Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood

August 14, 2009

How many SFs?

Filed under: meta,sf — Tags: , , — Sam @ 9:45 pm

Yet another exercise in sweet-ghu-those-people-are-taking-over-my-genre – well-known homophobe John C. Wright, author of such fine schoolgirl spanking fetish stories[1] as Titans of Chaos takes a few pages to whinge about “perversity”, waggle his huge fannish dick around, and generally show off his insecurity.

He may well protest about “homosex activists” infiltrating other areas of life; I don’t know. That would involve reading more of his non-fiction writing[2] than I absolutely have to. But it’s clear he feels very defensive and possessive about SF, probably because he feels himself to be the heritor of a Tradition.

The thing is… so does everyone else. The SF I grew up with is about strangeness, about encountering the Other and getting used to them and mastering your instinctive reactions, learning to find the similarities and celebrate the differences and learn from everything. It’s about challenging boundaries and preconceptions, and finding the alien within yourself.

And so much of it was written by people who didn’t fit in, who felt themselves alienated, who wanted to understand why or make other people understand that it happened.

I don’t know which SF Wright grew up with; it may have been about rich white middle-class American guys blowing shit up, discovering new worlds, and looting the inhabitants’ corpses. But one of the first examples that came to mind was a passage in ‘Doc’ Smith’s book First Lensman, where Virgil Samms talks to an incomprehensibly strange female entity from Palain Seven. The text takes great pains to explain how very incomprehensibly different she is… then explains how cool Virgil is, because he hadn’t any thought of her as an “it”, but instead as a woman. For its time, that’s pretty good.

And you know the thing about the authors who wrote that shit? They’re pretty much all dead, or not writing any more, or (best of all) writing interesting things instead.

And the future is us. It’s chromatic, LGBT, disabled, working-class, with complex hyphenated identities, and it’s too big for anyone (or any one clique) to control, or even to judge.

And yeah, they’re all entitled to their opinions, no matter how incorrect or repellent; but you’d think that one of the first things they’d learn from SF was that you don’t get to assert objectivity. The world is problematic, and if you as a narrator (and are we all not narrators?) look upon something and see that it is Bad and Wrong, that doesn’t tell us about it. It tells us about you. There are, after all, always other narrators.

[1] And later in the book, we learn that the schoolgirl is a hyperdimensional tentacle monster, and the headmaster is a Greek god (and we know what they’re like). I mean, it’s not as though there’s anything wrong with any of these things. Just… from what he’s whinging about, I’d tend to assume he did.
[2] He’s not actually a bad writer. The Chaos trilogy has some really interesting ideas. He just acts, all the time, as though he wants to be Heinlein when he grows up. And oozes self-satisfaction with his own rhetoric.

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