Fisking the Latest Diversity in Sci-Fi Freak Out

This article popped up on Facebook the other day. The headline is click bait nonsense. The actual content tries to make a point but has to make some really silly assumptions to get to it. Then their solution is ass backwards.

After reading this defeatist garbage I figured I needed to say something. This fisking is addressed toward the aspiring authors in the audience. You are trying to make it as a professional author. Lots of things are going to stand in your way. Don’t make up additional stupid new ones to hold you back.

As usual, the original will be in italics and my responses are in bold.

Science fiction publishing has a major race problem, new report shows

More than half of all science fiction magazines failed to publish fiction from black authors in 2015

By Andrew Liptak on August 4, 2016 11:33 am

Speculative fiction magazine Fireside Fiction has commissioned and released a report detailing an unwelcome revelation: speculative fiction magazines and online fiction sites are failing to publish stories by black writers.


Released last week, the report is damning: of the 2,039 short stories published last year across 63 magazines, only 38 were published by black authors. Cecily Kane, who authored the report along with Weston Allen, compiled the statistics that they worked from. While they admit that their methodology has some flaws — they largely worked from self-reported information from the magazines — they believe that the data is largely correct after consulting with an actuary. Sixty percent of the magazines listed had not published a single story by a black science fiction author in 2015, while the highest publication percentage is only 25 percent. The report compared these numbers against the US census, and found that there’s a wide gap between the population and those being published. 

Interesting. Sounds pretty horrible, right?

I originally saw this article on author Chris Nuttal’s page, and in the resulting discussion a bunch of authors went through the many possible flaws in this survey (including some black authors who pointed out they never put their race on a query letter). Chris goes into it in detail here

Basically, there were supposedly 38 stories published by black authors in sci-fi magazines (a plodding dinosaur medium, but I’ll get to that) but how many stories were submitted by black authors? Keep in mind the regular publishing industry has something like a 99.9% rejection rate. I couldn’t tell you the actual rejection rate for magazines, because I didn’t come into the business that way, but I’m sure it is pretty cut throat too.

So without that key piece of info, who knows?  If there were a hundred thousand submissions from whites, and a hundred from blacks, then that’s a kick ass ratio, but they conveniently leave that bit out, but hey, let’s hurry, assume the system is rigged, impossible, and have a giant freak out about racism, because getting published isn’t hard enough already.

Fireside Fictionnotes that the possibility for this to be random chance is smaller than that of winning the New Jersey Pick Six Lottery.

If fifty million black authors submitted stories, he’d have a point. Without comparative rejection rates those numbers are meaningless.

But hang on. I’m going to go in a different direction. Let’s go ahead and assume this is legit.

No. Really.

I know there is bias in publishing. Some unconscious, as in you deviate too far from their groupthink monoculture, and they wouldn’t read that trash, and only they know what sells. And some conscious, as in you didn’t kiss sufficient ass, or they just plain hate your guts.

There is no shortage of stuck up, snooty gatekeeper editors. So for this fisk, let’s assume that they are unfairly biased against black authors too.

Ironically, if there is a bias against black authors, just keep in mind that the vast majority of the publishing industry works out of ultra-liberal Manhattan, and is overwhelmingly run by Caring Liberals Who Are Never Racist EVAR, and by golly, they’ll tell you so.

How politically slanted is this business? Check this out. Go down and click on Publishing.  Book Publishing is so overwhelmingly left wing and my side so statistically insignificant, that we don’t show up on the diagram. You really want to see bias in the publishing industry, let them know you campaigned for George Bush!

It is entirely plausible that some editors might be biased against black authors. Hell, lots of them are biased against anybody who didn’t drive their Prius with a Berkley Alumni sticker on it to their Upper East Side organic farmers market and drum circle to pick up some non-GMO, cruelty free range free trade vegan tofu snacks for after the Bernie rally.

The question then becomes what do you as an author do about these biased gatekeepers? You’re in luck, my friends, because my people are used to their elitist bullshit and have learned how to work around them. I’ll get back to that later because there is still a lot of angsty fear mongering to fisk first.

While science fiction can be found across novels, television, and film, the short fiction market is a particularly important marketplace to consider. It publishes a relatively high level of content, and allows newer authors to break into the field with their own fiction.

Eh… Sort of. In reality the short fiction market is a good place to get started because it is easier to finish a 5,000 word piece than a 100,000 word novel. Shorts are good practice but the pay is awful. I’ve known some of the most prolific and successful short fiction authors alive, and they don’t make enough off of it to live on. Also of those 2,000 short stories, probably half of them were written by the same 100 or so, already popular/prolific short fiction writers, which will further skew the stats.

Successful authors such as Ken Liu, N.K. Jemisin, Charlie Jane Anders, and Paolo Bacigalupi each got their start writing shorter stories for a variety of magazines, which helped them as they began writing novels.

Yep. Good for them. Luckily for you there are a hundred ways to get into this business.

Short fiction also allows authors to experiment with form, style, and narratives which can have great impact on the field as a whole.

Uh huh. That sounds great and all, but it’s really kind of bullshit. Not the authors experimenting part. That’s cool. That’s how we learn. The “impact on the field” part, that there is some pretentious literati twaddle. Outside of a tiny circle jerk of critics, nobody cares. Your story probably isn’t got to blow any minds or shake the foundations of the world.  Just write your shit, and if it is entertaining and good enough, people will want to give you money for it.

Barriers for specific groups of people hurts the field as a whole by blocking new voices and styles from reaching a wider audience.

Funny, when I said that same thing years ago I was the bad guy. 🙂

Fireside’s study focused specifically on black science authors, rather than the wider spectrum of authors of color. Kane noted, “We noticed several patterns — not limited to the short fiction field — in which “diversity” initiatives excluded black people and hid antiblackness.”

So much crap in one paragraph… Where to begin?

First, if you’re a “person of color” (which always blows me away how that is cool now but Colored Person is a slur) most of your readers don’t care. No. Really. The vast majority of people who read do so to be entertained. Adventure, comedy, tragedy, whatever. Make them happy or make them cry, you’re doing your job.  Only a tiny percentage of whiny white guilt liberals buy books based upon the author’s race.

Like this one:

If you come from a different background or culture that gives you some unique perspectives that you can use to make your book more interesting, awesome. Run with it. The important thing is that the book is good.  

So don’t be “an author of color”. Be an author. Period. Technically, I’m an author of color (warm beige according to these Home Depot paint chips) but that’s fucking stupid. I’m telling stories for the mass market, not for some little narrow band of humanity that happens to fit my socioeconomic-cultural-ethnic-religious-sexual oriented background. Because I’d go broke.

But we really need to talk about those “diversity” initiatives, because that is the most destructive piece of do-gooder stupidity foisted on authors that I can think of.

I know an author who is just starting out. He’s black. Last year we were at a con together, and he was excited because he’d been put on his very first panel ever. I asked what it was. And it was one of those Mandatory Diversity In Fiction panels.

What a waste. So you got a talented newcomer, so OBVIOUSLY they aren’t going to get his perspective on a panel for plot, or characters, or something actually related to writing… No. He’s a black writer. So he has to talk about race.

My advice was tell the con organizers that you aren’t their token, and ask to be switched to one of the many panels that fans actually go to and enjoy. (no, really. If you look at the people who attend any given con’s poorly attended Mandatory Diversity Panel, most of the sparse audience are white liberal senior citizen humorless scolds, because nothing says fun at a con like getting yelled at by a gender studies grad on the panel because your cismale oppression is the reason their novel didn’t sell well). Go get on the World Building panel in front of an audience of people who actually enjoy reading, and who will hopefully then get enthusiastic over what you say enough to later purchase your products.


What utter dreck. This line is why I had to do this fisking.

In his editorial, Fireside Fiction Company owner and editor Brian White points to a systematic structure of racial discrimination that has been built into the science fiction publishing community. Authors leave the field due to the lack of opportunities, while “subtle biases” contribute on a wide scale. “The advice to write “what the market wants” is code for white characters and white stories.

Owen Z. Pitt, not white. Ashok Vadal, not white. Yet somehow I’m a successful author and my core fan base is as red state, meat and potatoes, flag waving, clinging to our god and guns, regular America as it gets.

“What the market wants” is not code for White Stories (whatever the fuck that gibberish is supposed to mean). The market wants to be entertained. They want to have fun. They want emotion. They want to get sucked in because they can’t put the book down and stay up way too late reading. They want rousing stories. They want heroes and villains. They want characters they can cheer for. If you think all that only belongs to white people, fuck off, racist.

The opportunities to network, like six-week writing workshops or weeklong conventions, are really only open to those with the means to miss work.”

What elitist hogwash. Does that stuff help? Maybe. For some people.

When I started writing seriously I had two jobs, one of which was my own start-up company. I wrote most of MHI while working 70 hours a week, and because I was an owner, I got paid last and was usually broke. I was a self-taught writer, based upon reading a whole lot of books, most of which came from the public library.  The first con I ever went to was after I already had my first publishing contract.

Six week writing workshops? Of the many working professional authors I know, I can think of a handful who went to something like that. Even fewer got English degrees. I do however know of a bunch of wannabe dilettantes who like to play at being writers who attend stuff like that. There is a whole subculture of people who won’t ever put in the work necessary to make it as a writer, but they love putting on the trappings of being a writer.

Weeklong conventions? Choose your conventions more carefully. Most of them run over the weekend. And most cons are fan events. If you are going to spend the time/money, make sure you go to one of the ones with really good writing tracks. Networking? Yeah. Networking is helpful. Practicing until you can tell a really good story is way more important.

That white guilt claptrap is silly. Do you really think that writing is the only career where not having free time, resources, and the ability to network holds you back? How about, uh, let’s say EVERY OTHER CAREER too. Just like the guy who went to Harvard has more opportunities than the guy who went to Weber State, or the kid whose dad is in management gets promoted faster than you do. Welcome to life.

The report also included an interview with author N.K. Jemisin, author of The Fifth Seasonand forthcoming Obelisk Gate, who noted that some authors that might have otherwise published through traditional markets have found other outlets for their work. “There’s a gigantic market of self-published and small press published black fiction that kind of eschews the whole traditional published market simply because back in the nineties when all of this really kind of kicked off … the traditional publishing industry basically treated black writers as if they were anomalies.”

Dear God… I just kind of agreed with something N.K. Jemisin said (Correia checks outside to see if the 7th seal has opened). Nope, no blood rain or locust plagues. Well, I’ll be damned.

This article is focused on sci-fi magazines, but they are a relic of an earlier time. I think most of them have gone out of business. This article says they looked at 63 sci-fi magazines. I was shocked there were that many. I’ve sold around 30 pieces of short fiction, and I could only think of like half a dozen sci-fi magazines off the top of my head (and most of those are really just websites).

If there are actually 63 sci-fi mags, I’m guessing some of them have readership measured in the tens of readers. And that’s only if you count the editorial staff. So I’m really not sure how much these marginalized authors are missing out on here. I wonder how many of those pay in “exposure”?

This is a fantastic time to be an author. In the olden days, if a handful of gatekeepers didn’t like you, you were boned. For a long time, unless you were a superstar, there was basically one mainstream publishing house that didn’t give a damn about their author’s personal politics. Luckily, Indy and self-pub have changed the market dramatically.

For a long time entertainment tried to lump as many customers as possible into one big box to provide dumb bland mushy product to. To make a living at this stuff you needed to sell to everybody, including the easily offended. Now, you just need to appeal to one group of fans, and what appeals to them might not appeal to everybody, but screw those guys. You can make what you want. Technology has evolved so that you can get your product right in front of your target audience. It isn’t just books either. Stranger Things got rejected by something like 15 networks for being too weird, and now it is a hit on Netflix.

And the crazy thing is that those gatekeepers who were enforcing the big box of bland dumb mushy product for the masses? Turns out they didn’t know dick about what people actually want anyway. My first novel got rejected by every publishing house and agent in Manhattan as being unsellable. I self-published, did great, wound up with Baen, and I think it is now on its 14th printing.

So if you get rejected by some biased editor, but you know your product is good, and you know there is a market? Go around the assholes and find your fan base yourself. And if it is good and entertaining enough, then it will have legs and grow beyond that one little market you targeted. I started out selling self-published print on demand novels on an internet gun forum.

Furthermore, the authors of the essays point to specific problems that authors routinely face while trying to publish their stories, such as being published only in specific volumes devoted to race, contending with the biases of editors, and so forth.

That there is funny… I actually agree with this one. Like, look, this special Mandatory Diversity edition of our magazine is all Gay Peruvians. Oh boy. I bet the Special Gay Peruvian issue is a huge hit. We’re striking a blow for Gay Peruvians everywhere! Gay Peruvians Destroy Science Fiction! Yay!

That shit is a trap. Because the vast majority of the market just wants to be entertained, when they see something advertised as the Big Gay Peruvian Extravaganza Issue, that sends up warning flags. Those stories could be brilliant, but the customer has been burned too many times by check box, social justice, beat you over the head nonsense, that many of them are going to go spend their money somewhere else.

If I was a gay Peruvian, I’d want to be thought of as a good author. Not a Gay Peruvian author. I don’t want to only get published when a Caring Liberal needs to trot out their show pony so they can brag at a WorldCon party about how super not racist they are. Don’t let some jackass editor stick you in a box.

“I’ve got a story to sell you, Mrs. Editor. It is really good!”

“Sorry, Pablo, we’ll have to save that one for Gay Peruvian Sci-Fi Volume 2.”

White noted that the report wasn’t intended to point to magazines and expose an issue. He wanted to point to the larger issue of the entire industry as a whole. For his part, he noted that his own magazine was part of the problem: in 2015 only 9.4 percent of their authors were black, and thus far in 2016, they hadn’t published a single black author.

I like when they break down ethnic groups to the decimal, like this is scientific or something.

When you submit something, the editor probably doesn’t know what color the author is. That’s not the kind of thing that you put on your query letter. Writers are self-employed contractors. We don’t have to fill out an EEOC form and check a box for ethnicity.

So of those percentages, how many POC (I fucking hate that term) authors got rejected, but the author never knew what color they were? I got rejected a hundred times. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because my last name has double Rs and too many vowels, but if I wanted to be a big pussy about it I could have added racism to the giant list of challenges all aspiring authors face, just to make the process seem extra daunting and insurmountable.


This tired argument gets trotted out every so often for the SJWs to freak out about. You can change Black to Female, Gay, Hispanic, Indian, Asian, Transsexual, or whatever they’re angry about today. Then you can just Ctrl H to find and replace which race and industry they are outraged for, and cut and paste in the same article. You can produce click bait way faster that way.

Think I’m exaggerating? Here is where I fisked NPR because Latinos aren’t in enough movies (they were confused because my kids don’t look like Machete or wear sombreros)

Fundamentally, the genre publishing world — even amongst publications that have set out to be inclusive —

Inclusive my ass. The goal shouldn’t be to get included because you check a box, but because you’re good at what you do.

has a demonstrable track record of under-publishing black science fiction authors, who have gone out to establish their own outlets and means to get their stories out.

Hundreds of thousands of INDIVIDUALS of every imaginable shape, size, color, and belief system have gone around traditional publishing to get their stories out because snooty gatekeepers suck.

Justina Ireland noted that the solution is simple: “Acquire short fiction by black authors, especially fiction that challenges your comfort.” Taking active steps to ensure that black authors are included would be a positive first step toward making sure that the magazine market gets to a point where their portfolio of authors matches that of the country’s demographics.

That isn’t a simple solution. That is a stupid solution. Well, Pablo, this story is awesome, but we can’t take it because we are short .4% on Pacific Islanders this quarter.

Make sure your magazine’s portfolio statistically matches the country’s demographics? That is fantastic advice to give to a floundering dinosaur industry hemorrhaging subscribers, which is struggling to stay alive, and already can’t afford to pay its writers.

You know what readers love? “Fiction that challenges their comfort.” Brilliant. Do that often enough and you won’t have any of those pesky customers bothering you.

The actual simple solution?

Editors, understand your target market, then buy stories you think your audience will like enough so they will continue to give you money for them.

Authors, write the best stories you can and try to sell them. Be professional. Keep improving. Repeat.  

There is going to be an MHI anthology from various authors next year. When we put together the list of authors to invite, I didn’t give a crap about the author’s sex/race. My criteria was simple. Are they talented? Are they a good fit to write in this world? Are they easy to work with?

Ironically, it turned out to be fairly diverse (way more diverse than the crappy stats in this article at least!) And not just stupid skin deep SJW diversity, but we gathered authors from a bunch of different perspectives and backgrounds. (you want real diversity, get a YA author best known for her princess adventures to write trailer park elves. The guy writing Franks is a self-proclaimed liberal, and his story is BADASS). At no point did I sit down with the US census data to try and puzzle out if it matched exactly. That’s going full potato. That’s ridiculous. It was more like, yeah, this story rocks. The fans will love it.

I brought up the number of submissions to begin with, because that is key. Recently a friend of mine was editing a project. Behind the scenes he had invited a roughly equal number of male and female authors to submit. A couple of male authors agreed to submit on spec, the female authors turned him down. He didn’t think much of it at the time, as he was just trying to get good authors by his deadline (actually I turned him down too, because of lack of time. Seriously, once you have a rep for being able to produce on demand you will never have a shortage of job offers). Sadly, when the project was revealed the editor was immediately attacked for his misogynistic hatemongery and attempt at excluding women from sci-fi.  

Not everything is about sex/race, you social justice mopes. Sometimes individual humans just want to do stuff, or they don’t.

White noted that he wasn’t sure if Fireside would be able to publish a follow-up report. “It’s definitely an issue we want to continue to talk about. I am not sure if we will do a full follow-up by reviewing all of 2016 but we will be pursuing the issue as much as we can.”

In other words, the editor from this magazine you’ve never heard of is virtue signaling to the SJW contingent that he’s one of them, and please talk about his publishing house’s effort to be all diverse and stuff, and write more articles like this, because that’s great publicity.

You want more authors from Demographic X to write in Genre Y?

I talked about something similar in my fisking when I responded to’s stupid article about how GenCon was racist, only that time it was where gamers come from, rather than writers.  But the same fundamental principles apply. You want to make more writers from one particular group, get more people in that group reading, and make it fun.

Aspiring authors, I’ve said this before, there are only two deceptively simple steps to getting published.

  1. Get good enough people will give you money for your stuff.
  2. Find the people who will give you money for your stuff.

How you accomplish those two things is irrelevant, and there’s a bunch of different ways to do them, but that’s all there is to it.

Look, breaking into this business is a soul crushing pain in the ass anyway. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be. Don’t get hung up. Work hard, be smart, be professional. If some editor is a biased asshole, skip them, and go somewhere else. You don’t need them. You’re not beholden to anyone but yourself.

No luck in short fiction? It pays crap anyway. Go write a novel. No publisher bought it? Self-publish. Market the hell out of it while you write your next idea. Treat it like your real job and eventually it will become one.


Son of the Black Sword is a Finalist for the Dragon Award
EBR reviews Alliance of Shadows

390 thoughts on “Fisking the Latest Diversity in Sci-Fi Freak Out”

  1. Good fisk of a silly commentary. It’s like they think they can shame scifi fans into goodthink. Now, I must go write.

  2. Wonderfullest paragraph by Larry. I just have to pay special homage to it:

    “And the crazy thing is that those gatekeepers who were enforcing the big box of bland dumb mushy product for the masses? Turns out they didn’t know dick about what people actually want anyway. My first novel got rejected by every publishing house and agent in Manhattan as being unsellable. I self-published, did great, wound up with Baen, and I think it is now on its 14th printing.”

    1. Exactly right. I’ve never cared about race, creed, color etc. A good story is a good story, and all else is dross and ritual dick-beating.

      1. Ever since it went out of fashion to have photos of the author on the back of book jackets, I’ve had no idea what races most of the writers I’ve read are. Strangely, that has had no significant impact on how much I’ve enjoyed their books.

  3. Oh, and one other thing: Regarding the perceived problem of under-representation of various types of writers…who cares? I mean, really, who the fuck cares? Not me, that’s for sure. I want to read good stories. Sorry for the badthink!

  4. *SIGH* Thank you for taking this one on, Larry. I saw similar in academia, within the arguments that “only [race/tribal affiliation/sex/sexual preference/background] should write about [sub-genre of history] because only they truly understand it.” Followed shortly by the plaint that so-and-so grad student of color or female grad student isn’t researching [SJW-approved “appropriate” topic/field] and what can be done about this, because there aren’t enough good studies of [SJW-approved topic] by professors of [description]. *Grrrr*

    1. So it’s cool for the other side to say “All those people think alike”? I get confused sometimes about what is allowed.

    2. “Only the descendants of slaves can write or talk about what it was like to be slaves.” Yeah, just as only the descendants of 19th Century Royal Navy gunboat captains can write about what it was like to have to let slave ships escape because half the cargo (e.g. the female and underage half) had been dumped overboard and was drowning and needed saving? Heh. It would give SJWs the vapours to realise just how much of Britain’s “imperialist” reach was soaked up in trying to wipe out slavery, but that’s not a story which gets told very much in fact or fiction (Wilbur Smith touched on it in “A Falcon Flies” and “Men of Men”, but the character dynamics go nowhere sane or healthy very quickly and I imagine most people would wind up being more repulsed by that aspect than excited by the glimpse of what many of the Royal Navy’s minor warship captains spent – and in some cases gave – their lives doing).

  5. Eh… Sort of. In reality the short fiction market is a good place to get started because it is easier to finish a 5,000 word piece than a 100,000 word novel. Shorts are good practice but the pay is awful. I’ve known some of the most prolific and successful short fiction authors alive, and they don’t make enough off of it to live on.

    In my experience (just think of me as the writerly equivalent of a 2nd Lieutenant 😉 ) I think the main advantage of short fiction is that it’s less intimidating. Staring at that first blank page (so to speak–screens rather than pages these days) is just less scary when “The End” is only five thousand words away than when it is a hundred thousand. The skills for writing short are in many ways different than when writing at novel length. Oh, there’s a lot of overlap but there’s enough difference that a person can be good at one and not at the other in either direction.

          1. If you scroll down to the comment that Brad Torgerson made, his link was stripped out of the comment until you click “Read more”. And Tom Knighton’s comment, a bit above Brad’s, has no paragrahs until you click “Read more”.

            It looks like WordPress decided that until you click “Read more”, you don’t get to see ANY HTML tags that the original author used. Not blockquotes, not links, not even paragraphs. Stupid way to implement the feature if you ask me.

          2. And what about the comments that WordPress decides aren’t long enough for Read More???

            WordPress delenda est.

  6. “Treat it like your real job and eventually it will become one.”

    Larry, if you aren’t using that line when you are on panels, you really should.

    1. I started editing as a freelancer when I lost my job and needed something to tide me over until a “real” one came along. I didn’t say I was discriminated against because I was handicapped; heck, one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had was at a place where I could have sued for millions due to the ADA violations I had to work with. (The manager was an ass. The job was fun.) Yeah, I could tell some employers couldn’t hire me because of the wheelchair, but it usually wasn’t their fault and I’m not the litigious sort.

      Eventually, editing became my living, and four years later a company upped my income by 200% to come edit their stuff. Nonfiction academic, military/diplomatic/intelligence; but they’re awesome and let me do SF&F contracts and conventions and teaching on the side on a flexible schedule as long as I don’t get behind on their stuff. That was two years ago. Five years ago I didn’t know how I’d survive. Three years ago I thought I could finally manage both normal and medical expenses without depending on my family. Today, the only reason I haven’t bought my own house waaaaaay out in the suburbs of the suburbs is because it’s my turn to help out the family. (Though passing up that secluded four-bedroom with porch and fruit trees was kinda heartbreaking.)

      Most of the time, I’m ahead of the curve for the main day job, for the same reason they found me up to their stabdards: it’s a real job, and I treat it as such. I started out with nothing, and now I’m in a really good place both professionally and financially. Before the main job, I was getting enough contract requests that I could pick and choose. Now, I get so many that I can afford to only work on the ones I like. All because I did the time ad put in the effort. So I laugh when people tell me I don’t know what it’s like.

      Treating a job seriously is important, no matter the job in question. The best advice I’ve heard on that topic is from Martin Luther King, Jr. If the only job you can get is as a street sweeper, then sweep streets like Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel.

  7. This whole time I was reading the insanely popular Alex Cross series, I had no idea that the black main characters were actually white. Crazy!

  8. ” Here is where I fisked NPR because Latinos aren’t in enough movies ”

    My favorite part of that article was the movie where Jlo in Miami was too white.

  9. I’ll simply repeat what I’ve been saying for years: the only colors that matter in literature of ANY sort. . . is black ink on white paper*.

    (* If you use an e-reader of any sort, that may vary from person to person, but you get the idea. . .)

  10. Well said, Larry.

    Years ago, this subject came up on a writing forum I was active with at the time. When I asked how many minority READERS there were, I found myself under attack. Apparently, it was horribly inappropriate to ask that question for some reason. Personally, I was thinking that if the percentage of minority readers was low, then you’re going to have a lower percentage of writers than society as a whole. That’s just logical.

    Further, I never saw where to mark my race on a submission form for any magazine ever.

    I had a novelette I submitted to several magazines that never got so much as a form rejection. However, I was urged to publish it indie, so I did.

    It sold surprisingly well and I had a lot of people tell me how much they enjoyed it. I actually considered it my weakest work really, but they liked it. People wanted more of the story, so I wrote two novels afterward. (Best negative review ever came about because of that story too: “Too much senseless violence.”)

    But the magazines passed on it, and readers liked it. Now, I don’t blame the magazines for passing on it necessarily — I did mention I consider it my weakest work — but some of the stuff they’ve published? Talk about boring.

    Sounds to me like they didn’t understand what readers actually want to me.

  11. A little data: Duotrope (which is not exhaustive, but indicative) lists 22 pro paying markets for short stories. Of those, at least three are themed anthologies, and maybe one or two others. If they found 63 magazines, most were semi pro, token, or lower.

    1. Or, I should add: If they found 63 pro paying markets, where can I get their list? I need more markets!

      1. I found 59 pro-paying markets (5c a word or more) on the Grinder, but a LOT of those are “temporarily closed”–one of which is Fireside. Sorting through for the ones that are currently open, there are 22. Writing and subbing short fiction is its own brand of crazy-making (especially when you’ve got as many stories circulating as I do–they call me “Kaijulie” on Codex), and this business of “oh, we’re not publishing enough of Insert Demographic Here” is just one more layer of that. How do they even KNOW unless they’re getting into creepy amounts of stalking? And as Larry says, the raw number of stories published is completely useless without the raw number of stories subbed. And that number is completely unknowable.

        I have 171 rejections and 14 acceptances in 2016 so far for short fiction. Most of the acceptances are for reprints (I have one reprint market that really likes me). But I don’t whine about the markets that reject me “keeping me down because I’m a Christian,” because that would be fricking stupid. Most of the markets I’ve seen bend over backwards to include “marginalized demographics,” though I notice they carefully do not include “conservative fundamentalist Christians” in their list even though conservative fundamentalist Christians are woefully underrepresented in SFF. I’m always surprised when I find one.

        Point being, “conservative fundamentalist Christian” is just as invisible as “black” when it comes to fiction subs, unless you’re famous or something. Most of us slogging in the trenches of short fiction are not famous.

        1. In the past I’ve submitted to editors and agents who were suddenly looking at my linkedin profile. I don’t know if there was other “stalking” going on, since linkedin is the only one that says WHO was looking at your profile. So it really happens, and probably a lot.

        2. I wrote some short stories/novelettes recently and thought about subbing them to magazines/websites. Then I looked at the state of the market, combined with the number of people subbing for those limited spots, and decided I’ll just self-pub them. Subbing short stories isn’t worth the effort for such limited likely returns to me, especially since I’m more focused on novels.

          Semi-related, I’d love to read an anthology called “Conservative Fundamentalist Christians Destroy Sci-Fi”. Or maybe using some other word than ‘destroy’, since that’s a pretty dumb word to use when you want to *attract* sci-fi readers.

          1. Well, if a group of authors gets together to pretty much do it for fun (i.e. free) and it’s self-pubbed on Amazon, probably not all that much. (Disclaimer: I’ve never attempted something like that, so I’m wildly guessing.)

            The only down side is that some good authors fitting that description prefer to go under the radar and may not want to ‘out’ themselves to join in.

          2. I’d want to pay pro rates (at least) for it, though, and get a whiz-bang cover. Just to drive the point home. Looking at the Kickstarter for POC Destroy, they had a rather modest $5000 goal and managed to raise ten times that amount. However, they were going to publish whether they hit the goal or not. I know jack-all about running a KS and would need to crunch some numbers to see how much it would need to raise in order to do it “right.”

          3. I recommend — Sell them bundled in collections, too. I get much better sales on collections than on individuals.

  12. Larry, we’re more or less on the same wavelength about this. What I find bleakly amusing is how this racism fear-mongering essentially indicts the left-wing in a self-conspiracy. Since publishing is dominated and controlled (upwards of 90% or better) by concerned, caring, progressive, open-minded, tolerant liberals, why are those same concerned, caring, progressive, open-minded, tolerant liberals always crying about how SF/F publishing in particular is so biased and terrible against (insert victim group label here)! This is essentially the left hand working against the other left hand. If it’s true that SF/F publishing — especially in the micro-economy of the short markets, which I am well familiar with — is racist, then the good, caring, tolerant, progressive, ever-so-liberal denizens of SF/F publishing must take a long, hard look in the mirror. ‘Cause they got nobody to blame but themselves.

    1. Excellent point, Brad. BTW, *finally* got to reading “Chaplain’s War” yesterday, and liked it very much!

          1. I don’t know either, but my guess is that it’s referring to the Streisand Effect, but in reverse. I.e., when your opponent is bringing you more publicity that’s going to end up helping you.

          2. I think Jeff is talking about how Twitter’s shadowban increased my blog traffic and book sales tenfold 🙂

            Only Larry’s Book Bomb! of Nethereal managed to top those results.

          3. I finally read Nethereal as a result. It still isn’t my cuppa tea (Boy howdy, it isn’t) but it’s fine brew nonetheless.

        1. It’s not that the conspiracy is against current readers. The “feed stock” for writers is readers. Some communities don’t read. Those readers that will never be are the targets, I’ll be generous and say unintended, of the conspiracy.

    2. There’s a picture somewhere on the web of the Tor company picnic.

      There are Klan rallies with more melanin than that crew.

      Odd, that. Odd how all their high-ranking editors seem to look like the Haydens. Odd how all their top-shelf authors do, too.

  13. Seriously, I do not get this whole race thing. As far as I am concerned, there is only one race, the Human race and frankly, the older I get, the less impressed I am with humans and the more I prefer the company of my Irish Setters. They have far more humanity than my co-workers and neighbors can ever hope to have, much less liberals.

    1. That line of thinking gets ya labeled a racist these days.

      No, really. They argue that by believing that, you’re undermining someone else’s experiences.

      But it’s OK to undermine MY experiences as the white guy who is a minority in his town. Totally different things.

    2. I really don’t like to use ‘race’ when I mean ‘ethnicity’ because when I think race, as you say, I think ‘human’. Probably because I was raised on sci-fi/fantasy, where ‘race’ means ‘man/human’, ‘elf’, ‘Vulcan’, etc.

      1. There was an amusing bout of confusion on the Nanowrimo fantasy boards. A guy came in to see how acceptable a certain ‘interracial’ couple would be to audiences. He was highly put out when people started asking him about the world he was building, and essentially went ‘this is a non-issue’ when they discovered it was a white man with a black woman. He did not take the “This is the Fantasy Forum. When you say ‘interracial’ we think Elf and Dwarf or Human and Dragon, problems like that.” Apparently some people have trouble getting past the notion that fiction worlds don’t necessarily have their hangups, real or immagined, in the same spots as the real world.

        1. Now a controversial inter-racial relationship is Edward and Tanya. Stuff is going to get complicated. 🙂

        2. Apparently some people have trouble getting past the notion that fiction worlds don’t necessarily have their hangups, real or immagined, in the same spots as the real world.

          Great example, start from here:

          It’s Clamps being retarded, (especially since he’s bitching about the existence of DRAGONS in a freaking fantasy setting) but for those who don’t believe the mindset exists, there ya go.

          These are the sort of people who’d have problems believing in dinosaurs, because ‘nothing could be that big and live on land…!’

          1. I hate that stupid little fucker. He’s like getting a piece of dog shit stuck to your shoe.

          2. Yes. And I’m always somewhat amazed that he hasn’t gotten beaten up IRL. There is NO WAY that someone as consistently shitty as he is not to have the same attitudes displayed and vomited exorcist style RL. He breaks the G.I.F.T. premise.

          3. It’s a new measurement of SJW retardation.

            I mean, come on. Arguing against the existence of dragons in a fantasy setting. It’s actually stupider than his usual antics. Especially since his pathetic attempts at ‘logic’ crash and burn in rather impressively spectacular ways. (Also, reveals even more of his ignorance about things in general.)

      2. Yeah. When I first ran into this whole race thing (coming out from behind the Iron Curtain) I was very confused. “We’re all human.” Apparently that mindset is still somehow ‘racist’ and ‘ignorant’ and ‘bigoted.’

  14. If Group X doesn’t read much, then it’s unlikely to produce many writers. If these people are so concerned about the lack of black writers then they should address the educational and familial circumstances in the black community that lead to blacks not reading much.

    Or they could just accuse Big Publishing of being racist and then turn their brains off.

    1. There was a comment in Brad Torgersen’s blog by the lovely Julie Pascal that I’m going to quote here:

      I never bookmark stuff, which is a problem. Reading articles about encouraging kids and young people of color to read is always interesting. There was a video promoting a program designed for that some time ago and what I noticed was the black woman who ran it, besides being very well educated and an educator, explained during the course of it all that her daughter read Artemis Fowl (sp?) and that the books usually recommended to black kids by teachers, the books on the shelves, were books about being black or about racism. They weren’t *adventures*. In order to get an adventure, in order to escape to a fantastic world, her daughter read books about a white boy.

      All of us. I mean *ALL* of us can identify with that, right? The books teachers usually recommend are almost invariably awful. The stuff they put in front of kids in school are usually some “improving” literature about drug addiction or sexual abuse or racism or about children being really horrible to other children.

      And teachers will still hand a black child a book… “Here, read a book about how helpless it is to be you…”

      Because that’s going to somehow ‘encourage’ that child to read. e_e

      1. Likely isn’t really about encouraging them to read, more about destroying their morale and convincing them they need the progs to “help” them with all the icky things “oppressing” them.

        Actually, I can see why they don’t want “people of color” to get out and read the “wrong” books: They might realize they don’t need the progs to “protect” them.

        1. Of course they don’t want them to realise that MLK Jr. and Abe Lincoln won. They don’t want them leaving the metaphorical mental plantation, after all.

          Especially true in the West-culture nations: Freedom is a mindset. If a person believes they are powerless, they are mentally enslaved.

      2. Books with heroes, or at least protagonists, instead of the victimist of victims are the White Fiction that excludes minorities. (Note that Artemis, being Irish, is not white. Writing about Irishmen who are not killing other Irishmen, starving to death, or being exterminated for the greater good of man-kind is not authentic. )

        1. That’s really interesting. On facebook I got to see a little “friend-of-a-friend” discussion about writing YA literature with Irish characters and the author being told by editors that she hadn’t done it right because where are the Troubles? Being American and not Irish or even Irish-American, I’ve not a clue what the “Troubles” are other than it’s capitalized. But apparently this is a thing. If you’ve got a story about the Irish but you don’t have Troubles then it’s not authentic.

          Alas, trying to gently tie this into similar “not authentic” ethnic stories from an USian perspective didn’t work. I suppose that the received wisdom is just that strong. But I think that it would be very difficult for an author to write and publish a story in the US featuring black teens if they left out the “Troubles”. So what books do teachers hand to black kids to read if they’re all about a specific experience?

          Consider the criticism received by that African immigrant (PhD college prof.) who wrote the story about the Albino girl who went back to Africa for a visit and discovered she was magic. (I actually should look that up and read it.) But one of the most *striking* complaints was that the life of the *girl* was ordinary middle-class suburban. Because that’s not authentic. The story was about a suburban middle class girl going back to Africa where Albinos are still, in some places, considered witches… and not about the “Troubles.” And for some, that was *wrong*.

          1. *dryly* I don’t suppose that it was mentioned that in Africa, not only are albinos considered magic and/or witches, the usual fate of these albinos, often as children, often as infants, is to be butchered and their body parts sold as charm, or some parts of them eaten as magic cures. Even if the family was trying to protect the child, there are horror stories of relatives stealing the child to sell, as albino parts fetch a VERY high price.

          2. I was aware of the killing but not selling parts for charms. OMG. But I *was* aware of the killing.

            The other not-so-remarkable criticism was that *symbolically* the girl with magic was *white*.

            I cried a little for humanity.

          3. I… expected that criticism. They’re flaming idiots for what is a deadly curse for albinos in Africa. The idea is that the albinism is caused by otherworldly means (insert here whether by gods or spirits) – the lack of pigmentation is ‘proof’ of it. Albino parts bring ‘luck.’ Or power and wealth. I remember reading an article elsewhere that claimed potions were made of parts of albinos either as medicine or magic, but I don’t want to dig. Most news out of Africa is intensely depressing in the way Africans regularly dehumanize each other.


            And yes, greed has even parents murdering their own children.

          4. ‘The Troubles’ is specific shorthand for aspects of Irish history after conquest by England. Alleged serious genocide attempts count. I think 19th century American discrimination against Irish doesn’t?

            I know that the cold war conflict was part of them, but I haven’t heard that they still continue.

          5. According to a friend of mine (Irish History buff.) there were, roughly 3 sets of ‘Troubles’ (more complicated than that, but that tends to be how it’s grouped). I don’t remember the time frame of all three, but one was early 1900s roughly WWI era. The most recent got rolling in the 70s and is what most people think of when they talk about ‘The Troubles’ these days. That was the one that resulted in the IRA and all that mess. There are conflicts still, but they’ve tapered off in the last 15 years, mostly because funding by those of Irish descent in the US fell off. (I don’t remember why.)

            Side note: Any errors are more likely to be my understanding in this game of telephone rather than my source’s errors.

          6. Part of the reason US funding fell off is because the Feds helped cut it off. The seventies one may have been a communist proxy, as Ireland is now socialist. I want to say that there was an earlier period, around either 1700 or 1800, when the blue was supplanted with the political green.

      3. I much preferred it when teachers recommended a book like “A Wrinkle in Time”, “The Hobbit”, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “Redwall” to the ones who were always recommending the books about depressed oppressed suppressed person deals with the deaths of their mother, dog, brother, and pet llama all on the same day. o_o;

        1. See, if those victim-protagonists were able to fight their way out of their issues (either mentally or otherwise) that would actually be a plot with character development potential.

          But I don’t think that really happens with those books.

        2. That would depend on whether a singular entity or collective of such was responsible for all the deaths and could be engaged and defeated. Sounds like a reasonable premise for “Monster Hunter Memoirs: Teen Lit Terror” (LOL; I’m sure others could suggest a better name).

      4. Whereas now, if that woman wanted to hand her daughter an adventure story featuring a black kid as the main character, she could hand her Changeling’s Island and be very happy with her daughter’s interest in it. The “problem”, from the SJW’s point of view, is that it doesn’t become obvious that the protagonist is black until, oh, about three-quarters of the way into the book, when you find out his grandmother’s story. Because he never wallows in self-pity about the prejudice he faces because of his race, and the self-pity parties he does throw (which he thankfully gets over rather quickly) are about missing his life in the big city, not about racism. So it’ll never make its way onto the SJW-approved recommended reading lists, despite the fact that Dave Freer checked the box they keep saying they want people to check. But since it’s actually about learning self-reliance and the value of hard work… well.

        1. So it’ll never make its way onto the SJW-approved recommended reading lists, despite the fact that Dave Freer checked the box they keep saying they want people to check.

          Therein lies their hypocrisy. It isn’t about putting ‘more’ XYZ protagonists or characters, it’s all about doing what the SJWs want other people to do.

          SJWs cannot create things that anyone other than a SJW will want.

          1. Personal experience with multiple SJW has indicated to me that “SJWs cannot create anything” is possibly more correct. Not that they are incapable of writing fiction per se (good or bad), but sometimes I feel they would rather write screeds of meta tearing others apart for their *isms than bother to create themselves, in equal word count, what they claim is lacking.

        2. By the by, I also recommended Dave Freer’s works to a fellow parent, who got into the conversation about books by asking if I was the author of Sparrowind, which he loved. He was looking for books that his book-loving daughter could enjoy, and whose heroes were… well, good guys. Changeling’s Island was one I felt was age appropriate, but of course, like any good parent, the vetting is his. =)

  15. ““What the market wants” is not code for White Stories (whatever the fuck that gibberish is supposed to mean). The market wants to be entertained. They want to have fun. They want emotion. They want to get sucked in because they can’t put the book down and stay up way too late reading. They want rousing stories. They want heroes and villains. They want characters they can cheer for. If you think all that only belongs to white people, fuck off, racist.”

    Words to live by, words to live by.

    1. “This is code for that” is really just proggie-speak for “They didn’t say anything we can attack, so we’re going to pretend something they said actually means something completely different.”

      1. Kind of like how Sad Puppies was code for we want to keep women out of sci-fi, even though half of our nominees were female.

        1. Exactly.

          It doesn’t matter if you say anything incriminating. They’ll simply take something you said, something like, “I really like chicken nuggets” and change it.

          “The phrase “chicken nuggets” is CODE for lynching black people!!!!!” they’ll say, and people will propagate that crap and argue it’s true. And you can’t prove ’em wrong.

          1. Which is why you don’t argue with them.

            You slap them back hard with rhetoric and logic, aiming your reply at sane readers, and just use the idiots as punching bags.

            And never ever ever apologize.

          2. I have to admit, I’ve reached the point where any slapping I do is less likely to be rhetorical, and more likely to involve the back of my hand…

          3. You think they get mad about chicken nuggets? Just ask them about Nutty Nuggets. 😉

        2. And it was the Puppy Kickers who led the charge to vote in lockstep to keep a WOMAN from winning a (much deserved) editors’ Hugo just to spite *one* guy.

      2. Yet we’re not supposed to notice that the “code” came from them and not the folks they point and screech at.

        1. Of course not…because they possess some super-secret source of information so they’re privy to the code but no one else is.

          Including the people who are allegedly speaking in the code.

      3. It turns out that code breaking is much easier when you don’t care if the decoded message matches the original message.

  16. In all the years I was a short fiction editor, I never once inquired about the race of submitting authors. I knew basically nothing about the authors. All I cared about was the quality of the stories they sent me.

    1. Angie, you are clearly part of the problem; since failing to specifically seek out the demographics of your authors — putting “fun” first — is automatically code for WHITE STRAIGHT MALE SUPREMACY! How could you betray your lady parts like that? 😉

    2. I was also a short fiction editor for some years. There’s literally *no* time to consider that when you accept SEVEN short fiction for the mag, and have over *three thousand* submitted pieces to review and thumbs up or down in a week, after real jobs. That’s less than .2% accepted.

      My editorlings didn’t even get to know the names of the authors they were reviewing. Just “Submission #1294, Water Lilies Attack!” If they didn’t show the quality we needed to keep our little ‘mag on it’s spit-and-bubble-gum budget, out it went. The only race we noted was the one with a finish line that said “Publication Date.”

      1. Mike Resnick once told me that first readers at book publishers have to reject 60 manuscripts an hour if they want to keep their jobs. That includes the time opening the package, and stuffing it (and the rejection slip) back in the SASE (this is from before e-subs became commonplace, but the same concepts apply). This average also includes the greater time spent on those that aren’t rejected. From what I know, the situation is similar for short fiction markets.

        With that kind of time pressure, first readers and acquisition editors do not have time to consider anything but whether the story grabs them by the throat almost from the very first word.

        1. I’m guessing most editors who read that piece will shrug their shoulders and go right on doing whatever it is they were doing. A few might pay a little lip service in public in the name of virtue signalling, but that’s about as far as it will go.

          1. It’s a sacramental act to expunge guilt. They weep and wail about the exclusion of minorities. Quenches the liberal guilt for a bit.

    3. A few months ago I got something from a friend regarding a writing contest for a major publishing house, and when I went to look it stated specifically that they wanted only authors in “under-represented” groups. Minorities and gender-benders, specifically. What are they going to do if a *gasp* white straight woman enters their contest? Shut her down, reject when they find out her race?

      I can’t help wondering how many decent entries they got.

  17. Larry:
    You must strike a blow for diversity. Next time Agent Franks is blown to smithereens have him reconstructed with body parts that reflect the ethnic, gender and fabulousness diversity that is the gorgeous mosaic we call America. Give him a Scandinavian face with African hair but dyed pink. I’ll leave his genitalia up to you but remember that’s a construct anyway.

      1. Well yeah, but don’t say it out loud. It might make him self conscious or even hurt his feelings.

    1. Franks’ entire body is a “social construct.” I’d love for some character to rhapsodize about how he is a walking embodiment of the postmodern fusion of micronarrative local truths while rejecting the conformist hegemony of yadda yadda yadda, only to receive the world’s largest You Are An Idiot look from Franks.

        1. Oh, I don’t know. Once Agent Franks has a chance to think about the importance of avoiding the appearance of trans phobia by a representative of the Obama administration I’m sure he’ll adopt the appropriate response and say “Just call me Shirley.”

          1. I can just imagine Franks dealing with an SJW Obama administration superior. He takes a few minutes to look up this form of retardation on the internet, and starts playing said person like a computer game, manoeuvring him into a position where he can lawfully, and within his contract, simply kill him.

          2. Madame Undersecretary: “But we can’t just slaughter metabolically challenged individuals like vampires and zombies! We must encourage them to earn PUFF exemptions, help them overcome the negative emotions Cis-Male society has imposed on them”.

            Agent Franks: “Please demonstrate this for me. I’ll open the cage door for you.”

          3. You’ve got to wonder what Franks’ demon detection sense would make of Bill and Hillary.

      1. You think Franks would stay in the room long enough to hear the conversation? I get that the MCB looses hundreds of agent-hours a month to various mandatory training events, but I don’t think you could get Franks to participate in them. If his choices are “harass Earl Harbinger” and “listen to lecture on diversity”…I think Earl’s getting annoyed.

        Worse (?) he could just download the brutal facts of on a wide array of historical conflicts and conditions. He wouldn’t bother to do it, because it isn’t worth his time.

        1. After “Nemesis”, I think he could explain to Earl the reason for the visit and the two of them could sit down and commiserate together.

      1. I just finished Nemesis a week ago and it opened up my eyes to Franks’ potential as a protagonist. Previously I thought of him as a background figure or almost a comic foil. But now I know that he’s potentially a pivotal moral player in the Correia-verse. And more than ever I think Adam Baldwin needs to play him in the movies (plural). But yeah, it could still be fun to mix and match his parts. I remember they added an MHI tattoo to one of his replacement arms. That was funny!

  18. One wonders if the data for this trenchant analysis was adjusted for the possibility of authors *hiding* their ethnicity/other special checkbox status? e.g. “Education of Little Tree”.

    I have always actively avoided being put in a “special” ghetto, in some cases like a cat avoiding being put in a carrier. Ghettos are bad, mkay? No, you are not “helping” me. No, I do not want a pink slide rule. No, I don’t need to go to “Women in $Activity” meetings, I have real work to do. And then I’m going to the range to pick up guys. 😀

      1. You guys need to go back to Oppression School–you’re not doing it very well. Stop being so welcoming and friendly! Between shop class, machine shop, drafting, a STEM degree, and my current software job I swear I have collected enough “exception to the rule” coupons to get the full china set with serving utensils and gravy boat.

          1. Yeah, they slip it in so effortlessly that before you can say “bibbity-bobbity-boo” you’re internalizing the misogyny, Sabrina.

            (And WordPress is still being an ass about logins, even its own. 😛 )

        1. You guys need to go back to Oppression School–you’re not doing it very well. Stop being so welcoming and friendly!

          I know, right? Apparently, we women are oppressed for being accepted as human beings, appreciated for our positive strengths and virtues, and forgiven for the less toxic flaws.

          Nah, yanno what? I like our guys the way they are. Let’s keep ’em that way. <3

  19. I’ve noticed that the “theme” of a collection (which is all a magazine is) can affect who contributes and what, therefore, is actually published.

    For example, one of my daughters contributed as essay to a book being published next month that explores sexuality in the LDS community. One of the reasons she kept her essay in was because it is one of the very few that approaches the topic from a traditional chaste before marriage fidelity after position. Most others who have that view chose not to include their thoughts. The book will likely give a slanted perspective of reality.

    At the same time, she is editing a collection of essays for a book, contract signed but publication date uncertain, that explores the topic of being single in the LDS church. Here she faces the opposite problem. She wants to be representative but is having difficulty in attracting essays from those who are out of the mainstream or who no longer view tradition as binding. Again, if she’s not careful, the book will give a slanted perspective of reality.

    In neither case is there editorial bias. Self-selection provides all the slant, needed or not.

    1. It seems like people who have a traditional view of sex (which is to say, in this case, one which actually holds to the teaching of the faith they profess to have) are less likely to want to talk about it openly, as if talking about sex is in itself an unholy thing that proper people don’t do. Which is really sad, since it does tend to make the messages about sex that one hears be skewed against traditional values.

        1. What constitutes “lightly bandied about”? I’m pretty sure the more important something is, the more it’s worth having a serious discussion about. Locker room banter? No. Serious, thoughtful discussion/debate? Yes.

  20. In addition, there is reason to suspect that the old publishing system is dying. See authorearnings dot com. Old publishing could, in theory, police for race. Website vendors couldn’t automate that, so it can’t happen for indy, unless the middleman site takes months to put the book up. Readers aren’t going to bother figuring that out, unless you make a point of telling them. Hook ’em on the story, and your background won’t matter.

  21. I saw this article the other day, and in between snorting in derision I thought of what Larry would say. This is better than I came up with.

    I snorted the hardest right here: “Acquire short fiction by black authors, especially fiction that challenges your comfort.”

    Frankly I need all the goddamn comfort I can get these days, and there’s not much of it to be found. To the author who writes something I can dig into and bury myself in, to that guy/girl/whatsit goes my money. To the SJW trying to challenge my comfort goes a quick glance at the cover usually a sneer and on to the next book on the shelf.

    I frequently sneer at Jemsin’s books. I want to read about some poor bastard being tortured and enslaved? Not unless that character wins big, and not unless the torture/slavery part is short and mostly off-screen . She wallows in the poo, and I do not want to read about it. It’s nauseating.

    You can challenge my vocabulary, but don’t challenge my digestion or it’s back on the shelf for you.

  22. Every time I see them use “code words” I want to scream out loud. They see something, think it means something bad and claim it’s a “code word” by the icky people they disagree with?! Yeah, right. It’s a monster from their Id, not someone else’s.

  23. Of COURSE the liberal wrote a great Franks story. Just think of all the suppressed rate, violence and resentment roiling in his (?) denied soul…

  24. You know, I’ll bet if Our Progressive Betters taught their black students that learning to read and write wasn’t “acting white,” there’d be more of a black readership…

    1. As public reference librarian I know for a fact that many black teens and children do not have library cards. And are happy with it.

      Many blacks are incapable of returning materials at all, and lose their library privileges.

        1. “All” would’ve been a broad brush. “Many” is perfectly legitimate. I, too, am a librarian. Many of the students where I work are black. When they check anything out at all, it’s usually video games or movies.

          That said, the white students don’t check out many books either:-(.

  25. Regarding the comment about having disposable income to attend workshops and such, given how many of these morons are trust fund kids or can scam Patreon feeds fueled by deluded fools who think that they can buy indulgences for being the ever-dreaded white cis male (yes, that part is sarcasm 😛 ) it sounds a lot like yet another case of projection, trying to pin their own sins (so to speak) on others to make themselves feel better.

  26. That “diversity in writers” article reminds of an article I read awhile back about not enough “POC” protagonists, which apparently equals a loss in hypothetical sales. No evidence for that assertion, though.

    1. What’s kind of funny to me is that if their assumption is that people want to read about characters they “relate” to and that people only “relate” to characters who match their outward gender/ethnic/ability stats, then how does it make sense to write books meant to appeal to people who are minorities at the risk of losing the majority of your potential readership? Again, based on their assumption that people want to read about people the same skin color/gender/whatever as themselves? I suppose the answer is that they think that it’s natural for everyone *except whites* to want to read about people like themselves, but whites owe it to the world to read about non-whites and any desire whites have to read about people (outwardly) like themselves is racist.

      1. Following that assumption to its (il)logical destination: That makes The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings impossible for readers to relate to as the stories are told from the perspective of hobbits, who aren’t human. While there may be some few readers of those books who are of a height with hobbits, they don’t have big leathery feet with thick curly hair on them. So there’s no reason for those books to be popular, particularly when much of the cast of characters beyond the hobbits are elves or dwarves.

        Or for that matter, how could they explain the popularity of Spock, who isn’t human, has green blood, no emotions, and funky eyebrows? Not someone people could superficially relate to. You can extend that to any number of other aliens in shows. Chewbacca, D’argo, G’Kar, Groot, just to toss a few off the top of my head. If that assumption is correct, there’s no reason for these characters to be so popular, as they have no superficial relatability.

        I recall a short story I read in my early teens (I believe it was Bradbury, but right at the moment I can’t recall for certain) talking, in first person, about life on a colony planet and at the very end of the novel, an unfamiliar spaceship lands and the main character is puzzled by the appearance of the ‘aliens’ that come out of the ship, who, it turns out are humans. If their assumption were true, then how could I have related quite naturally to a character who was so alien as to be surprised by the color of the humans and the fact they only had hair on the tops of their heads?

        Clearly, as we all know, the assumption is wrong, but they continue to trumpet it from the rooftops anyway.

        1. I know, right? The entire basis of sci-fi/fantasy involves characters that aren’t human, much less African/Asian/whatever. I’ve never understood this whole “people need characters they can relate to” thing. Or how they post photos on Twitter of some little black kid holding up an action figure of a black superhero, like black kids are only just now having fun playing with superheroes. When I was a kid, most of the stories I liked best enjoyed things like talking animals. The fictional character I’ve always “related to” most is Data. In general, I don’t need to ‘relate to’ the characters in stories. I need to like them and find them interesting and entertaining. I’ve never, not even as a little girl, pretended to be a certain specific character or needed to put myself in the story in a certain character’s role, and even if I had, why would I need that character to be female if I’m already imagining myself as a totally different person? Just the whole concept of “kids need characters who are the same demographic is them or they won’t enjoy the story and they’ll think they’re stuck in a box and won’t go out and try to do X profession” or whatever crap logic is so, so far from anything resembling the real world as I’ve experienced it.

          1. You know what upcoming TV show I am the most excited about? Luke Cage. And I’m pretty sure I’m not a black dude from Harlem.

          2. I read once that Nick Cage got his stage name from Luke Cage. I wonder when someone’s going to accuse him of cultural appropriation.

          3. Could be funnier’n hell if you remember some of the Bendis New Avengers scenes:
            Spiderman: How do you know I’m not black under this mask?
            Luke Cage: You’re kidding, right?

          4. The fictional character I related to the most as a kid was Spock. My son’s favorite character is Data. I’m very much human, not Vulcan (it was the intelligence aspect that I liked); and my son is 100% organic.

            I’m trying to track down copies of Starfleet Academy books with Data just for that reason.

          5. Oh, those Star Trek chapter books were fun. I liked those as a kid. Bit hard to find now, probably. I managed to collect them all, but it took a while. Found the last at a library book sale (the only one they had was the only one I needed; score!).

            One of the funny things about Data, and what makes him extra relatable to a child (and also makes any sexualizing of him super creepy IMO) is that when the series starts, he’s literally like three years old (at least based on his most recent ‘reboot’).

            My favorite TOS character is Spock. I like the Vulcans and can relate to them as a race, but I think my favorite Star Trek race is the Cardassians. They’re the space Slytherins!

          6. I was able to get my hands on book 1 and 2, and that’s it. I never saw any more, so it blew my mind to find out that there were more. I wish I could’ve gotten them all; I *loved* the story and the art.

          7. When my brother was a wee lad, one of the girls in his class decided that the proper way to express her affection was to hit him over the head. He, logical thing that he is, assumed that this meant that hitting was an acceptable rule of engagement, and returned the favor.

            After my mother received a call from the girl’s father about it, she had to explain that little girls are very much like Klingons in the way they show their interest, but if a little boy behaves in the appropriate Klingon manner in return, the little girl will inevitably and abruptly revert to human (and go crying to her father), and it’s not appropriate to hit little human girls.

            Star Trek is so useful ^_^.

        2. A very good point. I have a friend who wants to write on the side. The main character of one of his stories is an alien made of “glass” and lacks many human features. If the lack of a main character that physically related to the reader holds true, he will probably sell nothing.

          This actually makes me wonder, if they are not already, will publishers reject stories that don’t explicitly state that the main character is a minority. If focusing on that over good stories leads to poor sales, what would the publishers do?

          1. Continue to die their slow death, leading to the continued rise of small pubs and indie authors.

  27. “…especially fiction that challenges your comfort.”

    Well, so long as they are defining what certain “codes” mean, allow me the opportunity to define a code of theirs: “challenges your comfort” is code for “shoving my politics down your throat until you choke.”

    To the Left, art must have meaning beyond mere entertainment in order to be called “legitimate”. Artistry and instruction are placed as qualities of greatest importance; how a story is told, who tells it, and what moral it transmits are much more important than the story itself. What they consistently fail to grasp is that the message and the messenger will both be lost if they can’t even get past the most basic hurdle: giving people a reason to pick up their work in the first place.

    I couldn’t care less what race/ethnicity/gender/sexual orientation an author is. I didn’t know Samuel R. Delaney is African-American until about a decade ago, and I’d only just recently discovered C.J. Cherryh is lesbian. In both cases, it is the quality of their writing which attracted me to them, not their “other” identity. Sadly, this is an attitude which is becoming lost on a whole generation of new writers, most of whom are being taught to value their “identity” and “ethnic voice” over such basic concepts as grammar and storytelling.

    They will produce nothing memorable.

  28. “Dear God… I just kind of agreed with something N.K. Jemisin said (Correia checks outside to see if the 7th seal has opened). Nope, no blood rain or locust plagues. Well, I’ll be damned. ”
    Yeah well, I think I’ll go ahead and finish up my bucket list this week just to be on the safe side.
    “…but how many stories were submitted by black authors?”
    This is my biggest pet peeve with the race baiters. They insist on assuming that the distribution of attribute or outcome X must be distributed equally throughout the population and thus must reflect the racial makeup of the overall population (though they don’t seem to want to talk about the overrepresentation of blacks in professional sports or Asians in the STEM fields). I remember when NJ entered into a consent decree because the Clinton DOJ and ACLU said they were disproportionately pulling over black drivers for speeding on the Turnpike, again saying that since blacks were only 16% of the NJ population, the fact that they were 24% of those stopped showed racial bias. After the decree, the same percentages kept showing up, so NJ finally commissioned a proper study. They used cameras hooked to radar units and took pictures of those exceeding the speed limit by more the 15 MPH, and then used a racially diverse panel to look at the pictures to identify the race of the driver. Lo and behold, it turns out blacks were twice as likely to speed as whites and that at 90 MPH or higher, there was an even wider disparity. This refusal to acknowledge that any cultural group will have positive and negative aspects is something the SJWs simply will not give up and then they wonder why people have quit listening to the little non-binary gendered zhe/zher who cried racist.

    1. IIRC, didn’t one of the big publishers (Tor, perhaps?) accidentally release some statistics on gender in regards to submissions? To the effect that the ratio of male vs. female submitting authors was substantially male for Science Fiction, but substantially female for Fantasy? As I recall, the usual suspects threw a conniption fit because that punched a hole in their Discrimination Narrative?

  29. Larry, your two rules for authors remind me of Clausewitzs “On War”

    In War (writing) things are simple.

    1. Defeat the enemy.
    2. Win the war.

    1. Get good enough people will give you money for your stuff. (If I may paraphrase, GET PAID for a good story)
    2. Find the people who will give you money for your stuff. (If I may paraphrase, GET PAID for a good story AGAIN, build following)

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

    How to achieve part 1. Perhaps to raid and destroy his logistics chain, ok great! So, how do we go about that part? Push armored cavalry through where he’s not looking and then raid = profit and 1. Has been achieved. So sending out the cavalry to do the raid, how do you know the enemy wasn’t looking? Oh wait he was. Darn. Now you have a meeting engagement or worse you walked into an ambush on a scale from 1-100 of ouch. You may not have any armored cavalry left after that debacle.

    The 2nd part of this whole thing “2. Win the war” just got a lot tougher. The other guy wants to win just as much as you do.

    I’m a reader not a writer, don’t know that I will ever try to change that, but I always watch this dance with almost baited breath hoping that some more new guys will read your blogs and give me more good stuff to make sure they GET PAID for so I can enjoy their books. So far, it’s been working out in our (readers) favor.

    Thank you again for yet another wonderful fisking of a frak’n idiot!

    The more I’ve read about the publishing stuff the more I want to throw my hands up in horror. Dave Freer was kind enough to explain how badly so many authors get screwed by so many publishers. You’re the one with the great idea, you get it published, they keep 82.5% of the money. What DA FUQ!? Why Indie has grown so much? Yeah, itt makes more and more sense as the market changes more and more.

  30. Out of curiosity, would it be possible to include a group picture of the authors for the MHI anthology. A picture is worth a thousand words and would be more piece of truth that the haters couldn’t avoid.

    1. that would require the really difficult task of gathering 20 busy writers from around the country to one place at the same time.

      1. You could photoshop yourselves all together…and riding on the back of a giant manatee maybe? I mean, as long as we’re talking about photoshop, anything is possible.

      2. The usual way: darts, nets, helicopter slings… or in Larry’s case, an atmospheric violin piece played from the castle battlements…

  31. “Gay Peruvians Destroy Science Fiction!”

    (The editor of Lightspeed glowers at his staff)

    “Who told Correia about this? WHO???”

    1. On a number of occasions, I got Civ I to generate the message “American civilization destroyed by Liberals”.

      1. By, what, moving your only settler onto a goody hut and having it spawn eight Liberal horsemen around you?

  32. It just boggles me that it’s always more about color of their skin then actually foreign/different styles of writing, these threads occur over and over again in SF/F group threads and in the ones that always talk about reading more diverse authors but I look at their reading lists and it’s basically a carbon copy footprint of what io9 or salon reads are which is surprise almost all white Americans/Europeans.

    Then they will cry about how they need to be more diverse and I’ll try to recommend stories that are actually from non-English speakers and are really fun and often very different from what you have seen before. Just try linking them to Xianxia or Wuxia and see how much they like chinese writing when the boring poetry and dull characters are now replaced by EXTREME MURDER HOBO who is using magical martial art stuff to defeat his enemies in the most hardcore and badass ways possible. The best is when they actually do try reading it then quickly give up because it’s almost always racist/sexist in some way and my response is uhhh yeah I thought you wanted to read a story that wasn’t evil western culture.

    1. “The best is when they actually do try reading it then quickly give up because it’s almost always racist/sexist in some way and my response is uhhh yeah I thought you wanted to read a story that wasn’t evil western culture.”

      … and challenged your comfort.

      1. Most of the socjus zealots whining that we don’t challenge our comfort zones wouldn’t read Shokugeki no Soma – a cooking manga that has equal opportunity fanservice (and disservice) as a visual running gag. Iron Chef methodology of cooking school and orgasmically delicious food.

  33. I went to a diversity panel at comic-con once. I even went up and asked a question. It was essentially, “So, as a white writer, what is it you want me to do?” The answer was basically, “Write non-white characters as well-developed, real people.” And I’m like, “So… what I’m already doing?” It was kind of confusing. They mostly seemed to want to get more non-whites to write/create, and it’s not like whites can go around telling non-white people they need to be more artistic because they owe it to their ethnic representation.

    “a YA author best known for her princess adventures” Shannon Hale?

      1. Oh, cool. It’s neat to see such a variety of genre backgrounds. Still super excited for this anthology.

  34. So publishers require authors to inform them of their sex and race? Wow, that is both racist and sexist.

    1. Got an email from my work recently where they want us all to fill out an optional diversity survey where we “self-identify” gender/race/disability/etc. I’d consider messing with them, but it’s not anonymous, and they know I’m not a paraplegic Indian male veteran. Since filling out the survey would in no way help the “diversity” score of our workplace, I declined to fill it out.

  35. Yeah this push for diversity has left reality behind. How many black scientists are there? I think half of them are that Coates guy. Considering how few blacks get into science or even care about it, the lack of black Sci-Fi writers doesn’t seem mysterious to me. Do you like the way they insist on including blacks into activities they have no interest in? Apparently there is a major scandal that not enough blacks visit National Parks. My God, and you thought these things were optional activities didn’t you? Apparently if you’re black these activities are a National Crisis if you have no interest in them. I suppose they will have to find a way to force blacks to do things against their will, making this whole Civil Rights thing into a new form of slavery. Gee, the Road to Hell really is Paved with Good Intentions.

    1. I… guess not enough black kids got inspired by Geordi LaForge? Or Sisko? I thought Geordi was COOL, and since I’m only stating to watch DS9, I like Sisko the best out of the captains.

      (Janeway is me in the morning though. Must have coffee.)

      1. Sisko is my fave captain. He’s so quirky. Plus, he’s a family man, which I like. And he had to face way more complex moral questions than any of the other captains, that I can remember. Plus Jake, his son, developed into his own interesting character and became a writer, so bonus points! (Oh, um … spoiler alert?)

        1. Sisko also has the notable point in his favor of punching Q in the face when he’s had enough of his taunting and arrogance.

          1. Oh, that’s right, LOL! Also reminded me of that outtake where Q asks Sisko if he’s going to ravish him. Which was both disturbing and quite funny.

        2. I was genuinely impressed with Sisko – he had more more responsibilities with fewer resources than either of the other captains before him, and the situations were much trickier and thornier too. By the time of the Grand Finale he’s clearly operating at a senior Admiral’s level of responsibility (much like 19th Century Royal Navy captains on distant stations), and if the series hadn’t tied up the way it did, he almost certainly would have got it.

    2. I just told my daughter about the blacks-not-using-Nation-Parks scandal, and asked her what she’d think if someone told her that because Studies (TM) had shown that women are under-represented in National Park usage, she had to go to one.

      No binge-reading the Brotherband series, no Dr. Who marathon, can’t go to Jr. Lifeguard camp or spend a week building a cyborg Cosplay with her best friend. Nope: Your betters need you to represent Womyn at the National Parks. Chop. Chop.

      The look on her face was priceless: “Those people need to go jump off a cliff!”

      1. Yeah, ‘funny’ how the feminists who keep saying to other people ‘you don’t get to tell a woman what to do’ like to tell other women what they should do…

  36. To me, as a prolific reader, authors don’t have a race. They are just raised lettering blocking the cover art. While correlation does not equal causation, I’ve found that if an author makes his/her race/gender important enough for me to remember, I’ll never pick up another book by them. I read. I love to read. I sink into a book and I am free from pain and stress for a blessed few moments. A good author prolongs those moments. Be a good author.

  37. This topic always makes me think of the South Park episode about “Gay Cowboys Eating Yogurt.” It’s the one where the kids go to that snooty film festival and everyone is crying about their parody of “Brokeback Mountain.” I think that’s why people get upset about the push toward diversity. Not because of diversity per se, but because all the diversity stories that get pushed forward basically boil down to “Gay Cowboys Eating Yogurt.” Every time I see a story where there’s a “diverse” lead who is doing something exciting, and not being a Gay Cowboy Eating Yogurt, no one can be bothered to push that story forward.

    Seems pretty dreadful and I don’t see how this helps anyone in any actual way.

    On the other hand, I never conceived that one day caring genuinely about other people and who they are deep down could be turned into a dirty and shameful thing. Or that making politics and ethnicity interchangeable could be seen as the greatest good. So that’s an aspect of life I had never imagined before and wouldn’t have stumbled across on my own. Expanded horizons, I guess?

    1. This is why, for all the controversy that surrounded it, I like the way Star Trek: Beyond did the Gay Sulu Reveal. It gives us a handful of seconds in which we see that his partner is another guy. No words are said; no soapbox is mounted. Then he spends the rest of the film being Sulu again.

      1. Agreed.

        For me, the acid test about whether or not all of this was really about diversity for most people or if it’s just an excuse for social domination (or, that between the two it’s MORE about social domination) was the television show Galavant.

        White guy as the knight fallen down on his luck, Indian princess, black squire, the Queen was sexually promiscuous and unapologetic. Fantastic and hilarious show and I figured all of the people who normally harp on diversity stuff would hold it up as an example of awesomeness.

        Checked around. Not a peep.

        1. I adored Galavant, but I think the fact that it was a serial musical turned a lot of people off. I’ve found people who can swallow dragons without any trouble might have big problems with the leads breaking out into song.

          Plus, the first season took a while before it got a consistent handle on the characters. It improved greatly halfway through and the second season was so much fun. 🙂

        2. Galavant was an awesome show. Pity it’s not getting a season 3. To add to your list of the SJW checkbox items it covered it also had ‘deconstruction of the princess myth’, a gay tavern, multiple strong women, and the white male ‘patriarchy’ king was a bumbling idiot. There were probably others as well.

          But yeah, there wasn’t much touting of it as a ‘worthy’ show on any SJW front.

          1. The king (played by the very talented Timothy O.) went through quite a bit of character development, which I liked.

  38. Since I finished my fourth novel about a year ago I have concentrated on short fiction, and I have published several. Mostly in collections that pay either a nominal fee ($5 is average) or not at all. While I do think it’s worthwhile for me to give away work at this stage in my career, and have picked up new readers for my novel series that way, I would not expect a new author to be satisfied with the kind of money that the short fiction markets I’ve encountered are paying.

    The one notable exception to this has been a new magazine, Cirsova, that publishes pulp revival weird fiction and pays a per word rate. Not coincidentally, the publisher has released two quality magazines so far, is putting together the third, and he has recently temporarily closed submissions since he has stories lined up for the next two issues (at least.)

    Since I have had a number of promised collections that I submitted to fold for lack of quality stories, it seems that paying writers will get you more and better stories. Wow, who knew?

    Here’s hoping that other publishers will pick up on this model.

    1. Giving away a short story is a good way to attract readers. Wen Spencer has a chunk of my money because of a side-story to her Tinker series in a BAEN free short-story collection.

  39. Reminds me of the faculty at a local law school: they have a White Liberal, a Black Liberal, a female Liberal, an Asian Liberal, a Gay Liberal and they’re trying to decide whether to hire a Jewish Liberal or a Muslim Liberal – you know, to ensure they have Diversity in the faculty. The thought that Diversity might involve a Conservative is . . . unthinkable.

  40. And THIS is what matters.

    “The market wants to be entertained. They want to have fun. They want emotion. They want to get sucked in because they can’t put the book down and stay up way too late reading. They want rousing stories. They want heroes and villains. They want characters they can cheer for.”

    I could not care less about your F”N race. I want a good story period.

    1. To be fair, I *would* care about their race, if the author was an elf. I’d be like, “Wow, an elf living in modern America and writing military sci-fi. Sold.”

  41. just to be a devils advocate (and because that IS actualy my opinion) sometimes a story that challenges your comfort and good story are not mutually exclusive. it doesn’t need to be a lecture either. like… I do quite a few things that challenge my comfort – for fun and to expand my horizons.

    like.. I’ve been practicing watercolors in the last couple of weeks. I’m very, VERY uncomfortable with watercolors, but I love the way they look when they are well done, so I’m pushing through fear and discomfort to learn. for example. another example – stranger things is not something I would normally chose to watch – anything with elements of horror generally lies outside of my comfort zone. and yet.. it was so very VERY worth trying anyway. had I stayed inside my comfort zone, I never would have had the pleasure of that story and those characters. I mean literally, just as much as I was trying to contain freaking out – I absolutely loved how level headed Will was in those first 10 minutes of the episode one? that alone was worth pushing through discomfort of being scared.

    going outside of your comfort zone, and/or challenging readers to go outside of their comfort zone is not necessarily a bad thing on its own. it can actualy enhance a story if done well. IMO.

    1. Yeah, but “challenging the reader’s comfort zone” is SJW code for “Add some gross shit that will make them want to barf.” That’s “challenging” for them, they go right to the torture end of the sewer.

      Whereas you’re talking about adding something of value, like the real research on Dark Matter as it applies to interstellar space flight, or how to make a weapon out of two sticks and a wad of gum. Something -interesting- God forbid.

    2. I do wonder if the typical Leftist that advocates “going outside of your comfort zone” actually reads things that truly challenge their worldviews, things that honestly make them have to mentally come to the defense of what they believe.

      Some people do, and kudos to them. But that is rare.

      1. I am one of those hateful leftists (although an anti-SJW, so I am hated by both sides); can you recommend some well-written books that will legitimately challenge my worldview ? I’m not being sarcastic or anything, I’m genuinely curious.

        To give you an example of my own, I’ve really liked Cyteen. I don’t want to spoil the book too much, but still: It starts off by presenting you with a character who is almost a Complete Monster, and whose actions are revolting. Then it shows you another character, whose life you get to follow from early childhood to adulthood. You empathize with this character. You feel the character’s pain, which is a result of soul-crushing pressure. You cheer when the character finally grows up to destroy each and every person who was responsible for all that torture. Then you realize that you are cheering for type of Complete Monster who revolted you in the beginning. “Uncomfortable” doesn’t begin to describe it.

        On the other hand, I can provide a negative example as well: the graphic novel The Probability Broach (I haven’t read the original book, it may be different). It presents a Libertarian worldview, which I do not support; but it does so in such a heavy-handed way that I don’t feel challenged, just preached at. The story is fine, and the action scenes are entertaining, but the heavy-handed presentation of libertarianism leaves me totally cold.

        1. If you’re looking for books that will challenge your worldview, you could try The Road to Damascus, by John Ringo and Linda Evans. You can tell that the authors are definitely against the demonize-the-Other tactics used by the revolution in their book, but they don’t let any real-world parallels creep in — so it’s not a screed against any particular political philosophy (unless you count “whipping up fear and demonizing the enemy to justify taking political power” as a philosophy, because they definitely come down HARD against that one). Instead, it challenges you to draw the real-world parallels yourself. Which politicians remind you of the would-be dictator in that book? Which ones, if they were plunged into the setting of the novel, would be fighting for the side of freedom? And if you start evaluating real-life politicians in that light, you might find your worldview challenged.

          So since you ask, I’d recommend The Road to Damascus. You can get the ebook for $6.99 here:

          1. Awesome, thanks, I’ll check it out. FWIW, I think that Robert Heinlein (Starship Troopers, the book not the movie) and Joe Haldeman (The Forever War) may have explored similar themes; and so did Glen Cook (in pretty much the entire Black Company series); though I haven’t read The Road to Damascus yet, so I could be wrong.

        2. MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY by G.K. Chesterton; ON BLUE’S WATERS by Gene Wolfe; THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH by C.S. Lewis, for starters.

          1. Ok, I’ve got to admit: I didn’t read That Hideous Strength, because the previous two books put me into some sort of a catatonic trance. Especially the second one. You know that special effect they sometimes use in movies, where the camera focuses on a falling drop of water as time slows to a crawl and then stops ? That’s what attempting to read Perelandra felt like. It was like gazing onto a physical manifestation of absolute boredom.

            I haven’t read The Man Who Was Thursday, but I know it’s supposed to be a classic, so I probably should…

          2. Out of the Silent Planet was enough for me – it told me Lewis was a deep misanthrope who despised the wickedness of his own species so much he had come to despise the species itself. I find many fanatical dog lovers are the same; they hate people with a passion.

          3. I… um… what?

            C.S. Lewis, a misanthrope?

            I… don’t think you’re understanding his thought process correctly, here. I suggest not giving up on him after one misunderstood book. Try reading something else of his — say, The Abolition of Man, which is a book-length rant against SJWism in education (at least, the SJWism of his day, which looked a little different than it did today). A sample:

            The operation of The Green Book [the children’s textbook that started Lewis on his rant] and its kind is to produce what may be called Men without Chests. It is an outrage that they should be commonly spoken of as Intellectuals. This gives them the chance to say that he who attacks them attacks Intelligence. It is not so. They are not distinguished from other men by any unusual skill in finding truth nor any virginal ardour to pursue her. […] It is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so.

            He didn’t despise humanity in the least; it was SJWism and its adherents that he despised. Granted, there are a lot of them mixed up in humanity as a whole. But if you think that Lewis despised humanity, I think that reading some of his non-fiction will quickly cure you of that mistaken notion.

        3. Bugmaster, your question now moves us into the whole problem of message fiction- where telling a story takes second place to author tracts, anvilicious morals, and preaching.
          To properly challenge your worldview, you need to turn to the pages of history, and read it with the knowledge these people are just like you. It is far too easy for some to see the past as a bunch of silly superstitions we have outgrown, and then walk right into the exact same catastrophes they did.
          Likewise, read up on some of the classic philosophic text that underpin the US Constitution- Locke, Machiavelli, et al.

          1. I disagree with your assumption that “preachy tracts” and “nonfiction” are the only possible options. Consider Ender’s Game, for example: I think it does manage to present a specific philosophy in an effective way, without descending into the abyss of a Chick Tract.

          2. Personally, I tend to get as annoyed by obvious messaging from my side as much as from the other, so I am not the best guy to ask for good, Right/Libertarian message stories… or good Left stories for that matter.

          3. I think that Michael Flynn’s Firestar does a good job of promoting (a version of) libertarianism, as well as deprecating some leftist ideas, without being anviliciously preachy. Sadly, the sequels aren’t nearly as good as the original book (not because of any extra preachiness, mind you; they just aren’t written as well).

        4. Not so much political, but if you read the book, “The Blade Itself” and its two sequels, it really challenges the concept of what it means to be a hero (but you have to read all three for the full effect). Be prepared for a dark journey, though.

          1. Yes ! That entire First Law trilogy was amazing, but you’re absolutely right — it doesn’t work unless you’ve read all three books to the very end.

            The author also has a young adult trilogy with similar themes, which starts with Half a King; once again, you need to read to the end to get the full effect. Being a YA trilogy, though, it doesn’t quite deliver the same gut-punch as First Law.

    3. I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but in context of the other 99% of the article, where everything is the sky is falling social justice quotas, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that isn’t what she meant.

    4. Yeah, but you chose to do this. You knew what would be a challenge to *your* comfort zone, and *you* have the option of stopping it. You’re totally in control at every point. You also have the option of choosing ‘I want a nice thing that I enjoy in my comfort zone to do/read/watch today’ – ergo you get to choose what you do in your free time.

      But that’s not the same thing that’s being advocated by the SJWs hectoring for ‘challenging comfort zones.’ It’s more on the realm of “if you really supported gay people, you’d at least try to have gay sex.” (and before anyone jumps on me – I’ve actually gotten told that. Yes, I’m aware not ‘all gay people/supporters believe that’ but the fact is, there ARE people who believe that crap.)

      It’s the DEMAND to ‘challenge’ your boundaries in that fashion, with the expectation of ‘do it, like it or else you’re a bigot,’ and the insinuation that ‘minority characters aren’t written about because authors are bigots’ and we NEED TO CHANGE THAT by succumbing to pressure from the same people who focus on skin color, who you boink and what your sex organs are as the entirety of a person’s identity to include these things they focus on In An Approved Manner. And that ALL entertainment SHOULD be like this. All the time.

      Of course, it’s easy to say that ‘if they want stories like that, they should make their own,’ but the other problem is, the stuff they want generally doesn’t become box office hits, even though they might get awards. Because people don’t like being lectured about the things they do for fun. This seems to displease the SJWs, and then they blame white men, conservatives and claim bigotry is why they fail in terms of financial success, but ‘trite’ action stories and heroes like Owen are what plenty of people enjoy. So, the SJWs don’t want that the other ‘fun’ stories exist, or be given attention to.

      This isn’t to say that you can’t write novels and stories or movies and shows that have a moral or societal commentary woven into the tale. But -and this is the thing that the SJWs scolding miss – it shouldn’t get in the way of the story, the story shouldn’t be derailed by it, and it’s best brought into the story as a natural thing without the moral, observation or POV being crammed into the reader’s experience via planetary crushing force.

      A great example of this is Matthew Reilly’s Troll Mountain. It’s a heroic action story, with very well made characters and a positive theme that doesn’t need the hammering down a reader’s perspective to impart.

      1. Oh, and on that thing where people need to be challenged? I call bullshit. Because apparently that challenge should only ever go in one direction? Don’t believe me? Go read all the one star reviews on Audible of Tom Stranger. 😀

        (luckily, the five stars outnumber the one stars by about 20/1. But the one stars are so hilarious they demanded a customer service response panel –

        1. During the big “don’t read white men for a year” thing someone was getting into it with MZW on some comment stream somewhere and insisting, absolutely insisting that people should read things that challenged their comfort zones. I told her that if that was the case that *she* should read *his* books. Because we all have different comfort zones.

          But that clearly wasn’t the point… the point was that *you*, not her, not them, but *you* should be made to read books that you don’t like and have no interest in reading.

        2. Yeah, I also call bullshit. Because usually, I find that the kind of ‘challenge comfort’ crap that I’m being told I need to open my mind to is shit that makes me want to go Dexter.

          Like this:



          1. The hilarious thing is that when people started speaking out about how normalizing homosexuality would lead to normalizing pedophilia next, people were all, “Slippery slope fallacy! Of course that won’t happen! You’re being so ridiculous I can’t even talk to you!”


          2. Yeah. Even those of us who were entirely reasonable in our arguments were -and still are – shouted down.

            Hell, just look at the reaction Established Gatekeepers and Fandom had about Marion Zimmer Bradley being an abusive incestuous pedophile: Rally around the pedo, kick victims in front of bus. Anti-Gamergate reacted the same way with Sarah Butts and similar others. There’s a similar thing going on in Korea right now:
            Hat tip to Dr. Mauser for the link.

            The incident started with a voice actor for a Korean Online game called Closers posting a T-shirt she bought.

            The shirt only says “Girls don’t need a prince” which, by itself, doesn’t seem like a problem.

            The problem lay with the creators of the T shirt, a website called Megalia.The problem lay with the creators of the T shirt, a website called Megalia.

            Megalia is a feminazi website that is pretty much universally hated on the Korean internets. Their purpose on the website actually said at one point “promoting misandry and female supremacy.”

            Examples of incidents they caused include spread of child pornography they produced with a little boy, celebrating the Korean War because so many men died, kindergarten teacher admitting that she was a pedophile (actively saying that she wants to fuck the little kids), filming the men’s changing rooms/restrooms, poisoning their male bosses, sharing pics of mutilated penises, falsely accusing a webtoon author as a rapist, harassing many male authors in the industry etc. etc. etc. There’s pretty much someone getting arrested weekly. (And yes. In Korea, you could sue someone online for the things they said and done online, even if it’s anonymous)

            The said T shirt was created to fund legal costs for people who have been sued for their crimes on the website. Biggest one being covering the legal costs for the woman who falsely accused that one author of being a rapist.

            So those of us who have seen crap like that have a darned good reason to be against the socjus zealots’ moral whipping and calls for ‘expanding our comfort zones’ – it’s because we see it in advocacies that push for the legalization f incest, and pedophilia.

  42. Writers throughout history have made up biographical information for the sake of book sales. Men pretend to be women, women pretend to be men, ages, background information all of it changes. A lot of writers write under a different name for each genre they work in. Then there the whole ghost writing issue.

    As a black person this is a non-issue for me with one big exception. There are writers I love whose works I will never get to enjoy because they are written in another name.

      1. Which is kind of unfortunate. I, as an occasional romance reader, would be interested in reading romance written by a man. I mean, men are one half of the usual romance equation, so it seems like sometimes getting their perspective on it could be interesting.

        1. For romance? I think that you might sell romances written with a studly male name just because some women are curious but the culture is really strongly a “girls” thing. There used to be men who published romance with male names but I’d guess that the closest anyone gets these days is a somewhat ambiguous pen name.

          But stuff goes in cycles. I think when I started reading romances (I remember one specifically written by a man, supposedly) they were all single POV and the reader, just like the heroine, never actually knew what the romantic hero was thinking or feeling. Now it’s equal time in the male POV. I’ve seen quite a few now from first person which to me is just odd and I’ve had trouble getting into the story.

          But who knows, it might be the next best big thing. Women readers might decide that reading romances written by men lends extra legitimacy to their romantic fantasies.

          Oh right… Fabio published some romances he supposedly wrote. I’ve never read any of them though.

          1. My favorite romance author spends equal time in both the male protagonist and the female protagonist’s heads, describing to the reader their emotions and thoughts. She just published her 100th book.

            Another romance series I read was actually recommended to me by a very hetero male friend of mine, because he loved the character interactions. “She shot him!” Since he’s the guy who got me into reading Dresden Files, well… how could I resist?

          2. Was it The Devil’s Cub? Because that’s the first romance I read, because it was recommended by my male cousin, and I’m pretty sure that happens in that book (been a while now since I read it).

            Maybe this is the trick to getting more guys to read romance: have one of the couple shoot the other.

  43. I’ve been noticing that the POC is under-represented in the Pokemon Go craze. I think we should all redouble our efforts in getting more POC involved in Pokemon Go, even though the pay sucks.

    1. You don’t encounter many non-white geocachers, either. I’ve been caching for years and been to dozens of events (including mega events with hundreds of cachers) and have met maybe three.

  44. On my Kindle, everyone is black. And Helvetica.

    My family has branches in all the major races and most of us are multiracial, but increasingly the less I identify with whites the more I sympathize with them because of all the constant incitement. Whites gifted us all with modern civilization, they just did, everyone else’s contributions were relatively minor. You can find all sorts of fault with how whites have behaved historically, but let’s face it, nearly everyone else was worse. Whether you are grateful to or resentful of whites has a lot more to do with you than them.

    But civilization is really the enemy of the racial inciters, not whites or men or Christians or the “cisgendered” or whoever is the oppressor du jour. They want to take by force what they cannot have by merit. The song of savagery changes its lyrics now and then, and sometimes it’s even pretty or eloquent, but the beat is always the same.

    1. +1 just for that opening sentence. “On my Kindle, everyone is black. And Helvetica.” I’m going to borrow that one, if you don’t mind.

  45. Wait, what ethnicity is Owen Z. Pitt again? I honestly don’t remember. I love the MHI books, but I couldn’t tell you the ethnicity of any of the main cast from memory. Unless it’s a specific plot point for some reason that kind of thing just doesn’t stick with me.

    Likewise, I don’t know the author’s ethnicity (or gender for that matter, the prevalence of psuodonyms in publishing being what it is). This oversight never impaired my enjoyment of the MHI books in any way. Cool cover, interesting blurb, great hook, strong characters, and “can’t put this down, up way too late, still thinking about it days later” engrossing plots… Yeah, those contribute to my enjoyment (and thus my continued contribution of funds to purchase said books).

    So yeah, I haven’t the slightest clue what diversity check blocks my favorite authors meet. How many of them are black? No idea. Which is kind of the point, isn’t it? SJW types are quick to claim that everyone is subconsciously biased against minorities, but how is that supposed to impact my purchasing decisions when I don’t actually know anything about the author?

    Publishers ultimately care what sells, full stop, or they go out of business. If a thousand pages of the word “placeholder” could move a million copies, that author would get published, regardless of race, gender, etc. The “who”and “what”of author/publisher/reader are all irrelevant because the only truly relevant factors are:

    Author: what was written
    Publisher: money it made
    Reader: the experience it provided

    End of story, tyranny of consumer demand and all that. If someone thinks an author must be black to write a good story they can enjoy… Well that’s racist, but they can vote with their money like anyone else. Niche markets will serve any demand that pays the bills, but they won’t ever break out of that niche if their quality can’t compete.

    If they think someone needs to be the same x whatever as their audience for it to “speak to them”, that’s an ism too… and obviously irrelevant when applied to a field where many of the main characters aren’t even human. I’ve enjoyed badass sci-fi where half the characters are non-bipedal vacuum-native non-gendered things that communicate by scent and found them relatable.

    If the author can’t effectively write characters that aren’t themselves, then they can’t write effectively at all. If they can, than what does it matter which characters they share traits with or not? Whether a given character is “easy” or “authentic” for the author to write isn’t relevant, only the quality of the final product matters. This isn’t the field of biography or anthropology, it’s fiction, written to entertain! It entertains or it doesn’t. If it does, it will sell.

    1. When Owen talks about it, he says he checks the Other box. The culture he grew up in was “military brat”. His dad is a Pacific Islander (Auhangamea). His mom is Czech/Serb.

      1. One could argue that once you are the third or fourth in a line of voluntarily serving soldiers, you qualify as “Proud Warrior Race Guy/Gal” regardless of the ethnicity of your parentage.

    1. I know, right? People should make Larry mildly pissed off more often, that’s when he lets things slip.

          1. Okay, so not for as long as I thought. Just seems longer because I heard about it at a book signing what seems like ages ago.

  46. All black people have to become Sci-Fi authors now even if they’d rather be engineers or teachers or sports icons or President of the United States, just so we can feel better about the diversity of the authors of the books we read. How unfortunate. I remember hearing a comedian talking about why there are so few black people in the Winter Olympics (after one of these social justice rants came out) and it came down to the Winter Olympics being COLD.

    If all Black people don’t want to be authors or more particularly sci-fi authors, we should accept that. When some do, more power to them. They’re doing what they want to do. Whenever these topics come up, I feel bad for whatever minority group is being forced to do something they don’t want to do to make SJWs feel better about themselves. I didn’t know what any of my favorite authors looked like until I started attending cons and seeing them in person, and I still don’t buy books based on that.

    Larry mentioned this in the beginning of the article, but went a different way with the rest of it. They actually have no idea how many black authors are trying to submit short fiction let alone short sci-fi fiction to know if the percentages are skewed or not. It’s crazy they think they can writing an article spewing out data to back themselves up when they’re missing most of the data.

    I love reading your articles, Larry. Almost as much as I love reading your books.

    1. I figured Chris Nuttall did a good job picking apart all the reasons their stats were questionable already. I wanted to hit it from a different angle this time.

  47. The only SF magazines I ever see on the magazine/newsstand section (in the few stories that still bother to have such) are Analog, Asimov’s, and rarely “The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy”.

    I hardly ever see anyone flip through them, let alone buy a copy. I wonder if they actually make a profit or are considered “Loss Leaders” by the publishers?

    1. My understanding is (from listening to editors on panels) is that Analog & IASFM both break even but that’s about it. So long as they are not a major drain on resources, Dell Publishing is content to keep them going, tho both publications have had to make some changes to keep afloat.

      F&SF has been rumored to be on death’s door now for about a decade. Its basically an independent magazine, not owned by any publishing firm except itself. I heard somewhere that their print edition is now down to less than 10k copies an issue, and declining. But despite all of that, it still somehow manages to chug along. How long is anybody’s guess.

      E-book editions have helped all three titles; F&SF may even be selling more electronic editions than print editions.

      The only other “major” magazines I’m aware of are Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Galaxy’s Edge, all of which are primarily electronic publications (tho print copies do exist for some of them). No idea what their profit margins are like. They seem to pay at least decent-ish for short stories, so probably they are doing well enough to keep going for the foreseeable future.

      1. Some of the others are Nightmare, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Fireside (the ones wringing their hands over this), Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, the Escape Artists podcasts, Uncanny, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Interzone, Daily Science Fiction, Nature Futures, and Shimmer. This just from a quick perusal of my spreadsheet of markets I consider pro-paying (though I actually have no idea what Interzone pays and Shimmer is a penny a word under SFWA’s lower limit for “qualifying”). There are a bunch of new ones on the scene as well. They’re all online, though, because magazine-rack short fiction has basically gone the way of the dodo with the exception of the Big Three.

        I don’t know what kind of readership they get, but they pay well, have been around awhile, and are all on my bucket list (with the exception of Nature Futures because I just don’t write flash hard SF). If you dig further into the well, there are dozens of semi-pros. I’ve got one poor story with over 50 rejections, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of those that would have paid less than a penny a word.

        1. I was basically using publications that issue dead tree editions as my benchmark, since the original post was about magazines at newsstands. I know there are a lot of electronic publications these days; I was even aware of some of the ones you mentioned. But frankly, I doubt anyone outside of fandom are even aware of them. Analog, IASFM, F&SF, and sometimes Clarkesworld are at least available at Barnes & Noble (I’ve only ever seen Galaxy’s Edge and Lightspeed at convention dealer rooms), so they stand a chance of reaching the general public.

          Forgot about Interzone; I think they still do hard copy editions. Does anyone know if Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine is still publishing, or did they change their name out of shame?

          1. Does anyone know if Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine is still publishing

            The magazine died when she did. I think they finished whatever they had in the pipe but that was it. She left a trust to continue the “Sword & Sorceress” anthology series which I believe is now self supporting (at least the volume that has one of my stories has earned out and is paying royalties).

  48. Plus, here’s a fact: I sometimes work as an assistant editor. None of the submissions contain any info on the author’s skin pigmentation, ethnicity, etc.

    No information at ALL on those details.

    Frankly, I think a magazine that -did- demand that information would be looked at as creepy and a non-starter. <_<

  49. > Hell, lots of them are biased against anybody who didn’t drive their Prius with a Berkley Alumni sticker on

    My Prius gets 55 mpg while driving 79 mph, because I have the radar cruise control set to exactly 79 mph to avoid speeding tickets. I drive about 60 miles per day, so when I get bored, I turn off the radar and try to optimize power usage by looking through the HUD. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

    Besides, not all of us can be highly successful authors, some of us really do need to save money on gas.

    1. I doubt if you’ll run right out and sell your current Prius, but if your goal is to save money, you might want to think about something before buying your next car.

      Since your trip is 60 miles a day, just to make the math easier, lets say you use 1 gallon of gas a day in your Prius. According to Toyota, a slightly larger (passenger volume) Corolla gets about 75% of what a Prius gets in mileage, which means a Corolla would use about 1 1/3 gallons a day. Over the course of a month, driving the Prius would save you 10 gallons of gas over driving a Corolla, at about (around here) $2.20 a gallon for a monthly gas savings of $22.

      Looking at a local dealer’s website, a Prius costs about $25K to purchase, while the slightly larger Corolla costs about $19K. If you look at the cost of financing the entirety of the cost of each car over a five year period, the monthly payments for a Prius would be about $100 more than that of a Corolla, even at 1% interest.

      This means the monthly cost of the Prius would be about $80 more than a Corolla after taking into account the gas savings.

      Even if you ignore the cost of financing, and say you’re paying cash, at a savings of $22 a month in gas, it would take 272 months (22 years) to make up the $6K cost difference between the Prius and Corolla. Of course, by then your Prius would have almost 500,000 miles on its odometer.

      1. My response when someone *cough* Obama *cough* suggested that people with older cars complain about high gas prices (back when it was near $5/gallon) should get a more fuel efficient vehicle: “You can buy a lot of gas, even at these prices, for the cost of a newer car. If one is a problem, how is the other not?”

          1. You obviously don’t make them based on financial considerations either, despite your previous claim.

      2. Oh, you’re absolutely right about the mileage, but my goal is not just to have good mileage, but also to drive a sweet-ass car. I can’t afford a Tesla (nor can I take it to the mountains, really), so the Prius is a good compromise. There’s nothing wrong with the Corolla, but it still feels too much like a car, and not enough like a spaceship.

        1. If you are talking Corollas and Priuses as “sweet-ass cars” I’m thinking we are going to have a failure of communication at a very fundamental level. 😀

          1. Corollas no, Priuses yes. When I’m driving, I don’t want to feel like I’m wrestling a wild beast; I want to feel like I’m piloting a spaceship. Or, better yet, a mecha. YMMV, of course.

          2. I want to feel like I’m driving something that you pick mecha out of the grille like bees. And I do. F250 crew cab.

            It eats Priuses in the supermarket lot if they park too close.

          3. I’ve got a Juke, and I love it. Super fun and sporty, and it responds great. And I can park it super easily! While the big truck’s still figuring out how to signal to back into that space, I’ve already zipped in and taken it. (Yes, that happened once. Yes, it was an accident. He honestly hadn’t started signaling his intent by the time I pulled into the space, so I didn’t know until after I’d already parked.) I actually don’t like the idea of driving a huge vehicle now because I feel like I can’t see enough of the road around me.

    2. You forget that I drive a whole bunch of rental cars every year. Yep. Tried a Prius. Not impressed.

      And there is nowhere in Manhattan where you can go 79 MPH. 🙂

      1. This may be a touchy question but… might your size make a difference with car driving experiences?

        (I sometimes have trouble seeing over the blessed steering wheel.)

        1. I dunno about Larry but it took me and my hubby a long time to find a car where I could reach the pedals AND see over the dashboard and wheel. We thought I could fit into those little Mazdas and little zoomie cars, but no. The seats and legroom in those are sized for people at least a foot taller than I, minimum. (I’m 4’7″.) Housemate says that he’d still love to see me in a Peel Trident. If one is ever bought for me, there are plans by him AND my husband in place so that it will make the Jetsons spacecar sound as it diddlybops down the road.

          1. 1. Wow, you’re tiny. (Not a criticism. Awesome people come in all sizes.)
            2. I think a person’s size does make a difference in what sort of vehicle they like, though not always.
            3. I love that Jetsons sound idea. That would be amazing.

          2. My dear, my height-and my lack of it- is something nobody can ever insult me about. I regularly make fun of my chibiness. So never worry about saying I’m tiny being taken wrong by me. It’s a statement of fact! Here’s the rub: I’ve actually shrunk. I used to be 4’8″ and 3/4 (or 1/2) inches. I actually wrote a post about my husband having to shorten a table for me yesterday. “I NEED A TALL PERSON PLEASE” is a shout I’ll often make. ^_^

            It does limit me though on what cars I can use. We used to joke about duct taping corned beef cans to the pedals and duct taping cushions to the car seat if I was ever to drive. (Minnie May Modifications – Gunsmith Cats reference) and I’ve more than once expressed sadness that I could never drive a four wheeler pick up truck like I want (hauling capacity, yay!)

            I do have a car, which I’m learning to drive with. Slowly. I fits! ^o^

            On the flip side, my husband once described seeing a teeny little car -a Suzuki Alto I think?- pull into a parking space outside a shopping mall, and watched as a really really tall guy come out of it. He said the man must’ve been more than 6 feet tall.

            Housemate says the Peel Trident will have racing stripes and flames too, to complete the image. My only stipulation is that it must be candy apple red and have air conditioning.

          3. Yes, exactly! If you’re short, own it. (I have a short co-worker who expresses the same attitude. ) There are down sides to being tall, too, so we should all just be comfortable with whatever height we were given. That’s why I got so annoyed with this episode of Girl Meets World (which is a terrible Disney Channel show) where the two girl friends had a big fight because someone said one of them was short and the other didn’t come to her defense, despite the fact that saying she was short was a simple statement of fact (and wasn’t even meant as an insult by the person saying it). It’s like, how can your friend defend you against a statement of fact, and why should she?

            It’s really funny to hear you say “really really tall guy” and then “more than 6 feet tall”. *All* the men in my family (not counting the married-ins) and at least one of the women are more than 6 feet tall. LOL. To me, 6 feet is average for a man. I guess it’s all relative, huh?

            Sometimes I see some pretty big people sitting in smart cars. I assume they’re more comfortable on the inside than they look on the outside.

          4. If you’ve seen Toradora! the height difference between me and Rhys is the difference between Taiga and Ryuuji.

            A few days ago Rhys and I saw a big burly biker-type dude, shades, tats and all, in a girly pink smart car with pink hubcaps (We think it was either his wife’s or his daughter’s car and he was driving it to get it fixed). So yeah, I guess they’re really roomy inside. I can’t drive one ‘coz my feet don’t reach the pedals.

            Speaking of owning personal quirky things: Housemate recounted to me once that there’s a guy of similar description who drives around in a car that has Hatsune Miku painted onto it, and decorated with more decals somewhere in South Australia. Its the dude’s car – Housemate saw him get out of the car and he wore a Miku shirt. Both of us thought it was awesome.

          5. To be fair, in manga, it seems like most men are drawn at least a full head taller than most women. I don’t know about Japan, but that doesn’t seem like the normal average height difference in real life.
            One of my favorite mangas is Love Com, where the basic premise involves a (freakishly, by Japanese standards) tall girl dating a very short boy. Another one I love, Library Wars, has the girl who is bit taller than her love interest (though this isn’t a major plot point). As a fairly tall woman who has no problem with short guys, I enjoy seeing stories where the woman is taller. (For one thing, it’s very easy as a tall woman to become self-conscious about your height when all of media pretty much always shows men as taller than their women, thus implicitly equating shortness with feminine desirability. So it’s nice to see stories that refute that implication.)

          6. Huh. I’d never looked at it that way. I always thought it was equating *tallness* (it’s a word because I say so *grin*) with *masculine* desirability. As in “tall, dark, and handsome” and “tall drink of water” and so on. It’s kinda foolish of me, I suppose, but I hadn’t really thought about women feeling insecure about being too tall before… But then, when the “ideal” is supposedly for a man to be tall, then it naturally follows that men will be disinclined (on average) to even approach women who are taller than they are, because rejection seems to be an inevitability in such a scenario, judging by society (and the media’s) portrayal of such things. But that’s a separate question, isn’t it? I’ve wandered down a rabbit trail… We’re not talking about people who are attracted to a taller person Bute decline to pursue that attraction because of insecurity, we’re talking about people (specifically, men) finding “above average” height to be an unattractive trait *in and of itself*. Right? Or am I way off base? I *do* tend to ramble, don’t I? Wow. ANYway, I guess I’m just trying to clarify my meaning (and failing miserably)…
            What I mean is, “I learned something new today. Thank you! I had only ever heard of *men* being considered unattractive because of a *deficiency* in physical stature; I hadn’t realized that *women* might be considered *less* attractive because of a *surplus* of height. That actually kind of makes me feel better, as a person of average height!” Lol. I’ll stop now. *sheepish expression*
            God bless! 🙂

          7. Bibliotheca Servare got there before me, but I was going to mention that the research I’ve seen (can’t remember where or I’d link it) shows that men tend to consider tall women attractive more often than women consider short men attractive. Which means that it’s not so much that the average man will be put off by dating a woman taller than he is, as that the average woman will be put off by dating a man shorter than she is. And therefore, the “tall man, shorter woman” thing that’s typical in media is so because it does reflect the most common pairing — but on average, this is more often because the woman wanted it that way, wanting a partner that she can literally look up to.

            These are, of course, averages, and a tall woman like yourself will get some people who are put off by her height. But I think that overall, that research is good news for you: I think you’ll find that since you’re not put off by the idea of dating a shorter guy, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a guy who finds your height attractive.

  50. Is The Fifth Season any good ? I don’t care about the author’s politics (unless they leak heavily into his work), I just care about the book. I was considering picking it up, but my free time is limited, so…

  51. “Ashok Vadal, not white.”

    Ha, I just finished this yesterday, it was AWESOME, I was entertained!

    But somehow until you pointed it out just now, I forgot to notice Ashok (and everyone else in it) wasn’t white. Ooops, silly me!

  52. This is so stupid because blacks read a lot, but it’s NOT SCIENCE FICTION. There are plenty of black people churning out the stuff black people want to read. Inspirational religious stuff, self-help, romance, and sports bios. None of that is sci-fi. Blacks who like sci-fi watch it or read manga.

    1. Yeah but ‘they don’t count’ because those blacks *pretends to be SJW whining* “aren’t reading OUR super important artiste stuff instead of crappy mangas like they’re SUPPOSED TO!!!” *insert image of ranting tantrum here.*

      In SJW land, the stuff that people want to read is the ‘wrong stuff’ thus doesn’t count as reading. ‘So there’s nobody who’s minority and writing and this needs to be fixed.’

  53. There are of course, exceptions, I’m just talking about the genres that a black person wanting to GET PAID will be likely to GET PAID in focusing on a heavily black audience.

    And if you’re black and want to GET PAID not writing for a black audience, you can write novel-length in other genres and include black characters and do a lot better than with sci-fi shorts.

  54. You know … if a white person never appeared on BET, I really believe that the overwhelming majority of whites wouldn’t mind or notice. Of course, how many buildings would be looted and cars torched if that went public …

  55. How about this: Juan Rico, protagonist of Starship Troopers is NOT Hispanic. Heinlein hides the ball until almost the very end, when Juan drops casually in conversation that his native language is Tagalog.

    I loved that little reveal, because it skews an assumption you’ve probably been making about the character, causing you to redraw his portrait in your head. The fact that it’s mere pages before the book ends really drives home the point of how superficial these things are.

  56. Yes, your logic is sound, Larry; however, logic, as well as evidence and reason, have been shown to be instruments of western cultural oppression. QED, we’re wrong, they’re right, and we must be shouted down and tolerantly excluded.

  57. Is there *any* way to see every complete comment instead of having to click-and-wait through “read more” and back again?

    1. I find that on a desktop computer I see all the comments without having to click on anything. On mobile devices I have to click on a prompt. I think it has to do with advertising revenue. Each click shows people are actually reading it and seeing advertisements so that’s more money for someone. For example right now I’m looking at a facebook, google, twitter and wordpress icons while typing this and I doubt they got those icons on the page for free. I’m fine with all the advertisement because there no such thing as a free lunch and the advertising on this page is very unobtrustive.

      1. I find that on a desktop computer I see all the comments without having to click on anything…

        Not me. Any comment long enough — and yours qualified, by a few words — gets the “Read more” link. And, more annoyingly, gets ALL HTML stripped, including paragraph tags. So it shows up as word soup instead of proper paragraphs. Highly annoying.

        1. Any comment long enough — and yours qualified, by a few words — gets the “Read more” link

          Same here. OTOH, the notifications problem I had previously with my main email account is fixed.

        2. I did a word count. The “Read More” link shows up after the first 100 words in any comment. If you keep your comment under 100 words, the whole comment will be displayed.

    2. It’s a balancing act and at the end of the day somebody is going to be unhappy no matter what, so we have to look at what’s going to displease the fewest number of readers. People want faster load times and complain when the site gets bogged down, so we put in the feature where comments over 100 words get tagged with Read More. No one has been complaining about load times lately so I’m going to call that a win.
      Oh- and as Larry mentioned down thread, this site is ad free except for the listing of Larry’s books on the side- and those are completely optional. I had mentioned to Larry a while back the revenue potential of a site as popular as this and he said he’d rather pay it out of pocket and just let people have the option of showing support by buying books from his Amazon Links…

      1. I like it actually. That way the page doesn’t take ages to load. The read more doesn’t affect formatting for me when it’s expanded, but I use a desktop or laptop to read. I’m not sure what it’s like for folks who use a tablet or phone to peruse the comments. But I remember the self-defense posts comment count; I wonder if that means we could try to read the original posts.

        By the way, Jack… I sent you an email some time (a few months?) ago, replying to an email sent. Did you get it? (Coz I’m worried it might have ended up in junk mail or spam.)

        1. I actually like it better too. Yeah, would be nice if it kept the formatting even in the shortened version, but it makes the overall flow of the page much quicker.

  58. Where’s James May these days? Seriously. I miss his incandescent comments. Often informative, always interesting.

    1. Recalling what really seemed to get him incensed, I would speculate that a certain personage of some notoriety makes the third wave inter-sectional feminists look like small potatoes.

      1. Maybe I’m just slow, but…what? What personage, and if they make the “intersectional feminists” look like small potatoes, why does that mean he (James May) wouldn’t be commenting here? *puzzled look* Help?

        1. I was trying to be tactful for any Trump fans here. May/Burton’s deal was that third wave feminism in Sci Fi was the most prominent and accepted of the groups he was aware of that were mainstreaming hatred based on biological differences. If his focus was purely based on the behavior of others, other people changing their behavior would change his focus.

  59. I don’t have to identify with a character in a story, but I do have to be able to empathize with at least one (preferably the protagonist). That doesn’t require the author to be the same hue as me (or the same sex/gender/orientation/religion/whatever). There are experiences, emotions, moral quandaries, and a host of other things that are universal, and if you’re a good enough writer to present those to me and get me to care about the character, you’ve got yourself a reader. If you can’t, then it doesn’t matter what color you are.

    1. I think you have a point – it’s not identification with the protagonist that’s important, it’s sympathy for the protagonist that is important, because that’s what makes you care about the protagonist and his struggles.

      Identify with is another one of those motte-and-bailey weasel-words, isn’t it…

      As far as having no sympathy for the protagonist, though, I can’t decide what is worse for the author – a protagonist to whom the reader is indifferent or a protagonist who the reader wishes would die in a fire.

      1. One has to have reasons to care, whether to hope the heroes succeed, hope the villains fail, or ideally both.

        Very, very rarely someone’s command of language or intricacies of plot can hold my attention when the characters are otherwise bland, but even that doesn’t see me through when the characters are actively off-putting (whether by being repugnant, or just by feeling more like plot devices than characters).

      2. I totally agree, but I think maybe “empathize” works even better, no? It really cuts to the heart of what people who say they “can’t identify” with a character who doesn’t share their race, or sex, etc are saying. They’re saying that they are *incapable* of feeling *basic empathy* for another human being (fictional or otherwise) who is not essentially a replica of themselves. They’re publicly admitting that they are sociopaths. And they’re *proud* of it! Gee suss Key riced! (Say it out loud)…
        God help them.

    2. This, times 1,000! The “there were no female (or black, or muslim, or hispanic, or trigglypuff, etc) Jedi in Star Wars, so my childhood was *ruined*!1!” -people really frighten me. I mean how much of a sociopathic monster must you be to be *incapable* of emotionally identifying with a character who doesn’t share your sex, or ethnicity, etc? It’s sick! *deep breaths* Yeah…it’s a pet peeve of mine. Like…you can’t “identify” or empathize with *Sam* from LoTR because he’s not human? Or Scout, from “To Kill A Mockingbird” because she’s white/female? What’s *wrong* with you?! *more slow, deep breathing* Alright, I’m finished. *steps off soapbox* *sits down*

      1. Or identify with a Bolo from either one of Laumer’s novels or one of the ones written by others after his death? Last time I checked I’m not a huge AI-controlled armored vehicle with firepower measured in megatons per second, but I’ve definitely empathized with them in some of those stories.

  60. “In reality the short fiction market is a good place to get started because it is easier to finish a 5,000 word piece than a 100,000 word novel.”

    Well, that depends. I was among the many writers who did indeed find it that way. But there are others who don’t. Who find working in miniature harder than the big picture. (Not to mention the skills are subtly different. Learning to write one is the closest thing to learning to write the other, but it’s not the same.)

    So if you find keeping it small impossible, you are not alone!

    1. It is most definitely a different skill set. I’ve had bestselling authors tell me “I envy your ability to write short,” while I just stare in befuddlement because I envy their ability to write long. :p

      1. My “natural length” is the noveletted to novella. Most of the stories I’ve written tend to fall in the 12-20,000 word range. Which is deuced awkward since that’s probably the range with the fewest paying markets out there.

        So I’ve been working on writing longer, just finished and getting ready to release my longest and most complex piece yet based on my daughter saying to me: “You know, someone should write Godzilla vs. Cthulhu.” 😉

        1. Of course, if that’s just the length they fall in, you can published them yourself. Either individually or as a sort of Ace Double.

          I’ve in fact done both. I note that the collection Treachery and Spells sells better than either of its components, but some people do want to buy one stand alone.

      2. I tend to write long. The longest single fiction piece I’ve written is around 300k. When I set out to write short stories, I so far have mostly ended up with novelettes (and a couple that are right near the upper limit for short stories). This is probably because I’m just terrible at estimating anything, especially if it involves numbers.

    1. There’s a word for people who put skin color and ethnicity ahead of everything else.

      It’s not a nice word.

        1. Nice article.
          I’m reminded of the recent uproar on Twitter over the Great Wall movie. A Chinese movie company making a -fantasy- flick about monsters cast Matt Damon as the lead. This is now racism.

          But when a black actor was cast as Johnny Storm in the FF movie, anybody who said anything about it was a racist.

          Interesting that a white woman being cast as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange, thereby depriving an elderly Asian gentleman of a job, is -not- racism.

          I think the appropriate response to all this is Sad Puppies. Get in their faces and make them own all the crap they say, all the time.

          1. If they wanted to genderbend the Ancient One, with an old Asian actress I would have liked it to be for the reason of the acting capabilities of the person chosen. But no, instead the actress whose most memorable role for me was playing Gabriel in the Constantine movie. (And I could understand the androgyny there because angels have no gender.)

            I couldn’t watch the FF movie because I had problems getting past their having Johnny as black, while keeping Susan white. Sure, blended families (families with children from previous relationships) and mixed ethnicity families exist (I’m the mom of one such) so mixed ethnicity siblings are entirely plausible. No, it’s just the fact that a familiar character, from a comic series I used to read, and thus have a fixed image of, having such a disparate image on screen, kept throwing me out of the mental mode of ‘I want to sit and watch this movie.’ (The reader equivalent is being able to suspend disbelief.)

            I’m still going to watch Dr. Strange because I’m a Cumberbatch fan, and the Great Wall movie sounds like it could be fun. (I enjoyed 47 Ronin. But then, I like Keanu Reeves and thought that movie was fun.) FF however, kept me from watching it from just seeing posters, which is a shame.

          2. What’s funny is that the whitewashing of the Ancient One was done to appease Asians — namely, the Chinese government, who apparently can’t tolerate a depiction of a powerful Tibetan on film.

          3. So, if that’s true, it’s okay to whitewash a character to appease the Chinese government’s political intolerance, but NOT okay for Chinese filmmakers to cast a white man in a fantasy movie.

            So, it’s okay to have other governments tell the AMERICAN film industry what to do.


          4. Wow. Hollywood does what the Chicoms say now? When did that happen?

            My point was the silence of the SJWs on the ‘whitewashing’ of a properly Asian character is convenient for them. They get to decide and we all get to shut up, right? I don’t think so.

          5. Re: China and Hollywood

            My guess would be it’s because China’s getting to be such a big market for films. Films that the Chinese government doesn’t let play in China are unlikely to do as well over all, and some movies can’t afford to risk the loss.

            (I agree that it’s dumb, but that may be their reasoning.)

          6. I remember reading about how there s a phenomenon there in China about ‘mobile phone writer millionaires’. There are people who write subscription-access serial stories, very much indie as subscribers pay directly to author, for chapter releases/download links, which are read on mobile phones or tablets. Successful writers with enough fans can make bank to the point they never need to worry about working ever again. One author, described as writing superhero he-man action stories, has such a huge fanbase that he’s a multimillionaire.

            I wish we had similar options for ‘net publishing the way they do in China, Korea and Japan.

          7. The Chinese have also been buying up US theaters such as AMC and Carmike. That’s over 8000 screens at almost 100 locations across the US. If you want to show a movie in the US, you may have to do what the CHICOMS want.

            Why our government lets the Chinese buy up such a big propaganda tool is beyond stupid to me.

          8. Since China became a huge source of film financing and digital production services.

          9. You did not miss anything by skipping FF. The Johnny Storm casting was not the dumbest thing in it. Susan Storm was adopted, their father was the Big Brain who invented the Cool Thing. Reed Richards turned out to be a side character nerd of fairly low moral fiber. Ben Grimm was not done well either, although the guy who played him tried hard.

            Arguably the dumbest thing was their treatment of Victor Von Doom. A monument of fail.

          10. You may be listening to the wrong people. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from that crew about the “white washing of the Ancient One”. And they’re griping about Danny Rand not being Asian in the upcoming Iron Fist despite not being Asian in the comics. And about Scarlett Johansen playing The Major in Ghost in the Shell. And celebrating that the cast of the live action Full Metal Alchemist are Japanese despite the fact that a blonde kid named Edward probably isn’t Asian…

          11. I’m probably one of the people who think Scarlett Johansen can pull off a perfectly good Motoko Kusanagi. She rather resembles the character from some of the 3D CGIs I’ve seen made of the Major. I also think she can carry off the ‘tude.

          12. According to reports I’ve seen (like, actual Japanese people interviewed on the street), many in Japan are quite delighted at her being cast in Ghost in the Shell, pointing out how beautiful she is and how having such a big star attached is sure to add prestige to the adaptation.

          13. Aren’t half the characters of Ghost in the Shell supposed to be American or European? I saw it a while ago, I remember lots of blond haired cartoon people.

            Doesn’t matter really, the SJWs will make up shit to complain about if necessary, as they did in the ‘study’ this fisk is about.

          14. IIRC, Togusa is the only one without a military background. He’s a plainclothes policeman.

    2. In Nora’s defense, there are crazier people that worry me more. I’ve never read any of her books, and I’m not persuaded by her model of the industry’s future.

      Why should I worry about what she thinks? There is Xianxia I could be reading. There’s this one guy I’m hoping will soon get down to the business of murdering the folks who maimed his father in a murder attempt.

      Yeah, yeah, the political situation is terrible, and she is a part of that. A tiny, tiny part. Yeah, maybe we should have pulled up trouble by the roots many years ago. We need to be planning for the future, and I’m not going to convince people in my area of anything by bitching about her.

      1. “Why should I worry about what she thinks?”

        Because there’s a whole little industry of idiots trying to make sure that the only stuff you can read is stuff written by Approved Authors. They have been extremely successful, going by what’s on the shelf in the average Dead Tree bookstore. Internationally successful, I’m going by stores in the USA and Canada.

        Sad Puppies is the genius reaction to that, and Nora’s continuing cow over it is proof that it is working. I hope to continue giving her something to complain about for a very long time indeed.

  61. That’s a shame. “The Verge” isn’t that bad of a technology site (they show up on Slashdot frequently), But it’s clear the person who wrote this doesn’t understand the fiction part of “science fiction”, where the story is entirely from the brain of the author, and some people just don’t do that. For example, I’d starve to death if I had to write science fiction stories, I’m much better at fixing copiers.

    1. Though The Verge were also responsible for that awful clickbait nonsense “I don’t care that you landed a probe on a comet, your shirt is sexist and alienating” which kicked off Shirtstorm.

  62. Not surprisingly, Crapestros Flopatron has been blabbering on about this fisk of Larry’s, he’s got four posts now pretty much flat-out calling Larry and all the Sad Puppies racists. As usual.

    Famous intestinal parasite Grog HullBlender, Arsehole Supreme of Vile666 fame, called me a racist in the comments of one of them, that’s how things are going.

    I’d link to it, but Crapestros has started deleting comments. Interested parties with strong stomachs may find his bleatings by use of Google.

    Names changed to frack over keyword searches and lawyers, not to protect anyone.

  63. If you follow the links, the study provides no evidence to support it’s claim.


    As Larry pointed out, it does not look at submission rates, but makes guesses about them.

    It does not look at the makeup of the SFF reading market by race.

    And it uses voluntary response in its survey so we don’t even know how accurate the numbers it does provide are.

    It may well be that there’s some awful bias in all of these magazines, but right now we have no study that actually provides any data to support that claim. None.

    While someone is working on an study that’s a real life actual study, not a freshman attempt, if you want to help writers, then help them learn how to write killer STORIES.

    If you want to be inclusive, then get the word out to anyone and everyone that you’ll help anyone and everyone learn to write killer STORIES.

    Forget about labels of [minority] writer.

    Just focus on the STORY.

  64. “Recently a friend of mine was editing a project. Behind the scenes he had invited a roughly equal number of male and female authors to submit. A couple of male authors agreed to submit on spec, the female authors turned him down. He didn’t think much of it at the time, as he was just trying to get good authors by his deadline (actually I turned him down too, because of lack of time. Seriously, once you have a rep for being able to produce on demand you will never have a shortage of job offers). Sadly, when the project was revealed the editor was immediately attacked for his misogynistic hatemongery and attempt at excluding women from sci-fi. ”

    Dave Truesdale told a similar story at Worldcon. They booted him from the convention for causing “excessive discomfort”.

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