Monster Hunter Nation

Ending Binary Gender in Fiction, or How to Murder Your Writing Career

This was sent to me on Facebook the other day. I made some comments there, but then I got to thinking about it and decided this thing was such a good example of how modern sci-fi publishing has its head stuck up its ass that it really deserved its own blog post. My response is really directed toward the aspiring writers in the crowd who want to make a living as writers, but really it works for anybody who likes to read, or who is just tired of angsty emo bullshit.

First off, just here is the original blog post. http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/01/post-binary-gender-in-sf-introduction?utm_source=exacttarget&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_term=tordotcom&utm_content=-na_continuereading_blogpost&utm_campaign=tordotcombookcoverage

Okay, aspiring author types, you will see lots of things like this, and part of you may think you need to incorporate these helpful suggestions into your work. After all, this is on Tor.com so it must be legit.  Just don’t. When you write with the goal of checking off boxes, it is usually crap. This article is great advice for writers who want to win awards but never actually be read by anyone.

Now do yourself a favor and read the comments… I’ll wait… Yeah… You know how when my Sad Puppies posts talk about the “typical WorldCon voter”? Those comments are a good snapshot of one subtype right there.

I also know from that Facebook thread that a lot of people tried to comment and disagree for various reasons, but their posts were deleted. (and some of them even swore that they were polite!). But like most modern lefty crusades, disagreement, in fact, anything less than cheerleading, is “intolerance” and won’t be tolerated. Meanwhile, my FB thread had lots of comments and an actual intelligent discussion of the pros and cons from both sides (and even transsexual communists who actually like to enjoy their fiction thought this Tor.com post was silly), so remember that the next time a snooty troll calls my fans a “right wing echo chamber.”

If you can’t stomach the comments long enough to hear what a typical WorldCon voter sounds like, let me paraphrase: “Fantastic! I’m so sick of people actually enjoying books that are fun! Let’s shove more message fiction down their throats! My cause comes before their enjoyment! Diversity! Gay polar bears are being murdered by greedy corporations! Only smart people who think correct thoughts like I do should read books and I won’t be happy until my genre dies a horrible death! Yay!”  (and if there is beeping noise in the background, that’s because they’re backing up their mobility scooter).

So let’s break this pile of Gender Studies 101 mush down into its component bits and see just why some sci-fi writers won’t be happy until their genre dies completely. Like my usual Fisking, the original article is in italics and my comments are in bold.

Post-Binary Gender in SF: Introduction

Alex Dally MacFarlane

I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories.

I want lots of things too, doesn’t mean I can have them. Right out the gate that’s a pretty bold statement. And by bold, I mean ridiculous.

What is this “default of binary gender” he wants to end? It is that crazy old fashioned idea that most (as in the vast majority) of mammals, including humans, can be grouped into male and female based upon whether they’ve got XX or XY chromosomes. Sure, that’s medically true something like 99.999% of the time, which would sort of make it the default.

Oh, and “default” means that is your assumed baseline.

So that whole thing where people are male or female except for some tiny exceptions and that is kind of the assumption until proven otherwise is standard, so this guy wants to end that. (I’m assuming Alex is a dude, but then again, that is just me displaying my cismale gendernomrative fascism)

What do I mean by “post-binary gender”? It’s a term that has already been used to mean multiple things, so I will set out my definition:

Post-binary gender in SF is the acknowledgement that gender is more complex than the Western cultural norm of two genders (female and male): that there are more genders than two, that gender can be fluid, that gender exists in many forms.

Wait… male and female are Western Cultural Norms? Uh… No. That is a biological norm for all the higher life forms on Earth so that species can replicate themselves (keep in mind, this is SCIENCE fiction he wants to change). I like how Western Culture is the root of all that’s evil though, even though male and female are cultural norms in pretty much every human society there has ever been.

Also, nitpick. Gender was a grammar term for how you referred to the different sexes. Being male or female is your Sex. Or at least, that’s what the word meant until colleges invented the Gender Studies major for those students who found Liberal Arts way too academically grueling. 

Now, before we continue I need to establish something about my personal writing philosophy. Science Fiction is SPECULATIVE FICTION. That means we can make up all sorts of crazy stuff and we can twist existing reality to do interesting new things in order to tell the story we want to tell. I’m not against having a story where there are sexes other than male and female or neuters or schmes or hirs or WTF ever or that they flip back and forth or shit… robot sex. Hell, I don’t know. Write whatever tells your story.

But the important thing there is STORY. Not the cause of the day. STORY.

Because readers buy STORIES they enjoy and when readers buy our stuff, authors GET PAID.

Robert Heinlein had stories where technology allowed switching sex. Great. That’s actually a pretty normal sci-fi trope where in the future, there’s some tech that allows people to change shape/sex, whatever, and we’ve got grandmasters of sci-fi who have pulled off humans evolving into psychic space dolphins or beings of pure energy. If that fits into the story you want to tell and you want to explore that, awesome for you. I’ve read plenty of stories where that was part of that universe. If your space whales that live inside the sun have three sexes, awesome (that one was my novella push on Sad Puppies 1).

But this post wasn’t about, hey write whatever mind expanding sci-fi ideas you want, nope, it want to end the norm in order to push a message. Post like this are all the same. You can swap the message around, and whatever the particular norm is, or whatever the particular message is, when you put your pet-peeve message before story, odds are you are going to bore the shit out of your reader. 

People who do not fit comfortably into the gender binary exist in our present, have existed in our past, and will exist in our futures. So too do people who are binary-gendered but are often ignored, such as trans* people who identify as binary-gendered.

Will exist in the future? Probably. Should they be the default for your story? No way. Ignored? Hardly. Is that denying reality? Okay, so I write a book, and let’s say that it has 20 characters in it. What is the acceptable percentage of them that should be transgender? How many boxes must I check in order to salve a blogger’s liberal angst? Let’s see… Only like 1 in 50,000 people have sex changes performed. So at 20 characters a book… If I have one character who has had a sex change show up every 2,500 books I write, I’d be statistically accurate.

Oh, but now you’re going to tell me that gay people make up anywhere from 1-4% of the population. Fantastic. Except gay people are still the same sex they were born with. Gay dudes are still men and gay chicks are still women.  This blogger didn’t say he wanted an end to default sexual orientation, he wants an end to default binary sex. If you think sci-fi doesn’t have people who don’t swing both ways, you’ve not read much sci-fi.

Now, if I’m writing a sci-fi story set in Space Berkley or the Tenderloin District of the Future, then I’d probably have plenty of Hirs and Shmisters or whatever. Whatever fits the story, but until then how about not trying to enforce Equal Opportunity against our imaginary people?

(and if you really want to get crazy in the speculative fiction department, what with all this BS with made up pronouns to get rid of Him and Her, what the hell are romance languages supposed to do? Latino. Latina. Latinu? Latinsexyrobot?) 

Here’s the problem. From a nuts and bolts story telling perspective, your readers are going to assume that everything in your book is similar to the world they currently live in, until demonstrated otherwise. Unless you say that in the future everybody has been genetically modified to have 3 legs, they are going to assume that all your human characters have two legs. If you are going to demonstrate that something is different, then there needs to be a reason for it. So if you say all humans have 3 legs, but it doesn’t play into the story at all, then why bother? And every time you change something to be different from the expected, there had better be a reason for it or you will quickly just annoy your reader.

Reading sci-fi like that grows tiresome. It is like listening to an inexperienced little kid saying “Look, I can do THIS! And now I can do THIS! Isn’t that the neatest thing EVAR!?” And your response is “Yeah, yeah, that’s special…” when you’re really bored as shit and don’t care how tall their Lego tower is the 50th time.

If your story is about exploring sexual identity, awesome. Write that story. But only a fool is going to come along and tell you that you need to end the default of all your characters having ten fingers, because there are people in the world born with twelve and how could you be so insensitive to those who have lost fingers? Because awareness. 

So if humans having 5 or 6 sexes in the future is part of your story, write it. If it isn’t part of the story, why would you waste words on it? Oh, that’s right, because MESSAGE.

ProTip: Focusing on message rather than story is a wonderful way for writers to continue working at Starbucks for the rest of their lives.

I am not interested in discussions about the existence of these gender identities: we might as well discuss the existence of women or men. Gender complexity exists. SF that presents a rigid, unquestioned gender binary is false and absurd.

Yes. Topic of the Day X exists! You know what else exists? Child abuse. So I’d better make sure I put that in every book I write. Because readers love that. If I’m telling a story about rocket ships, readers love it when your characters pause to have a discussion about animal cruelty, pollution, the dangers of over prescribing psychotropic drugs, or how we need to be sensitive to people with peanut allergies too. Readers are totally into being preached at about author’s favorite causes.

Have you ever gone into Barnes and Noble, went to the clerk at the info desk, and said “Hey, I really want to purchase with my money a science fiction novel which will increase my AWARENESS of troubling social issues.”? No?  This is my shocked face.

Not that you can’t get a cause into your story, as long as you do it with skill. But the minute you destroy the default just to destroy the default, congratulations, you just annoyed the shit out of the reader. You want to slip in a message and not annoy your customers, that takes skill, so until you have developed your skills, don’t beat people over the head with your personal hang ups.

How about if my story isn’t in any way, shape, or form concerned with sexual identity (or whatever some reviewer’s personal hang up is today) I don’t waste words writing about it, and readers who want to can just assume that those people exist in the universe but they don’t happen to have speaking parts in this particular novel, if they care enough to think about it at all, which they probably won’t.

I intend to use this column to examine post-binary SF texts, both positively and critically, as well as for discussions of points surrounding this subject.

And I intend to use this column to go beyond Ursula K Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.

Read that a long time ago among the thousands of books I read as a kid. Vaguely remember it. Thought it was good, if I recall correctly.

Kameron Hurley wrote several years ago about the frustration of The Left Hand of Darkness being the go-to book for mind-blowing gender in SF, despite being written in 1968. Nothing written in the decades since has got the same traction in mainstream SF discourse—

Maybe that’s because Le Guin told a story that happened to have this blogger’s pet topic in it, that was still a story readers found interesting, as opposed to crafting a message fic manifesto, that readers found boring and forgettable?

and texts have been written. For a bit of context, 1968 is almost twenty years before I was born, and I’m hardly a child.

HARDLY! Well, there you go. I know when I’m looking for professional advice about how to succeed as a professional writer, I’m going to listen to somebody in their mid-twenties.

Hey, you’d better listen up. I’m betting this blogger went to COLLEGE!

One of the reasons Hurley considers for this situation (raised by someone on a mailing list she belonged to) is that:

“…perhaps Le Guin’s book was so popular because it wasn’t actually as radical as we might think. It was very safe. The hetero male protagonist doesn’t have sex with any of the planet’s inhabitants, no matter their current gender. We go off on a boys’ own adventure story, on a planet entirely populated by people referred to as ‘he,’ no matter their gender. Le Guin is a natural storyteller, and she concentrates on the story. It’s not overly didactic. It’s engaging and entertaining.”

Holy shit… Wait… You mean this story has stuck around because “she concentrates on the story”?  Engaging and entertaining? Blasphemy!

Yet, people like this don’t get why message fic books win piles of awards, yet totally fail in the market. See, the problem the modern literati twaddle peddlers run into isn’t that readers are insensitive rubes who don’t understand the plight of whatever their liberal cause of the day is, it is because they want to enjoy what they read. Their entertainment time and money is limited. Why spend it being preached at?

The next few paragraphs are very interesting, because they give you a glimpse into the mind of the modern literati. 

The Left Hand of Darkness certainly has been radical, as Hurley says, in its time, in the subsequent years and in the present. I have spoken to several people who found The Left Hand of Darkness immensely important: it provided their first glimpse of the possibility of non-binary gender. The impact that it has had on people’s realisations about their own gender is not something I want to diminish, nor anyone else’s growth in understanding.

However, I do think it can be very palatable for people who haven’t done a lot of thinking about gender. It is, as Hurley says earlier in her post, the kind of story that eases the reader in gently before dropping the gender bombs, and those bombs are not discomfiting for all readers. Of course they’re not. How can one text be expected to radicalise every reader?

I don’t want to cast The Left Hand of Darkness aside. It’s an important part of this conversation. What I do want to do is demonstrate how big that conversation truly is. Other texts have been published besides The Left Hand of Darkness, many of them oft-overlooked—many of them out of print. Some of them are profoundly problematic, but still provide interesting questions. Some of them are incredible and deserve to be considered classics of the genre. Some of them are being published right now, in 2014.

Fascinating. To the literati, books are all about dropping truth bombs. (as long as the truth agrees with their predetermined notions, obviously) This one is about sex, but you could swap that out for the evils of capitalism, or whatever bullshit they’re hung up on today. And of course, since publishing is an insular little industry based in the Manhattan echo chamber of proper goodthink, all the message fic that gets pumped out is stuff that just annoys the regular reading public.

You want a truth bomb? Readers hate being preached at. Period. Even when you agree with the message, if it is ham fisted and shoved in your face, it turns you off. Message fic for message fic’s sake makes for tedious reading. Yet, as this stuff has become more and more prevalent, sci-fi has become increasingly dull, and readership has shrank.

Of course, the literati won’t be happy until everything is boring ass message fic and nobody reads sci-fi anymore, because then they’ll be super special snowflakes.  

Amal El-Mohtar wrote a piece about the process of finding—having to find—a pioneering woman writer, Naomi Mitchison, and followed it up with a post where she said:

“It breaks my heart that we are always rediscovering great women, excavating them from the relentless soil of homogenizing histories, seeing them forever as exceptions to a rule of sediment and placing them in museums, remarkable more for their gender than for their work.”

Ah, pseudo-intellectual university humanities department speak… How I have missed you.

Yes. Because you shouldn’t elevate a book because you thought it was good and you want to share it with others, you should elevate a book because the sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, or personal philosophy of the author checks a box on the liberal angst/white guilt checklist.

The typical WorldCon voter, when presented with 5 nominees for a category, and their clique’s personal favorite writer isn’t on there, and not having actually read any of the works, will go through the authors and rank them according to the order that best assuages their hang ups. Oooh, a paraplegic transsexual lesbian minority abortion doctor with AIDS who writes for Mother Jones?  You’d need a wheelbarrow to carry all the Hugos.

Quality? Popularity? Staying power? Influence? Isn’t that what makes something a classic? Not to the modern literati. We have to elevate works by people according to what they checked on their EEOC form. Meanwhile, hatey-McHatertons like me read books and like them, even when we don’t know anything about the author. I didn’t know what sex Lois Bujold or Wen Spencer where the first time I read one of their books, but I knew the writing was good. I couldn’t tell you what writers are gay or like to cross dress either, but I can tell you who I enjoy reading.  

It seems to me that there’s a similar process for post-binary texts: they exist, but each reader must discover them anew amid a narrative that says they are unusual, they are rare, they sit outside the standard set of stories. This, at least, has been my experience. I want to dismantle the sediment—to not only talk about post-binary texts and bring them to attention of more readers, but to do away with the default narrative.

Because nothing is going to make an author successful like copying things that were unpopular before.

That process of (re)discovery is probably inescapable. A bookshop, a library or a friend’s/family member’s bookshelves can’t contain every book ever published, so new readers will always have to actively seek out stories beyond the first ones they encounter. What if, El-Mohtar wonders, the first books often included Naomi Mitchison? What if the first books often included multiple post-binary texts as well?

Wait… So the purpose of reading is to get people to accept non-binary gender? Well, huh… All this time I’ve been under the impression people primarily read for enjoyment. So that’s what I’ve been doing wrong!

The English professor says: “For young people and new readers, wouldn’t it be nice if we shoved IMPORTANT WORKS about Special Topic X down their throats rather than something they might enjoy? Now I wonder why most Americans don’t read for fun anymore after we beat them over the head through their entire education and forced them to read tedious classics until reading was seen as a chore… Odd.”

And for the small and dwindling percentage of us that still actually like to buy and read books, what I’m getting from this blogger is that they’re thinking “Let’s get this mind blowing stuff out there. Yeah, that’ll rock their little bourgeois world!” Okay, dude… They’re SCIENCE FICTION readers. You’re probably not going to stun them with your big shocking ideas. You really want to shock a sci-fi reader with your book nowadays? Actually entertain them.

As an interesting side note, the Guardian just did a report that revealed how much published authors really make. For most of us, it isn’t that much. I think the average was like 30k. The majority of published writers still have their day jobs. Only the top 1% made six figures. 

cismale

I am the 1%.

So aspiring authors, if you want to actually make a living doing this, you can either listen to me and put story first, or you can listen to the grad student and focus on the pet message of the day.

Regular readers will know that I always say writers should have GET PAID in their mission statement, the reason I do that is because most of us DON’T.

Conversations about gender in SF have been taking place for a long time. I want to join in.

Judging by how they’ve been “grooming” the comments there, when they say conversations they mean shut up and listen while they lecture you about something.

I want more readers to be aware of texts old and new, and seek them out, and talk about them. I want more writers to stop defaulting to binary gender in their SF—I want to never again read entire anthologies of SF stories or large-cast novels where every character is binary-gendered. I want this conversation to be louder.

Read that paragraph again and think about it… Think about it really hard. Nuts and bolts. Every single SF book, he wants to default to something other than what your audience thinks is normal. I want more people to seek out not just great books, or mind bending books, but books. Period.

Speaking of great sci-fi, wouldn’t Firefly have been so much better if Captain Mal had been a pre-op transsexual? And just think of the hilarious banter they could have about Jayne not being a girl’s name… never mind, because in the future that is insensitive.

Of course, good writers will just write their characters so that they’re interesting and compelling, rather than to check a box to make a special interest group happy. If I’m writing a story and it would make the story better to have some character be something other than the default, then I can put that in. If it doesn’t have a point, then it is a distraction to the reader.

Except even then, a Hatey McHaterton like me will still probably do it wrong. There was a bad guy in Swords of Exodus named Diego. This guy was an enforcer for an international crime syndicate. He participated in underground knife fighting arenas against Yakuza and Russian Mafia members for fun. Diego could match Lorenzo in a fight. He was also a gay cross dresser who made a very convincing Celine Dion, so obviously, I got a review that talked about how I hate gay people… Even though in a book where almost all of the characters, including the protagonists, are some degree of bad guy, obviously this character is a demonstration of my homophobic hatey hate mongering.

Then there’s Big Eddie, but really, you can’t think of Eddie that way. His sexual orientation was Hurt People. If you were to give him a psych evaluation to see what his “gender identity” was, he’d check all the boxes, then burn the test and stab the psychologist.

As far as a character’s proclivities, for all you know my books are filled with pre-op transsexuals, only I’m not going to stop and talk about them and what they do off screen. In fact, the only time I talk about a character’s feelings on any topic in a book are when that helps flesh out that character in a manner that helps tell the story I want to tell.

To that end, I’ll be running this column: posting every two weeks, with discussions of books and short stories, as well as interviews and roundtables with other writers and readers of post-binary SF,

Oh good. Because this topic really needs to be beaten home. I hear that there are actually some consumers out there who still actually read sci-fi, and we will never rest until this genre becomes so incredibly boring that we drive everyone away!

because I strongly believe it’s important to hear multiple voices.

Just not the ones that disagree in the blog comments.

I’m particularly interested in science fiction at the moment, but I expect I’ll cross genres as I run the column.

Yeah. I can’t wait until he gets to urban fantasy. Yay.

I hope you’ll join me in making the default increasingly unstable.

Wow. Yeah. I’ll show you, Dad! You can’t tell me what do! Down with your cismale gendernormative fascism!

EDIT:  This saga continues when Social Justice Warrior and crusading sensitive white man Jim Hines swoops in to save the day: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/5687/

And for one shining moment, I become more hated by the SFWA crowd than Orson Scott Card. Achievement unlocked. 🙂

Sequel to a Book Bomb is out today
Great News, Dead Six and SoE audiobooks!

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368 Comments on "Ending Binary Gender in Fiction, or How to Murder Your Writing Career"

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dyingearth
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dyingearth
2 years 7 months ago

Larry, you tried, but I don’t think you’re getting through to them. But keep on cranking out your book and my money is ready to buy Monster Hunter Nemesis.

Ray
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Ray
2 years 7 months ago

I am so tired of these pretentious twats. Err, dicks. Err… pre-op alternative genitals. Damnit! They’ve ruined criticism!

salgak
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2 years 7 months ago

Let’s not be Cisgendered Gendernormative Fascists. They’re obviously “twicks” and “dats”. Except for the ones that excrete eggs/and or sperm, and please, not on the rug. . .

Pete
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Pete
2 years 7 months ago

How dare you be so domainist! Think of all the plants, fungi, molds, and plankton you are discriminating against! You should also be including seeds, spores, and mitosis in your post-binary gender message lit.

B.Malloy
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B.Malloy
2 years 7 months ago

Nothing like a good fisking to start the day.

michaelzwilliamson
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2 years 7 months ago

The hilarious thing is my books are filled with characters who are non-white, non-male, non-straight, occasionally trans and from a mixmaster of genetic and cultural backgrounds.

But I don’t write books for leftist pussies so they’ve never read my books, and still call me a racist, even though I’m less cisgender heteronormative white male than 90% of them.

Because they’re pussies.

Robert Blume
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Robert Blume
2 years 7 months ago

Please go post this at Tor! Please!

Robert Blume
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Robert Blume
2 years 7 months ago

evidently I got banned. I didn’t really insult anyone unless being called a Trekkie is an insult some how to supposed scifi fans. But I did say that gender was binary and your still a man if you have a penis and dress in drag and call your self a woman. And then I said they were behaving like a bunch of star trek fans trying to get my default English computer to default to Klingon or Romulan. Both comments deleted and now I can’t post there.

Wayne Blackburn
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2 years 7 months ago

Well, according to one of the moderators, the deleted comments were ones that violated Tor’s policy in some way, so you must have been a Hatey McHaterson.

Heh.

Tom
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2 years 7 months ago

Don’t forget being called a racist, hateful misogynist because you like guns and stuff.

Expendable Henchman
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Expendable Henchman
2 years 7 months ago
Michael, I read your stuff, and I’ve never really noticed. You may have mentioned the non-straights and transes, but I guess they weren’t important plot points of the rocking stories. I probably saw it, and said ‘oh.’ and kept going. Because the story is what I cared about. I have a really, really, really hard time seeing Owen Z Pitt as a pre-op tranny, though. I have a pretty easy time seeing a younger, single Owen meeting a good looking pre-op guy and thinking ‘good, more chicks for me!”. Accounting majors have to take basic economics, which all cover supply… Read more »
BornLib
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2 years 7 months ago

Damn I love you Mike, in a heteronormative way though.

Eben Waters
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2 years 7 months ago

Good read as always. I read through that Tor post and found it to be really stupid. The comments are onviously being managed to keep it “polite” *cough onesided*.

Phil Sevetson
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2 years 7 months ago

Hoo, boy. I think I don’t need to bleach my brain this week, so I’m nagonna surf over to the referenced article.

Larry, figure that Tor will never publish you, and take your money and laugh all the way to the bank. It’s the only way to stay sane in the midst of a deluge of this stuff.

It is possible to have discussions about this (and milder appeals like “could we have some more outlier characters in the genre, please?”) without deleting comments, but… yeah. When you start deleting all objections, that doesn’t work so well.

Steven
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Steven
2 years 7 months ago
I don’t know… It can’t be everyone at Tor that’s this stupid. O.o Larry’s part of the 1%, from a purely monetary angle I suspect that someone there would hire him. That said, I prefer Baen. =D Hmm… or Del Rey, come to that. Right, just saying just because several people over at Tor are out and out morons doesn’t mean they all are! Although… That David Weber book, Out of the Dark? The one that pissed me off because they used *spoiler* to win, when there was no other discussion about them even EXISTING throughout the whole damned book…… Read more »
fermi dox dox
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fermi dox dox
2 years 7 months ago

Just re-read that. Man it was obvious that Weber had either painted himself into a corner or excised huge portions of the manuscript and the story became very disjointed as result. Liked the idea but the execution was not just poor but rather amateurish.

Rick
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Rick
2 years 7 months ago
Honestly, I didn’t read the entire thing Larry wrote for one reason. I didn’t need to. I got to the part about “readers hate being preached to” after he had discussed that message kills enjoyment, and he was absolutely right. I want a message, I want to be preached to, I go to church or school. My money is very little and therefore has to be allocated tightly. I enjoy what I enjoy. Binary gendernormative ending blah blah blah blather blather fuck all. Tell a story that’s engaging, has elements that will spark that some little thing that grabs the… Read more »
Bryan
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Bryan
2 years 7 months ago

Just for clarification, Alex is a she, her full name is Alexandra.

Achillea
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2 years 7 months ago

As I’m also an Alexandra who goes by Alex, I’d like to state for the record that she’s a freakishly stupid anomaly and should not be taken as standard (or default, if you will) for the name.

Scott M
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Scott M
2 years 7 months ago

My money was on “she” before I saw your comment. The middle name, Dally, looks too much like a maiden name slipped into the middle POST-MARRIAGE (gasp).

saintonge235
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2 years 7 months ago

To me, the middle name just looks like a standard think of female writers using a middle name or middle initial. It’s almost a standard nowadays.

michaelzwilliamson
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2 years 7 months ago

I want to see sci-fi get away from the assumption that in the not-so distant future, leftists haven’t been exterminated.

Guest
NR Pax
2 years 7 months ago

The closest I have is a story line that has a bunch of puzzled kids in a High School History class struggling to understand why so many people loved the thoroughly discredited Communist system.

Ken Warner
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Ken Warner
2 years 7 months ago
I began reading SF with the Heinlein short story collections that my older brothers left around the house in 1968, and did all the Asimov, Clarke, Hugo and Nebula awards collections and anthologies of all flavors that my school and public library carried for the rest of my childhood and adolescence. I subscribed to and enjoyed Analog for 26 years and generally enjoyed it, but let my subscription lapse in 2007 when I realized that I hadn’t read an issue cover to cover in 2 years. I subscribed to Asimov magazine for a year, and hated it, Fantasy and SF,… Read more »
Ben
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Ben
2 years 7 months ago
Larry, one of my closest friends is getting some sort of PhD in comparative literature at University of Oregon. That is relevant because a few months ago Ursula K Le Guin spoke there. I was not able to make it but my buddy did. In a nutshell, folks were kind of freaking out about Left Hand of Darkness and the gender stuff and what was her thinking and inspiration. She said it interested her at the time and so she wrote about it. She did not see any issues with men and women being men and women. This quote is… Read more »
saintonge235
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2 years 7 months ago

And of course LeGuin wrote a cracking good story while she was exploring those ideas. Same with, e.g., THE DISPOSSESSED. The only writing that lasts is the stuff that’s entertaining.

Calvin Gordon Dodge
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2 years 7 months ago

“Other texts have been published besides The Left Hand of Darkness, many of them oft-overlooked—many of them out of print.”

Oft-overlooked? Out of print? Why is that, I wonder? Could it be (gasp) they weren’t entertaining to the readers?

3fgburner
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Larry, you gendernormative chauvinist! Shame on you, for assuming that “Alex” is a “he”. The bibliography on her Amazon page is amusing, though:

http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Dally-Macfarlane/e/B00CBJILXG

Guest
NR Pax
2 years 7 months ago

“When not researching ancient gender and narratives”

“Ancient gender”? I suppose it’s good for me that I stopped at my Bachelor’s Degree.

DaveP.
Guest
DaveP.
2 years 7 months ago

Well, what’s good for the Ancient Goose…

AndrewV
Guest
AndrewV
2 years 7 months ago

I just checked the Amazon sales ranks for the collections she’s contributed to. Three of the four are at 1,260,000+. This is amusing to me because I’m a brand new self published guy and know a little something about terrible sales. For example, my most recent book has sold exactly one copy and it’s sales ranking is at 1,190,000.

That means I finally found someone who sells less than I do! 🙂

Calvin Gordon Dodge
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Is this why TOR publishes David Weber’s “Safehold” series? (great books, BTW). Because “personality of female warrior implanted in android whose body appears male” marked off a couple of checkboxes? If so, then props to Weber for finding a sneaky way of getting a great series printed!

JohnOC
Guest
JohnOC
2 years 7 months ago

No, Tor publishes Weber’s Safehold series because when David Weber says “I have this idea..” science fiction publishers get excited about numbers with lots of zeros and a dollar sign.

Scott M
Guest
Scott M
2 years 7 months ago

A woman in a male android’s body who has LESS sex than Morrissey.

Frankly, Weber’s sin in the Safehold series has nothing to do with the genderbending. It’s black powder porn.

Jordan S. Bassior
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
Yeah, I’m always amused when leftists claim that something isn’t being done in science-fiction when they really mean that it’s only being done by writers who are actually on the right. Nimue/Merlin is so many different kinds of potential gender confusion (she’s a personality backup of a dead woman embodied in a super-powered android designed to look like a male human) that she would be a poster character for people like Alex except … she’s not a Marxist. Not an anarchist. Nor engaging in bizarre and depraved orgies to prove she’s living in a Free Love Future. Instead she’s doing… Read more »
MojoRonin
Guest
MojoRonin
2 years 7 months ago
Larry, I’m not sure if you’ve ever gotten into PC games. A good sci-fi RPG game series called ‘Mass Effect’ has a great set of options for the player in the romance side stories: You can play as a male or female, you can be straight or gay, and heck, there’s even a few aliens – male and females – that can be romanced. In fact, one of the aliens come from a female-only race; and she may be pursued by either gender. The real thing is that the writers of the game’s plot left the options open to the… Read more »
stephanieosborn
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Not being a gamer much anymore, but being an active writer (who gets where Larry is coming from re: tell the story and the rest sorts itself out), this notion of a “female-only race” is kinda interesting. The fact that you can actually HAVE a race of ONLY a specific gender…howzzat work? Fission?

MojoRonin
Guest
MojoRonin
2 years 7 months ago

The race is called the Asari, Stephanie, and here’s a little bit about them here: http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Asari

John Bouler
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Lois Bujold explored the how-make-do of a religious isolationist male only culture in Ethan of Athos.

Ethan is an off shoot of the Vorkosigan saga and like all of Lois’s books highly recommended.

Otpu

jabrwok
Guest
jabrwok
2 years 7 months ago
“Athos” displayed the fragility of a single-sex society. The men of Athos were still dependent on women, even though most of them tried not to think about it. And their religious prejudice against cloning just made it worse. While I enjoyed the story, I doubt I’ll ever re-read it. Most of Bujold’s writing merits multiple reads as long as one doesn’t think about the tech implications too deeply. Why didn’t the Athosians go the Beta Colony hermaphrodite route? Or why not engineer a living uterine replicator that could provide half the necessary genes, but was not sapient and didn’t resemble… Read more »
Achillea
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
I haven’t read any books (at least that I can recall) that have monosexual (unisexual?) races. Then again I’m such a hatey-hatemongering species-centrist that I don’t tend to pay that much attention to the aliens in sci-fi novels, so I probably wouldn’t remember them if I had. The closest thing that comes to mind, other than Ethan of Athos, is David Brin’s Glory Season, with its matriarchal parthenogenetic-clone-dominated planet of Stratos. Even there, though, that pesky binary gender reality reared its ugly head. There were men (albeit as second-class citizens), and reproduction took place the normal way in addition to… Read more »
Calvin Gordon Dodge
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Brin is definitely on the Left, to the point where he was delusionally predicting in 2008 that Obama would rebuild the US military.

Geodkyt
Guest
Geodkyt
2 years 7 months ago
jabrwok: RE: Ethan of Athos 1. Athosians were explicitly “militantly” both “pro-male” and “anti-female”, literally believing that women were nothing but a source of evil. Going herm would mean that each of them was _part_ female. 2. “Possible” and “cost effective for effectively ALL planetary population replacement or growth” are two very different things. Using vat grown (divided and cloned and recloned) ovarian tissue and fairly straight forward and economical in-vitro (for the setting, and compared to advanced techniques like creating ovarian tissue complete with full and healthy chromosomes FROM SCRATCH or 100% construction of a new and unique DNA… Read more »
jabrwok
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
Bujold’s most advanced medical tech is expressly NOT described as being “magic fix-everything, for pennies” repeatedly throughout the series — and what you describe is actually MORE ADVANCED than the Cetagandan reproductive methods reserved to the most elite of their population That’s just the thing. By the time of Athos, humans had been fiddling with genetics for centuries (the Quaddies being the earliest canonical example I can think of). Given that amount of time, and the resources available to the various civilizations in the Nexus (Jackson’s Whole, Cetaganda, etc) I find the depicted tech level far *below* what it should… Read more »
Jordan S. Bassior
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

This actually occurs in nature, occasionally. It works by “parthenogenesis” (literally “virgin birth”) and it occurs when a mutation develops that allows self-fertilization of eggs. Usually, for long term survival there has to be an allied sexual subspecies with which the parthenogenetic subpsecies occasionally breeds, in order for there to be the necessary occaional admixture of genetic diversity.

For some reason, lizards are especially prone to doing this.

Alan
Guest
Alan
2 years 7 months ago

One thing to consider:

That recent graph that shows how much published authors make–it includes poets and authors of “literary” fiction. To all those who are afraid they can’t make a living as full-time authors, there is still hope…as long as you write things that people actually want to read.

Guest
NR Pax
2 years 7 months ago

Larry, thank you for slapping on the body armor and wading through that essay so we don’t have to.

Expendable Henchman
Guest
Expendable Henchman
2 years 7 months ago

It’s like Stephen Green (Vodkapundit.com) drunkblogging Big O’s interminable speeches, but less frightening subject matter, since the columnist featured today can be safely laughed at, then ignored.

scrapperinla
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Thank you for the snort of the day. I read and purchase a great many books. I read to be entertained, not preached at . Perhaps the writer feels his morals are more important than money…thereby labeling you a sell-out.
But…in order to be a sell-out, you would have to sell out.
Laugh ALL the way to the bank Mr. Correia.

Alexander Omega
Guest
Alexander Omega
2 years 7 months ago

Okay, I really want a T-shirt with that “Cismale Gendernormative Fascist” pic on it for Con-gregate this year…

Pete
Guest
Pete
2 years 7 months ago

Me too! I’d pay a lot of money for one.

Achillea
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

“interviews and roundtables with other writers and readers of post-binary SF”

I think this is a great idea. I’ll even provide the table:

Charles Prael
Guest
Charles Prael
2 years 7 months ago

Two comments, one a nit, one an observation:

Nit: Alex is a “she” not a “he”.

Observation: A friend of mine once observed “non-profit is a tax filing status, not a business plan.” Most writers would do well to pay attention to that.

Geodkyt
Guest
Geodkyt
2 years 7 months ago

“non-profit is a tax filing status, not a business plan.”

Stealing that.

Charles Prael
Guest
Charles Prael
2 years 7 months ago

Attribute it to Tom Hoobyar, plz.

Geodkyt
Guest
Geodkyt
2 years 7 months ago

WILCO, done.

thewriterinblack
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
Well, you know that “right wing” (by which, apparently, they mean anybody who doesn’t follow every jot and tittle of the “left’s” belief system) authors would never have transgendered characters as sympathetic characters, let along protagonists. Oh, wait, “I Will Fear No Evil” by Robert Heinlein (okay, possibly the worst thing he ever wrote, IMO, but the worst by Heinlein is better than many author’s best). I wonder if McFarlane would include that one in his discussion of “post binary gender” SF? (In fact, comment with link to said title now posted as a comment over on the blog. We’ll… Read more »
Stoutcat
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Good Lord! THAT person (maybe the “Alex” label was chosen deliberately to blur the pre-binary gender lines?) is considered literati? With such a poorly-written column, s/he ought to be hanging hes head in shame. I’d put it at about 8th grade writing level.

If this is the level of education of the typical WorldCon voter, it’s no wonder the GOOD writers don’t win awards. These loonies wouldn’t recognize good writing if Earl Harbinger yanked out their guts and used the intestines to piece out quotes from Jane Austen.

Jordan S. Bassior
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Clearly, I’ve chosen “Jordan” to blur your fascist cisgender normative assumptions!

(actually, I was named after one of my great-uncles). 🙂

Stoutcat
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

🙂

Murphy7
Guest
Murphy7
2 years 7 months ago

Larry,

Keep the pronouns. With all the he/she concern re:Alex, by calling the XX chromasomal author “he” you could claim:

* to be supporting a gender variation scale
* tributing LeGuin’s “Left Hand of Darkness”
* “poking the bear” to see if a gender identification might ensue
* taking the piss on all of the above.

Where some may have seen a mistake, I have glimpsed genius!

larry13767
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

quite clever. If He/She/Ze/E/Em/Hir/Eir (I think that pretty much covers them all) gets upset that you identified the gender incorrectly then you win.

trackback

[…] Monster Hunter author Larry Correia, who responds here with characteristic glee, writing that it’s fine for writers to work their pet causes into their stories — as […]

David Friedman
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

One small nit to pick. XXY, Klinefelter syndrome, seems to be about one in a thousand births, so your “Sure, that’s medically true something like 99.999%” is a bit high. More like 99.9%.

Jared Anders
Guest
Jared Anders
2 years 7 months ago
Wow, what a mess. You know, I actually read a lot of sci-fi in college. (good ones I mean, like Neuromancer, Snow Crash, the Machine Stops, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) These texts were picked to challenge us, make us think. Do you know why else they were picked? Because they were well written and fun to read. What bleeding good is the message of any book no one wants to read because it is boring? Books are not art (or anything more than ink and paper) unless someone reads them. Heck, if I were published right now… Read more »
Andrew
Guest
Andrew
2 years 7 months ago

Dammit…can’t I just have books about decent people discovering cool things in spaceships with lasers?

Achillea
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
pohjalainen
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

They have no love for Joan Eunice Smith? That is not one of Heinlein’s better books, but he definitely did play with genders and sexuality in his later ones. Well, Heinlein, that writer of grandpa’s generation, famous for being a conservative fascist (presumably also cismale and gendernormative) so of course nothing in his books can count. Or in the books of any other writer of his ilk. 🙂

DaveP.
Guest
DaveP.
2 years 7 months ago

Know what I love? Watching people whose entire lives and belief systems were made possible by the runaway sucess of Western Civilization… attacking the basic principles that make Western Civ so sucessful.

BornLib
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

That’s our old pals Cultural Marxism and Critical Theory in action.

Adam Lawson
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Yes, I frequently fight off cravings to read books by belligerent leftists looking down their nose at me and celebrating how enlightened they are.

This reads like a description of that show Girls — patting themselves on the back for being different and special unique snow flakes.

Cool, whatever you want, but I just don’t care.

Marissa
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Yeah and don’t expect audiences to watch in rapt at a fat chick disrobe several times a season.

Old Griz
Guest
Old Griz
2 years 7 months ago

Hey! I like fat chicks. :o)

Julie Frost
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

She’s editing a reprint antho called something like “The Mammoth Book of Women in SF.” I subbed three stories to that.

All the protags were cishet gendernormative males.

Form rejection. (I was not surprised.)

Whoops.

Clearly, I am Doing Woman Wrong. Apparently the voice of a woman who enjoys reading and writing male protagonists is Unacceptable. Shame on me.

pohjalainen
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Is there a suitable label for women like us, ones who really truly love these cismale gendernormative fascists as main characters whether we write them or just like to read about them?

Achillea
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

The Cismale Sisterhood?
(I really find it ridiculously entertaining that spell check hates on ‘cismale.’)

Julie Frost
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

We should get t-shirts with “Cismale Sisterhood” on them. And wear them to conventions. I’m thinking about calling around and seeing if I can get a “Secret Cabal of Unicorn Fundies” shirt ginned up by LTUE…

Achillea
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Sign me up if you do!

Achillea
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

You and me both, sister. You and me both.

intemperatevulgarity
Guest
intemperatevulgarity
2 years 7 months ago
Or maybe she didn’t like the stories for other or multiple reasons? Christ, she didn’t declare war on all authors who have ever written a story with binary-gendered protagonists – just argued that since in real life gender is a lot more diverse and complex than the binary, more sci-fi stories can and should be more representative and imaginative, and reflect that reality – i.e. there are far more stories to tell than are being told at the moment. So, I’m not sure why you’re assuming that that was the reason (or the only reason) you were rejected. This –… Read more »
Julie Frost
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
…apparently you missed the part where I said “REPRINT” anthology. Those stories have already found homes elsewhere. One of them found a home in a SFWA market. It’s not “sour grapes” to point out that a person who has a clearly-demonstrated bias against cishet gendernormatism rejected three stories that had cishet males as the protags, it’s pointing out a correlation. As it sits, I will continue to crank out the kind of stories I want to read and write, in which protagonists of both genders–oh, wait. I also write stories starring asexual genderless beings. However, since those beings are clearly… Read more »
Calvin Gordon Dodge
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

“What exactly is wrong with diversity”

Well, the people who usually shout “diversity” usually enforce a sameness of philosophy and/or politics. For them “diversity” is literally skin-deep.

When they say “diversity” they really mean “quotas”. I’ll pay quota-mongers respect when they make the same demands of, say, NBA teams.

saintonge235
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

MacFarlane doesn’t want “diversity”, MacFarlane wants a new norm in sf in which genitalia does not correlate with gender. Apparently it never occurs to it that there might be very strong biological reasons for those with penis and testicles to feel like men, and those with vagina and ovaries to feel like women. (Hint: google “Charles Darwin”.)

Maximo Macaroni
Guest
Maximo Macaroni
2 years 7 months ago

How about the “Book of Mammoth Women”? And I don’t mean prehistoric elephants.

BornLib
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Don’t you understand how liberating it is as a woman to be told what kinds of characters you can and can’t write about?

Julie Frost
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

I swear I default to cishet gendernormative male protags out of spite, these days…

The Hardy Boys apparently ruined me for life, because I couldn’t get into Nancy Drew at all (so badly written, OMG–the stilted dialogue made 11-year-old me cringe), so here I am.

BornLib
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Spite is a very underrated motivator.

Jordan S. Bassior
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Interestingly, I’m male and tend to like writing female protagonists. They tend to be heterosexual, though, and as we know all women are actually transgendered gay men, so … guess I’m not Enlightnened enough 😉

Arwen Riddle
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

I did read that blog post and the comments in order to better appreciate your fisking of it. And now I’m reminded of why I stopped visiting the Tor website despite the fact that some of my favorite authors are published by Tor.

DaveP.
Guest
DaveP.
2 years 7 months ago

Really want to get on their nerves? Remind them that John Lange has sold more books by himself than the whole boiling of “consciously post-binary gender” types all put together…

Clem
Guest
Clem
2 years 7 months ago

“I am not interested in discussions about the existence of these gender identities: we might as well discuss the existence of women or men. Gender complexity exists.”

In other words, this “person” can’t actually defend their nonsense and must rely on “the debate is over, man/woman/dolphin/rutabaga” in order to justify the drowning out of any logical arguments to the contrary.

M. Kupari
Guest
M. Kupari
2 years 7 months ago
“interviews and roundtables with other writers and readers of post-binary SF” Wow. That doesn’t sound pretentious and boring at all. Sign me up. I’m really glad I don’t write for these clowns. Not that they would’ve published Dead Six anyway. But to reiterate what others have said, if they think talking social questions or gender roles is something that’s not done in science fiction, they clearly haven’t read much classic science fiction. You want to talk about gender roles? Talk to any veteran who witnessed an Afghan man raping a goat. We’re more worldly than the full-of-himself grad student is… Read more »
Robert Blume
Guest
Robert Blume
2 years 7 months ago

I had a Marine friend tell me that some of the Marines used to shoot the goats in the middle of the raping.

jabrwok
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

This…is…AWESOME! Necrophiliac goat-F*****s! HAH:-)

Robert Blume
Guest
Robert Blume
2 years 7 months ago

The afghanies didn’t mean to be necrophiliacs. The marines just thought the expression on the afghanies face as the goat’s head explodes during a vigorous rogering was hilarious.

Jordan S. Bassior
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

How cruel — especially since there was someone else they could have shot during this activity, someone who would have been less sadly missed … (*runs*)

GBragan
Guest
GBragan
2 years 7 months ago

I’ll read anything that doesnt require me to geld myself before opening the book

Cormac
Guest
Cormac
2 years 7 months ago

Can you imagine how heads would explode if you featured an Erin Palette character in a book?
(I have a feeling she’d make a pretty badass Monster Hunter…)

Guest
2 years 7 months ago

For the record, though, The Left Hand of Darkness was a good book.

Helmut Monotreme (@HMonotreme)
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
Larry, if I had one criticism of your fisking, it would be this: As others have already noted, there are some pretty famous counter examples to your statement that audiences don’t like to be preached to, even ones that are preachy on the plasticity of gender identity; like Stranger in a Strange Land, Slaughterhouse 5, others are more straight-up preachy like Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid’s Tale and many more. Wasn’t the entire original series of Star Trek a series of parables? Ditto the Twilight Zone. Preachy science fiction is hard to do right. But so is comic science fiction and… Read more »
Joseph Capdepon II
Guest
Joseph Capdepon II
2 years 7 months ago

Stranger in a Strange Land and Fahrenheit 451 were both well written and entertaining. Slaughterhouse 5 was meh. Haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale.

Real authors write to make money, not to get a pat on the back or an award from a bunch of snotty literature professor types.

My English teacher in college has an MFA in Creative Writing. You know what she is doing? Teaching a college English class. Making us read boring stories that have veiled messages in them.

No one sane likes preachy entertainment.

Kenton Kilgore
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Larry, please tell me that this is all a goof, that you wrote that piece under a pen name, and that the responses are fake. Please. I need to hear that. Because the alternative is that there are real people out there who actually buy into this.

Jamie K. Wilson
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Maybe the write thought the word was “convert-sation”?

Wayne Blackburn
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Oh, I may have to steal that term.

Tirno
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
I’d like to congratulate Alex on her discovery of the Westboro Baptist Church Method Of Making Friends And Converts. I can’t think of anything that will bring the issue of non-default gender identities into popular acceptance like figuratively standing on a street corner outside a major league football game and screaming at people that they’re going to go to Hell. (Hint to Alex: The WBCMOMFAC is not a scheme designed to accomplish a theological goal. It is a legal strategy designed to provoke confrontation so they can win civil suits and big cash settlements. It is a hearts and minds… Read more »
Rick C
Guest
Rick C
2 years 7 months ago

(You should read the next sentence in Kirk’s voice from Star Trek 5, where he asked why God needs a starship)

Why do we need to radicalize every reader? Are we trying to bring back the New Soviet Man?

Sean
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

As I said when I read the original article when it was linked on FB. I read it and my brain hurt. Fucking seriously? Someone pull the 2×4 out of her ass and the “Sister Betty Lou Better Than You” cinder block off her shoulders. Sit her down on the cinder block and smack her upside the head with the 2×4. Maybe she’ll get a clue. If nothing else she’ll have too much of a headache to write such inane, fit only to be toilet paper worthy bullshit for a while.

Eben
Guest
Eben
2 years 7 months ago

One of the few Sci-Fi books with a message I like, is “Fallen Angels.”

That’s a good read and it’s not preachy, it gets its message across pretty well.

dyingearth
Guest
dyingearth
2 years 7 months ago

It’s a wee preachy about the evil of anti-science. But the whole point of the novel is a love story to the old pre-political correct Worldcon attendees. Which given this blog post is kind of spiffy.

Joseph Capdepon II
Guest
Joseph Capdepon II
2 years 7 months ago

The message does not override the story and it is scary as hell because you can see it actually happening now.

Larry Mitchell
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Aren’t we living in a fallen angels world? Sure seems like that

Tom
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
So, let me get this straight. Step one is to “write what you know”, which means I should write about men, women, and the occasional gay male or lesbian since that is what I know. But I’m also supposed to write about other “genders” that I’m told just “exist” without a single shred of information to back up that claim, but because some twenty-something who knows jack all about the real world tells me it just is? How about I do this instead: I’ll write what I know, speculate on some other stuff based on what I know, and try… Read more »
Jordan S. Bassior
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

I actually know someone who may in fact be transgendered. I know her very well, as she’s my sister-in-law.

If I wrote a transgendered character exactly like her, I would be accused of hatred toward transgendered people, since she’s also more than a little crazy. And not specifically regarding her sexual identity, either.

Tom
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Clearly, the hate is strong with you in that case. After all, it couldn’t be the transgendered person’s fault they’re crazy, but the fact that we cisgendered people make life so difficult for them.

The fact some of don’t give a flip whether they are or aren’t is irrelevant apparently.

Jennifer Thompson
Guest
Jennifer Thompson
2 years 7 months ago
Aaaand once again the LGBTWTFBBQ community I refuse to participate in does not cease to disappoint. As a transgendered Iraq-war Veteran enjoying the GI Bill benefits awarded by my beautiful country I have plenty of time to read again, and I own everything Grimnoir, Monster Hunter, or Lorenzo-related (coolest character I’ve read yet Mr. Correria, please do it again, and take more of my money), I think I derive a special amount of amusement from this exchange. Because you see, in the end, Alex MacFarlane doesn’t give half a shit about me, any more than she does about the ozone… Read more »
Achillea
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Comments like this make me wish for an upvote button. Bravo!

Mycroft
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Larry, I thought the money quote in Alex’s article was:
“I want to never again read entire anthologies of SF stories or large-cast novels where every character is binary-gendered.”
Classic Leftism. Not only must my viewpoint be represented, it must be the ONLY viewpoint.
Interesting the Helmut is the only one to mention that line, if only to mention that Alex “over-reached.” Sorry, Helmut, but that’s not over-reaching; that’s Totalitarian.
I wonder what Orwell would have to say about today’s literary world.

saintonge235
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Read his “Politics and the English Language”, and you’ll see this kind of nonsense was going on in his day. https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

av willis
Guest
av willis
2 years 7 months ago
*sigh* ive been following the Tor website for a few years now and in retrospect it’s been kind of exhausting. On the one hand, it’s a publishing house that keepit’s nes putting outstanding material on the market from authors like Sanderson, or Card. On the other hand, it’s politics are just slightly to the left of chairman Mao. All a writer has to do in their eyes is come up- with /empowered female character, or act as a spokesperson for the lgbt movement. You mentioned Enders Game being on its 500th printing. What you didn’t mention was just how conflicted… Read more »
Larry Mitchell
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Do you have a link for that article. I would love to read it. 🙂

av willis
Guest
av willis
2 years 7 months ago

I tried posting the hyperlink, but it kept posting in random spots in the post. Enjoy http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/01/admirals-and-amazons-women-in-military-science-fictionn

av willis
Guest
av willis
2 years 7 months ago
av willis
Guest
av willis
2 years 7 months ago

Oh no sir, thank you for the entertainment. I discovered that article just a few months ago when I started reading your work and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t rolling on the floor at the end. My personal favorite was when someone played the whole gun=phallus symbol card. I didn’t even know that was still a thing

Geodkyt
Guest
Geodkyt
2 years 7 months ago

Oh, God, that was a hillarious time sink!

av willis
Guest
av willis
2 years 7 months ago

Not entirely sure what you mean by time sink, I’m just going to assume it was complimentary 😉

Tom Kratman
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Well _I_ certainly enjoyed it. 😉

keranih
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

It was. Unfortunately, for me, it had just gotten rolling when David Drake showed up and wiped the floor.

People(*) really should not trash talk things they have not read. Rolling Hot came out in 1989.

The most disappointing part? That the author was so heavily invested in the “milsf is a conservative male thing” that she missed not just Judith Tarr, but also CJ Cherryh. *sigh*

(*) Including me, alas.

M. Kupari
Guest
M. Kupari
2 years 7 months ago
All high school and college literature classes do is make you hate reading, in my opinion. The list of good books I read in those years is short (Nineteen Eighty-Four, A Rumor of War), and the list of terrible books and short stories I had to choke through was painfully long. All had some kind of heavy-handed message. “Where are you going, where have you been?” A short story about a kind of trampy high school girl that gets kidnapped and, presumably, raped by a creep named Arnold Friend. You kind of get the idea that the author was implying… Read more »
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
Don’t forget “Of Mice and Men.” We had to do an “artistic project” about it. I drew a Luger to Lenny’s (I think that was the simple guy’s name) head with a Nazi armband around the arm holding it, because my case was that the message was the same as the Nazi’s: he was mentally defective, therefore he had to be killed. I didn’t earn any points with the teacher, but then, she was pretty widely hated anyway. And then there was “Crime and Punishment.” I ended up skimming the abridged version. Couldn’t take more than a chapter of the… Read more »
gingeroni
Guest
gingeroni
2 years 7 months ago

“Crime and Punishment” was awesome. It made me wish I had taken Russian instead of German in high school so I could read it in the original. If you want horrible, try “Jude the Obscure”. Classic English literature grey goo. I talked the teacher out of assigning more works by that author to our Senior class.

Marissa
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Don’t forget the abominable “Cry, the Beloved Country”, epitome of the evil-white-man, noble-African genre. I love to read and I could barely slog through that one (and I was even an “egalitarian liberal” at that point!).

BornLib
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Ditto! Holy crap “Cry, the Beloved Country” bad enough that I just stopped going to that class.

Jackson Carberry
Guest
Jackson Carberry
1 year 5 months ago

Ever been a black person in South Africa in the late 1940’s leading up to the apartheid era? That novel, ‘preachy’ as it is, shows what being one was like. And no, not all of the whites in the novel are bad: the Jarvises are good people who want to do right by the black people of the novel. One could do worse for a novel.

As far as bad literature being given to you in school’s concerned, The Grizzly took the cake, IMHO. There are probably others, but this is the one that I remember the most.

Expendable Henchman
Guest
Expendable Henchman
2 years 7 months ago

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”― H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy

Jackson Carberry
Guest
Jackson Carberry
1 year 5 months ago

The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, and The Scarlet Letter are great novels that I have no problem with (and Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? is a good novel that was developed into the excellent 1985 movie Smooth Talk), but I do and will agree with you about the other two on the list you’ve mentioned.

Dave
Guest
Dave
2 years 7 months ago
I never read the “Left Hand of Darkness”. from the title it sounds like a good book involving assassins and people being killed by rogue government departments, either that, or something religious based. I did read the “Marid Audran” series by George Alec Effinger, way back when i was in my teens. I thought it was a good story, and part of it involved sex changes and cross dressers. Was it part of the main story – no, but it did impact on the story. The protagonist from memory was a drug addled booze hound who swore he could tell… Read more »
John C Wright
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Despite the fact that many on the Lefty side of politics like LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, it is actually a good book. There is no plot, not really, but the world and its history and anthropology are fascinating.

x21133
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Reblogged this on Enlightening, i'n't it? and commented:
Sex verus Gender?
Natural sexual traits based on genes versus Gender rolls?
Sex versus Sexuality?

Why do people always need to be grouped and labeled anyway?

Francis Prachthauser
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Larry,

“For a bit of context, 1968 is almost twenty years before I was born, and I’m hardly a child.”

Jumped out at me when I read the original article as well. As a cranky old man I liked your response.

Also, had a mojito with Wendell this afternoon in Orlando. He sends his regards.

Larry Mitchell
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

I love the articles on io9.com but the comments section reads like the attendees of a typical world con convention.
e.g. a summary of good entry novels on Science Fiction:

http://io9.com/the-best-entry-level-science-fiction-books-to-convert-1510802842

Joe in PNG
Guest
Joe in PNG
2 years 7 months ago

Case in point: the classic “The Mote in God’s Eye” by Niven and Pournelli. The Motie’s gender and gender changes are a major plot point. However, this is not brought up in a heavy handed, anvilicious sort of way

saintonge235
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

The fact that the Moties switch from female to male is not used as a reason why human behavior should be different either.

Minimum Wage Historian
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Now I know how to win a Hugo!

C.S. Gilmore
Guest
C.S. Gilmore
2 years 7 months ago
Wow glad I was already following the advice of remaining true to the story, if anything I write has a message it was probably part of the story, and that over the whole of the story like good versus evil, or are they real or just think they are. Also thanks to this I think I will keep on not checking out Tor’s site, it might push my chew out idiots button until it sticks otherwise. So glad I was homeschooled and never had to read stuff that made me hate reading. I think the stories that I’ve read with… Read more »
Nick
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
Good lord. I’m an active member of a number of liberal groups, I regularly have discussions on cultural gender norms and sexuality, I actually think a study of historical gender narratives might be kind of interesting, and this kind of crap makes me want to vote Republican just to spite this person. Writing a character as non/alternative-gendered because you wanted to increase the diversity of the cast, instead of because said identity fit the character, means you’re writing backward. For those of you who are decrying liberals as a group, keep in mind that this person is about as representative… Read more »
Joe in PNG
Guest
Joe in PNG
2 years 7 months ago

I wonder if Alex has ever perused TV Tropes. What she seems to be advocating is the old “Five-Token Band” http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FiveTokenBand

Nathan
Guest
Nathan
2 years 7 months ago
Unfortunately, articles like this at Tor, and the groupthink imposed in the comments section about race, “gender issues,” etc. by the editors writing on it (or those who claim to be editors), have changed my opinion of the company from “They published the Wheel of Time. Cool. I should try something else by them” to actively avoiding their works and the works published by their parent company. Not only that, I actively hope that few authors still read that publish through Tor find another publisher. Don’t these people realize that their conduct might be the problem? That it’s costing them… Read more »
AndrewV
Guest
AndrewV
2 years 7 months ago
Tor.com used to be awesome. About three years ago they took on some feminist writers who went about screwing it up. I’ll give you an example. The individual who does the Wheel of Time Reread (and Read of Ice and Fire) is a girl named Leigh Butler. At first, Leigh was awesome if a bit… full… at times. It’s hard to describe how she acts but anyone who reads her stuff knows what I’m talking about. She went into the series at a depth I’d never considered and I learned quite a bit about storytelling from her analysis of Mr.… Read more »
Hatey McHate hate?
Guest
Hatey McHate hate?
2 years 7 months ago

I would be willing to bet the author of that mind numbing crap identifies as a feminist and owns cats. But then again I’m probably just a racist, sexist, hatey McHate hate…

Rod
Guest
Rod
2 years 7 months ago

Shame on you Hatey, owning cats does not, by itself, make you a liberal leftist (I repeat myself). I have three and am very conservative. The liberal cat lover is the one who talks to them like babies and spends more money on their comfort than they spend on themselves.

Wing and a Whim
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Of course it doesn’t. After all, who can forget Oleg Volk’s Gremlin?

Only cat I know that likes acting as a modesty device for models…

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan
2 years 7 months ago
Here is a quote from one “intelligent” comment on the TOR article: “I recently finished reading Jordan’s 14-volume Wheel of Time and I was really angered by the traditional steretotypical gender representation.” This begs the obvious question: Then why did you read all 14 volumes of the series? Is it because it was a good story, perhaps, and the gender representation did not take away from that? I’m stunned that people can be this blind to what they themselves feel and love as readers. What do you prefer, to write a 14 volume series that million of people will buy… Read more »
Daddy Warpig
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Irrelevant insertion of politics? I call that “Political Tourette’s”:

http://daddywarpig.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/this-i-find-aggravating/

Matthew
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

I’m one of several folks who managed to get a civil, disagreeing comment through over there. I’m not convinced that disagreement is being censored.

trackback

[…] week later, author Larry Correia wrote a response to MacFarlane’s piece, called Ending Binary Gender in Fiction, or How to Murder Your Writing Career. (Side note: you’ll probably want to avoid the comments on that […]

Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Larry, you’re hurting the Sad Puppies Campaign. Think of the puppies. Think of the puppies!

Jennifer
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

So, If I write Sci-Fi erotica where my main character is an alien evolved from something vaguely amphibian that can change sex and is travelling the galaxy to explore sexuality with every other type of alien regardless of sex/gender, will I win awards? There might be orgies!
(Using a gender neutral pen-name, of course)

Tom Kratman
Guest
2 years 7 months ago
Added this comment to Hines’ site: Amy Bauer: I invite your attention to this: http://www.tomkratman.com/Ranthhour.html Now _that’s_ how one sneers at intellectualism, which, by the way, has essentially nothing to do with having or not having a college education. (Me? BA, Poli Sci, BA, BC; Philosophy, JD, W&L.) Brian: Ya know, while it strikes me as wrong to fail to include a group that was present and large, such as you cite to, this isn’t quite the same thing as giving large scale play to a group that is present, but tiny. Leaving aside the potential dishonesty, it’s also fraught… Read more »
Tom Kratman
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Ummm…Jennifer, that might require research. Ummm…hands on research. And that opens up possibilities for another entire universe of awards…

hehehe

trackback

[…] stupid, because of X, Y and Z, which means you want MESSAGE FICTION not STORY FICTION." By Larry Correia. 3. "No, actually what YOU said was stupid, because of A, B and C, which show you have no […]

Carole
Guest
Carole
2 years 7 months ago
I read that, and wow, I am embarassed on behalf of my gender (my gender being gendernormative cisfemale, I suspect, according to the new specifications.) I especially liked the end where the actual interesting technical discussion just was too much for them – we need to all appreciate the irony of a discussion on warfare, an entirely confrontational topic, ending with “I’m taking my ball and going home.” Seriously, if you can’t even fight a metaphorical battle, you shouldn’t engage on topics related to real ones. Also I realized I just used a bunch of gendernormative idioms here. I better… Read more »
Tirno
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Larry, I know it’s surely too late to retrofit into Monster Hunter Nemesis, but could you please do a companion short story exploring the gender identity of Agent Franks?

I mean, you’re really pushing the boundaries with the interspecies relationship of Tanya and Edward, but the cisfallen genderindeterminate perspective has to be the least understood, and therefore most oppressed, point of view there can be.

If the MCB human resources director of diversity can’t come to grips with Agent Franks gender identity, how in the world can ze ensure a supportive, non-discriminatory work environment?

trackback

[…] Mr Larry Correia conducts an incisive, warm, and final deconstruction of the true meaning of Miss Macfarlane’s disquisition for your edification and amusement. For me to add a word, verily, a syllable, a letter, or a jot, would be but to gild the lily. Read it here. […]

Anthony
Guest
Anthony
2 years 7 months ago
The lefties also have no sense of history or any clue to what went on before Monica didn’t swallow. The Wikipedia article on “Gender in speculative fiction” mentions stories with humans or aliens which have one sex, or none, and other sexual themes, but doesn’t even mention “The Gods Themselves”, “Xenosystems”, “Distress” or “Lilith’s Brood”. The article on “Sex and Sexuality in Speculative Fiction” mentions “The Gods Themselves”, but not the other three. This even though there’s an article about each of those four books (where there are three or more sexes), and they’re listed in the “Third Gender” article.… Read more »
saintonge235
Guest
2 years 7 months ago

Given the way Wikipedia articles are generated, it’s quite possible that the author or authors of the articles just weren’t aware of the books you mention.

Besides, nothing stopping YOU from adding to the entries.

dgarsys
Guest
dgarsys
2 years 7 months ago
Thank you Tom for the info that Hines posted a reply – not too hard to find. Interestingly, as another person commented on THAT particular page, he actually made a couple decent points that perhaps Larry’s hyperbolic style overshadowed the substance of the argument at times. Sadly – Hines missed the point of what Larry was complaining about (as did at least one other author who’s dad’s name is recognizable). “Oh look, another right-winger complaining about how leftists are ruining SF! Such amused!”. Larry wasn’t complaining that Alex wanted to see a few more stories where maybe we didn’t just… Read more »
jim f
Guest
jim f
2 years 7 months ago

Excellent column…yes one who writes to fulfill an agenda takes the risk that only those few who like the type of book and like agenda will buy it…quick way to starve as a writer.

trackback
2 years 7 months ago

[…] If you want this to make sense, make sure you read this first. http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/ending-binary-gender-in-fiction-or-how-to-murder-your-w… […]

trackback

[…] Larry Correia wrote a fantastically dickish blog post about Alex Dally MacFarlane’s post on Tor.com in regards to the default gender binary […]

Rod
Guest
Rod
2 years 7 months ago

Obviously, you didn’t read for context any of the pieces. Alex actually wants to do away with the two gender thing entirely. In YOuR post you say you specifically want bisexual female heroes, most people don’t care. Larry’s incredible sales shows he’s successful, posts in his blog and on his facebook page have come in with support from transexuals, homosexuals, lesbians, and just about every other person of novel sexual orientation. Notice the word SUPPORT of him. Story above all, if you can fit a message in, fine.

trackback

[…] couple of days ago, in Ending Binary Gender in Fiction, or How to Murder Your Writing Career, Correia fisked a blog post that appeared on Tor’s website somewhere. (I looked at the […]

gcm
Guest
gcm
2 years 7 months ago

“And the only reason that annoying piece of shit is still in print is because of college English classes have it as required reading.”

In the end, people are going to write what they want to write about, and people are going to read what they want to read, whether you, the Christian libertarian intelligentsia, or the LGBT community like it or not.
Leave it to the gatekeeper elitists from each of these groups to devour one another in their wake for the “truth”.