Monster Hunter Nation

The Social Justice Warrior Racist Reading Challenge, A Fisking.

I’ve got work to do. I’ve got to finish the rough draft of a novel for a gaming IP by the end of February, and then I’ve got two short stories due the first part of March, but Monday morning I see this nonsense. How could I not take a minute to fisk it?

http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/reading-challenge-stop-reading-white-straight-cis-male-authors-for-one-year

As usual, the original is italics and my comments are in bold.

I Challenge You To Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors For One Year

Bold headline. Short answer? No.

I thought: what if I only read stories by a certain type of author?

On purpose? Then you’d probably be a racist.

K. Tempest Bradford

Pick any whackadoo Social Justice Warrior controversy in sci-fi/fantasy publishing over the last few years and you’ll find K. Tempest Bradford in the middle of it.  She is perpetually outraged that someone may be out there, right now, having fun wrong.

Let’s start by analyzing this picture of Tempest giving America a good scolding.

Finger Shaking Scold

Now, you might be wondering why Neil Gaiman is the designated bad guy this time. By all accounts, Gaiman is a brilliant, entertaining, extremely successful author, who also has a reputation of being a very nice guy to his gigantic fan base. Not only that, but I believe politically he is on the left, so you’d think he would be at least marginally more sympathetic to the various SJW causes.

But he’s Tempest’s Evil White Cismale Oppresor because of this other recent bit of SJW nonsense by Hugo winning feminist Kameron Hurley. http://www.scifinow.co.uk/interviews/kameron-hurley-on-neil-gaimans-trigger-warning-responsibility/

Sadly, I don’t have time to fisk the one I’m fisking, let alone fisk the background fiskings, but that Hurley article is very fiskable. My favorite part is where a SJW laments how awful it might be to have other creators attack you in social media… Yes… I can’t possibly imagine what that would be like.

Basically, Gaiman wrote a book called Trigger Warnings, which triggered SJWs. Now, Gaiman has offended these people before by saying that maybe they shouldn’t be so quick to form angry lynch mobs against innocent people, like when they attacked and slandered his friend comedian Jonathan Ross into resigning from being the Hugo MC because he *might* hypothetically, in the future, tell a fat joke.

For those of you just joining us, not I’m not making that up. SJWs are really that paranoid and vindictive.  

But anyways, because he stood up against witch hunts, and was in favor of telling the truth about someone rather than the narrative, Gaiman equals Satan-Hitler.

But the ironic thing about that picture? Tempest is wearing a Dr. Who shirt. A TV show about a white man and his white female sidekick, created by some white men, with episodes written by… Neil Gaiman.

  

Back in 2012 I faced a conundrum. I write short fiction, and I wanted to get better at writing it. To do that I had to write, write, and write some more.

I actually agree with that. The more you write, the better you get.

But just as important was reading, reading, and reading a lot more.

Also true. Authors need to read in order to become better writers. Exposure to other styles will help you improve your own.

Reasonable so far, but don’t worry, she’s about to go off the rails into racist crazy town.

And I tried. But every time I thought about delving into one of the many science fiction and fantasy magazines at my disposal, or even reading compilations of the “best” stories that had been nominated for and/or won awards, my brain resisted.

Her brain resisted? But, remember, it is my side that is supposed to be small minded.

Also, I want you to think about what kind of stories have been nominated for and/or won awards in recent decades. Plus, I’d invite any of you to go check out some of the various years best compilation anthologies. Go through them with a critical eye and see how they skew politically.

Because every time I tried to get through a magazine, I would come across stories that I didn’t enjoy or that I actively hated or that offended me so much I ragequit the issue.

She RAGEQUIT? (anybody who ever played Call of Duty knows that word is spelled all caps).

Now normally people, when investing their valuable free time into something, when they find that item isn’t to their taste, stop, and simply switch to something else they think they’ll like better. There is after all, a whole lot of things to choose from competing for your entertainment dollar.

But not Tempest. She is powered by RAGE. I bet she RAGEQUITS lots of things.

Go through enough of that and you start to resist the idea of reading at all.

Uh huh… It must suck to be confronted by such dangerous badthink that it would cause a professional writer to give up reading. That would be kind of like an artist saying she was so offended by someone’s painting that she wanted to pluck her eyes out. Or in other words, complete bullshit.

But hang a minute… She doesn’t name any names, but If you look at award winning/nominated short fiction, and Best Of compilations of short stories, you’ll find tons of them that already cater to Tempest’s world view, and yet she still RAGEQUIT. What was she reading exactly? FIRE HOSES & ATTACK DOGS. Bull Conner Presents the Best Fiction of 1965?

Then I thought: what if I only read stories by a certain type of author? Instead of reading everything, I would only look at stories by women or people of color or LGBT writers. Essentially: no straight, cis, white males.

I suppose that would make sense, if you’re a huge bigot blinded by irrational hatred.

Cutting that one demographic out of my reading list greatly improved my enjoyment of reading short stories.

Now just flip that “that one demographic” to Jews and see how much that sounds like a skin head.

That’s not to say I didn’t come across bad stories or offensive stuff in stories or other things that turned me off. I did. But I came across this stuff far less than previously.

So, Gay and Lesbian People of Color, you still offend Tempest, but not enough to cause RAGEQUIT. Don’t worry. Once all the White Cismales are gone, you will be reeducated so that there is no danger of you having fun in an unapproved manner and causing microaggressions.

Limiting myself in this way also made me aware of how often certain magazines published whole issues in which no women or POC authors made an appearance.

Fun Fact: Did you know that when you submit a story to an editor, there is no place on your query letter to tell them about your Race/Sex/Orientation?

And pretty soon I didn’t even bother looking at those magazines when I went on my monthly search. When I ran out of known-to-me magazines, I went on the hunt and discovered several that published new-to-me writers and also a surprising number of magazines dedicated to underheard voices.

The key here is the known-to-me and surprising bits. Most Social Justice Warriors aren’t well read. They like to pretend they are, but when you start talking about what is actually out there to choose from, they are shockingly ignorant. But what do you expect from people who RAGEQUIT when exposed to offensive opinions? This is why when you see them attacking other authors’ works, it is almost always stuff gleaned from the Wiki summary or something completely fabricated.  

I ended that year with a new understanding of what kind of fiction I enjoy most, what kind of writers are likely to write it, and how different the speculative fiction landscape looks when you adjust the parallax.

People like different things. That’s fine. Everyone is going to gravitate toward whatever kinds of work pleases them the most. Some of us like action, exploration, or drama. Others like character driven works, or big questions, or even strong message fiction. Tempest hates white men. So, whatever works.

This past week Sunili Govinnage wrote in The Guardian about her experience reading only novels by writers of color for a year. It’s a challenge she set herself at the end of 2013 inspired by a similar project by Lilit Marcus who read only books by women for a year.

Now, most of us read whatever books sound the most interesting to us, and truly don’t give a shit what skin tone the author is, or who the author likes to have sex with. But then again, we don’t write for the Guardian.

Just like opening up space for more stories from women,

No anthology editor anybody who has ever heard of is trying to keep women out of anthologies. This is one of those things SJWs like to toss out, figuring people will accept it as truth.

Recently I was speaking with an editor who put together a charity anthology. The sales of this anthology went to pay for another author’s medical emergency. The authors who contributed stories to it were not paid. They were volunteers. Because time was of the essence, the editor put out a rushed call for submissions and said he would run with whatever he got by a certain date. Many authors volunteered stories (again, without pay!) and the editor went to press in a hurry (again, medical emergency!), only not a single female author volunteered a story. So of course, when this anthology came out the editor was attacked by SJWs as misogynist woman hater trying to keep female voices out of fiction.

there needs to be a conscious effort to support multicultural voices and fight the assumptions surrounding what the mainstream market supposedly wants.

I like the “supposedly” there. Stupid markets. With their freedom and choices. What the mainstream market really needs is to have people like Tempest Bradford scold them for having fun wrong.

The mainstream market wants to enjoy itself. It doesn’t like to be yelled at. It gets annoyed when you call it racist. Since most books don’t even have back cover photos anymore, the mainstream market probably doesn’t know what color the author is. The mainstream market has zero clue what culture the author grew up in, and if that information is available at all, the mainstream market probably doesn’t give a shit.

The mainstream market buys books based on the following criteria:

  1. This cover looks cool. I will pick it up/click on it.
  2. The back cover blurb/description interests me.
  3. It has good reviews/word of mouth.
  4. I will purchase it with my money.
  5. If I liked it, I may purchase other books from this author.

Govinnage is a writer of color herself,

Writer of Color is a stupid term. I hate the term People of Color. It is just Colored People backwards.

yet she still learned a few things from the experience, including “just how white [her] reading world was.” Even when you’re coming from the viewpoint of a marginalized identity, the privileged view is everywhere and pervasive. It’s easy to buy into it without really knowing that you are.

Privilege huh? From what I’ve heard about Tempest, she grew up in a rich family. Luckily one of my readers copy and pasted some stuff from her bio into the comments. She attended NYU—which I believe is the most expensive undergraduate program in America—to study opera. She then dropped out to attend the “Gallatin School for Individualized Study” where “There we had no “majors”, only “concentrations”. My concentrations were in performance, writing, the history of mythology, interstitial art (though we didn’t call it that, then), and the collective unconscious”

But wait, there’s more about what it means to live such a life of marginalized hardship:  “After leaving college and realizing that the life of a corporate drone is horrendous, I decided to throw it all away so I could attend Clarion West in 2003. I left my job, left New York, and left any notion that I’d be leading a normal life in the dust. After Clarion West I wandered around the country for a few years visiting friends, writing, and discovering that all one needs to survive in life is confidence, charm, and many well-off friends. In 2006 I returned to New York City and took up freelancing to support myself.”

I know when I think of marginalized lives, I think of mooching off your rich friends while playing tourist.  

I only say that because I grew up with all that fancy Portuguese Dairy Farmer Privilege, where I got to have an alcoholic mother and a functionally illiterate father (who is way darker skinned than Tempest), where I got to spend my formative years knee deep in cow shit at 3:00 AM, so that I could later work my way through Utah State (only after getting a scholarship for my freshmen year because I knew a whole lot about cows), to then spend my adult life working corporate drone jobs of increasing difficulty and skill requirements, all while writing on the side while I supported my family, until I could make it as a professional author.  

Lecture us more about privilege, Tempest. It’s fascinating.  

It doesn’t help that most high-profile venues that exist to alert readers to new books and their worthiness are skewed heavily toward privileged voices.

Who? Publishers Weekly? Locus? Io9? Tor.com? GoodReads?

No, seriously. Name some high-profile venue names here, Tempest. Or is this the Bull Conner Upcoming Books of 1965 Alert List? Because I didn’t sign up for that one either.

The funny part is when Chaos Horizon did an unbiased breakdown of the pro review sites comparing my last release to Scalzi’s novel coming out around the same time, despite our selling about the same, all of the pro places reviewed him, and none of them talked about me.  So if there’s a bias there, it sure as hell isn’t in the way Tempest is thinking. (But to be fair, Scalzi may be a SJW, but he is super white and has professed to living life on the easiest difficulty setting.)

A few years ago some best-selling women writers pointed out that the New York Times reviewed significantly more books by men than by women.

Which is funny, since the New York Times is so super right wing. Oh, wait…

The problem is not limited to the Times. Nor limited to just men vs women. If the majority of books being held up and pronounced Good and Worthy are by white, straight, cis men, it’s easy to slip into thinking that most good and worthy books are by authors that fit that description.

You know, in all the time I’ve been doing this and fighting with these people, I can’t find a single mainstream example of anybody of note holding up a book and declaring it good and worthy because it was written by a white heterosexual male. Normally, when regular people declare a book good, it is because they thought the book was good.

I have however seen hundreds of examples of Tempest’s side holding up a book as being good and worthy because of the author’s racial/sexual identity.

Most of us judge books on their content, not the color of their author’s skin.

And, of course, that’s bull.

Nope. And as we’ve already established, because of my Portuguese Dairy Farmer Privilege, I know more about bulls than Tempest does.

“Slowly but surely, the world is noticing that ‘meritocracy’ in the arts and entertainment industries is as fictitious as Westeros,” Govinnage says.

You can declare merit a myth all you want. You can do the same thing about gravity. Doesn’t change reality. Falling off a roof still hurts, and you’re more likely to make a living as a writer if you entertain people.  At the end of the day, regardless of their genetic makeup, Neil Gaiman has more talent in his pinky finger than Tempest Bradford has in her whole body.

The fact they used Westeros as an example of fictitious is illuminating, because it was created by a straight white cismale, but everybody knows who George R.R. Martin is and has heard of his work, because it is popular, and people like it.   

The “Reading Only X Writers For A Year” a challenge is one every person who loves to read (and who loves to write) should take.

No. We shouldn’t. Because we’re not boring racists.

You could, like Lilit Marcus, read only books by women or, like Sunili Govinnage, read only books by people of color.

How do you guys even know? For example, it wasn’t until last year I learned that Steve Barnes is black. I first read his stuff in high school. When you see an interesting book, do you rush off to Google to make sure the author is racially acceptable?

Or you could choose a different axis to focus on: books by trans men and women,

Is there like a special search box to check for this on Amazon that I don’t know about?

books by people from outside the US or in translation,

I’m a Akira Kurosawa junkie, doesn’t mean I’d want to only watch his movies for a whole year.

Side note, do you think it would pain Tempest to know how much money I’m making off of foreign translations? 🙂

books by people with disabilities.

Or how about we read books because they look interesting/entertaining, rather than because the author checks some arbitrary box on an EEOC form? It wasn’t until I saw a Facebook thread this morning that I found out two writers I’ve known online for years are disabled and one is in a wheelchair.

Because who gives a shit?

After a year of that, the next challenge would be to seek out books about or with characters that represent a marginalized identity or experience by any author.

No. They don’t have to do anything. We’re entertainers. Our job is to entertain the readers. Tempest is getting this backwards. The writer works for the readers. Not the other way around.

In addition to the identities listed above, I suggest: non-Christian religions or faiths,

Again, how do you know? I’ve plugged books by everybody from Atheists to Asatru, and I only know their religion because of conversations in real life.

working class or poor,

Kiss my ass. This one in particular really pisses me off. Working class or poor describes most writers.  

and asexual (as a start).

No shit. For a year? Only books by asexual authors. How few books do you read?

Whichever focus you choose,

I choose the “this book looks interesting” focus myself.

it will change the way you read and the way you go about picking things to read.

That’s certainly an understatement.

When I settle in to read a magazine now, I read in order of stories I think I’ll like best. And if I do decide to read one by a new to me author who appears to be a straight, white, cis male, it’s usually because I trust the editor and the magazine.

Read that sentence again and mull over how incredibly racist and sexist that is.

Feel free to change it around. Change it to Black or Jew, but it’ll be okay if she sees a Jewish sounding name or a Black sounding name, because she trusts these editors, and they’ll probably be one of the good ones.

My reading sessions are filled with much less stress these days.

What a vapid, useless screed.

This whole thing really bugs me. Why would you limit your exposure to books and ideas based on such asinine, superficial things?

Louis L’Amour saved my life. He taught me to love reading. I didn’t care that he was whiter than I was, or that we were from different cultures, religions, and backgrounds. Nobody engrossed in a story gives a shit about that. I was expanding my mind, not artificially limiting it.

From there I went on to read whatever I could get my hands on, and I’m sure most of those books were written by old white guys, because at the time most writers were white guys. As demographics change and there were more writers who weren’t old white guys, I read more books by people who weren’t old white guys, and again, didn’t give a shit.

The super evil mass market consumer doesn’t finish a book and say to themselves “This was an excellent read. I’d go tell my friends, but I suspect this author has slightly more/less melanin than I do, or might possibly come from a different socio-economic strata so I’d better throw it away.” That’s the kind of nonsense SJWs fret about.   

Do you want to know the best way to get more people from diverse groups to be writers? Get them to be readers. Readers become writers. Populations with more readers will produce more writers. Some of us are compulsive story tellers, and get them immersed in the medium, and they’ll want to tell stories of their own in that medium.

How do you get people to become readers? Introduce them to books you think they will enjoy. The sexual/racial identity of the author is irrelevant to enjoyment (unless you’re a flaming bigot, because it will make you RAGEQUIT). People tend to keep doing stuff they enjoy.

How do you know what books people will enjoy? That’s the trick. Everybody is different. Everyone has differing tastes. That’s why you introduce them to a wide variety of books. I’m talking real diversity, not the skin-deep superficial diversity SJWs glom onto, but real diversity of thoughts, ideas, and imagination.

SJWs love diversity as long as everybody is diverse in an approved manner. My side welcomes everybody and thrives on competition, whether it is art or ideas, the more the better. I want more people from every possible group writing books. Because the more books that are created, the better the odds that there will be something truly brilliant.

Come to think of it, I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that Tempest’s motivations aren’t exactly purely on behalf of social justice, but rather in the naïve hopes that if fewer people read Neil Gaiman or other white heterosexual males, they’ll buy her stuff instead. That’s one problem with statists. They think the pie is finite. If George Martin gets another dollar, they feel like that dollar was stolen from them.

Sadly, they know as much about economics as they do about literature.

To counter Tempest’s racist challenge to only read books based not upon their content, but upon the color of their author’s skin, I offer a different kind of challenge.

I challenge you to read books based upon what you think sounds awesome, and never give into the finger shaking scolds.   

Fisking the Guardian again, this time for HP Lovecraft.

Fisking the Guardian:

Somebody sent this to me on Twitter this morning and asked my opinion on it. My quick response was that it was more Social Justice Warrior nonsense and their never ending search for perpetual victimhood, but then I decided that because the ideas in it are so poisonous to the very people it is supposedly is trying to help, it deserves an actual fisking.

Basically I’m taking the time to write this because if you have to stamp out another artist’s existence in order to justify your own art, you are not helping art.

If you don’t feel like giving the Guardian any clicks, I’ve reproduced the entire article here. However in the interest of fairness, here is the original: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/dec/09/move-over-hp-lovecraft-black-fantasy-writers-are-coming-through?CMP=share_btn_tw

As usual the original article is in italics and my responding comments are in bold.

Move over HP Lovecraft, fantasy writers of colour are coming through.

A stupid title. If you are so desperate to prove racism in sci-fi you’ve got to dig up somebody who has been dead for 77 years, your argument might be a little weak. 

By Daniel Jose Older.

Normally when the Guardian tries to prove how horrible racist/sexist/misogynist/homophobic sci-fi or fantasy is they trot out village idiot Damien Walter. This time they’re using somebody who has actually published something. Good for you, Guardian. Way to step up your game.

Non-white readers and writers are falling in love with speculative fiction in increasing numbers –

Excellent!

which is why we need to remove its racist figurehead

You’ll note that almost all SJW articles start like this. Here is a good thing, but here is why you are actually racist because of it.

Last month I walked through the crowded corridors of Javits Center with tears in my eyes.

Maybe it is just because I’m a manly cismale gendernormative fascist who is required by the patriarchy to keep my feelings bottled up, but the only thing that made me cry at the Javits Center was the line at the food court.

It was New York Comic Con and around me flourished a sea of black and brown faces, many partially concealed beneath goggles, prosthetic zombie wounds or masks.

I was also at this very same convention. I gave out a couple thousand free paperbacks and talked to people for three straight days. But since I’m not a SJW I didn’t feel the need to keep a tally of what color, religion, or sexual orientation every single person I talked to seemed to be.

The people I talked to were people who liked to read books. If you are an author and you feel the need to subcategorize much beyond that, you are setting yourself up to fail.

For one of the first times since I started writing speculative fiction five years ago, I felt at home in my own genre.

I started seriously writing speculative fiction seven years ago so I’m assuming we’re about the same age and we’re dealing with the same industry. This statement is either horseshit or Older hasn’t been to very many sci-fi conventions.

I’ve been to dozens of them all over America. I attended thirteen in 2014 alone. Cons and fandom are usually about the most inclusive bunch you’ll find anywhere. Hell, they accept Furries… FURRIES. Your argument is invalid.

But SJWs love to look for invisible micro aggressions at cons. Here is one where I fisked a SJW who tried to make GenCon sound racist  http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/08/19/no-tor-com-gencon-isnt-racist-a-fisking/ (short version, it isn’t).

Earlier this summer, the old guard of fantasy got very uncomfortable over a petition I started asking for the World Fantasy Award to remove the bust of HP Lovecraft as its statuette and replace it with Octavia Butler.

Uncomfortable? I don’t think that is a synonym for WTF.

A few things for those not in the loop. HP Lovecraft is one of the most famous authors in history, who basically created a whole genre. Authors commonly use the word Lovecraftian today to describe themes and elements that he popularized. Among the creators who list Lovecraft as a major influence are Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Joe Lansdale, Alan Moore, F. Paul Wilson, Brian Lumley, Clive Barker, Guillermo Del Toro, H.R. Geiger, John Carpenter, Mike Mignola, and Neil Gaiman. Plus thousands of other authors, artists, and film makers.

Have you heard of Cthulhu? Yeah. That guy.

Lovecraft has influenced video games, movies, comics, and more heavy metal bands than you can count. Almost eight decades after his death every nerd in the world knows who HP Lovecraft is. There have been thousands (not an exaggeration) of stories set in Lovecraftian worlds.

And hell, Lovecraftian is actually a word!

Octavia Butler was also an author. She passed away in 2006. I think I read a couple of her books as a kid but don’t remember anything about them. I’m certain she’s had some influence, but Lovecraft influenced orders of magnitude more.

Butlerian isn’t a word.    

EDIT: It turns out Butlerian is a word, just not on Earth. And I’ve not read a Dune novel in a decade. 

Lovecraft was an uneven craftsman at best – his stories clunk along, overburdened with adjectives and stale characters.

Wow, bold words there dude who has written a couple of books.

It’s his world-building and imagination that helped solidify his legacy, but even that is tainted by a failure of craft and humanity.

Yet, the atmosphere he set scared the shit out of millions of us, to the point that when we grew up and tried to write something scary, we used him as a template. Nothing is more human than fear. Pulling that off takes craft.

Really, most Lovecraft tales only consist of well-spoken New Englanders telling each other scary stories in the dark, but the man practically invented creeping dread in literature. But to be fair, Lovecraft said his influence was Poe, so we all learn from somebody.  

He detailed his rabid, paranoid racism in many letters, and it permeates his mythos. Lovecraft peopled his fiction with hordes of swarthy, child-killing and abjectly stupid black and brown people, while women are almost non-existent.

Lovecraft was a product of his time.  

I’ve written three books of alternative history set in the 1930s. I’m fascinated by this time period. I’ve done tons of research into those years. Racism was common, ugly, and rampant. And I’m not talking invisible micro-aggressions or college students lecturing people about privilege, I’m talking systematic, legal, subjugation of groups of people based upon their ancestors.

Yes, Lovecraft was a racist. He was a 1930s Democrat. It is actually kind of hard to find 1930s democrats who weren’t racists. Eugenics then was the “scientific” equivalent to Global Warming today. The “science was settled”. Proper good thinking folks didn’t question it and the world’s governments used Eugenics as an excuse for all sorts of programs that seem insane to us today.

In actuality Lovecraft’s racism veered a bit from the typical democrat’s “scientific” racism, and he was more into looking down on other cultures. Keep in mind that he was a snooty New Englander. If I recall correctly he believed that anybody could move up in the world, provided they learned to act like a proper snooty New Englander. He didn’t have nice things to say about southerners either, and as far as Europeans went, the only culture he liked was the Anglo Saxon one that spawned New England. He married a Jewish woman because she’d become “cultured”.

How Anglo was Lovecraft? He thought the American Revolution was uppity.

Yet despite being someone descended from those swarthy hordes on one side and degenerate backwoods hill folk on the other, I’m not personally offended. Dude could still atmosphere the shit out of a scary story.

As for black and brown people being dumb savages… It was the 1930s. Now I know this is really hard for somebody in 2014 to wrap their brain around, but to the average American most of the world was a mysterious, scary, alien place. Africa was a distant land of adventure. People were still expecting to find Shangri La. Hell, Lovecraft was a New Englander, by his standards Florida was a distant, scary, mysterious, alien land.

Read any periodical from this time, listen to the radio programs, you’ll find that this attitude of foreign lands being cloaked in forbidden mystery wasn’t just common, it was the absolute norm. You can pull up old news reels on Youtube and watch them to see what I mean. I watched a ton before writing Grimnoir. “Here is beautiful Japan! Mysterious! Look at the crazy shoes! They eat with sticks! How do these crazy yellow people do it? Scientists say the Asian can’t see well through their squinty eyes.” You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. 

As for women being non-existent, first off, not true. Second, don’t matter, because they’d just die a horrible death or be driven insane anyway.

Supporters of the Lovecraft statue point out his influence on the fantasy genre, and they’re right: today, we’re still struggling to unravel the legacy of racism and erasure with which he and other early speculative fiction writers permeated their work.

What does that even mean? Diagram that sentence. Yes, he was super influential, but all with racism, so we need to ERASE what came before? That doesn’t make sense. So I think maybe Older is trying to say that Lovecraft and other early writers erased non-whites? But didn’t you just say that he had non-whites, you just didn’t like how they were portrayed?

So he was influential, but racist, so those of us he influenced learned racism by osmosis?  Sorry, Dad, I can’t love you anymore.

Mainstream science fiction and fantasy narratives continue to center on white saviour narratives, as we saw recently on Game of Thrones

Now hold on a minute, George R.R. Martin isn’t a racist. White savior narratives? Hell, any savior narrative is popular and powerful for the same reason that black vs. white/light vs. dark as a stand in for good vs. evil remains a constant in storytelling, and it has nothing to do with racism. Some themes are so deeply ingrained into humans that artists use them all the time. I can also think of popular “savior narratives” involving women, children, computers, aliens, and a Terminator.

Villainous, sexualised or helpless, rarely are non-white characters presented with the same humanity and depth as white ones.

How the hell does Older quantify that? Based upon the highly scientific study of pulling facts out of his ass? He might feel that way, but I disagree. But what do I know? I’ve only written a bunch of popular books where the main PoV characters aren’t white.

As Imran Siddiquee points out at the Atlantic, teen dystopias tend to have a glaring blindspot when it comes to talking about more complex issues of power and privilege: “While recent dystopias warn youth about over-reliance on computers, totalitarian rule, class warfare, pandemic panics and global warming, very few ask audiences to think deeply about sexism and racism …The results feel false, and undercut the films’ attempts to comment on the present day.”

All that paragraph says is that some movies are bad because they didn’t cater to some reviewer’s particular pet peeve topic. That would be like me saying that I really hated Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants because it didn’t have enough gun fights. Not everything in the world needs to be about whatever the hell it is you are personally hung up on. If you really want to have a story about Topic X maybe you should go write it and quit sniping at whoever wrote about Topic Y instead.

And while “urban” has become publishing industry code for books by and for black people, throw the word fantasy on the end and suddenly the characters and authors are very white.

Sigh… Again… This bizarre hang up on genres. Genres are just so book sellers know where to shelve stuff. I’m usually considered an urban fantasy author, but I think “contemporary fantasy” is more accurate, but hey, I don’t put things in the catalog for Simon & Schuster, so it isn’t my problem.

In this literary gentrification, the American city becomes either a goofy whitewashed playground, Girls with werewolves and vampires, or an abysmal urban nightmare. And like most dystopias, neither fictionalized versions of this city have much to say about the real-world conflicts threatening urban communities of color like police violence and gentrification.

What the hell did I just read? I’m not sure what any of this has to do with somebody winning a trophy that looks vaguely like HP Lovecraft, but because the marketing term “urban fantasy” stuck for books with magic and monsters set in the contemporary world, and some white people write books like that it equals Ferguson.

Seriously?

I had to look up Gentrification… Which for those of us who don’t live in democrat controlled cities means when they redevelop their inner-cities to increase the property values… And this is controversial because, hell, I don’t know… Stuff. Things like that are why I choose to live in a county with more cows than people.

Honestly, these Social Justice Warrior articles are like meaningless word salad.  They throw out a bunch of buzz words about racism and injustice on top of some half-baked argument about equality. When you try to question it, they say you’re a racist and declare victory.

That’s why I skip right to mockery.   

Unfortunately, this shouldn’t surprise us. According to a recent survey, Latinos and Asians make up 3% of the publishing industry each,

Hey, that’s me! Hi, guys!

while blacks come in at 1%.

This isn’t a conspiracy. It is actually very simple. Where do writers come from? Readers. Communities that have more readers are going to create more writers. Like I talked about in the linked article above about where gamers come from, same principle. Communities with more education, higher incomes, and leisure time produce more readers. Parents who read produce children who read.  

Let me give you a personal example. I grew up in a very poor, immigrant, farming community. Of my 8th grade class half of us could speak English. Of those, half could read.  Of my friends, I was the only reader. Where I’m from reading was for dorks, and what kind of sissy reads books about dragons and elves and shit? Most of your time was spent doing back breaking manual labor, and free time spent reading could better be spent “partying” (drinking yourself stupid and screwing around). Tough guys didn’t read (though having a nose in a book was a great way to get into fist fights, which explains a lot about how I turned out the way I did).  Reading fiction was seen as lazy, effeminate, fluff.

That’s how my Dad grew up. I don’t think he’s ever read an actual book. I’d guess he’s got about a 4th grade reading level. He didn’t like the fact that I read books as a kid. I can’t fault him for feeling that way, because that was the culture he was raised in. Luckily for me, my mom liked to read. She was an Air Force kid, and had grown up all over the place. Also, very luckily, my little town had a tiny old library.

When I discovered books, I didn’t care that the characters didn’t look like me. I didn’t care that they weren’t from my culture. In fact it was awesome that they weren’t like me. I didn’t need a fictionalized version of what I already knew, I wanted new experiences. I wanted gunslingers, rocket ships, and monsters. 

My high school was a junior gladiatorial academy. My senior year we had the 2nd highest teenage pregnancy rate in America (curse you, Dade County, Florida!). We were well divided between Mexicans, blacks, Hmong, Laotian, poor farm kids of various ethnicities, and white suburbanites. Guess who I talked to about books or played RPGs with in high school? Yep, the white suburbanites. There was a single exception to this, and that was the Pena family. The mother and father had immigrated from Mexico, opened a restaurant, and worked their butts off. They pushed all of their kids to be educated as possible and to read like crazy. Their kids appreciated GI Joe, nunchuks, dirt bikes, and other things that made the 80s awesome so I loved going to their house. Those kids got into nerdy stuff, and if I recall correctly they were the first kids I ever played D&D with.

But overall, not a ton of readers from the poorer groups. I was an anomaly. Of the people I grew up with, I’m not aware of anyone else who because a writer. 

Now compare that to where I am now. I moved to Utah. Utah has a culture of readers. Everybody reads here. Education levels are extremely high. Disposable incomes are relatively high. Leisure time is common. So how many writers does Utah produce? Tons. For a state with less than three million people we’ve produced an absurd number of authors, many of them extremely successful, way out of proportion to our population.

If you want to increase the readership in any given community, give them the opportunity and introduce them to books that they’ll find fun. That’s really what it is all about, and as a particular community gains more leisure time, you’re competing against entertainment with lower barriers to entry, like TV or videogames.

Of course, the way our education system does this is totally ass backwards, by shoving dense, impenetrable “classics” onto kids and then discussing what the author “really meant”  until you’ve beaten all of the love of reading right out of them. You’ll note that SJWs never talk about entertaining or fun books, but rather socially conscious or enlightening (i.e. boring).

On the other hand, we’ve got the SJW answer:

As Publishers Weekly puts it: “the world of speculative fiction faces the same challenge as the rest of publishing: overcoming a long history of books being primarily created by, for, and about straight white men.”

So the reason there are fewer minority readers is the fault of existing white writers for writing to their existing audience. Naw, I’m going to stick with my answer gleaned from (un-privileged) personal experience rather than some gender studies professor’s bullshit hypothesis.

The racial makeup of the industry matters.

Nobody is stopping anybody from any particular group from reading or writing. In fact, we’re all encouraging as many people as possible to read and write. The more people buying books, the better! If you’d like to write toward a particular audience, fantastic. DO IT. Just don’t demand that other artists create art only in your approved manner.

For writers who aren’t straight, cis, white men, the already steep uphill road to publication is complicated by issues of cultural translation, representation, passive and microaggressions, rage, and assimilation, among others.

That is all total bullshit, and I’m not just talking difference of opinion, but I’m talking a flat out lie.

First off, for everybody the path to publication is extremely difficult. I think traditional publishing has something like a 99.99% rejection rate. I got rejected a ton of times. However, in none of my query letters did I ever specify my ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, or shoe size.

Over the last few years changes in technology have caused a revolution in publishing. There are now far more opportunities for authors to publish independently, and because of the eBook revolution, even the tiniest niche market can be targeted, and often in an economically viable fashion.  

So there is literally nothing stopping you from submitting to publishers and agents. There is nothing stopping you from going independent and producing your own books. If you’d like to very specifically write a book about trans-whatever-queer-cis-binary-polar bears in the space future-past, knock yourself out. There is probably an audience for that.

Next, the bit about being shunned for that big old word salad list of gender studies terms, flat out wrong. Be some type of minority and show up to an agent with a sellable, readable manuscript, and the first thing they’re going to think about is going to be how much money they can make by marketing you as special, distinct, or whatever else separates you from thousands of other competing authors. Anything that can help market you to a specific audience is wonderful, because the agent wants to GET PAID.

In the time I’ve been doing this, I’m only aware of a single incidence where a publishing house discriminated against an author because of their sexual orientation. And it was a tiny publishing house. Immediately the entire author community condemned them. In fact, even the ultra-evil right wing International Lord of Hate (that would be me) reached out and put them in contact with his publicist because that sort of attention is marketing gold. http://monsterhunternation.com/2013/08/21/publisher-cancels-book-contract-because-the-writer-is-gay/  With all of the added attention, in short order they found a new, far bigger publisher, and got a much better contract.

Come to think of it, the only authors I know of who’ve actually been sabotaged in major publishing houses because of their political beliefs have been conservatives, and the mainstream Manhattan publishing industry is overwhelmingly liberal. Strange…

Maybe these ragey assimilators think they’re being held back from being nominated for prestigious awards… Nope. Not in recent years. They’ve been tripping over themselves to show just how Social Justice they are. And again, the group that gets attacked, sabotaged, maligned, and slandered when it shows up are conservative authors. http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/04/24/an-explanation-about-the-hugo-awards-controversy/

Well, he listed Rage… Because… Shit… I don’t know. I got an accounting degree. I can’t wrap my brain around this gender studies tripe.  

It’s impossible to know which of our truths will unsettle the privileged sensibilities of one of the many gatekeepers we face along the way.

Frankly, that is just narcissism right there.

Speaking of gatekeepers, anybody want to make any bets as to who has pissed off more of publishing’s traditional gatekeepers, me or this Daniel Jose Older?

“Why Butler?” people asked me when the petition went up, and I remembered how entrenched we all get in our own corners within the genre. Butler’s prose soars where Lovecraft’s stumbles. Her characters live and breathe, confront complexities of power and privilege amid fantastical, terrifying dreamscapes steeped in history and nuance.

Good for her. Get back to me when her nuance gets its own beer.

Lovecraft Beer

My SFF community is mostly black and brown, and Butler inspired many of us to start writing in the first place.

I’m all in favor of anything that gets anybody writing, so good.

These folks congregate more often than not in online communities like the Nerds of Color,Black Girl Nerds and the Fan Bros, because outside of ComicCon, SFF cons have historically not been safe spaces for women and people of color.

That simply isn’t true.

They always throw this victim stuff out there, because to SJWs being a victim grants them super powers. You can find a handful of anecdotes of bad things happening to a handful of people at various cons over the years, but considering that these are events that happen constantly, all over the country, the number of incidents is absolutely tiny. You are way more likely to get harassed at a pee wee football game or a Bar Mitzvah.

Fandom is cool. Many of them are the ones who grew up being picked on. The way SJWs keep maligning good innocent people really offends me.

Again. Furries… Holy shit. Fandom accepts FURRIES.

These are the online communities that signed the petition in the thousands, which is what transformed it from being just another attempt at dethroning Lovecraft as the face of one of fantasy’s highest awards (there have been several) to a global conversation with coverage in Salon, the GuardianNPR and countless blogs.

The Salon, Guardian, and NPR? Well then. That is settled! I know when I think of unbiased, critical, hard hitting journalism I think of SALON!

Ultimately, the Lovecraft statue must go. He may be replaced by Butler, or Carrie Cuinn’s sea serpent wrapped around the world idea or any of the many other options,

Or how about a grey, formless, blob? That would be sure not to offend anyone.

But the thing is, the trophy is actually irrelevant. If it wasn’t this trophy, it would be something else for SJWs to get all outrage sputtery over. Any disagreements will be met with allegations of racism or sexism, so that you can be dismissed. Since most people are nice and don’t like being attacked as vile things that they aren’t, they give in. Keep in mind that whenever you are dealing with these people, they simply want you to be wrong somehow so they can browbeat you until you apologize, because then they own you. From then on your opinions can always be safely dismissed.

but the fantasy community cannot embrace its growing fanbase of color with one hand while deifying a writer who happily advocated for our extermination with the other.

Hey, doesn’t Salon, the Guardian, and NPR also think winning the Margaret Sanger Award is awesome. BWA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAA snort.

Read Lovecraft, be inspired by his wild imagination, repelled by his heinous worldview, learn from his mistakes – I certainly have. But the lionizing, sugarcoating and kneejerk flurry to defend and silence uncomfortable histories has to stop if we are to move forward.

Yeah, I’m not seeing a lot of sugarcoating from anybody other than the SJW crowd, who like totally wants equality (as long as you aren’t one of those evil privileged white cis-males) and diversity (as long as you are diverse in exactly the approved manner).  

Lovecraft was a racist. He held racist beliefs. So did many icons of that and earlier eras. You can try to erase them, or you can be an adult that realizes that throughout all of human history people have believed things that were wrong or different, including those who accomplished great things.

While we’re on the topic of sugar coating, have you SJWs quit showering Marion Zimmer Bradley and Sam Delaney with praise yet?  

People of color have been fantasy creators and fans for a long time; we’re not going anywhere. The We Need Diverse Books campaign took the internet by storm this year and is still going strong.

Good. You should go write some.  

A recent digital renaissance in online speculative fiction magazines like Tor.comCrossed Genres and Strange Horizons, has helped give rise to a new, flourishing generation of writers of color.

Writers of Color? I’m sorry, but this whole People of Color thing is absurdly racist. I’m technically a Person of Color, but fuck that noise. It was racist back when it was Colored People. You can’t just flip Colored People around backwards and it suddenly be cool.

And honestly, you’ve got way more in common culturally with a white American suburbanite than you do with a Mongolian shepherd or a West African villager, and I’ve got more in common with you than I do with an Azorean dairy farmer, so can we just knock this stupid shit off and get back to writing stories and entertaining people?   

 Networks executives have started to take notice.

He must have missed that NPR story I fisked where the only ethnic group underrepresented on TV was Latinos, and that was only when we forgot to wear sombreros for easy identification. http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/08/07/fisking-npr-about-latinos-in-the-movies/

More importantly though, we’ve stopped asking permission and begun finding ways of making our voices heard.

Again, the only people you had to ask permission from before were Manhattan liberals. Now you’ve got indy publishing. Playing the victim card is getting kind of silly when the people running your industry have been on your side.  

Social media revolutionized fandom in ways few saw coming, and content creators of color find ourselves with unprecedented access to audiences. We’re entering a new time – one not so enraptured by the same tired hierarchies – and the genre itself will be stronger for leaving its oppressive tropes behind.

Help! Help! I’m being oppressed.

Out of curiosity when I was writing the paragraph about this author having more in common culturally with an American suburbanite, I googled Daniel Jose Older to see if he had a Wikipedia page that said where he was from:

http://ghoststar.net/

Heh… Check out the Google images of him. He was walking around ComicCon in tears because there were people who looked like him? If they made a movie they’d cast Morgan from Criminal Minds to play him. Meanwhile, I look like the giant swarthy love child of James Gandolfini and Khalid Sheik Mohammed and they’re lecturing me about being profiled, privilege, and micro aggressions? 😀  

In the interest of full disclosure, my writing has been influenced by HP Lovecraft, because if you don’t like giant sky squids, there is something fundamentally wrong with you. I also share a birthday with Lovecraft and Ron Paul (yes, I know, this explains a lot). In actuality I’m more of a Robert E. Howard fan than a Lovecraft fan. I once got a negative review that said “though Correia uses some Lovecraftian themes, he is more of a modern Robert E. Howard” and he meant it as an insult. Personally, I wanted to use that as a cover blurb.

We are now experiencing technical (WordPress) difficulties.

I don’t know why, but some of my blog posts have vanished from my feed. The fisking of the Deseret News post is still there,

http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/10/21/fisking-the-deseret-news-anti-ccw-article/

It just isn’t visible for some reason. I’ve checked the settings and it is public, like every other post, and I didn’t change anything. I can’t really figure this one out.

EDIT: Now the Brad Torgersen Book Bomb is gone too.

EDIT: Okay, now it is back, but editing and updating the Fisking article doesn’t bring it back.

EDIT: Yep, it was some corrupted script in the book plug post. Deleted that and everything is visible again. The book plug is good to go without it because we got the author to #1 in her genre that day anyway. 🙂

Fisking the Deseret News’ anti-CCW article

So my local paper ran a really dumb anti-CCW editorial. It was so riddled with nonsense, distortions, and falsehoods that it was just begging for a fisking. As usual, the original is in italics and my comments are in bold.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865613500/Utah-gun-law-that-canceled-USU-speech-is-an-embarrassment.html

In our opinion: Utah gun law that canceled USU speech is an embarrassment

The only embarrassment here is the dreck that passes for writing at the Deseret News now.

The inability of Utah State University to impose reasonable protections for a speaker who had received death threats is more than just an embarrassment to the state. It is alarming.

No. It isn’t, and we’ll get to why later. This is typical breathless editorial speak, used by the willfully manipulative to sway the useful idiots. When you start breaking down the actual facts it is neither alarming nor embarrassing. It is Utah following the rule of law as opposed to the freak out cause of the day.

It should not, however, be surprising, especially to anyone who remembers the struggles a decade ago over Utah’s loose concealed permit carrier law.

I remember the “struggles” rather well. In fact I’m one of the people that testified against the University of Utah’s highly paid lobbyist in front of the Justice Committee at the State Legislature.  Like this editorial, all he could do was appeal to raw emotion and wishful thinking.

It’s time to revisit that law and allow schools the freedom to protect the public.

Let’s see… Historically, what has protected the public better? Law abiding types carrying firearms for personal defense, or No Guns Allowed signs?  Think hard.

Rather than repeat myself, here is an essay where I broke down in great detail why Utah allowing concealed weapon permit holders to carry firearms inside of schools makes sense. I wrote it after Sandy Hook, and it has become one of the most widely read essays on the topic of gun control there is.

http://monsterhunternation.com/2012/12/20/an-opinion-on-gun-control/

Basically, whenever they start talking about “protecting the public” their ideas usually do the exact opposite.

It’s time Utah law stood up for safety, not the empowerment of bullies.

I’m curious about the definition of “bullies” here. A loaded term. You couldn’t possibly mean the public speaker who demanded a state change its policies to suit her ill-informed opinions on safety, and when she didn’t get her way—even though a suitable work around was readily, legally, available—instead asked for a boycott of the entire state until they gave in to her whims?

A decade ago, the University of Utah decided to continue enforcing a 25-year-old campus ban on firearms despite a new law that made concealed weapons fair game at schools.

A state institution having to obey state law? Crazy.

That resulted in a lawsuit that ended in 2006 when the Utah Supreme Court ruled the university had no authority to impose a policy contrary to state law.

Yep. It was a very sad day when the U discovered that despite wasting tons of tax payer and tuition money on a case that basically consisted of screaming Academic Freedom over and over again, our state constitution still applied to them.

The university — the only institution of higher learning in Utah willing to carry the fight — next tried to lobby and work with lawmakers to craft a compromise.

Their “compromise” was just their same old illegal ban in a fancy new wrapper. We exposed it for what it was and defeated it.

What they ended up with was a 2007 law that allows any student living in a dormitory to specify that he or she does not wish to room with a concealed weapon permit holder — nothing more.

Yep. Because before that their suggestions included things like declaring whatever building they wanted off limits at any time (which quickly turned into All of Them).  They had a long wish list of restrictions to make CCW so incredibly cumbersome and difficult to legally comply with that it would have been a de facto ban.

This wasn’t just about students either. It also affected everyone that worked for the university as well. Professors, employees, clerks, didn’t matter. They were out of luck.

Churches, it should be noted, also expressed concern over the law and, unlike schools, were allowed to publicly declare their own no-guns policies.

The finer points of law elude the Deseret News. Our CCW law treats different types of property in different manners. Churches are private property. A private university would be private property. The University of Utah is owned by the state and paid for with tax payer funds.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns this newspaper, subsequently registered its no-gun position.

As a Mormon and a professional writer, it offends me that my church owns a newspaper that sucks this badly.

The church issued a statement asking us not to carry guns at church, but then left it up to the discretion of the local bishops. In the decade since the only time my CCW has ever been of concern to any of my bishops was when one wanted to know if I was prepared to shoot a bear (long story, but yes, obviously).

The issue, both then and now, is not about the wisdom of allowing people who have passed special courses to legally carry a concealed weapon. This makes sense under the Second Amendment to the Constitution, although it should not apply under all circumstances and it is a myth to believe the issuance of such a permit is a guarantee against crime.

Wow. There’s a lot of BS in that paragraph. He pays lip service to the Second Amendment, then immediately says to infringe the one that says it shouldn’t be infringed. Also, nobody believes that a permit is a guarantee against crime. That’s a straw man. Trust me, I taught the Utah CCW course to thousands, and nobody thinks of their handgun as a cross that wards off vampires.

No, the issue is common sense.

Common sense suggests that it is a lot harder to commit mass murder when your targets can shoot back.

Anita Sarkeesian was scheduled to speak about how women are portrayed in popular media, and especially in video games.

I’ve never gotten into GamerGate here on the blog, but basically Anita Sarkeesian is a professional victim, Social Justice Warrior, who thinks you are enjoying yourself wrong, and if you disagree you are a racist, homophobic, misogynist.

If you are a regular blog reader who followed Sad Puppies at all, same thing, same crusaders, same song, different industry.

Late Monday, someone sent an email to about a dozen USU offices threatening a deadly massacre if she were allowed to speak. It threatened “the deadliest school shooting in American history.”

As somebody who has gotten lots of death threats, anybody who sends a death threat is scum. They are vermin.

However, they are also a fact of life on the internet, and if you have enough of an audience and take a stand for anything, you will receive threats against your life. That big gun control blog post I linked above? That one had a million readers in the first month and got me on Huckabee. I had several “caring liberals” threaten to murder my entire family over that one.

Any moron with an internet connection can send a threat. The last thing you want to do is publicize these things. The people sending the threats are losers seeking attention. By publishing their threats far and wide and cancelling events, you’ve given them power.

School officials and law enforcement said they determined the threat was not credible, but that really didn’t matter.

Hold on… The TRUTH didn’t matter?

It wasn’t just the USU police, but the FBI that specialize in internet crimes that said this threat was bunk. Hell, I’m not exactly a cybercrimes expert, but I read it and scoffed. It was written like it came from somebody whose knowledge of weapons and violence came from reading the newspaper (hint, actual gun experts don’t talk about their “semi-automatic” weapons).

Not to mention they tracked it back to originating in Brazil, so he’d have to fly to another continent, catch another flight to Utah, and last time I looked the TSA frowns on pipe bombs in your carry-on luggage. So logistically after he comes to another hemisphere, he could try to illegally procure weapons as a non-resident or procure bomb materials on unfamiliar territory, without attracting attention, all while planning an attack on new ground in a very short period of time, and then pull it off in a place where the audience can shoot him.

Since I’m guessing this guy isn’t Frank Castle, I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it.  

Under Utah law, Utah State University had no choice but to let people with permits carry guns into the hall, and they had no mechanism for determining who had such a permit and who was, in fact, carrying a weapon.

Wow… No. Does anybody fact check anything in these things? There are several mistakes here.

First off, USU did have a choice because there is a provision in the law for a normally open to the public establishment to temporarily become a Secure Facility. The legislature worked this out with the US Secret Service prior to presidential and vice presidential visits. The facility may be secured, and CCW prohibited, provided that admission is controlled, and lockers are provided for any guests who are carrying firearms so that they can safely store their weapons. Then they control the entrance and exits. That usually means guards and metal detectors.

USU chose not to go this route because the FBI said the threat was bunk.

Next error, there is no mechanism for determining who had a permit? Uh… It is a little laminated red card with your picture on it you carry in your wallet like a driver’s license or any other state issued ID. If you want to make sure a permit is legit, you can call the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification and they can tell you if a permit is valid or not in a couple of seconds. Gun dealers do this every time they sell a gun in Utah to a permit holder when the buyer fills out a 4473 form for the BATF. Hell, the database is online! Police can access it whenever they want.

And another problem, he says there is no mechanism for determining who is in fact carrying a weapon… Think about that critically for a moment.  There is no way to know if the hypothetical mass murderer is carrying a weapon either, because he sure as hell isn’t going to tell you, and he’s certainly not going to decide to call it a day and not go commit the couple hundred felonies he had planned because of your No Guns Allowed sign.

News flash, the people who get permits aren’t the ones you need to worry about.

Sarkeesian, who said she has spoken in the face of death threats elsewhere, canceled her speech, citing concern over that law.

And then Sarkeesian called for all of her followers to boycott the state of Utah.

So give into the demands of a professional victim, or continue to protect our children from mass murder… tough call.

Common sense would dictate that a university could prohibit weapons and set up metal detectors at an event that has been targeted with death threats.

USU actually had the option of doing just that and creating a legal Secure Facility, but they chose to listen to the FBI, save their money, and not hassle their students and faculty instead. Go Aggies.

If an armed officer were present, this would be a much more effective counter to any attack than the crossfire of multiple weapons carriers.

Oh bull crap. So in the last decade of us allowing guns in schools, do you have any examples of these terrible Wild West style crossfire shootouts between multiple permit holders in Utah? Heck, expand it beyond Utah. Of the millions and millions of permit holders out there, do you have any examples of these hypothetical mistaken identity crossfires?

Crickets.

Not that any of this would actually matter, because come on… why the hell would somebody smart, capable, and wise enough to take the necessary steps to carry a gun to provide for their own safety want to listen to a professional victim feminist whine about gamers for an hour? I’ve got a gut feeling that hall would be the closest thing to a gun free zone on campus that day regardless.

As far as armed officers being present, I would suspect that the USU police would have an officer present at any large speaking engagement, especially one with any sort of potential for conflict of any sort.

But common sense has been brushed aside.

You keep using the term, but last time I checked “wishful thinking” and “emotionally laden nonsense” weren’t synonyms with “common sense”. If you say something stupid and then call it common sense, that doesn’t make it sensible. It is still stupid. Sort of like “social justice” or “economic fairness”.  

For whatever reason, the gaming community has attracted an element that threatens to kill feminists.

And Social Justice Warriors have attracted an element that threaten to kill conservative authors. Cry me a river.

Such threats should not be taken lightly,

I’m doing a book signing at the U of U bookstore on Halloween day. Since these are Larry Correia fans, I’m assuming there will be so many concealed weapons there that it will be like the opposite of a gun free zone, and probably the safest place on campus.  🙂

nor should arguments that a room full of people with concealed weapons is a deterrent to a deranged criminal be given credence.

A room full of people with concealed weapons isn’t a deterrent to committing violent crime? Maybe if your bad guy is on a kamikaze mission.  And hate to break it to you, but if that’s what you’re up against, he isn’t going to give a crap about your cops or metal detectors either. For anybody else not trying to commit suicide, getting shot a couple dozen times by bystanders is usually a pretty strong deterrent. That’s why mass shooters keep attacking gun free zones instead of shooting ranges or police stations. I go into great detail on that point in the above link, so basically let me say that paragraph is one of the most willfully ignorant piles of dreck I’ve ever had the displeasure of fisking.

Utah lawmakers need to change this silly and potentially dangerous law.

That’s the beauty of having fifty states. If you don’t like this one, feel free to pack your stuff and go to one of the other ones more to your liking. Utah actually loves our kids, so we don’t feel like making it easier for psychopaths to kill large numbers of them to placate your angst.

 

 

File 770 is mad at me again, so I explain how authors Get Paid

I got a track back in the comments on this:

http://file770.com/?p=18813 

Glyver has had this weird hate boner for me ever since I meddled in the sainted Hugo process. I can’t imagine why a guy with 28 Hugo nominations would be upset when somebody starts a campaign to get outsiders nominated. Of course, he gets just about everything wrong in his summation of what Sad Puppies is about, but we’re used to that sort of hit and run tactic. At least he didn’t say it was about promoting racism.

I don’t have time to do a proper fisking, but the article is about the latest Vox vs. Scalzi thing, and somehow I got drug into it. Apparently Scalzi got angry on Twitter because people kept telling him I make more money than he does. A. I have no idea if I do or not. B. I don’t really care.

Somehow I got appointed to be the right wing’s “gold standard” so Glyver then goes about to prove how I’m really not and later the commenters helpfully explain how my career is in “free fall.” Hoo boy, here we go. They really shouldn’t say stuff like that to a retired accountant.

First off, let’s go through how the New York Times list actually works. It is confusing, biased, and not particularly accurate. Yes, I’ve been happy every time I’ve made the list. I’m also happy to use the NYT Bestselling bit in bios for one big reason. Most regular people, even those who don’t pay attention to the writing world think it is a big deal. So the title has some prestige to it, but it really shouldn’t, and I’ll explain why.

The NYT bestseller list is based upon the reported numbers from a select, supposedly secret group of reporting bookstores. It is also based on the sales for one week, so it isn’t looking at overall sales as much as sales velocity. For example, if a book sells a thousand copies a week for the whole year, it probably won’t make the list, but if a book sells 10k copies in one week and never sells another copy again, it will be a bestseller. This is how the Snookis and various Real House Wives end up on the list, yet they’re the most bargain binned and remaindered type of book there is.

Because the supposedly secret reporting stores aren’t really secret to any publicist, if a publisher wants to spend enough marketing money they can game the system and shove a book onto the list for a bit.  You just need to sell a bunch of books through the reporting stores (of course it depends on who else has something new you are competing against that week too). Some publishers have been more dishonest about this than others. I skimmed the linked Vox article. That’s what he’s talking about. How I got roped into this, I have no clue.

As for Vox’s article, a couple of things, I’ve got no clue if Tor’s marketing games the system and even if they did, to be fair Scalzi would have zero input over what the marketing department at his publisher does. Most publicists are going to send you to those reporting stores to do signings. Sometimes they’ll do co-op advertising (yeah, the big displays of books at the front of the store? Publishers pay for those).

As for making the list one week, sci-fi and fantasy are such comparatively small genres that unless they’ve got something else going for them they will usually only be on there for a week. Keep in mind that the NYT isn’t breaking it out by genre, which is why the list is usually dominated by thrillers and romances. If a fantasy has a media tie in, like Game of Thrones, Outlander, or True Blood, then that gets it out of the sci-fi/fantasy sales ghetto and keeps those books on the list for long periods of time. The only other fantasy novels that hang on for long times are the A lister stars like Brandon Sanderson or Scott Card. The rest of us show up for a week or not at all.

Making the list is really nice for an author, because then you get a little bit of extra attention you might not have otherwise got, but remember aspiring authors, the important thing is that you GET PAID. It doesn’t take into account most bookstores. It doesn’t take into account eBooks. It doesn’t take into account foreign sales, ancillary rights, audiobooks, etc. All of those things enable you to GET PAID.  And the most important thing in the world for getting paid is that your older backlist of books are still on shelves, and still slowly selling, so you’re still getting paid for work you did years ago.

The most accurate measure of book sales is Nielsen Bookscan, because about 70% of bookstores report their sales to it. It is a way better measure than the NYT, but since most regular people have never heard of it, that’s why you never see authors putting Nielsen Bookscan bestseller on their bios. Keep in mind however that saying something is more accurate than the NYT is damning with faint praise, most of that sweet paying stuff I listed in the previous paragraphs isn’t in there either, so it is only a partial picture of how an author is actually doing.

Here is an article from Forbes about the problems with Bookscan.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/suwcharmananderson/2013/01/07/can-nielsen-bookscan-stay-relevant-in-the-digital-age/   So basically they account for 70% of 50%, but that’s still more accurate than the NYT.

My last release was Monster Hunter Nemesis. It was the biggest release I ever had. According to Nielsen I was #2 in fantasy (lost to Outlander). I hit #1 on all of Audible and hung out in the top 10 for the month. On Amazon, I had the #1 urban fantasy eBook, and hung out in the top 10 for the month. I’m pretty damned happy about that. It didn’t make the NYT list at all.

Glyver called me Garth Brooks… Well, 2 seconds of Google and Forbes says Garth Brooks’ net worth is 150 million, so I wish.  Sick burn, dude.

Then there was this winner in the comments:

Well, according to Bookscan Larry’s sales are in freefall. His first mm pb book sold some 51,000 copies, but that was back in 2009, which was an entire different publishing world, then. His latest book in mass market? 3500 copies, at best. He seems to be trading on past success,but honestly most of his books (and his compatriots) are selling poorly. Hoyt’s latest? 200 copies. Freer’s? 600 copies. If anything a lot of this is just knee-jerking on their part, and suggestive that perhaps they should figure out why their sales are plummeting, instead of picking on others for their misfortunes.

Huh? I’m not sure which misfortunes I’m picking on, and since I keep making more money, I’m not really sure how I can plummet upwards.

For my stats I’m not really sure what he’s looking at there, since my last mass market to come out was Warbound in May, which sold about that many, except it came out in hard cover first and had already done pretty good there (not to mention I earned back most of my advance off of eARC sales on that one!).  I can’t speak for Dave or Sarah, but I’ll go through how those numbers can be extremely misleading.

I want to concentrate on the “trading on past success” bit. This irks my inner-auditor to no end, and I really want to crush it, but at the same time I don’t want to start throwing out my personal finances on the internet. So I’m trying to think about how to phrase this without my publisher or my wife yelling at me.

Every single royalty check I’ve had has been larger than the previous one. If I was trading on past successes, wouldn’t that be going the other way? On the contrary, my last royalty was 11% higher than the prior one. That one was 28% higher than the one before it. That one was up 15%, which was good since it was up a massive 43% from the one before it. (all the accountants are laughing now because they realize I’ve gotten back into the statistical trickery of how it looks way more impressive to go to 3 from 2, rather than 7 books to 8).  One reason my royalties have continued to grow is that my earlier books are still consistently selling and being reordered, so it makes for a nice continual income stream.

The more stuff you get out there, the more backlist you’ve got to sell, the more money you make. Like I said earlier, I don’t know which one of us makes more money, but I’ve only been doing this since 2009, and Scalzi’s got like a 5 year head start on me, so just by sellable backlist growth he should be making more money.

To give those of you who want to be professional full time authors here is an example of how a D List author’s stuff breaks down. My last royalty check was for the 6 month period ending December 31st, 2013. Because there is a delay in how royalties are calculated, my last 3 books aren’t on there yet. This is just royalties, not advances. To be vague but give you a ballpark, my royalties for those 6 months was about four times the median per capita yearly income for my state (thanks Wikipedia!).

Of that, only 1% was from Dead Six. My military thrillers don’t get shelved in the Larry Correia section of your local B&N, so after their release they have fallen off. It was a higher % last statement. Swords isn’t on there yet. Keep in mind that number is only half of what the book made because I’m splitting it 50/50 with my co-author. So you might ask, why bother with the thrillers? Why finish the trilogy? These certainly aren’t the most economically efficient use of my writing time, but I enjoy writing them, and my 50% has still made enough off D6 to pay about 10 mortgage payments over the last couple years.

Hard Magic and Spellbound both made a consistent 21%, for 42% of my royalties for the 6 month period. Warbound will be on the next one. None of the Grimnoir trilogy made the NYT list, but now this is where it gets interesting and we have some fun with statistics. So far in total I’ve made almost as much money off of each Grimnoir novel as I have off of the MH novels. Spellbound and Warbound both had bigger selling release weeks than MHA or MHV (which both made the NYT), so what’s the deal? These must be indicators of my “freefall” right?

Nope. Let’s take Hard Magic for example. Keeping things vague, so far Hard Magic has earned money sufficient to make about 50 of my mortgage payments (for perspective, I live in the mountains by a ski resort in a 4,500 square foot house I built 3 years ago, so it ain’t too shabby), or to put it another way, about 1/3 of that Aston Martin I really want (damn you, Clarkson, for showing me the car that haunts my dreams).  But here’s where it gets interesting. 44%(!) of that money is from subrights.

Subrights include things like audio books and foreign translations. None of the Grimnoir novels made the NYT, but they’ve been some of the bestselling audio books on Audible for a few years now. If I could sell regular books proportionate to how I’ve done in audio, I’d already have that DB9. Foreign isn’t anything to sneeze at either. Of the translations, Grimnoir is doing surprisingly well in France. I’ve got a Chinese translation coming out too that I’m really excited for (Asia loves noir-pulp).

Another interesting stat to be gleaned from looking at Hard Magic’s details, and I can’t say anything more specific about this one because I know Toni would kill me, but the percentage from Baen’s Webscriptions (eBooks direct from Baen) is surprisingly large. These aren’t recorded on any bestseller list, but man, it is like having a second Amazon sized amount of money coming in. There’s a lot of loyal customers on there, and eARCs are awesome.

So now let’s get into the books that pay my bills. 57% of my royalties for that period were for MHI, MHV, MHA, and MHL. Nemesis just came out a few months ago, so I won’t see it for a bit. How these have broken down is that I always get a spike from the most recent, and then it tapers off on later statements. MHV has been out for 4 years, but it still earned enough in this 6 month period to pay 7 mortgage payments (or enough to make sure that DB9 has the nice interior and cup holders!).

The subrights percentage for the MHI books varies, but is a bit lower overall that Grimnoir. It has done better in print, done pretty darn good in audio, but hasn’t had nearly as many foreign translations. (A German one just came out this year, so I’m curious how that will do). However, that subrights percent has been higher on previous statements when I’ve been paid for the TV options (MH has been optioned for TV, Grimnoir hasn’t). Now TV option money isn’t huge, but it is nice. Production on the other hand, that’s huge money.

The way TV and movies work is that a production company “options” your book. That basically means they’re paying you money so they can hold onto the rights to keep you from selling it to somebody else. Then in the contract, if they actually go into production you get paid a whole lot more. You’ll see authors refer to something as being “in development” and that usually means that their book has been optioned. That sounds great and all but you need to realize the vast majority of the things Hollywood options never get made. MH has been optioned for 3 years and they’ve finally brought in screen writers and moved it out of development limbo, but since this is Hollywood, I’m not holding my breath. I’ll believe it when the production check clears. Then it is super car time.

I’ve only talked about royalties and subrights, not advances. Now every publisher is different but normally an author will be paid an “advance against royalties” that you’ve got to earn back first before you start collecting royalties. However, every single one of my books has earned out during the first royalty period so it hasn’t mattered much. I’m not exactly living paycheck to paycheck here, and my paychecks are 6 months apart.

When you are starting out, big advances are nice, because that means the publisher is probably going to spend some marketing energy on you. Maybe. But if it doesn’t earn out in a timely manner, that publisher may now look at you as a financial loser. My advances now are pretty decent, but when I was just starting out they were small. The way my advances are structured I get a third on signing, a third on turn in, and a third on release. I’ll have two turn ins this year. None of the money I’ve talked about so far has included the advances. The way it has worked out for me, advances are nice, but I’ve made the real money long term.

In 2011 my writing income increased 65% over 2010’s total. 2012 I only had an 11% increase. 2013 made up for it with a 56% increase. 2014 is on track to handily beat last year. I’ve already paid more in withholding taxes than I made in all of 2010. So my “plummet” is kind of backwards, since it goes up, but I’m guessing Glyver’s posters aren’t accountants.

The lesson to be taken from this, those of you who want to make a living at it, is that you need to keep producing books. Some will do better than others. But the more you produce, the more likely somebody is to read your stuff and tell their friends. Eventually you’ll end up with a chunk of shelf at the local bookstores devoted to you, which they’ll keep restocking as your backlist sells. The big flashy hit is nice and all, but a steady, reliable, and growing audience is pretty damned sweet.

For example, I don’t think Lee Modesitt has ever made the NYT bestseller list. Except Lee has 50 something books still in print, continuously selling, all over the world. The man has done extremely well for himself.  I’d rather be Lee than a NYT bestseller nobody ever hears of again.

Do you get now why looking at one number in a vacuum can be really misleading? Yes, in 2009 I sold a lot of MHI paperbacks, except I sold almost nothing in eBook, had zero hardcover sales, and zero subright’s money.  Or another way to look at it, I made more money off of writing short stories and game tie in fiction last year than I made in all of 2010. In 2013 I sold $108,000 worth of MHI merchandise.

Apparently Garth Brooks and I both have friends in low places. 🙂

EDIT, months later, because I am an accountant, and therefore have to complete whatever I start, the last royalty check of 2014 was 37% bigger than the big one I talked about above. And total 2014 closed out 36% bigger than 2013.

Never, fight an accountant when math is on the line. 🙂