Not Required Reading

In my last blog post, I referred to this thing that is going on. In the comments, there is discussion of creating a list of authors whose books were unfairly trashed.

L. Raymond, frequent commenter on this blog, has put together a list–probably not exhaustive, but substantial. I would like to suggest that, if you’re looking for something to read–and even better, to review–you consider the books on this list. Because the books were unfairly trashed by a toxic troll does not mean they’re good; but it doesn’t mean they’re bad, either.  I think fair, even-handed reviews are just what is called for.

Note: These are all Amazon links; obviously, if you feel about Amazon the way I do, feel free to pick them up elsewhere, otherwise don’t worry about it.

Here is the list L. Raymond put together.  You are welcome to add to it in comments.

Brown, Rachel Manija
Andreadis, Athena
Bacigalupi, Paolo
Bakker, R. Scott
Bishop, Anne
Gaither, Chelsea
Goldberg, Melissa
Harris, Charlaine
Jemisin, NK
Kowal, Mary Robinette
Kress, Adrienne
Loenen-Ruiz, Rochita
Lord, Karen
McCalmont, Jonathan
Paget, Colum
Pon, Cindy
Rothfuss, Patrick
Sperring, Kari
Sullivan, Tricia
Williams, Liz

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28 thoughts on “Not Required Reading”

  1. Will Shetterly asked not to be included, but I happen not to think he’s “subhuman” and I also think he’s a brilliant writer, so he doesn’t get any say in this. Shetterly, Will

  2. Oh, shucks. My first instinct was to keep myself off the list, because I endured nothing like what many of her targets did, and to be honest, I rather liked being included with the untermenschen, but I’m happy to have my name with the other writers who fall under “white guys who didn’t care that she was reviling them but hated that she was reviling others”.

  3. When I first heard murmurings indicating a Thing Going On, I wanted to do something. There wasn’t anything to do. Yesterday I read the post by Laura, who I deeply admire, and wanted to do something. I muted some people on twitter. Last night, there was a lot more stuff to read by the time I got home. I posted to the #requireslove tag, a lovely way to share our love and the joy that’s in our community.

    I hope that something to come out of this mess is to stop excusing bad behavior when we think we agree with the banner flying above it.

    I hope we keep building community around talking about stories with compassion and joy and wit. I don’t always have those things, but I do have recs! I have read and loved Silver Phoenix, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Lady Astronaut of Mars (and the Glamourist Histories, obvs), and Dogland.

  4. Thanks! :)

    Peter Watts was targeted? Geez. I adored Starfish.

    One of the people I muted on twitter yesterday, I did so because they were being a jerk about Bear’s post on this subject, so this seems like a good spot to point out that One-Eyed Jack is fantastic (and I’m in the middle of Range of Ghosts–I hope the whole trilogy remains as pleasing as it begins).

  5. Good on ya’all. I’m not as deeply involved in this particular issue as some, but I HATE censorship of any sort and variety, and that’s just what is being attempted here. So let’s all read banned books and decide for ourselves which we think are worthwhile.

  6. Jen, that pleases me very much.

    I have fallen far behind in my reading, but I’ll add one rec from that list: Rachel Manija Brown’s “All the Fishes Come Home to Roost: an American Misfit in India” is a brave and fascinating look at cults and an unusual childhood. The subtitle makes it sound like it’s about an adult who goes there, but she was taken there by her parents, who were followers of Meher Baba.

    Grey, yeah, she also called me “Shittery” which also amuses me, because “Shitterly” is what the children of the Klan called me when my family was involved in the civil rights struggle. And when I say “children” I mean that literally: RH and her friends behave exactly like fifth-grade racists did in the early ’60s.

  7. I have to post a GIANT plug for Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo. It sinks its roots in folktales, then grows into a forest of marvels.

  8. I only encountered RH directly with respect to people trashing Watts (and his wife and probably others) for defending Bakker. Nick Mamatas was out with his pitchfork that day and I was clueless enough to be unaware of his fame as he attempted to insult me. If only I had known, I could have been flattered, I guess.

    I have tried reading the gazillion threads and summaries and it just seems like a Moebius rabbit-hole of sub references. Can it really be that hard to say a reviewer, no matter how passionate, should not be invoking violent fantasies against her subjects on a routine basis? If only for the sake of diversity in style, if nothing else? That a female writer of color should not be burning down places of shelter for other women of color? Does this really require advanced degrees of semiotic analysis and competing anti-colonial discourses? The community could not quickly reach a consensus that throwing acid in people’s faces is not constructive or particularly enlightening commentary?

  9. @PrivateIron — This is where reading for compassion comes in to play. RH’s tactics have worked because they’re really good at what I call social abuse (emotional abuse across a community). They’re manipulative, good at swaying people to their side, and in some cases simply blackmail targets to enforce continued support. The strongest examples of abuse were spread out across socks and often deleted.

    Hindsight is 20/20. Now we have a detailed report (and lots of other threads, as you say) full of information, and it is easy to sit back and say that no one should have been okay with this stuff. But we’re human, and social ties are strong, and when the consequence for speaking against something is a metric ton of internet falling on your head calling you racist or transphobic or what-not, many of us back away silently.

  10. Jen, I understand what you are saying on an intellectual level. But sometimes reality just leaves me flabbergasted and I gawp at the sheer scale of the wreckage it throws up. But you are right, in each individual case, there were people who were on the other side of RH, but there was never a collective memory for the next event. Because most of us are not as obsessed as RH was, we did not stalk her. And yes, it was unnerving to have people call one the big, bad man-splainer. Even if you are 80 per cent sure you aren’t wrong on this occasion, there is always that bit of reasonable doubt that manipulators can play on because their opponents are trying to be fair and they aren’t. You give a depressing analysis of failure modes in human communication and social response: accurate but brutal, with specific application to the online era.

    And to be more depressing, I kind of agree with Charlie Stross, if her fiction is good, I will probably end up reading it. I don’t limit myself to nice authors. Before the internet, I rarely knew much about their real lives, except for the extremely famous ones, and that was a more comfortable world for the reader.

  11. My thanks to all who have contributed; with some judicious editing for books I already own I now have the perfect Christmas present list.

  12. PrivateIron– Lack of collective memory is a perfect way to frame this. I haven’t read whatever Charlie Stoss posted on this, but it sounds about right.

    One sad thing is, when I was a teenager, discovering stuff about Real Live Actual Authors was something magical for me. There were people writing books I loved, real people, in my own hometown, and I was hooked on fantasy. I dislike that this world is not just less comfortable, but painful where there used to be joy.

  13. PrivateIron, that’s not depressing. That’s to be celebrated. People should read outside their comfort zone. Life outside of echo chambers is wonderful. So far as I’m concerned, RH’s greatest failure is her demand that readers restrict their reading to people who share her understanding of power.

  14. I’m glad I read Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s Hugo/Campbell-nominated works before all this flap came up, and was able to vote on them before I saw it and evaluate the work without having opinions about the author. (There were already too many Offensive People from the Annoying Puppies slate or whatever they called themselves.) In this case Sriduangkaew’s works didn’t really work for me, but they were also competing against a couple of really strong works from other writers, and were suffering from the problem of comparing short stories vs. novels.

  15. Mr Brust thank you for posting this as this is the first place I have ever heard of this. Long time fan of all the Cat’s Laughing Authors (so to speak)

  16. JenPhalian (@7 November 2014 at 10:30 am):

    Regarding the Eternal Sky Trilogy: It did. Awesome work

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