion.

1. I think I need a new category tag that goes, “I’m not a feminist, but…”

2. Just because a bunch of people all get upset about something, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wrong.

3. In his post, giving examples of pure SF writers, he starts with this: “Issac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein to name but four…”  Um, excuse me.  Theodore Sturgeon?  Is there a different Theodore Sturgeon than the one who put human love and sexuality at the center of more stories than I’ll live to write?  Because surely he can’t mean that Theodore Sturgeon as an example of writers who avoided romance.  Am I missing something?

4. I DO agree with him about false advertising, however. I mean, when I pick up a book that claims to be well written, and, in fact, it turns out to suck galactic moose, I get really annoyed.

5. Book of the New Sun, fantasy or science fiction:  Apparently it’s fantasy, on account of the failure of the Earth to wobble properly.  Well, glad we’ve got that settled.  Let’s not talk about Doc Smith, all right?  Next up will be Lord of Light.

6. I really am uncomfortable when I find myself on the same side as so many people I so vehemently disagree with on so many issues.  It’s like when I say something on a panel and the audience applauds–it makes me think I’m taking the easy way out.  I don’t have a pathological need to be in a minority, but not being in the minority makes me twitchy, and I have to wonder if I’m letting myself fall into groupthink.  But then I remind myself that I agree with Republicans on some things–like a passionate hatred for Roosevelt (in my case, because he saved Capitalism), so I guess it’s all right.  And, you know, see point 2 above.

7. What kicks it over the edge for me is the phrase, ” the attention to detail that only women would find attractive: balls, courts, military dress, palace intrigues, gossiping, and whispering in the corridors.”  There is something so utterly, well, EWWWWW about that, that as an admirer of Bujold, I am just unable to not say something.  So I’m saying something.  Here’s what I’m saying: EWWWWWWW.

Okay, that’s all for now.  More later on how women are ruining science fiction.



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71 thoughts on “Random, disorganized, scattershot thoughts on Cook’s post”

  1. This article is so much of a total loss, for me there’s no point even in discussing it. It’s a complete and utter waste of time.

  2. What chaosprime said. But then, he apparently thought he was hard enough to talk shit about Gene Wolfe, so. I mean.

    I totally want a shirt with an arrow pointing up reading “is ruining SFF.” Will they issue those at VP?

  3. I really have to wonder if he read the same Bujold and Wolfe that I did.

    Well, guess I’d better take all the formal balls and clothing porn out of my novel; I can’t possibly really love that stuff.

  4. While I found most of his putrid little screed to be dismayingly stupid through and through, I have to admit that I found the following to be a top contender for “stupidest moment”:

    “Remember, the violence in Wolfe is partially influenced by the overt violence in the early 1980s of Orson Scott Card. Card’s touch is everywhere in these books.”

    That’s right, OSC was a big ol’ influence on Gene Wolfe. Of course, I also love the multiple points, both in-essay and in the comments, where Cook outright admits he doesn’t get Wolfe’s writing, despite having a PhD in English literature. Mmm-hmm.

    Cook’s attempts at preemptively defending himself (“Of course, I’ve offended everyone who’s read this far–simply by having an opinion.”) might just be the best moment of all, though. Because, seriously? No one’s offended that he “has an opinion.” People are offended because his opinions are stupid, sexist, and ignorant, and that he’s bloviating from a pulpit that lends his otherwise dismissible words an undeserved measure of credibility.

    The whole “wimmins are destroying mah sci-fi!” thing seriously needs to be stomped on. Preferably in high heels.

  5. Misha: I am also entitled to my opinion, and in my opinion, “bloviating” is a word that needs more use, and this use is perfect.

  6. Also, having done some quick Googling to make sure I had my timeline straight, I have to say I find the claim that Wolfe was influenced by OSC particularly astute. Card’s seminal ‘violent’ sf novels Hot Sleep and A Planet Called Treason have influenced many of us throughout the years.

    What’s that? You thought he meant Ender’s Game? Nonsense. Shadow of the Torturer came out in 1980, and Ender’s Game didn’t come out till ’85…

  7. Matt: Kindly do not confuse us with the facts.

    Actually (let’s talk about ME!), some guys did a postcast on me once that was, in general, quite flattering, but accused me of ripping off Zelazny’s Frakir for Spellbreaker. Dudes! I was FIRST. WAAAAA.

    Okay, sorry. I feel better now.

  8. See, now that I said it, I’m starting to wonder if he really did mean ‘A Planet Called Treason.’ While the claim is still just as ludicrous (also, either Cook thinks the earth has two moons now or that the moon being forested means it’s… hidden? I’m not sure); there are a fair number of superficial similarities between Treason and Torturer…

    But then we come to matters like conflating medieval fantasy with Arthurian fantasy, and I start seeing red. And of course Wolfe gave no thought to what he was doing, morally speaking, by making a torturer a main character. And of course none of Bujold’s recent work (like Cordelia’s Honor, a REAL departure from her old mil-sf stuff… chronologically a departure, at least, since it came earlier) hinges on the day-to-day applications of advanced technology (but I guess if it’s used to make food, heal injuries, or grow babies that’s not real science; real science is the kind where you go really fast and blow things up)…

    I don’t know. I’d post a reply directly to him to argue, but his reading comprehension is poor enough, I’m afraid he might think my comment is science fiction.

  9. Steve Halter: I think few things would amuse me more than watching Paarfi attempt to have *a* word with anyone.

    (Actually, that would be a good gag, Paarfi commenting on the quality and accuracy of several other writers’ works at typical verbosity and involution, then getting to the last one and saying “So-and-so: Codswallop.” Did you already do that one, skzb? I can’t remember.)

  10. Okay, I agree with everything the critics say about his post but the big one. What’s sexist about him liking Marion Zimmer Bradley, early Bujold, and Pamela Sergeant? I don’t like Marion Zimmer Bradley’s stuff; am I now automatically the biggest feminist on the block?

    As for romance, he said, ” Not that this is a bad thing, but some of us aren’t that interested in romance.” He didn’t knock it. He said he didn’t like it.

    And while the most…I must now use a word I despise…problematic thing about his post was his “attention to detail that only women would find attractive”, he also said that is “right out of Alexander Dumas”, I don’t think it’s a leap to assume he knows Dumas is a man who is read by men.

    I like Emma’s comment on it all:

    “To be dangerous, an opinion has to seem convincing and attractive. Cook’s dusty old grumble–a decades-old complaint updated with new author names–is neither.

    “I and my work don’t need defending from Cook’s opinion. Nothing is threatened here except the time and energy my friends could better spend on making and reading cool new SF/F.”

  11. Matt: Well played… or, as the kids nowadays would say, “Oh, SNAP!” Sadly, as much as I’d love to see your reply, it appears that Amazing Stories has closed comments on the article. Quelle surprise!

  12. Misha, I totally, totally, totally agree with you about the absolute ludicrousness of saying Card was an influence on Wolfe. I couldn’t read any of the rest of Cook’s post seriously after that point.

    But I’ll just say Foz Meadows seemed to feel the need for a rant, so she ranted. Cook’s an old guy who likes old-fashioned sf, including old-fashioned sf written by women. Does that make him a misogynist? He doesn’t like the same kind of stuff written by men. Does that make him a misandrist?

  13. No, Will, in neither case do his literary preferences make him a sexist; “de gustibus non est disputandum,” after all. What DOES make him a sexist are comments like “attention to detail that only women would find attractive,” dovetailing with his repeated disparaging of Bujold’s novels as being “really at their core Romance novels” – because, see, she’s “a closet romance writer,” after all.

    I posted the link to Meadows’ blog post because I felt she underscored the problems with Cook’s post quite well. And frankly, after reading Cook’s drivel, I felt the urge to rant a bit myself; thus, my original comment.

    Cook’s free to hold whatever asinine opinions he chooses to hold, but he chose to broadcast those opinions from a moderately amplified platform. Doing so opens those opinions up to scrutiny and criticism – which he was expecting to receive, as his closing remarks illustrate. Should he not be called on the carpet for showing his asininity in public?

  14. I’ve been trying to figure out what the line is between disagreeing with someone and dogpiling a clueless geek. Maybe you can’t know it until you cross it. But when people are proudly claiming to be speaking truth to power by mocking someone who’s powerless, I begin to think something is going on that I don’t like. Maybe it’s just that my distaste for mob justice includes social mob justice.

    Having a great deal of clueless geek in me, I’ll ask: Does not liking romance make you anti-female? Does not liking the usual sort of thing Baen publishes make you anti-male?

  15. I don’t see anyone advocating for “mob justice,” Will: no waving of torches and pitchforks, no one calling for Cook’s head on a pike. I DO see few people writing things to the effect of “stop being such an appallingly stupid human being, and also here are seventeen things that are factually wrong with your little jeremiad about What’s Wrong With SFF These Days,” up to and including our esteemed host. That’s really not the same thing as “mob justice.”

    Had Cook refrained from making stereotypical gender assumptions an inherent part of his critique of SFF writers, I doubt many folks would’ve batted an eye at his crotchety grousing. His post would still be a great big pile of stupid, but Gene Wolfe and Lois McMaster Bujold hardly need anyone’s help defending their literary reputations. The trouble is, Cook’s post is just another entry in the “girls and girly stuff destroying our precious genre” phenomenon. That’s been a Thing for a very long time now, of course, but with time comes change, and two of the biggest changes have to do with the very medium through which we’re having this conversation. The first is that, when someone says something stupid, anyone with a computer and the inclination to do so can see it. The second is that those people now have the ability to respond in real time, directly or indirectly, to the stupid thing that person said.

    It’s one thing to give offense unknowingly, or even to say something you know may be controversial, but which you’re willing to discuss and defend. It’s quite another order of thing, as Cook did in his post, to say something that you know perfectly damn well is going to offend people, then attempt to preemptively dodge criticism of your statement and claim that anyone who calls you on it is just upset because you have an opinion. That’s just intellectually dishonest hogwash, on the level of people who complain that “some people just can’t take a joke.”

    As for the parallels you drew, my previous statement about literary preferences being inherently sexist is as true now as it was the first time I made it.

  16. WS:”I’ve been trying to figure out what the line is between disagreeing with someone and dogpiling a clueless geek.”

    Cook’s tastes are different than mine. His factual errors are a bit mystifying (why think or trust your memory when you can just look things up?). Yet nothing caused my blood to boil – though he came close to crossing the line with some of his romance comments. All in all – just another rather poorly written personal opinion. The line that probably bothered me most was, “Of course, I’ve offended everyone who’s read this far–simply by having an opinion.”

    Digging a little deeper, I found an earlier blog post by Cook written several weeks ago: Sexual Harassment at Science Conventions: Who Let the Dogs Out? http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2013/08/sexual-harassment-at-science-conventions-who-let-the-dogs-out/

    What I see is a man who has run into the ‘dark side’ of the internet and does not like it.

    “… This is the future coming home to roost. No one foresaw the way in which users of social media talk to one another. Everyone is treated like an equal regardless of age or expertise. If you have an opinion, it’s just your opinion and any other person’s opinion is just as valid.”

    “The point is: They aggressively make sure that you accede to their point. This is new to me. I’ve written some blogs here that are victim of this change in how we view each other on social media. There are no rules, really, and very little respect. When I’ve posted an opinion, I am attacked personally–not my argument, which I usually try to back up with logic, reason, and quotes. This is what I teach my students. They won’t have it, though, because they think I’m a schmuck.”

    “… I cannot believe how many times I’ve been flamed online–even in my own classes–for just having an opinion. But when I’m in a face-to-face class or at a convention human interaction tends toward civility. Not anymore, I guess. I don’t attend conventions, for reasons I won’t go into here, so I’m not witness to what happens there. But I do have students who do, and their stories are appalling. It’s as if there aren’t any rules any longer. I know this is true in politics. Maybe that’s where they’ve learned this.”

    So the line that bothered me most has a very personal meaning to Cook. One that we probably couldn’t have intuited, but one we’re all probably familiar with. I read a lot of science blogs. I’m always amazed at the lack of respect scientists on many of these sites get from readers – usually because the science doesn’t agree with their political or religious beliefs. Joe Schmoe with his high school diploma in his backpocket thinking he knows as much or more about a subject as the men and women who have spent a lifetime studying it.

    I’ll cut Cook a little slack.

  17. I love how the very next line after the “details only a woman could love” is that those details are straight out of Alexander Dumas.

    Who was, you know, a dude.

  18. I don’t think this is worth a lot of thought, but a couple of things —

    He thinks of science fiction as spacesuits and rivets. But AC Clarke said advanced tech looks like magic, and so when Wolfe writes about advanced tech it looks like magic. Wolfe doesn’t need to say that advanced tech keeps the earth from wobbling or handles CO2 without subduction when the narrator has no concept about such things.

    Heinlein didn’t write fantasy? What about _Magic, Incorporated_? And Heinlein didn’t write coming-of-age stories? Space Cadet? Starship Troopers? Starman Jones? Stranger in a Strange Land? Tunnel in the Sky?

    There is a long tradition of hard science fiction that does other things too. Science fiction detective novels. Science fiction romances. Not very many science fiction sports stories but lots of SF hunting and some fishing stories. Science fiction spy stories. SF war stories, of course! But he says it isn’t really science fiction unless it’s only spacesuits and rivets.

    I tend to agree with him about zombies. If you write a zombie story and you don’t say anything about how zombies function despite entropy and thermodynamics, then it isn’t science fiction.

    If you write a story with spacesuits and rivets and magic happens, and it isn’t advanced technology, then it isn’t science fiction. Otherwise it is.

  19. Personally I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that either Alexandre Dumas is a woman or only women read Dumas. Or maybe both. Or Dumas needed more exploding suns and intertialess starships or something.

  20. The portion that (to me) really colors the rest and crosses a line is the:
    ” Bujold tips her hand in the eloquence of her language (normally a good thing) and the attention to detail that only women would find attractive: balls, courts, military dress, palace intrigues, gossiping, and whispering in the corridors. All of this is right out of Alexander Dumas. ”

    especially, the “that only women” part.
    If he had just stuck to an opinion piece where he says he doesn’t like Wolfe or Bujold then it would just be an odd article that shows that he didn’t understand Wolfe.

  21. WS: “The internet does not read charitably.”


    Like many others I had problems with, “…the attention to detail that only women would find attractive: balls, courts, military dress, palace intrigues, gossiping, and whispering in the corridors. All of this is right out of Alexander Dumas. ”

    Cook’s word choice of ‘only women’ is painting with a pretty broad brush. I doubt he meant or believes the words as written in the absolute. Yet women are the overwhelming target audience for romance – both in print and film – and Alexander Dumas is ‘The King of Romance.’ Replace ‘only women’ with ‘mostly women’ and would Cook be incorrect? I categorize this as poor writing, not sexism. Perhaps I’m being too charitable.

  22. Dumas is “The King of Romance” in the “damnable books of” sense (which includes a great deal of SF), not the Harlequin sense, so it’s both poor writing *and* sexism.

  23. Will, multiple people have now pointed out exactly what parts of Cook’s post were misogynistic, myself included. Given that you persist in missing EVERY SINGLE ONE of those points and instead fixating on some erroneous notion that liking or disliking a genre is what’s being called misogynistic, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that you’re either trolling us or being deliberately obtuse in an attempt at making some sort of point. I’d like to believe it’s the latter – perhaps I’m being overly charitable, as well – but honestly, I have neither the patience nor the inclination to attempt to figure it out. You may safely consider any point you were trying to make missed, as well, and my hands thrown into the air.

  24. Misha – I’ve reread Cook’s post several times. The only line that I see that can be interpreted as misogynistic is the one I quoted earlier: ““…the attention to detail that only women would find attractive: balls, courts, military dress …..”

    Everything else is a distaste for *not* SF (including romance novels) disguised as SF. Granted the *not* SF is his definition of *not* SF, but it’s *his* opinion. It’s not ‘women are ruining SF’ – he uses Gene Wolfe as his foremost example of *not* SF.

    Do you disagree with my earlier point that ‘only’ was a poor word choice that he probably didn’t mean in the literal sense? If he meant ‘mostly’ or ‘90%’ would he be wrong?

  25. Misha, I’m perfectly cool with saying Cook’s taste in fiction is traditionally sexist. What fascinates me is the new meaning of misogyny. It used to mean you didn’t like women. Now it means you like some women writers, but you don’t like romance or work inspired by Dumas, regardless of whether it’s by a man or a woman.

    Which is fine. Meanings change.

  26. Will,

    I tried to edit my previous post to remove ‘misogynistic’ and replace with ‘sexist.’ I also added that even the quoted line does not rise to the level of misogyny and asked how it shows a hatred or dislike of women.

    I guess I wasn’t aware that the meaning of the word had changed either.

  27. I’m now thinking misogynist has changed from “anti-female” to “anti-feminist” in some circles. So saying that only women like the tropes of romance would be misogynist if you think genres shouldn’t be associated with readers or writers of a particular gender. It fits with the changing meaning of racist, and probably other words I haven’t noticed yet.

    I also suspect that for some, sexist and misogynist are synonyms now.

  28. From the example I think maybe misogynist might now mean that you think men and women are different in some way, and you like the men’s way better.

    Saying that only women like romance-novel tropes is saying that in some way men are all alike, and further he says he likes fiction for men more than fiction for women.

  29. Will, it seems like you’re pointedly ignoring what people are saying about misogyny and sexism and insisting that they mean what you say they mean. This is getting repetitive; I’d like to see this discussion ending.

  30. As I don’t know who he is, I assumed he was indulging in tongue-in-cheek snark, especially after the Alexandre Dumas is a woman implication. That was actually a serious opinion?

  31. Jen, I explicitly said their definitions are fine. My fondness for dictionaries sometimes makes it hard to understand what the kids mean. I don’t catch on as quickly to new meanings as I used to–being old often means being late when words change. I’m sure you don’t intend your ageism here, but that’s okay.

  32. Okay, I read it, and was not particularly offended by his sexist comment about what women, and therefore myself (having all of the necessary parts to be considered a woman from birth), would find attractive. Basically because I chalk him up to the older generation who has not quite broken out of the cultural bounds of his upbringing, and still has such sexism that has been pounded into his brain from birth to overcome. I give him a pass; especially since so many others have so skillfully called him out on it.

    The comment is sexist, yes. Not because he likes or dislikes a genre, or because he believes that certain genres are more associated with certain sexes than other genres, but because he egotistically assumes that he knows what the opposite sex finds attractive en mass. It would be only slightly less egotistical is he assumed that he knows what his OWN sex finds attractive en mass. Such blanket statements are sloppy, and he should know better.

    Statistically, he are also wrong. The favored genre for the female demographic is murder mysteries. Go figure.

    However, what I found offensive about the article was NOT that one comment. It was the obvious difficulty he had in knowing what a Romance actually IS.

    Modern romance (not getting into the classical stuff right now) as put out by Harlequin and many others, and derogatorily referred to as “porn for housewives”, is absolutely NOTHING like the common, human interactions that one finds in in the SF and SFF novels that Cook has mentioned. What I feel that Cook is complaining about is that some authors allow their characters to have full lives, rather than just toodling around the galaxy blasting stuff. He wants SF/F characters to not want to get laid, or have any fluffy feelings.

    (To give Cook a point of reference, I would suggest to him “Warrior’s Woman”, by Johanna Lindsey, so he would know what “romance masquerading as science fiction, and vice versa” really is, because he obviously doesn’t.)

    I am not even going to get into what he feels is the dividing line between Fantasy and Science Fiction. Good grief!

    To me, at least, the entire thing is Cook complaining that books have not met HIS criteria for whatever genre they have been labelled as….one more person whining about what a True Scotsman should be.

  33. Will, did you know that sometimes your habit of trying to educate those awful liberals by showing them how easily their SPEECH CODES and their ISMS can be TURNED AGAINST THEM is not perceptibly distinguishable from intransigent, tendentious concern trolling?

  34. Jen, I’ve been thinking about this a little more. I’m not sure I can explain it, but, alas, that’s never stopped me before, and I like you, so I would like to be able to explain it, even if I can’t.

    When Emma and I were young, racists and misogynists were horrible people who wanted people of different races and women to have subservient roles and generally stay out of their way. Now, in some communities, all white people are racist and all men are sexist, and whiteness and maleness are privileges to be acknowledged in any discussion of race or gender lest you be charged with speaking from a position of social power. By checking your privilege, your sexism or racism do not go away, but they are defused: men thereby become allies of feminists and white people become allies of people of color. But anyone who doesn’t check their privilege or rejects any of the tenets of identitarianism becomes the current face of patriarchy or institutional racism and must be roundly mocked lest you lose your ally status and be seen as a supporter of male or white supremacy. In this case, good allies must mock Paul Cook as a misogynist.

    So, yes, I think this is a weird use of language. But language changes, and I want to understand it because it’s being used in a community that I loved.

    Hmm. One last point. I think people whose careers went further than Cook’s are guilty of punching down when they mock him. But so far as I can tell, punching down is considered a virtue in a kerfuffle.

  35. Chaosprime, see my latest blog post and rejoice. I’m done with kerfuffles. You keep trying to make a better world your way. I’ll be doing something else.

  36. I do believe I am misunderstanding something. It sounds as if you’re suggestion one of two things:

    1. When someone pisses the FUCK out of me by saying something that I feel insults my reading tastes and the work of several writers whom I like personally and professionally, I am not permitted to express this unless I check how their careers stack up against mine (rather difficult, because I have no clue about anyone’s career including my own).

    or 2. Mocking is an unacceptable way to express how pissed off I am (which seems odd from someone who is as much a proponent of eyerolling as I am).

    I very strongly suspect that you are saying neither of these things, and I’m missing the point.

  37. 1. Among the things I hate about kerfuffles is the champions of right-thinking shriek in the comments, and comments get turned off, thereby preventing the discussion from happening where it should. I’m not blaming people for turning off comments–it’s human nature to defend yourself. I blame the people who announce the latest excuse for a kerfuffle, because in most of the cases I can think of, the post should’ve been ignored.

    That said, if you can’t reply at the original site, yeah. An old guy who hasn’t had a novel published in decades says he doesn’t like a kind of science fiction that he associates with books that women like. So what? Where’s his institutional power? I have to agree with Emma. No one needs to be defended from him.

    2. I love your latest post. Art is the best answer to criticism. But I wonder if we have different understandings of eyerolling. I mean it in the sense of rolling your eyes and walking on, possibly saying to a fellow walker, “You perceived the rolling of my eyes?” for the satisfaction of hearing, “Indeed. I trust you did not miss mine.” That’s how I intend to deal with future kerfuffles.

  38. Will, the thing I objected to was where it seemed like you were repeatedly trying to goad people into defending a position which you were the only one bringing up: the assertion that liking/not liking a book based on the gender of the author had anything to do with the sexism/stupidity being mocked.

    Posting about a thing I think is stupid, on twitter or a blog, is exactly the same as mentioning to my fellow walkers that I have just rolled my eyes.

    Lastly, if you meant that comment about ageism to be funny, it sounded coldly sarcastic by the time I read it.

  39. I closed the comments because at the time that I did, they were descending into personal attack that contributed nothing to the discussion. I did not do so to protect Paul Cook. The policy for comments on Amazing is “address the subject, not the author”. I was also unable to monitor things on anything resembling a normal basis as I was attending to major family matters. I had about 20 minutes to look at what was going on (including pending comments) and make a decision as to how to handle the situation. Circumstances dictated that I use a meat cleaver as opposed to a scalpel. There is an editorial on the site (Apology & Circumstance) that provides more detail.

  40. Jen, I’m sorry it sounded cold. I’m 58. I use dictionaries. Words change meaning, and no one sends me the memo. I’m just trying to explain why when people say Cook is misogynistic or Emma is racist, I have a great deal of trouble accepting those terms. I’m now wondering if feminists who talk about misogyny and MRAs who talk about misandry are equally separated by a common language.

    No big. I’m gonna go yell at clouds now.

  41. “…he egotistically assumes that he knows what the opposite sex finds attractive en mass. It would be only slightly less egotistical is he assumed that he knows what his OWN sex finds attractive en mass.”

    CaliannG, that is what he said. He said “…that only women would find attractive.”

    It’s a really minor point, but he didn’t say all women would find the stuff attractive, he said that no men would. He assumed that he knows what his OWN sex finds unattractive.

    “Modern romance […] is absolutely NOTHING like the common, human interactions that one finds in in the SF and SFF novels that Cook has mentioned.”

    I tried to get a sense of that.

    The big difference I saw between Shards of Honor and the Harlequin standard was that Bujold’s romance has mostly external conflict. The hero and heroine fall for each other almost immediately but war and politics keep them apart until the end of the story. Or maybe I can redefine that, they cannot be together because both of them choose to do their *duty* first, and then it’s an internal conflict and it fits the checklist.

    Beyond that the male hero is too old, above age 38, but he otherwise fits.

    Maybe it fails in other ways the Harlequin editors don’t think to mention, that prospective writers would know instinctively, though.

    But I see absolutely nothing wrong with hard science fiction romance novels. I like Bujold’s. And if they help a new generation of male science fiction readers to be a little bit less clueless around women who might become more than just friends, that’s a good thing.

    Cook looks for ways to limit the label “science fiction” to “what Cook likes” and he doesn’t do it very well. Not worth a lot of discussion unless interesting people say something interesting.

  42. Steve Davidson’s explanation for closing comments makes perfect sense, and I’m sure Jen will find it resonates.

  43. “Now, in some communities, all white people are racist and all men are sexist, and whiteness and maleness are privileges to be acknowledged in any discussion of race or gender lest you be charged with speaking from a position of social power. By checking your privilege, your sexism or racism do not go away, but they are defused: men thereby become allies of feminists and white people become allies of people of color. But anyone who doesn’t check their privilege or rejects any of the tenets of identitarianism becomes the current face of patriarchy or institutional racism and must be roundly mocked lest you lose your ally status and be seen as a supporter of male or white supremacy.”

    Clearly, exactly that is happening in some places today.

    What should you do if you see signs that it is happening?

    If it’s completely obviously definite that it is happening, and you say so, you will be charged with speaking from a position of social power and accused of racism/sexism/etc. What would you expect to happen? If the people who did that were your good friends who cared about your opinion of them, they wouldn’t be doing that shit in the first place.

    If there are some beginning signs that it’s happening and you want to head it off by discussing it, what happens then? People who aren’t doing it or who are doing it just a little and won’t take it far, or people who don’t notice that they’re doing it, will all wonder why their good friend is trashing them. They will object to your high-handed abuse. They will try to be polite because you are their good friend who is having a bad day and they figure you’ll get over it.

    There ought to be a way to get better responses. But somehow talking to people as if they’re hypocrites hardly ever gets good responses. If you were surrounded by sucking sycophants who were afraid of your displeasure then they might apologize and look for ways to avoid pissing you off again. But those aren’t the people you want to be around either.

    Sometimes I can see what doesn’t work. I’m not so good at coming up with social methods that do work. But somebody who’s good at social interactions might find a way to do what you want to do and actually get good results.

  44. Since you ask, I’ll answer:

    If it’s happening to your friends who are white or male and you care about your online identity, be quiet and let it happen. Emma disagreed with a black woman’s interpretation of a white friend’s book, and now there are people who say they won’t read Emma’s work ’cause she’s racist. A friend who learned from Emma’s example was the subject of a kerfuffle–she asked me to stay out of it because defending her would only make things worse. So I stayed out. I notice people calling her a racist now and then, but she’s probably right that it would’ve been worse if more people had defended her. It’s exactly like Southern Baptists deciding you’re a sinner. Ain’t nothing you can do but convert or avoid them.

    I was just advising a socialist friend last night to pay no attention at all to his identitarian haters and focus on his art. That’s what matters.

    I’m going to turn off the notifications for this thread now. If there’s something I need to know, email me.

  45. Steve Davidson – I think you totally made the right call in closing down comments on that post, and I hope your family medical circumstances improve.

    All – I really, truly would love for this discussion to wind down, please.

  46. Ithinkitveryimportant that my point be understood i n i t ‘ s p r o p e r c o n t e x t…..*clunk*

    (See what I did there?)

  47. For the record, I have apologized to Steve and Jen, and tried to deal with my issues with mobbing in a post at my own blog, where they should’ve been in the first place.

  48. I seem to often focus on side points in your posts, but since you said this I will comment on it: “like a passionate hatred for Roosevelt (in my case, because he saved Capitalism), ” I think you are wrong. He prevented a revolution, but that is not the same thing as saving capitalism. The balance of forces was such that it would have been unsuccessful revolution, which would have been brutally suppressed. The forces that would have gained power in that suppression would have instituted fascism. That is why the right hates him. He saved the USA from turning fascist, at least at the time, though I can’t speak for the future…

    The military at the time was dominated by reactionaries. There was no liberal faction even among the junior office corps. The police was, as it almost universally is dominated by reactionaries. There were huge organize reactionary paramilitary groups as well – not only the KKK and the Nazis, but various veterans groups who at the time were mostly deeply reactionary. There were the national guards, again deeply reactionary and even though consisting of workers not likely to come over to the side of workers. There were commercial enterprises of armed thugs, like the Pinkertons.

    The left wing veterans were not as well organized, and were peaceful. The first bonus marchers never formed an organization after being successfully dispersed with extreme violence by MacArthur. The second bonus march under Roosevelt was much smaller, and had even less revolutionary potential. The other left wing groups were also not armed. And because even if not formally non-violent, they were focused on peaceful tactics like marches and strikes, they were not organized structurally in a way that would have let them successfully use violence, even if they had somehow accquired arms.. I will add that there is no reason to think a non-violent attempt at revolution, say a general strikes would not have been successfully violently suppressed as the General Strike in the UK was in a case where the left was stronger than in the US.

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