James May, who keeps posting here, is the gift that never stops giving. In one of his most recent posts, he insists once again that the SJW (social justice warrior) hordes are a menace to science fiction. So, in this essay, I will go through his points one at a time to show how ridiculous they are whether examined in part or (especially) as a whole.

Let’s start with his first two paragraphs:

“I don’t have to pretend anything. It’s not my imagination this crusading feminist movement exists nor that it’s baked into core SFF at every level as the new go-to ideological orthodoxy. In fact they do amount to squat. This is a very specific ideology that speaks a very specific faux-academic language and has very specific goals and issues. It is radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist to its core and its central bogey man is the straight white man.

“As an example, just the 5 ideologically same-page winners of the Nebulas last year alone outnumber the entire imaginary racially and sexually supremacist culture supposedly bound by a similar opposite number ideology from Burroughs in 1912 to Niven/Pournelle in 1974. There is no semantic or thematic ideology that binds Burroughs, Heinlein, Van Vogt, Asimov, Herbert, Zelazny and Niven into such a club. That is a matter of record, as is the non-fiction writings of those 5 2014 Nebula winners.”

The first thing to notice about this rant is that in the name of attacking a “crusading” movement which is an “ideological orthodoxy” that “speaks a very specific faux-academic language” James May immediately proceeds to…

Use crusading terminology which is ideologically orthodox and speaks a very specific faux-academic language: “It is radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist to its core.” That phrase is practically dripping Rush Limbaugh-speak.

He then informs us that all—yup, each and every one—of the 2014 Nebula winners were “ideologically same-page” which is a “matter of record.”

Wow. A dire menace, indeed.

By the way, the five Nebula winners last year were:

  •           Novel: Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
  •           Novella: “The Weight of the Sunrise”, by Vylar Kaftan
  •           Novelette: “The Waiting Stars”, by Aliette de Bodard
  •           Short Story: “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, by Rachel Swirsky

I’m not quite sure who James May is categorizing as the fifth horsewoman of the apocalypse, but I’ll assume he’s not objecting to the movie Gravity which won the Ray Bradbury Award. Although I will note that it’s highly suspicious that the movie stars a woman. Granted, Sandra Bullock is an Academy Award winner and a number of her movies have done very well at the box office. Still… why couldn’t they have made a man the central figure in the movie? Why the gratuitous choice of a female?

It’s suspicious, at least, and possibly further evidence that the dread radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist crusade has been at work here.

But, moving on, I’ll assume that James May’s objection is to Nalo Hopkinson winning the Andre Norton Award for Sister Mine. (Boy, you want to talk about an inflammatory radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist title!)

Here’s what’s most interesting, though. Having leveled the accusation, James May does absolutely nothing to substantiate it. He simply makes the assertion that all the winners are part of this “radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist” cabal and goes on his way.

This is quite typical of the anti-SJW crowd and it’s something George R.R. Martin has criticized a number of times. These people make sweeping generalizations at the drop of a hat and they paraphrase with wild abandon. Scrupulous documentation of their claims? Not so much.

Okay, moving on to his next paragraph:

“100% of the most important Hugo winners last year were all supporters of this cult. How do I know that? It’s easy. Their obsession with whites, men and heterosexuals together with equally odd phrases like “white privilege,” “white savior,” cis normative,” “neurotypical,” “rape culture” and much more mark their lingo as much as “gracias” marks Spanish. They stand out like a sore thumb and don’t even try and hide this stuff; quite the contrary. If you’re not reading their non-fiction comments it has nothing to do with people who are. This stuff is a simple matter of record.”

A simple matter of record which…

Again, James May feels no need to record.

In one of my former lives I was a TA in the history department at UCLA. In that capacity, I read and graded a lot of essays written by students in which they attempted, with greater or lesser success, to advance an historical proposition.

So far, James May’s essay advancing the proposition that science fiction as a genre—or at least its most prestigious awards—have been overwhelmed by a radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist crusade is getting an F. He’s made no attempt to substantiate a single one of his claims. Literally, not one.

But, finally, after the first three paragraphs of his tirade, he starts presenting concrete evidence. He begins by quoting from the two most recent presidents of SFWA (which, for those of you who don’t know, is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, an organization of F&SF writers).

“Hard as it to believe, somewhere right now, a white, straight male is explaining to a woman or POC (person of color) what they =really= meant.” – Steven Gould, science fiction (SF) author and president of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA)

“I’ve been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word ‘privilege,’ to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon.” – John Scalzi, SF author, winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, five time nominated, three time winner of the Hugo Award, Nebula Award nominee and president of the SFWA

James May apparently finds both of these statements outrageous and proof positive of the pervasive influence of the radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist crusade. Presidents of SFWA, no less! Oh, the power they wield…

I’ll start with the second statement, that of John Scalzi. Which:

  1. I agree with completely.
  2. Think is quite witty.
  3. And the truth of which James May himself is a perfect illustration.

Moving on to the statement of Steven Gould, I find myself in complete agreement with it also. All Steven is doing here is referring to the common—indeed, well-nigh ubiquitous—practice known as “mansplaining.”

What is “mansplaining”? As an accomplished mansplainer myself in my youth, I feel competent to address the subject. I will do so by using an incident from my own past.

Mansplaining has been around for, oh, a very long time. Way back in 1968 or thereabouts—almost half a century ago—I was sitting around a table in UCLA’s Student Union. One of the people at the table was a woman about my own age (21, at the time) named Ronnie. In the course of expounding on something or other, I happened to use the term “chicks” to refer to women.

Ronnie immediately objected to the term. Not stridently, but still firmly. She said she found it demeaning to women.

Immediately, my mansplaining reflex kicked in and I mansplained to her that the term “chick,” so far from being derogatory to women, was actually a term of jocular affection, much like referring to men as “guys.”

Ronnie got a stubborn look on her face and said she didn’t like it. Period.

At that point, thankfully, other reflexes kicked in. Because whatever else I’d imbibed from my parents, one of the things they’d taught me was what is called Good Manners. And when someone tells you that he or she doesn’t like being called something, it is simple Good Manners to cease and desist. It doesn’t matter what the “merits” of the issue might be. “Merits” are irrelevant. What’s really involved is basic decency and respect for another person.

The only people who don’t understand that are boors and oafs—that is to say, the very people Steven Gould is referring to in the quote.

I stopped using the term “chick” around Ronnie. And, quite soon, stopped using it altogether because upon inquiry I discover that a lot of women didn’t care for it either. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that Ronnie became a good friend and wound up marrying one of my close friends and roommates, to whom she is still married to this day. Perhaps that’s partly because he stopped using the term “chicks” also. Amazing how that works.

Since this seems astonishingly difficult for the James Mays of the world to understand, I will try to explain it by subtracting females, gays and lesbians, and people of color from the equation, because I suspect his hyper-alertness for any trace of the much-feared Political Correctness Gestapo may be clouding his judgment.

My friend and frequent co-author David Weber is male, white and straight. (And for good measure, he’s also politically conservative and a devout Methodist.) He prefers—for whatever peculiar reasons he may have—to be called “David.” I try my best to adhere to his wishes, simply because it’s his name and that’s what he wishes. See reference to “good manners” above.

Occasionally, I lapse and call him “Dave.” In my defense, there are way too many David and Daves in my life—three co-authors, Weber, Drake and Freer; an old friend (Dave McDonald), a relatively new friend and fellow author (David Coe), a brother-in-law, the list seems endless. It’s sometimes hard to keep them straight.

But here’s what I’ve never done. I’ve never mansplained to David that his first name should really be “Davey” because in my superior wisdom I have come to understand that he is intrinsically a “Davey.” Should he not—the author of the Honor Harrington series (okay, the protagonist is a damn woman but we’ll let that pass)—share a name with the bold frontiersman Davey Crockett rather than the effete and probably-influenced-by-radical-lesbian-centric-racialized feminists David Bowie?

No, no, Eric Flint knows best. David should be a Davey. And if he objects, then clearly he too is being influenced by the radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist crusade. (Sadly, there’s already a lot of evidence to that effect. Leaving aside the suspicious behavior involved in making a female the central figure in a series devoted to manly military action, there’s all the evidence scattered thought the rest of the series. Let’s start with the fact that the Queen of the Star Empire is, first, a queen; and second, she’s black. Why didn’t he pick a white guy, dammit?)

Steven Gould is also quite correct is saying that mansplaining is alive and well today. Indeed, at this very moment and for the past several years, we’ve all been presented with a splendid and very prominent case of mansplaining.

For some time now, Daniel Snyder, the billionaire owner of the Washington Redskins football team—and a boor and an oaf of the first order—has been mansplaining to American Indians that the term “redskins” is not derogatory to them as they so erroneously believe, but is instead a term of honor and respect.

All right, let’s move on and see if James May can come up with something better than taking exception to two statements which are completely accurate and non-objectionable.

Finally, we get to something that seems more substantial:

 “SFF is, alas, dominated by white westerners” – Aliette de Bodard, science fiction and fantasy (SFF) author , five-time nominated, two-time winner of the Nebula Award and two-time nominee for the Hugo Award, SFWA member.”

Oh, the horror. Well, okay, the only horror is in the one word “alas.” The rest of the sentence—“SFF is dominated by white westerners”—is a simple statement of fact.

Why does de Bodard think “alas” needs to be added to the sentence? I have no idea—and since James May (typically for his crowd) always quotes out of context, I have no way of knowing. She may simply have been making a wisecrack, along the lines of the joke favored by many of my Latino friends: “Alas, poor Mexico. So far from God, so close to the United States.” I’ve always thought that was pretty witty, and since I know the history involved I don’t have any trouble understanding why a Mexican might feel that way. But I’ve run across people who are deeply offended by the joke since it fails to appreciate American Exceptionalism. (A term which has no coherent meaning except for serving its proponents as a general purpose Get Out Of Jail Free card. “It’s not America’s fault if we did X,Y, or Z. We’re exceptional. Rules don’t apply to us.”)

Alas, having been influenced by the radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist mindset myself—starting many years ago, at that—I have picked up the unmanly habit of trying to put myself in someone else’s position. On the other hand, maybe that’s part of the reason I sell a lot of books.

Moving on, we come to this outrage:

I’m increasingly less likely to pick up a book if it is another straight white dude story.” – Kate Elliot, Nebula-nominated SFF author and SFWA member

And this one, in a similar vein:

 “Sunil Patel@ghostwritingcow It is no coincidence that my book review column features no white male authors. They can have EVERYWHERE ELSE.”

Um. As “outrages” go, these are pretty lame. Any reviewer has the right to review whichever author she wishes to. I wonder if James May is equally outraged by the fact that Soldier of Fortune magazine rarely (in fact, never, so far as I know) reviews romance novels.

But leaving that aside, the key issue here goes right to the heart of the whole dispute we’re having. What James May does, following the standard playbook of the anti-SJW crowd and at least some of the Sad Puppies, is go around and collect statements—almost always taken out of context—that he feels exhibit the outrageously radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist attitudes of the “Social Justice Warriors.”

In half the cases, from what I can tell, there isn’t anything outrageous about the comments anyway. But even if they were all “outrageous,” I repeat what I’ve been demanding since my first essay;


The real issue is whether any of this amounts to anything beyond a tempest in a teapot. The fact that someone somewhere makes a jackass comment does not mean that either that person or the comment have any real significance to The Big Wide World. The claim James May has to substantiate is his claim that it does really matter. But he never makes any attempt to do so. He seems to think, as do all the people who share his stance, that it’s enough to simply quote an outrageous statement by somebody, somewhere, sometime, to prove that This Is A Really Big Deal.

No. It’s. Not. And I will substantiate my claim.

Let’s start with this last issue, concerning the unwillingness of some reviewers to review books written by white men, or at least their increasing reluctance to do so.

As a professional author, this is supposed to outrage me….


I very rarely get reviewed anyway, in much more prominent venues than the ones being managed by Kate Elliott and Sunil Patel. To the best of my knowledge, in a career that has now spanned almost two decades in the course of which I have published almost fifty novels and a fair amount of shorter fiction, I have gotten a total of two—count ‘em, two—major reviews in major SF magazines. (For the record, a review of Mother of Demons in SF Chronicle and a review of 1632 by Charles de Lint in The Magazine of F&SF.) Both of those reviews date back many years ago. There may be a few reviews I missed, but it can’t be many. For sure—I just checked their own data base—I have never gotten a review in Locus other than a few very short reviews by Carolyn Cushman a long time ago, mostly of some novels I co-authored with Mercedes Lackey. This, despite getting a large number of my novels on Locus’ own bestseller list.

So it goes. Nor is this peculiar to me. Many popular authors—not all, but many—don’t get reviewed in SF magazines or do so very rarely. (They do, however, get reviewed quite often in publishing trade journals like Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist and Kirkus. But while those have an effect on distributors and library buyers, they’re almost never read by the mass audience.) When I mentioned some time ago to Lee Modesitt that I’d never gotten a major Locus review, he nodded and told me he hadn’t gotten a review in something like fifteen years.

Why does that happen? The reasons are somewhat complicated but it’s a subject for another day. Just believe me when I say that it does.

And… who cares? My career does not depend on Locus reviews, or those in any other SF magazine or web site. It never has and it never will. That’s because all the SF magazines put together are so many—or rather, so few—very small fish in a very large pond. For every F&SF reader who’s heard of Locus, there are at least twenty or thirty who’ve heard of me. And there are at least a hundred who’ve heard of David Weber or Mercedes Lackey.

Meaning no offense to either Kate Elliott or Sunil Patel, I simply don’t care whether they review my work or not. So why am I supposed to be outraged by their attitudes? Especially when they have every right to hold that attitude and act on it.

This is just silly. Am I supposed to be outraged that Soldier of Fortune magazine has never reviewed any of my novels either, despite the fact that lots of my novels have lots and lots of really really manly action in them?

And don’t bother telling me that Soldier of Fortune doesn’t claim to review SF novels. I know that. But if that magazine has the right to delineate its intended subject matter and audience, then why doesn’t Kate Elliott or Sunil Patel?

As for the statements he quotes from two recent SFWA presidents…

Again, even if their statements had been outrageous—which they weren’t—so what? Is James May under the delusion that SFWA is a mighty organization that controls the careers of authors and whose presidents wield power unmatched since Tamerlane strode the stage of history?

If he does, he can check with John Scalzi or Steven Gould—or any previous president of SFWA going back to the ghost of the organization’s founder, Damon Knight. They will quickly disabuse him of the notion.

Okay, moving on. Let’s look at the next instance of outrageous SJWism.

“sounds like something a straight white cis dude does, secure that his position and privilege will always be there.” – Veronica Schanoes, Nebula nominated SFF author and SFWA member”

Ooooooh…  Now this does look really juicy. There’s no question that Schanoes’ statement is saturated with radical-lesbian-centric-racialized-feminist-speak. Jeepers. When my eyes fell on “straight white cis dude” my head…

I’d say “my head almost exploded” but that’d be a bald-faced lie. Actually, I just laughed.

I’m going to stop here because after a while this gets to be a pointless exercise. The more posts James May and people who think the way he does put up here, the more something becomes blindingly obvious.

Is there anything in the world that does not upset them? I mean, Jesus H. Christ. How fucking insecure can you get?

The best James May can come up with is a handful of statements—okay, two handfuls—all of them taken out of context, and at least half of them statements that I have no problem with anyway. (And I can’t tell whether or not I would with the rest because context is actually important.)

What James May has completely failed to do is back up his central thesis, which is that “this crusading feminist movement” is “baked into core SFF at every level as the new go-to ideological orthodoxy.”

At every level? Really? Does that include the level of sales to the mass audience—which is far and away the most critical level there is? If so, then please explain the ongoing popularity of such “cis dude” (God, I love that term) white authors as Jim Butcher, David Weber, Raymond Feist, R.A. Salvatore, Brandon Sanderson, Terry Brooks, Neil Gaiman, John Ringo, Terry Pratchett, Kevin Anderson—oh, it’s a very long list. (And my apologies to any cis dude whom I overlooked.)

Not to mention John Scalzi, Larry Correia and, well, me.

It finally occurred to me to conduct an experiment. Since some people complain so loudly, constantly and angrily about the all-pervasive power and influence of the “social justice warriors” (aka SJWs) I decided to find these monstrous creatures.

So, this being the Age of the Internet, I searched for them on Google. And…

Made a fascinating discovery.

They seem to exist mostly in the minds of their enemies.

I’m not kidding—and you can do this experiment for yourselves. Right at home!

All you have to do is Google “social justice warriors.” Here’s what you’ll find:

Of the entries on the first few pages—I stopped somewhere in the middle of the fourth page—only one of them, so far as I could see, is clearly pro-SJW. Leaving aside several entries about a new game called “Social Justice Warriors,” most of the links are to sites which are hostile to “social justice warriors,” and some of them rabidly so. The most entertaining (to me, anyway; okay, sometimes I’m a little quirky) is a site that seems mostly devoted to “pick up” advice to (presumably young) men unsure of how to go about getting laid.

What stands out to me is that so far as I can tell most of the shrieking about “social justice warriors” comes from people who seem to have a level of insecurity and anxiety that can only be described as astronomical. (That’s a more polite way of saying “pathological.”) Let an author (hell, anyone) anywhere make a statement that in any way offends their oh-so-very-offendable sensibilities, and they immediately start screaming that they are being downtrodden by the SJW behemoth.

As I was about to post this essay, I saw that James May had just put up another post in my web site that, by God, did name more names. More than a dozen!

Okay… What the hell, once more into the breach.

Here’s May’s post, in its entirety, with my comments afterward:

Comment: Hugo nominated Skiffy and Fanty podcaster Cecily Kane: “The straight white dude perspective is basically the Dunning-Kruger effect apex of all civilization.”

John W. Campbell nominee two years running Requires Hate: “Beetori Sritruslow @talkinghive 9h9 hours ago It’s like white men literally don’t understand how anything works.”

SFF Convention Guest of Honor and Game Developer Brianna Wu: “Women seeking equality on one side. Vicious sexists on the other. White, cishet men with all the power, smiling as they decide what’s fair”

SFF author and blogger Amal El-Mohtar: “White people talking about how inclusive fandom used to be when there were fewer brown people & queers to make them uncomfortable.”

2016 WorldCon Guest of Honor Teresa Nielsen-Hayden: “I was being unfair to all the perfectly reasonable straight white guys out there.”

Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award-winning SFF author Ken Liu: “‘authentic’ seems often to mean ‘what white people would approve'”

WisCon organizer and blogger K. Tempest Bradford: “You know, whiteness is a hell of a drug. It really is.”

SFF author Sunny Moraine on diversity: “If your writing is full of white men, it’s shitty writing.”

SF blogger, Readercon panelist Natalie Luhrs: “Man, so great seeing all these white dudes talking about how fucking awesome they are for standing up to G—-Gate.”

WisCon SF Convention organizer and panelist Jaymee Goh: “Seems lately every week is white stupidity week. And they complain about a month in a year!”

Reviewer at Lightspeed Magazine and writer Sunil Patel: “Curious: how many of you refuse to watch/read something if it’s about Yet Another Straight White Man?”

Reply from SFWA member and Nebula nominee Kate Elliott: “Same is true of books. I’m increasingly less likely to pick up a book if it is another straight white dude story.”

Second reply from another SFF fan: “I’m taking a yearlong break from books by men, full stop, and dramatically scaling back on stories about them.”

Last reply from SFWA member and review editor of SFF at Publisher’s Weekly Rose Fox: “Alas, my job doesn’t let me refuse.”

We have here a total of fourteen Outrageous Statements. Or, at least, Statements That James May Finds Outrageous. So let’s go through them.

First, we have to subtract the three statements that actually aren’t outrageous at all. Those are the statements by Teresa Nielsen-Hayden, Ken Liu and K. Tempest Bradford. Nielsen Hayden’s statements is an apology for perhaps being a bit over-the-top and acknowledging that the world has plenty of “perfectly reasonable straight white guys.”

How is this “outrageous”? It seems perfectly sensible to me—even commendatory, in that it indicates an ability to self-criticize which is sadly lacking in some other parties in this dispute. I will name no names. (But I could. Oh, yes, I really really could.)

Ken Liu’s statement (“‘authentic’ seems often to mean ‘what white people would approve'”) is also perfectly non-outrageous. My only criticism of it is that he’s being too narrow. I would have added that not only does “authentic” often seem to mean “what white people would approve” but so do such terms as “reasonable,” “un-biased,” “normal,” “classic” (does anyone remember that jackass TV announcer who recently remarked that Viola Davis was not “classically” attractive?)—oh, the list goes on and on.

Does this make me, as a straight white man, a “self-hater”?

Trust me, if I told my wife—or daughter—that I was a “self-hater” they’d fall down laughing. No, it just means I’m not an insecure jerk, that’s all. I don’t automatically get upset whenever someone criticizes common bad traits of white people or male people or straight people because I often agree with them.

Then, finally, there’s Bradford’s “outrageous” statement: “You know, whiteness is a hell of a drug. It really is.”

Yup, it sure is—as is belonging to any elite group in a society. In earlier times, nobility was a hell of a drug. As I and multiple co-authors have spent a fair time of time in the 1632 series depicting. In modern capitalist times, being wealthy is a hell of drug. If you don’t believe me, contemplate the public behavior of Paris Hilton—and even more, the behavior of her younger brother Conrad. (If you’ve forgotten the juicy details, here it is: http://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/celebrity/paris-hiltons-brother-conrad-hilton-charged-after-alleged-flight-ruckus-n299691).

So let’s start by subtracting those three perfectly reasonable statements. That leaves eleven Outrages. Of those, however, no fewer than eight of them—those by Cecily Kane, Brianna Wu, Amal El-Mohtar, Natalie Luhrs, Jaymee Goh, Sunil Patel, Kate Elliott and “another SFF fan”—are impossible to assess properly without knowing the context.

Which, as always, James May neglects to provide. He seems to think it’s enough to quote someone saying anything that seems to be negative toward white men or men in general (or sometimes all white people) to “prove” that they are “social justice warriors” and—this is the real laugh, as I’ll get to later—are really really really having a profoundly negative impact on science fiction awards.

For Pete’s sake, I’ve been known—and way more than once—to say negative things about a) white people; b) male people; c) straight people; d) any possible combination of the above. Sometimes my comments may have been a little uncalled-for—maybe; then again, maybe not—but if you put any of them in context I’d probably defend 99% of them. Maybe even one hundred percent of them.

Okay, so that brings us down to three Outrages that might be worth considering. Let’s start with the one by “John W. Campbell nominee two years running Requires Hate.” The statement itself actually belongs in the previous category, i.e., those that require context to assess properly. The statement is “It’s like white men literally don’t understand how anything works.” A statement which…

Hell, I’ve been known to mutter myself when confronted with a particularly egregious example of the White-Man-Deeply-Offended Syndrome. If you aren’t familiar with that syndrome, just go back and read all of James May’s posts. Most of them are classic illustrations of it.

The reason I decided it needed to be singled out isn’t the statement itself but the origin of it. “Requires Hate” has a rather notorious reputation, and it is indeed the case that a number of her statements are screwy at best. If you’re not familiar with the controversy surrounding her, let me introduce you to a magic word:


Moving on, the next possible really really outrageous statement is this one:

SFF author Sunny Moraine on diversity: “If your writing is full of white men, it’s shitty writing.”

This statement isn’t really outrageous. That’s because it’s too stupid to generate much in the way of outrage. In one short sentence, Sunny Moraine—whoever the hell she is, and we’ll get to that in a moment—has dismissed such novels as Tolstoy’s War and Peace, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick—not to mention the epic of Gilgamesh and Homer’s Iliad. If she thinks she can write better than that, have at it. But don’t anyone—especially her—hold your breath.

Finally—finally—we get to the only one of these fourteen “outrages” that amounts to a hill of beans. And it doesn’t actually amount to a hill of beans, but just to a little bitty pile of beans. That’s this one:

Last reply from SFWA member and review editor of SFF at Publisher’s Weekly Rose Fox: “Alas, my job doesn’t let me refuse.”

She was responding to the previous comments by Kate Elliott and “another SFF fan” to the effect that they are less likely (in the case of Elliott) or absolutely refuse for one year (in the case of “another SFF fan”) to read books about straight white men.

But why, you ask, have I singled out the comment from Rose Fox when I gave those by Kate Elliott and “another SFF fan” a pass and assigned them to the “need to know context” pile?

It’s because Elliott and “another SFF fan” are referring to their personal reading habits whereas Rose Fox mentioned those preferences in the context of referring to her actual job, which is that of being a reviewer for a trade journal. In other words, it’s conceivable that her attitude might be biasing her professional reviews.

I hasten to add that I have no reason to believe they actually are biasing them and I am making no accusations. I am simply bringing the issue up in order to demonstrate that…

Speaking of the relative sizes of hills and/or piles of beans…

James May has huffed and puffed and produced exactly one bean. A pinto bean, I believe. He has demonstrated that there may exist one (out of many, I might add) reviewers working for Publishers Weekly who might—might, mind you; there is no evidence of it—be biased in their reviews of works by straight white males.

Oh, the horror. On the other hand, given that I’m a straight white male author and I’ve gotten several starred reviews from Publishers Weekly—including of my best-known novel, 1632—I guess I’ll be able to go to sleep tonight without checking under my bed to see if a Social Justice Warrior Maniacally Anti-Cis Dude (God, I love that term) book reviewer is lurking there waiting to pounce and rend me to pieces.

All right, enough on the statements themselves. It’s now time to deal with the ultimate absurdity of James May’s argument. Let us suppose, for the moment, that each and every one of the fourteen Outrageous Statements that May cites were actually outrageous—and clearly so, regardless of context.

So. Fucking. What.

Who are the originators of these fourteen statements? In what sense do they constitute, either one or all, a Really Big Force in the world of science fiction awards?

Of the fourteen statement-makers (or should I call them Outragiosas?) only three of them have any real prominence in the world of science fiction: Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Ken Liu and Kate Elliott. And none of them, taken alone or together, is able to do more than exercise a moderate—I mean, really moderate—influence on people who vote for Hugo awards. (Or Nebula awards.)

Of the remaining eleven, leaving aside the Publishers Weekly reviewer, they’re either minor authors, podcasters, bloggers or local convention organizers—and two of them seem to have as their major “power source” the fact that they’ve been panelists at SF conventions.

Panelists? For Pete’s sake, every SF convention in the country usually has dozens of panelists, most of them people who are generally unknown outside of their local convention areas.

My point here is not to sneer at minor authors, podcasters, panelists, or any of the rest. Like almost every author, I was once a minor author myself. (Oh, and such a wee tiny minor author I was, too, for more years than I like to remember.) My point is simply that, objectively speaking, people in these positions are not the great shakers and movers in the world of SF awards. Insofar as anyone is—which is itself a dubious proposition. As a rule, people who vote for Hugo awards are not standing at attention before the reviewing podium at Nuremberg waiting for The Leader to tell them which way they must vote. My cat sneers at them for their lack of discipline.

Bah. Again and again, we get the same thing. One or another person generally aligned with or supportive of the Sad Puppies comes charging up with a fistful (sometimes two!) of quotes torn out of context from people most of whom—meaning no offense to anyone—nobody has ever heard of outside of their immediate friends and family. These quotes—many of them perfectly fine and most of them impossible to judge out of context—are then presented as “evidence” (sometimes even “proof”!) that the dreaded Social Justice Warriors are indeed a mighty and omnipresent force in the world of SF awards.

I’d say I was at a loss for words except that I’ve spent some time now demonstrating that, push comes to shove, I’m pretty much never at a loss for words. But I figure I’ve devoted enough words to the issue for the moment and will close by simply citing another magic phrase:

The scientific method. In which a hypothesis, having been advanced, is then subjected to empirical scrutiny. Sometimes known as “fact checking.”

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  1. Pingback: The Dogs My Destination 5/18 | File 770

  2. Mike says:

    I’m not too fond of the word “mansplaining,” personally. Probably because I’m an engineer, and like many other engineers (male and female) I am prone to over-discussing the gory details of things way more than any reasonable person expects or wants. Especially if, as xkcd memorably said, “Someone is WRONG on the internet!” But I don’t think it’s because I’m a man. Much, anyway.

    That being said, I have learned over the years to try to tone it down.

    I think your post here does skip over one important thing. To the extent that the Hugos really do have some cachet, I can understand people who feel shut out by the preferences of the Hugo voters being upset about that. You seem to shrug it off when you don’t win a Hugo, enjoying the fact that your books are pulling in a lot more sales and a lot more money than many Hugo winners. But not everybody feels that way, it seems. So I can understand why Correia and Torgersen might have started all this.

    But just as I instantly tune out anything that anybody says once they start using “cis-“, I also instantly tune out anything that anybody says when they use language like “radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist”.

    • James May says:

      That’s great. I added the “racialized” to indicate “Third Wave,” but the rest is straight out of a great number of gender studies text books. Did it ever occur to you to use Google before you wrote that, or even better, read the source material, or will you tune that out? Can I use “performative”? Do you even know what that refers to and who invented it? I do.

    • John Cowan says:

      I differentiate between Male Answer Syndrome and Geek Answer Syndrome. They both consist of answering questions that haven’t been asked, but in the first case the answers are typically bullshit intended to impress, whereas in the second case they are intended to be correct and even helpful, being the questions the geek would ask if the roles were reversed. Of course, the same person can engage in both: I GAS a lot (google my name if you want samples), but I try not to MAS.

      Similarly, there is mansplaining and geeksplaining. My wife loves it when I geeksplain, but it took her a while to realize that that’s what I was doing, having spent the first 36 years of her life surrounded by mansplainers.

      • Mike says:

        Ah, geeksplaining. I like that one. Half “I thought this was cool so I think everyone else will also think it is cool so I’ll rattle on about it”, half “look at me! I know this one!”

        Yes, I think I do a lot more geeksplaining than mansplaining. Perhaps the difference is that if I’m geeksplaining I’m willing to consider/discuss/agree that I might be at least partially wrong about it.

      • Janet says:

        Technical writers can also fall into the “geeksplaining” group. It’s part of our job description to explain things to people (yes, I are a technical writer). It’s why I also was horrible at being a cat adoption councilor at a local shelter. I kept explaining unimportant cat facts to people looking to add a feline companion to their family. Like that what differentiates a calico from a tortoiseshell fur pattern is that the white in calicoes causes the black and orange to separate into distinct patches rather than remain blended. Also, that nearly all calicoes and tortoiseshells are female because it takes 2 X chromosomes to enable the orange and non-orange colors to appear together. Males with the pattern are usually sterile because they have 2 X and 1 Y chromosome. Does anyone wanting to adopt a calico or tortoiseshell cat really need or want to know this? Probably not. I sucked at adoption counseling. And it’s not just cat facts that I do this with. I’ve had to learn to restrain myself from offering TMI (too much information). Maybe one of these days I’ll follow through on my threat to write a book called Unimportant Facts You Need to Know.

    • J Enn says:

      Dude? ‘Cis’ is a perfectly scientific prefix that has been in use for well over a century, like ‘hetero’ and ‘homo’. You’re an engineer, you understand the importance of accurate identification when you’re deep in a complex system or trying to explain it to someone.

      I’m not a fan of mansplaining as a term either. What it describes does happen a great deal, and it’s a perfectly good piece of in-group shorthand, but I’ve never been comfortable using shaming techniques for social change. God knows the guys who really need to take it to heart will reject it at the slightest affront to their egos.

      • Mike says:

        I suppose that if you are discussing trans-sexuality it might help to come up with a word to describe those who are not trans-sexual, to avoid the connotations of using words like “normal”. But I see it flung about mostly as an implied denigration rather than as a simple descriptor.

        • Gabriel F. says:

          People who hate the word “cis” often cite that it is used mostly as a denigration.

          I spend a LOT of time in trans circles. I have very, very rarely seen it used in that way. 99% of the time, it is used as intended.

          It’s like saying you don’t like the word “white” because it is sometimes used in a derogatory manner. That doesn’t invalidate its normal use as an explanatory adjective.

          • Mike says:

            Well, my experience is all about me. And I don’t hang out in trans circles. So I won’t try to invalidate your experience, but I don’t see how you have any right to invalidate my experience either.

    • Robin Wood says:

      Mansplaining has nothing to do with over-explaining (which I am also prone to, as this reply proves) and everything to do with invalidating the experience, emotions, and preferences of the person of lesser power so the person of greater power can remain in their comfort zone.

      It’s used not only by men explaining to women how they “really” feel, hence the term, but by white people to people of color, bosses to employees, and parents to children. Depending on your circumstances, you might be most familiar with that, from the receiving end. “You don’t really hate your brother.” “You can’t possibly be hungry.” “You love going to church.”

      • John Cowan says:

        I’ve also seen it applied to a man explaining some elementary point about a particular field of knowledge to a female expert. Hence the point about “bullshit intended to impress”, to which I will now add “or intimidate”.

        • Richard H says:

          My favorite example of mansplaining is a second- or third-hand story I saw about an art historian who had recently published a book about an obscure topic I don’t remember. She goes to a party and is introduced to various people, one of whom is a man of some minor importance who, on learning she researched that obscure topic proceeded to tell her about this extremely well-researched book on the topic that had been recently published. It took her a few minutes to realize he was telling her how she should read the book she had published because it was a great resource.

          • John Cowan says:

            I think we may be thinking of the same anecdote, though my memory of it is much vaguer than yours.

          • Bibliotheca Servare says:

            So…he complimented her unknowingly, which somehow makes him an ignorant, arrogant, sexist ass? I see. So when a woman “femsplains” to a man about how he “*really* feels” or what his “actual” thought processes are, because, y’know, men don’t know their own emotions for shite… that’s not “mansplaining” (or as I called it, femsplaining, to use a term Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers has used before as a counterpoint to “mansplaining”) too, is it? Or is it just bad when men do it? Oh…right. ;)

            • Mary Frances says:

              No, he was “mansplaining” because he assumed that a woman who had just told him that she’d written a book on this particular subject hadn’t read about this “very important book” on the subject that had just been reviewed in the New York Times–that he was more current on her subject that she was, implying that she wasn’t really an expert on her own subject. He also interrupted her description of her own work to tell her about this Very Important New Book on the subject, implying that the book she’d just said she’d written wasn’t or couldn’t be all that important. Would he have said the same to a male author? Possibly; he sounds like a self-important, seriously pompous individual. Did the respective genders of the people involved in the conversation have anything to do with his attitude? It makes sense to me: the fact that it took the author’s friend three or four times to tell him that he was talking to the author of the book under discussion . . . is a bit much. Add to that the fact that he specifically asked the women to wait so that he could have a conversation with them before they left, that he knew that the person he was speaking to was someone who had written books before he started talking to her, and you have a fine example of the Clueless Individual (Male Variety), in my opinion.

              I am also willing to believe that Rebecca Solnit is aware of when she’s being condescended to, by anyone, male or female; most six-year-olds can figure out condescension, when they face it, let alone adults.

              • Richard H says:

                Thank you for doing the take-down far better than I would have been able to.

                (and yes, I was thinking of the Rebecca Solnit story)

              • Bibliotheca Servare says:

                Oh, it seems you are not the person who wrote the original post I replied to. Rather, you are a person who sought to correct (or takedown) me reply, by assuming I had access to the information included in your response to me, prior to writing my reply to the original poster. Mea culpa. Nonetheless, my point remains. Based on the information provided in the post I replied to, “mansplaining” was, in my opinion, an incredibly unjust label.
                Again, good day. ;)

              • Bibliotheca Servare says:

                *my reply. My. Damned twitchy fingers and dodgy autocorrect.

              • Simeon Beresford says:

                It does suggest that maybe “The straight white dude perspective is basically the Dunning-Kruger effect apex of all civilization.”

            • Bibliotheca Servare says:

              And of course the details you included in your reply to me were in your original post, correct? Oh…wait. I replied to this (I quoth) “…a man of some minor importance who, on learning she researched that obscure topic proceeded to tell her about this extremely well-researched book on the topic that had been recently published. It took her a few minutes to realize he was telling her how she should read the book she had published because it was a great resource.”
              I then gave you the benefit of the doubt, by assuming you had accurately summarized your own anecdote. Alas, I gave you too much credit. Your summarization describes a situation where a man had just been introduced to a woman. All he knew of her was her name, and that she was so interested in a particular subject she had published a book on it. He had recently read, and enjoyed, a book about the same subject, but could not recall the authors name. He did not know if she had read it, but if she had, they could talk about it, and if she hadn’t, she might be interested to hear of it, based on her already established interest in the subject. ” Oh, I actually *have* read that! I felt…” Or “Oh, I hadn’t heard of that one yet! You enjoyed it, then?…” You didn’t mention whether he was informed it was a book she had written, or whether he was boorish in the way he brought it up (eg: “Oh, well if you are interested in *that* subject, you really *must* read this book…”) Or was simply making conversation, and trying to appeal to the other party in the conversations interests. As such, calling the described behavior “mansplaining” struck me as remarkably unjust. But I suppose in future I should resist giving you the benefit of the doubt with regards to accuracy in your condensing of anecdotes. Lesson learned.
              Good day. ;)

              PS: I wouldn’t call the behavior your reply to me described “mansplaining.” I’d call it insufferably boorish and impolite, with just a pinch of mind-numbing pomposity. But that’s just my perspective.

              • Mary Frances says:

                Bibliotheca Servare, Daniela posted the link to the original article that Richard H was not quite remembering on May 19 at 8:41 PM; you replied to Richard H’s original post on May 20 at 5:00 AM. I assumed that since you were interested enough to reply, you had taken the time to click on the link to get the original story. My apologies for over-estimating your interest.

              • Bibliotheca Servare says:

                Oh, good one, Mary! I didn’t click on a link, that I didn’t see, because I clicked reply before scrolling down, thus I am at fault for replying to the comment as originally written! Neat!
                I did not see the link, did not realize that the link was to the story Richard was attempting to reference, and at this point I simply cannot see the benefit of pursuing this line of discussion any further. You may not have done me a disservice by overestimating my interest, rather you may have underestimated my own desire to budget my time and energy. I have already given my opinion regarding the issue at hand, assuming the second account (given by you) was an accurate summary of the text on the linked webpage. As far as I am concerned, the matter is closed. Be well, and good day. ;)

              • Simeon Beresford says:

                Well it seems Bibliotheca Servare can recognise when he is being condescended to even if he doubts a woman’s ability to discern it.

              • Bibliotheca Servare says:

                Oh, touché my dear. Your imaginary slight to my character has wounded me most cruelly. Brava. I concede the duel of wits to you, the obviously superior duelist. I shall diminish and go into the west. Or something. ;)

  3. Are you suggesting that James May doesn’t do any fact-checking? How could you? Of course he does fact-checking, albeit in all probability his fact-checking is 100% internal. (I agree with it, therefore it is factual. Q.E.D.)

    Factoids: All postal employees are Mail Chauvinists. When bad raisins die, they go to Raisin Hell.

    I, too, am a minor author: just about as minor as one could possibly be and still be a published author. Immortality, C.O.D., my humorous review-in-verse of Robert Sheckley’s novel Immortality Delivered was published in the very last issue of Science Fiction Stories (June, 1960), and I was supposed to get the princely sum of $10 for it, but Columbia Publications went bankrupt. Can any published author be minorer than that?

    • William Underhill says:

      “Minorer” hurts to read, but is undeniably effective. :)

    • Janet says:

      I had an email of mine included (anonymously) in The Dilbert Principle, freely donated with no attribution or payment. I may have out minorered you with that.

      • John Cowan says:

        Hey, I had one sentence published anonymously in a friend’s book; I sent him a tech review (solicited) and he incorporated one of my comments verbatim. I was fine with it.

        (I have published some other books, though not with a traditional publisher.)

    • Justin Semmel says:

      Picks you up like a shiny piece of living history.

  4. CPaca says:

    The most jawdropping example recently of mansplaining around recently was Brad Torgersen attempting to explain Juliette Wade’s motivations in the very face of Wade herself telling him otherwise.


  5. MickyFinn says:

    Mike, I’m quite fond of the term “mansplaining”, but I think it is important to note that mansplaining is not just Explaining While Male. There is an element of linguistic drift, so it can get used in an overly broad way from time to time, but it mostly gets used to describe men explaining things in a patronizing way due to assuming that they are the local (to the conversation) expert on a subject, without any attempt to verify that they are in fact the expert.

    • Reasonably Neutral Observer says:

      “When you get to the step where you call a doctor, I’ll be right here.”

      This actually happened, more or less, to a friend of mine (she was the doctor in the story.) :( Fortunately the person was not seriously hurt.

  6. James May says:

    If I wanted to, I could take apart this post brick by brick until nothing was left standing, and it would be as easy as drinking a nice glass of milk and eating a piece of apple pie. But we’ve reached a point of diminishing returns that starts with the fact I’ve never tuned into to one single minute of Limbaugh in my life and nor are those words in the least way an example of ideological academic semantics and goes on to where you get the idea I’ve not 5,000 more quotes that make a case. That’s how presentation of evidence works. It’s not like science where I put something in a flask and water bubbles and case closed. One must use one’s judgment, the way a jury weighs evidence.

    Suffice it to say your post constitutes its own explanation. Given your history you have related, I feel sure you not only have a distaste for hate speech but a definition to go along with it. What that actually may be is a riddle written on a Rubik’s Cube stuffed in a Gordian Knot and buried under the Sphinx and is almost certainly one thing on a Tues. and another on a Wed. As near as I can tell you don’t issue a speeding ticket until you’ve first checked the race and gender of the driver and factored in Louis at Damietta and Hashmut Jung and the old Nizam.

    The short version is you have taken the exact principles by which you judge one person and some quotes and thrown those principles in a ditch when it comes to judging another person and some quotes. How that happens is the triumph of identity over principle. With blinders put over words and masks over faces, in your scientific method of empirical scrutiny, suddenly one person would exchange places with another. That’s not social justice, or anything like it.

    • Hampus Eckerman says:


      I sincerely doubt you could take apart a piece of lego, much less try to substantiate your weird and incoherent rants.

      • SocialInjusticeWorrier says:

        “If I wanted to, I could take apart this post brick by brick …”

        A man who spends three paragraphs (clusters might be more accurate) of word-salad explaining his lack of interest in refuting a post is a sad and sorry sight.

    • Paul Weimer (@princejvstin) says:

      Oh, James?
      “Hugo nominated Skiffy and Fanty podcaster Cecily Kane”

      Just for the record, Cecily isn’t a member of the Skiffy and Fanty podcast. She’s a member of the blog, but she joined the blog after the podcast got its nomination, and isn’t a recording member, much less a nominated one.

    • Going To Maine says:

      But we’ve reached a point of diminishing returns that starts with the fact I’ve never tuned into to one single minute of Limbaugh in my life and nor are those words in the least way an example of ideological academic semantics and goes on to where you get the idea I’ve not 5,000 more quotes that make a case.

      Nothing in this sentence is an example of “reaching a point of diminishing returns.”

    • This is the first I’ve heard of this James May person. I wish I knew who they were and what they’d done so I could add them to my “don’t bother reading” list. Actually, I don’t have a “don’t bother reading” list, but basing my judgement on comments like this I think I could start one just to add him to it.

    • Chris S says:

      Well, go ahead.

      You say:
      “It’s not my imagination this crusading feminist movement exists nor that it’s baked into core SFF at every level as the new go-to ideological orthodoxy.”

      Prove it. It should be easy, given that it is the core of SF. Show us that 90% (hell, even 50%) of the main SF publishing houses print “crusading feminist movement” books, and ignore everything else.

      All you’ve thrown at the wall is a few names and random quotes.

      Just because you say it is true doesn’t mean it is true, and continuing to protest that it is true doesn’t make it so. If it is all pervasive then it should be easy to prove.

      Hell, looking at Tor’s coming releases (ground zero of feminist SF, apparently), the first page has 12 books on it. 5.5 are written by women. One is written by the font of all evvviiiillll, one J Scalzi.

      The rest include a Clive Barker shared world collection, what looks to be a game tie-in, a historical novel, 3 urban fantasies, and the rest look to be pretty much core SF. Which ones do you consider to be “crusading feminist movement” books and why. Except Scalzi, I’ll spot you that one, as he is evil personified, if I’ve read the puppies correctly.

      • Sean O'Hara says:

        But Clive Barker is gay and ergo a SJW. If you can’t see how Hellraiser is a message film about gay marriage, you’re truly blind.

    • Johnny says:

      If I wanted to, I could set up a threesome with Kate Upton and Rosario Dawson, and it would be as easy as drinking a nice glass of milk and eating some apple pie. But I’ve reached a point of diminishing returns, where I’ve set up so many threesomes with voluptuous, world-class beauties that I can hardly tell them apart any more.

    • Exarch says:

      Seriously? “I could beat you but I don’t wanna”, a position that it would embarrass a self-respecting sixth-grader to adopt, is how you want to present yourself?

      • Simon Bradshaw says:

        It’s all he has left – neither facts nor reason being of any assistance to him – so we shouldn’t be surprised to see him resorting to it.

    • Alan says:

      James, I’m delighted that you could take the post apart brick by brick. Please do so.

  7. Dear Mr. Flint,

    We haven’t yet met in person so I will use the old fashioned manners I was raised with and address you in the formal manner. I have made very little public comment on the Hugos (although I am sure Mr. May has my few tweets tagged and recorded) because, although I’m naturally thrilled for friends and colleagues of mine who are so honored, to be honest I don’t follow the Hugos closely.

    However I wanted to say that your sensible posts come closest to my own take on the matter, and I appreciate you writing them.

    I just finished a lovely Guest of Honor stint at SFeraKon in Croatia, and enjoyed listening to a presentation made here on the Croatian view of the current unpleasantness. It was refreshing to hear what people outside the echo chamber of the USA have to say.

    I’m not a reviewer, and rarely post about books I’ve read, and I pretty much only talk about books I’ve enjoyed because life is too short. It’s true I am–these days–less likely to read a book about (whose main character is) a straight white male if there is nothing else to recommend it–that is, if it seems like it is going to be just another repeat (Nutty McNuggets?) of the same sort of story I’ve already read a thousand times before. I’m also less likely to read short fiction than novels. As you adroitly sussed out, these are my personal inclinations at this moment, after many decades of reading, and they might be subject to change. I do, strangely enough, still read novels written by (and even about!) straight white males. Weirdly, I have even been married to a straight (provisionally white–he’s Jewish) male–we will celebrate our 30th anniversary this year. I wanted to add that back when he was a police officer he was president for a term of the police officer’s union, and when he was in graduate school he worked to unionize the graduate assistants (alas the movement failed), so I am know that makes him a suspicious character.

    1632 has been on my TBR list for years — actually since it came out — because it strikes me as quite down my alley, and I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read it yet. I’m going to buy two copies — one for me and one for my elder son who is in the Navy and about to deploy — and we’ll read together and discuss. I know he’ll enjoy it. I can’t wait!

    Thanks again for your cogent and measured analysis.

    Kate Elliott

    P.S. David Coe is also a friend of mine. I call him my “little brother” — so I am sure he can vouch for me.

    • That wretch David Coe owes me money! Amazon spent about half a year listing me as co-author of all his books, and he has STILL NEVER SENT MY SHARES OF THE ROYALTIES to me.

    • Eric Flint says:

      Please call me Eric. I’ve never been much of one for formality, and I get less and less so as each year goes by. At the age of 68, my bones ache whenever someone calls me “Mr. Flint.” I have to restrain myself from saying: “Oh, sure, go ahead! Just roll the old fart into his grave, why don’t you?”

      My wife Lucille and I just got back from a trip where we visited Dubrovnik and Split. I deeply envy you having attended a Croatian SF convention — and, yes, you’re right. All Americans, of whatever political persuasion, tend to live in something of an echo chamber. There are disadvantages as well as advantages to being a citizen of one of the world’s largest nations, especially one whose language is steadily becoming the whole world’s lingua franca. (I was struck by the fact that even in Croatia, Greece and Turkey, half the signs — public or private — have an English translation under or next to them, or sometimes even above them.)

      • Eric,

        I was of course writing somewhat tongue in cheek (with a huge grain of salt). Also, I owe you a drink when we meet for your series of posts!

        We saw Dubrovnik yesterday–it’s like a stage set! (ironic now that half the souvenir stalls are selling GoT-related merchandize). Split is really lovely, which is where we are staying. Did you have any favorite things? I’m just overwhelmed by how friendly and laid-back the Croatians are. The convention was completely fabulous for this reason.

        • Eric Flint says:

          Where is the convention being held, Kate? I assumed in Zagreb, but that’s just an assumption on my part.

          As for Game of Thrones… Heh. From what I could tell, selling GoT memorabilia may have become a major export item for Croatia. It’s all over the place, especially in Dubrovnik.

          I don’t know that I had any one favorite thing. What I probably found most fascinating was the way Diocletian’s palace — which was built 1700 years ago — remained inhabited through all those centuries and is now blended more or less into the city and has something like 2000 people living in it. These are not people working as custodians, mind you. They actually live in a residence at least part of which was built almost two millennia ago.

          Mind you, I wouldn’t want to have to deal with the plumbing problems myself. And I couldn’t held wondering… how many electronical sockets are there?

        • Alan says:

          It must be somewhat uncomfortable writing tongue in cheek with a large grain of salt,. How do you get rid for the salt taste afterwards?

  8. I think Eric has invented MAYsplaining. Alas, I don’t think we’ll ever see the point where it can be discarded.

  9. Paul Kincaid says:

    Excellent post, with which I am pretty much in agreement, except when you say:

    “Sunny Moraine—whoever the hell she is, and we’ll get to that in a moment—has dismissed such novels as Tolstoy’s War and Peace, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick”

    Actually she hasn’t. Both War and Peace and Ulysses have very significant female characters, Moby Dick of course has a significant non-white character. Surely her point is that any work that concentrates only on white men has too narrow a view of the world to have much of worth to say about that world.

    Which is, of course, a point that the James Mays of this world will never understand.

    • Eric Flint says:

      Let me begin by saying that I was perhaps incautious in my remarks on the statement by Sunny Moraine. “Incautious,” in that I accepted James May’s torn-out-of-context citation at face value when, put back in context, she may have intended something different that what I inferred.

      That said, it’s hard to accept the statement as anything other than silly. To refresh everyone’s memory — and assuming that James May quoted her accurately — here is the statement: “If your writing is full of white men, it’s shitty writing.”

      Please note that she did NOT say “If your writing is exclusively full of white men…” So I’m afraid the defense mounted by Paul Kincaid is besides the point. Yes, it’s true that WAR AND PEACE has lots of female characters and Moby Dick has one very important non-white character. But both novels are still “full of white men.”

      But let’s give Moraine the benefit of the doubt and assume that she meant to say “exclusively” full of white men. The statement is still stupid. Why, on the face of it, should a story that is exclusively about white men be a bad story? To give just one example, William Golding’s LORD OF THE FLIES. (Okay, it’s exclusively about white boys. Still.) To give another example, Jules Verne’s MYSTERIOUS ISLAND — which happens to be my favorite novel of his. To give yet another, one of my very favorite movies is Sidney Lumet’s THE HILL, starring Sean Connery. (Okay, it’s not exclusively white men because Ossie Davis plays a major character in it — but there are no women anywhere in sight.)

      I could go on, but enough already. Diversity is a value, but it’s not an exclusive or over-riding value. Where people get into trouble and really do cross the line into being “social justice warriors” — more accurately,
      “social justice nitwits” — is when they start insisting that “diversity” (however they calculate that) MUST BE PRESENT AT ALL TIMES. That leads to such ludicrous spectacles as Eve Ensler’s THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES being criticized because it “ignores intersectionality.”

      • cka2nd says:

        I just assumed from the quote that she was speaking about contemporary authors, i.e., those writing today. Depending on the context, such a statement could be silly (all sorts of historical fiction) or not (“In the future, a united, peaceful and prosperous Earth will colonize the galaxy…with nothing but white men!”), especially if the latter offers no explanation offered for the future monochromatic human population.

      • John Cowan says:

        Not to be a spoilerator or anything, but the Unknown Benefactor of The Mysterious Island is certainly not a white man.

  10. Summercat says:

    This really is the gift that keeps on giving.

    Loving these posts.

  11. Stevie says:

    Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful time, and that the research was profitable.

    And thank you for your reasoned dissection of unreason; it cheered me up.

  12. clif says:

    Mr. Flint, well done and thank you for articulating what (I believe) many of us feel about this mess. I picked up your free-for-the-kindle 1632 recently and enjoyed it very much. So much so that I purchased the next three books in the series and look forward to much pleasurable summer reading.

  13. Terranovan says:

    Okay… First time I’ve seen a post in its entirety displayed on the main page of this site and not just an excerpt. Well, the comments are left off. Needed to scroll through all of the post just to see the next one – which prompts me not to look at that and comment myself instead. :D

  14. Eric,

    Your posts continue to be highly sensible. The unsourced quotes Mr. May provides still appear to have escaped from TheOnion, though, as I have never heard of some of the people he is quoting, their significance to StFnal community fen is uncertain.

    However, the fan feud has perhaps generated a little publicity for SF&F, which may draw in a few new readers.


  15. James May says:

    Try reading this PDF titled “Androgyny and the Uncanny in Ursula Le Guin’s The Left
    Hand of Darkness and Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice”

    Take note of two Tor columns in the footnotes. Stop acting like I’m making this stuff up. I’m reading it, I’m passing it along. It’s the big fad in SFF today. Why deny it?


    • clif says:

      no doubt no doubt …. unfortunately it just doesn’t mean what you think (wish) it means

    • John Cowan says:

      Dude. That’s an undergraduate paper, dude. Even in academia, undergraduates are not only at the bottom of the pecking order, they don’t even notice they’re being pecked, they just think it’s, like, The Human Condition. As an exhibit in trying to prove anything, it’s just laughable.

    • This is a twenty-page term paper by some undergraduate English major in Sweden. Why should anyone other than the author, his professor, and his parents care what he says about Leckie and LeGuin?

      If you have to reach this deep into the barrel to find evidence for this sinister rad-fem conspiracy that dominates science fiction, you are basically making Mr. Flint’s point for him.

    • Violet says:

      Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine two libraries. Fill one with all the SFF books containing characters with non-binary gender. Fill the other with books containing characters with binary gender. Repeat this experiment, only use books published after LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS. Now repeat again using only books published in the last year or two.

      I can only conclude your idea of “big fad’ means “exists at all.”

    • Gabriel F. says:

      Do you think possibly that it’s not so much “a big fad,” and simply that publishers are more willing to publish, and readers are more likely to read, stories centered on people of other genders and colors? For a long time, that was simply all that was available, publishers were very straightforward about NOT putting people of color or female heroes on covers because it “wouldn’t sell,” and homosexuality was pretty universally regarded as a sick sign of degeneracy.

      As our society becomes less bigoted, don’t you think it’s simply that those stories are becoming more accessible? And is there some reason you feel that they should not be?

      Studies have shown that men feel that any conversation in which women speak 30% or more often as men, or crowd scenes which show 30% or more of women, perceive that it’s “mostly women” taking primacy. Is it not possible that you yourself are showing the same sort of blindness, vis a vis thinking that the field is “all minorities” when in fact it’s simply “more minorities than I have previously had major exposure to?”

  16. Cat says:

    I would just note that “if your writing is full of white men” seems to me to be directed at currently living writers. Some people do address their remarks to the dead, but I don’t think it’s very common.

    And here you* are, writing in 2015–if your writing doesn’t have any women or minority characters in it, well, there might be a plot reason why it has to be that way, but maybe you just haven’t thought things through. (Or maybe you have, and you’ve realized you’re no good at writing women or minority characters–I’ve certainly read a few books where the writer would have done better to leave women entirely out–but being no good at writing women or minority characters does suggest some gaps in writer skills.)

    *I’m using a general ‘you’ here–for the record I enjoy your work–most recently Boundary and Portal–and have not had any problem with your writing on this point.

  17. Marcus Bales says:

    The Rabid Puppy’s Song

    If you’re anxious that you shine as obnoxiously online
    As you do when you are off,
    You must contradict them all, all those jerks with minds sosmall
    That they read your stuff and scoff.
    You must say they’re wrong, they lie; that they’re ignorantor high;
    That they cannot understand
    How your complicated mind made ad hominem refined
    All the places you’ve been banned.

    And everyone will talk
    Rabid puppy with your sock,
    “If this young pup has shat himself too noxiously for me,
    Why what a very singularly rabid pup
    This rabid pup must be!”

    And though eloquent you’re not you can still can be quite asnot
    With an adjectival jeer,
    While you put them firmly down with a filthy verb or noun
    And a stereotyping smear.
    Of course you will deny that it’s personal, and cry
    You’re the only honest one,
    And claim your speech is free but forbid the same for me
    If you think I’m poking fun.

    And everyone will talk
    As you worry that damned sock
    “If calling names is good for him which isn’t good for me,
    Why, what a sheer uncultivated rabid pup
    This rabid pup must be!”

    Then with sanctimonious passion of a pious pompous fashion
    You declare that you have won –
    With a victory so factual there’s no need for an actual
    Account of what you’ve done.
    Whether blog or board or email, whether you are male orfemale,
    You believe the lie within —
    Though logicians may object, you know your chutzpah willprotect you
    If you just repeat “I win!”

    And everyone will talk
    Now that you’ve subdued your sock
    “If he’s content with a victory which would certainly notsuit me,
    Why, what a most egregious little rabid pup
    This rabid pup must be!”

    • Marcus Bales says:

      Please delete this — one or another computer glitch ran words together. The correct version is posted below. Thank you.

  18. Marcus Bales says:

    The Rabid Puppy’s Song

    If you’re anxious that you shine as obnoxiously online
    As you do when you are off,
    You must contradict them all, all those jerks with minds so small
    That they read your stuff and scoff.
    You must say they’re wrong, they lie; that they’re ignorant or high;
    That they cannot understand
    How your complicated mind made ad hominem refined
    All the places you’ve been banned.

    And everyone will talk
    Rabid puppy with your sock,
    “If this young pup has shat himself too noxiously for me,
    Why what a very singularly rabid pup
    This rabid pup must be!”

    And though eloquent you’re not you can still can be quite a snot
    With an adjectival jeer,
    While you put them firmly down with a filthy verb or noun
    And a stereotyping smear.
    Of course you will deny that it’s personal, and cry
    You’re the only honest one,
    And claim your speech is free but forbid the same for me
    If you think I’m poking fun.

    And everyone will talk
    As you worry that damned sock
    “If calling names is good for him which isn’t good for me,
    Why, what a sheer uncultivated rabid pup
    This rabid pup must be!”

    Then with sanctimonious passion of a pious pompous fashion
    You declare that you have won –
    With a victory so factual there’s no need for an actual
    Account of what you’ve done.
    Whether blog or board or email, whether you are male or female,
    You believe the lie within —
    Though logicians may object, you know your chutzpah will protect you
    If you just repeat “I win!”

    And everyone will talk
    Now that you’ve subdued your sock
    “If he’s content with a victory which would certainly not suit me,
    Why, what a most egregious little rabid pup
    This rabid pup must be!”

  19. Avram says:

    I don’t know how you feel about pronouns, but Rose Fox goes by they/them.

  20. Learned says:

    Hi. I’ve come in to say that Gilgamesh the Iliad and Moby Dick are not about straight white men. They’re all pretty queer

    I still disagree with Sunny. If a straight man were to write a novel of his experience in the mining fields of Kansas (assuming the denizens of said setting are white men) that doesn’t mean it can’t be good literature

  21. Graham Kent says:

    Dear Mr Flint well said – though I fear you may have over done the irony – always something missed by the over-earnest (to use a non-offensive term)

    Graham from London

  22. Emily says:

    I’d just like to point out that Rose Fox’s pronouns are “they” and “them”, if you wouldn’t mind making a correction. Thanks for your attention to the matter.

    • Bibliotheca Servare says:

      Head…meet…desk. Again…and again…and again. Harken to me vagrant! I regret that I must press upon thee charges of a most serious nature, in the vein of Crimes Against Language and Grammar, to wit, aggravated abuse of pronouns, with intent to cause mortal harm. How dost thou plead? Remember, thou art…not under oath…at all. Lol. Anyway, yes, leave those innocent pronouns alone, you brute! What did they (gigglegiggle) ever do to you? Never mind them! What did you do to them? Where are they? Oh gods, have a heart! Can I at least tell their mother they are still alive, along with them?(Gigglegigglegiggle) (oh my…my face hurts from grinning and holding in laughter so much…I’m a punny guy, dontcha know?) ;)

      PS: is it strange that this reminded me of Abbot and Costello’s “who’s on first?” skit? I love that bit. Old fashioned? What? No!

  23. Lostshadows says:

    “by the fact that Soldier of Fortune magazine rarely (in fact, never, so far as I know) reviews romance novels.”

    A pity. I suspect their reaction to the Navy SEAL trend from a few years ago could have been hilarious.

  24. The Illiad does have women in it. And Joyce is pretty shitty. Yes, I get his stream of consciousness thing was ground-breaking etc., but his work is all about men fapping. Writing without women in it is pretty shitty. YMMV because you probably don’t find not having 3-d female characters to make any difference in your interest level in a novel. Personally, I have always found female-less books to be interminable and have only finished reading them when forced to for English class. Which I was with great frequency because Jane Austen is never assigned for English, only James Joyce.

    And it’s not a cause-effect thing of me going, books without women are shitty, it’s me going, why are all these books shitty, what do they have in common? Oh, no women. You can argue about what the definition of shitty is, but if you can’t put in 50% of the population because you can’t think beyond white men, then you’re a lazy writer. And that’s pretty shitty.

    • Mike says:

      I read Jane Austen for the first time because Pride and Prejudice was assigned to me in a college lit class. I’ve never had James Joyce assigned to me.

    • Lostshadows says:

      It depends. While I was never assigned Austen and did have to suffer through Joyce*, but neither of my older siblings were assigned either.

      *A Portrait of the Artist as a Pretentious Ass

    • John Cowan says:

      Considering that Joyce’s most famous novel ends with a 40-page description of what’s going through a female character’s head while she’s fapping, that’s a pretty bizarre judgment. You may think it’s unrealistic, and it certainly doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, but it’s not all-men-all-the-time.

  25. David Dorais says:

    Thank you for this post. Thank Ghod, Allah and Buddha, among others, that I can comment NOT of the whole voting slate/ballot stuffing via rule loophole/sad-rabid puppy crap but….Re: the David/Dave/Davey conundrum— I too have been followed my whole life by a surplus of Davids. I believe based on this that it is purely a function of Eisenhower’s grandson David, which somehow became very popular among parents of baby boomers in the 50s. Until I was 12 yo and forced the issue, teachers arbitrarily called me by my Middle name, Terry (I am in fact, named after the pioneer Terry Ave. Terrys of Seattle) (teased mercilessly as a “girl’s name” by cruel, evil, clueless classmates), rather than my first name. Since there was always another David, who somehow deserved it more than I. After that I grew used to being called either David or Dave, but have always drawn the line at Davey. Only one former lover even tried it and was shut down almost immediately. I remain David , mostly to this day. BTW, my Sasquan con badge name actually honors my late father. He had the sense to NOT name me after him, even tho he was Junior and could easily have insisted for me to be the Third. His name- Ulric Valentine Dorais (grandfather and father being born on the 14th and 8th of February respectively). So I am that name plus the Third, Esq.; being as it is a wonderful way to both honor him and my affectation towards steam punk sci-fi. Also BTW I am on Face Book as David Terry Dorais, having last decade found out that my name, thought somewhat rare, is actually common except for the middle names. There are about 30 plus Davids with my last name ( and about 3 to 500 Doraises overall, mostly in Quebec province) in North America.

  26. Lauren Leach-Steffens says:

    Some femalesplaining (*wink*) here:

    What Mr. May calls “SJW” is not about “OMG, there’s a male protagonist!” It’s about being part of the 50% of humanity who has never been a protagonist until recently. And has never been a supporting character. And, if they’re lucky to be one of eight supporting characters, they’re an Orion slave girl (Star Trek Original Series). Or they’re getting rescued despite the fact they’ve had the same resistance training as the men (Princess Leia). Or they’re posed legs spread wide, kneeling before the men, wearing revealing “armor”. Or they trade a career of sex symbol for wife and mother (Heinlein, “Friday”. And I so loved Podkayne of Mars.) Or, if they write novels, are accused of Mary Sue (which I haven’t seen outside of fan fic) even though so many men identify with Kirk that it might as well be Barry Sue.

    This is SF/F. It’s supposed to be a vision of the future. If you want all your books to be without intelligent females, please explain how the guys are going to reproduce in believable manner, because we women are going to reproduce on our own without you. The science is there (Sheri Tepper, The Door to Women’s Country). YOU CAN’T DISMISS 50% of the population, or people with differences (there’s a lot of us, too). It’s NOT REALISTIC.

    If wanting to EXIST in Science Fiction/Fantasy is SJW, then I’m your obvious lesbian cis-hating bitter SJW. Except I’m married to a guy. Whom I love. And I’m not bitter either. And, yes, I am a minor minor writer who hasn’t been published yet, but I started at age 50.

    • Gabriel F. says:

      I feel the same way about characters of color. The physical traits of “whiteness” developed in a fairly small and specific area of the world, with a specific set of environmental factors. Most of the rest of the world ranges – in indigenous population – through various shades of brown and a wide variety of facial features. Having a novel set in Medieval Fantasy Whiteland is not only a tired trope at this point, but it is incredibly unrealistic in any serious effort to worldbuild on a planet with a variety of temperature and environmental differences.

    • Bibliotheca Servare says:

      I could try to respond, and I might even do a decent job of it. However, I could not hope to be as eloquent as Mr Dave Freer was in the post I’m going to link to. You may find it interesting. I was certainly surprised by the data he included. I don’t necessarily disagree with you completely, I just thought Mr Freer addressed some of your points fairly well, and with enjoyable wit. ;)


  27. Mary Frances says:

    Minor, nit-picky point: “Sunil” is a male name, so (unless someone here knows the reviewer personally and the name is a deliberate gender-bend?) I’m pretty sure that “Sunil Patel” should be referred to with “he,” not “she.”

    nicoleandmaggie: Jane Austen is never assigned for English, only James Joyce

    Good grief, where have you been taking English Lit classes? I’ve assigned an Austen novel for pretty much every Brit Lit survey I’ve ever taught and any number of other courses, and (based on a quick scan of my department), I don’t think I’m unusual. I’ve almost never assigned more than an occasional Joyce short story, and it’s usually “The Dead”: he gets taught in grad school (so does Austen, in similarly specialized contexts), for the most part. (Er–not denying your experience, just amazed at it. I really do find it astonishing.)

    • Johnny says:

      I wonder if you could find a comment of someone complaining that Jane Austen is never assigned, only George Eliot.

      • Mary Frances says:

        Possibly. I’ve had students think that “Ezra Pound” was female. I’m not going to try to explain it, but I swear, it’s happened more than once. If I did meet such a commenter, it wouldn’t be nicoleandmaggie, whom I’ve met elseweb and who is very widely read and a knowledgeable reader.

    • Wendy says:

      To clarify, Sunnil is indeed Mr. Patel.

  28. Many thanks for bringing this material to our attention.


  29. Of course, if Mr. May were to rise to supplying sources for his quotations, the rest of us could see if the quotations were (i) reflective of much larger groups of people having the same tone, (ii) meant sarcastically, (iii) taken out of context, or (iv) overlooked the overwhelming evidence, e.g., a rank structure and command memos, that this conspiracy actually exists. I leave it to readers to add v, vi, vii, viii, ix, etc.

    • Thomas Monaghan says:

      And your proof of this is what George? So George how was this misrepresented. “It is no coincidence that my book review column features no white male authors.” – Sunil Patel

      • I have no idea if there was misinterpretation, and since there are no sources it would be a nuisance to check. My proof that there are no sources is res ipsa.

      • (i) Is Sunil Patel an outlier among SF book reviewers?

        (ii) Was his remark sarcastic?

        (iii) What is the context of his remark?

        (iv) Was Patel acting on orders from some intersectional feminist conspiracy, or giving orders to such a conspiracy, or is he just some guy with an opinion about what he wants to review?

      • My thought is, since there are many SF reviewers (I review what I read myself) what does it matter if one reviewer says he won’t review books written by white male authors? This would be a good way to hear about books I otherwise might not have.

  30. “I’d say I was at a loss for words except that I’ve spent some time now demonstrating that, push comes to shove, I’m pretty much never at a loss for words.”

    And lately, we are grateful for that! :)

  31. I’d say that from the context of “if your writing”, Sunny Moraine wasn’t talking about literature everywhere throughout history. They were offering advice to new writers, telling them that if they only focus on white dudes in their books, it’s probably going to come out narrow-minded and limited in perspective. Other great authors might have produced amazing works primarily focused on white dudes, but that doesn’t mean that your writing will become just as good by limiting its focus and ignoring other cultures.

    Or, to misquote myself about Alan Moore: “Yes, Leo Tolstoy got away with it. But with exactly one exception, you are not Leo Tolstoy.”

  32. David Lawson says:

    Mr. Flint,
    I have no interest in siding with or against James May. I don’t have the desire to research his claims. So I’ll stay neutral on his claims.

    From my own experience I do see quite a bit of backlash against white males (for the record, I am one myself, so I may be sensitized). I think this backlash is a natural reaction to centuries of white male dominance. Much of it is probably deserved, but some also is way over the top.

    In closing, I think you did a great job mansplaining James May. However, I don’t think that most people who are offended by some of the above stated backlash are upset, for instance, when women or non-whites are cast in movies and books. I think you are mansplaining to us. You paint with an over-large brush.

  33. William Underhill says:

    Thank you for your take on this, Mr. Flint. I’ve enjoyed your work along with quite a few other authors on both sides of the Puppy debate.

    From where I sit as a reader, I’m pleased that you, Mr. Martin, Mr. Torgersen and Mr. Correia have presented your positions thoughfully and with a measure of humour. I disagree with some of your points, but you’ve certainly given me to think, and that’s never a bad thing.

    I am unhappy with the behaviour of some of the supporters on both sides, though – names have been flung, accusations made with little or no basis. (e.g., one party who was so lacking in taste as to suggest that Mr. Torgersen married his wife in order to cover up his racism… that one had me going Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?!)

    The other thing that did peturb me is K. Bradford’s recommendation to cut back on reading works by white male authors. As a reader, I’m not really interested in the sex, ethnicity, politics or sexual orientation of the writer; I want to know if they’re going to tell me a good story. As a first-time Worldcon member, that’s how I’m going to vote on the works on the ballot – did I like it? Did it engross me? I didn’t nominate anything this year, mainly because I didn’t know I could. That I’ll fix next year, and I’ll use similar criteria – do I consider it a good read, good enough to be worthy of nomination? So far as I can see, nothing else should matter.

    Thanks again.

    • Sylvia McIvers says:

      On the other hand, there have been and still are people who consistently refuse to read or review books by women authors. At all. Some of these people review books in magazines & newspapers (which I would document but I lost the link) Since this is how many people hear of new books, female authors are significantly hit by this trend. And have for years.

      A few women refusing to read male authors for a year is not going to give male authors the same punch in the wallet.

      • John Cowan says:

        Given a sf book (in the broadest sense) by a new-to-me male author and another by a new-to-me female author, I tend to choose to read the latter, because my experience says it’s more likely to be the kind of thing I’ll like. This has been true for me for the last 20 years or more.

        • Mike says:

          I, on the other hand, usually don’t care what kind of plumbing the author has.

          • Bibliotheca Servare says:

            Hear hear! Huzzah! Etc. ;)

          • John Cowan says:

            I don’t either, as far as specific authors are concerned. There are so many authors out there, though, that whatever heuristics I can come up with are useful.

            • Mike says:

              Well, but only if they are relevant. I’ve generally not found the sex of the author to be relevant.

              There are exceptions. Can you imagine any male writing Jane Austen’s novels in her time period?

              And what about teams like Lee and Miller, who co-write novels as husband and wife?

    • Paul (@princejvstin) says:

      The other thing that did peturb me is K. Bradford’s recommendation to cut back on reading works by white male authors. As a reader, I’m not really interested in the sex, ethnicity, politics or sexual orientation of the writer; I want to know if they’re going to tell me a good story.

      I once thought so, too. In the abstract, its a good principle.

      For me, though, I found that if I don’t make a conscious effort to seek out different voices, it just doesn’t happen as much as it might. And its my loss. So I have made a conscious effort to read more books by women this year (I had decided to do so before Tempest’s challenge as part of my work at Skiffy and Fanty).

      I think its a good challenge. Its exposing me to authors I might not have otherwise read.

  34. Johnny says:

    A weekly serial of these wold be utterly fantastic. The only thing I would possibly change is to replace “James May” with “Dear Crito” about halfway through. It’s nice how the internet just sort of provided you with a literary device with which to explore this topic.

  35. “It’s about being part of the 50% of humanity who has never been a protagonist until recently.” Well, if you ignore the Hervorsaga, The Fairie Queen, Jane Austen, Jirel of Joiry, Pamela,…

  36. Tim McDonald says:

    I do take exception to you telling me not to call people SJW because it offends them. Because they for the most part, seem to feel fine with labeling me as:
    Tea Bagger. Because I think taxes are already obscenely high and are misused, and they think I will be devastated when accused of a deviant act.
    Racist. Because I insist works be judged by their content regardless of the race, sex or orientation of the author.
    Misogynist. Because I think men and women actually are different, and viva la difference! Being unabashedly heterosexual is not a crime. Yet.
    Or telling me to check my “privilege”. This one pisses me off the most. My wife and I started with exactly zero between us. EVERYTHING we have, we worked for and BY GOD EARNED, and anyone who worked as hard and as long as we did could have done the same thing. So NO, I will not “check my privilege”.
    So, SJW is not even in the same tier as what they feel free to call me and accuse me of, and when I laugh at them for their presumption, you think I should stop because of their poor hurt feelings. Not happening. Simple self defense.

    • Mike says:

      And when they label you as a Tea Bagger, does that make you more receptive to their arguments or less receptive? I’m guessing less receptive.

      Labeling positions like that is all about preaching to the choir. It’s part of the code language we use when we want to gather the likeminded to our side. But it’s not how you make a reasonable argument to the other side or to third parties. I have very little patience for it even when I’m in the choir, and zero patience for it when I’m not.

  37. Sylvia McIvers says:

    “In one short sentence, Sunny Moraine—whoever the hell she is, and we’ll get to that in a moment—has dismissed such novels as Tolstoy’s War and Peace, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick—not to mention the epic of Gilgamesh and Homer’s Iliad.”

    Really, the Greeks were white? Greeks look pretty Mediterranean brown to me.
    And given that they lived in Uruk, Mesopotamia, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, there is a fairly good chance that they were not white either.

    Also, you should carefully avoid reading the Epic of Gilgamesh, because it tells how wild-man Enkidu was FORCED TO CHANGE HIS MANLY WAYS by some woman who wanted him to be more socialized. The hussy.

  38. However, if the point was that there is a deficiency of novels with prominent female characters like Honor Harrington or Amanda Kirasdotr, I will heartily agree. But it might be better to write more of them rather than pounding on people who wrote something else. Otherwise eventually the mournful kittens will descend upon us, lamenting the shortage of novels with male lead characters.

  39. Simeon Beresford says:

    Certainly the fact that someone so ignorant of the genre as to have not heard of either the Heinlein biography or, as I understand, The Three Body Problem, thought they knew enough about the field to select the slate, without bothering to perform such due diligence as checking Locus. does argue for the possibility that. “The straight white dude perspective is basically the Dunning-Kruger effect apex of all civilization.”

    • Bibliotheca Servare says:

      Checking Locus…the admittedly biased, niche-focused, Locus. Right. Remind me who said it was impermissible to post your selections (aka, your choices) for nominees on the Hugo’s…without having scoured the field to see if you’d read everything in it, or at least heard of it? Could you tell this ignorant fan what it would take to give me sufficient credentials as a fan to vote on the Hugo’s without being considered an obviously uneducated, clueless, boorish imbecile? Oh wait. I don’t care. Call me, Larry, Brad, whomever (and Larry ain’t white, dahlin, and it’s his show as much as it is Brads, so…that white male bit…is mostly just good for laughs. Also, Sarah Hoyt is female…and a member of the non-ghostly-pale segment of humanity [nonwhite]…so the male bit is laughable too [she’s just one prominent example] for that matter) all the names you want. Turn your nose up in disdain all you want at our unmannerly behavior and plebian stench. We’re fans, and we’re just here to have fun, to quote Brad. Also, we have heard of Three Body Problem, and the Heinlein “biography.” We just didn’t feel like nominating them. Funny how you picked those two though. Almost like they were “expected” to grab a nomination…
      Have a nice day. ;)

      • Simeon Beresford says:

        You may have heard of them but since you did not select the Slate I do not see the relevance

        I have no problem with people who lack an encyclopedic knowledge nominating the works they prefer. I simply do not understand why someone would be entrusted with decide who others should vote for when he lacks the inclination to acquire knowledge. you say those he presented the list to had.

        • Bibliotheca Servare says:

          “…Decide who others should vote for…”

          Oh my, that IS funny. Do you suppose the readers of Brad and Larry, Sarah, Dave (Freer), and Kate (Paulk), et all are automatons? Puppets? Slavishly devoted sycophantic morons? Or do you simply believe that the persons mentioned above wield dictatorial control over their fans? I ask because only by believing one of those things can you arrive at the belief that Brad (for instance) “decided” whom, and what, his readers should, and would, vote for -like a perverse puppet master, or a General giving orders to his troops- regardless of their own opinions. It’s kind of funny, really. Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen wielding godlike power over their readers…someone should write that book, I bet it’d be fantastic! Brad posted a list of people, and books, he thought were worthy of nominations, and as such, was going to vote for. He took suggestions of people and books to look at as possibilities, but he decided for himself. He then posted this list, and suggested his fans read the books on it, and research the editors, fanzines, etc, that were on it, and if they liked them, consider purchasing a membership and voting to nominate them. He didn’t give orders, he didn’t say “don’t bother reading these, just vote for them!” (though some have suggested that he *thought* it or somesuch nonsense) or any other nefarious thing. He, as a fan, voted for some folks, and told his fans who he voted for, and that they should check them out. Voilà, you have a “slate.” No research should be required for a fan to participate in the Hugo process. Just a love of SciFi, and a willingness to part with $40 dollars for a chance to be involved. I was unaware that that was such a revolutionary sentiment. ;P I hope this reaches you well, and I haven’t given (too much, at least) offense. ;)

          • Simeon Beresford says:

            No I do not think they are “automatons”, “Puppets”, or “Slavishly devoted sycophantic morons”. I think that they are examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect. I thought I had made that clear. Here let me illustrate. with some quotes from monsterhunternation.com

            1) In which someone disagrees with you about the merit of the the biography. regrets it not being included.

            “I’m not going to gripe that it’s not on your list, Larry, as there’s only so many slots and it’s your list not mine,
            ” but I am going to mention it for extra consideration, as I have done here several times before. The second volume of Patterson’s bio of Heinlein is certainly worthy of consideration as a Best Related Work.”

            In which Brad R. Torgersen, wishes he had known about it because it sure sounds like a contender. If only people would tell him about these things.

            “I’d have happily considered it for SP3, alas, nobody pinged me on it. With so much fiction and non-fiction available each year, sometimes we need help knowing what’s worth noticing. I wish somebody would have pointed a (virtual) finger at this volume and said, “Hey, look!”

            Apparently for Mr Torgerson a two page review in the journal of record. is not a big enough finger.
            Presumably because it never occurred to the guy that locus exists because “sometimes we need help knowing what’s worth noticing”. The Dunning-Kruger effect in action.

            In which a puppy disagrees with your assessment of say the book and admits he made an error , “Mea culpa. I have both volumes in hardback, and it is a great piece of work. I feel like cr*p for neglecting this obvious, excellent candidate.
            Reply”. It is always embarrassing to realise that one not as bright as you think. It happens eventually to all sufferers from the condition.

            In which a puppy comforts himself with the false belief that the biography can make it on to the list on its own merits.

            “I think the main purpose of the Sad Puppies is to draw attention to works that might otherwise be overlooked. I think the Heinlein biography is a case where it will probably be on the ballot on its own merits and doesn’t need a boost. I’d be very surprised if it ISN’T on the ballot.” He was wrong. He failed to appreciate the power of the slate he was participating in. By now you ought to be able to spell Dunning-Kruger effect.

            Indeed the biography might have made the list done If Mr Torgesson had bothered to look look at locus to find out what was eligible. What was good. If in short he had not been too cocksure to do due diligence. Hmm “too cocksure to do due diligence”, that sounds remarkably like a definition of the Dunning-Kruger effect. It also might have made it on to the list if so many puppies having seen a work praised as worthy in their discussions. hadn’t of their own free will, decide , not at all slavishly, to ignore it and stick tightly to the slate. If only they had had some more input into the list. but no they made a few suggestions and then left the decision to someone who could not be bothered to flick through Locus. Maybe a vote next time? No silly me. I forgot that the puppies entire existence is predicated on the belief that the wrong sort of people vote.

            • Bibliotheca Servare says:

              Or rather, that more people ought to vote. Which is of course not at all the exact opposite of your statement. But congratulations on making me lose interest in this conversation. Blatant falsehoods have a way of doing that. And if it wasn’t a blatant falsehood, but rather a sincere belief, then all the worse because I am arguing with a person who sees strawmen as real people. Good luck to you. ;)

          • clif says:

            “No research should be required for a fan to participate in the Hugo process. Just a love of SciFi, and a willingness to part with $40 dollars for a chance to be involved.”

            and someone to tell you who to vote for. That’s what both sides accuse the other of doing. And since the Hugo is stuffed with *very bad* stories this year, it leads one to doubt that Larry or Brad actually read very many of them. Else they would have been (and quite likely *are*) embarrassed by the quality of their slate. Of course being manly mcmen etc … they are unable to actually *say* so.

            • Bibliotheca Servare says:

              I’m just going to assume you were severely inebriated when you wrote this. Because if you weren’t, well, that’s too frightening to postulate. Remember, the first step to finding a solution is admitting there’s a problem! One step at a time, recovery, and even sobriety, is achievable! Good luck!


  40. balddudesrock says:

    “Arguing with an idiot is like playing chess with a pigeon.No matter how good at chess you are, the pigeon will shit on your board, and strut around like it won, anyway”.
    You can’t fix stupid, Eric.
    Not even with duct tape.

    • Bibliotheca Servare says:

      Pigeons rock, first of all, and I fart in your general direction (French accent) for denigrating them. Second of all…who’re the “idiot(s) you’re referring to?

      PS: I chuckled a bit at the image of a pigeon nonchalantly pooing on the chessboard and proceeding to strut around triumphantly. Okay, less dignified than a chuckle. ;)

  41. Hampus Eckerman says:

    I would like to show this movie to May just to watch his head explode:


  42. Tim Napper says:

    Hi Eric

    We met at Writers of the Future this year (I was one of the winners).

    A missing aspect of this diversity debate, which is never discussed by Americans, is class. With rising inequality, it has become more difficult for working class and poor writers to make it in today’s market. In fact, social mobility in the US is worse now than in the 70s, and almost as bad as the UK.

    As pretty much the only US science fiction author I know active in the labour movement, it’d be good to hear your thoughts on this.

    If you’re interested, I wrote a piece on this a while back called “George RR Martin’s Sister: the Economics of Being a Writer.” Uses a whole bunch of data and research to back up the arguments, which you might appreciate: http://www.nappertime.com/george-r-r-martins-sister-the-economics-of-being-a-writer/



  43. A practical issue is that the total SF market, from paranormal romance and urban fantasy on over, is enormous, especially once you march through Kindle, Smashwords, Third Millennium and others, all of which are paying markets. I know they are paying. I get money from them. No one has read all of it. However, some people have read each part of it, and thanks to Amazon their reviews can be read.

    Some of the reviews of Three Body Problem tend to make clear why a reasonable nominator might have sent a vote elsewhere. The same is doubtless true for almost every other SF work, I suspect, though most of my reviews have been less negative than that.

  44. Pingback: A quick bit on reading diversity | Blog, Jvstin Style

  45. Jeff Ehlers says:

    It should say something that I hardly ever even notice the outrage of the anti-“social justice warrior” crowd except when someone I do pay attention to takes note of it. So I look at it some and promptly lose interest in it, because if anything in this world is a tempest in a teapot, that assuredly qualifies.

    Honestly, who cares? I only have one criteria for whether a book is good, namely, “is it something I enjoyed reading?” And, by extension, I only have one criteria for whether an author is good, and that is, “does said author write books I enjoy reading?” That’s it. Whether a book gets nominated for a Hugo or some other SF/fantasy award has no relevance to me whatsoever. I mean, really.

    To make this point even more abundantly clear, let me ask this. How many people actually let something like the Oscars determine whether a movie is worth watching? It’s the same thing with the Hugos and whatever other stuff like them is out there. While I’m sure there are some who do, for most people, the Oscars are totally irrelevant to the much more important question of, “is it something I enjoyed watching?”

    • Simeon Beresford says:

      Personally I think I look for slightly more than “did I enjoy reading it” as a Hugo criteria”I have to enjoy it a lot! it has to be a book I recommend to people and expect to continue recommending for years. And it has to be a stand alone book rather than a part work. So for example Skin Game fails because any recommendation I would give for it would be tempered by but you have to start at the beginning. Seriously a walk on bit character from as I recall book 2 finally achieves heroic apotheosis in this book and the only way to properly appreciate this gradual transformation is to read the series. There is a reason the novel category is open to completed multivolume series and it is because part fifteen of twenty is is only a fraction of the work.

  46. SAMK says:

    Eric, I fear you made the sad puppies case for them. You do not get reviewed in Locus. Everyone knows Locus controls the Hugos, what with their reccommended reading lists and the Locus awards that so closely match every Hugo ballot. And Locus is run by a woman of color, too, so , see, it is all their fault, and those sad men, like Scalzi, who kneel to their dominance. Let’s ignore Charles Brown’s long history. He was suspect anyway.

    All of the above was pure snark.

    I actually have been voting on the Hugos for long enough to understand some of the “nothing we like ever makes it” feeling. The last time I really enjoyed a Hugo novel winner it was by Rob Sawyer, and he mostly won because Canada. I however, have merely shrugged and looked at the ballot to see if any of the books seem worth reading this year, and if not, I don’t vote, and if so, I vote for those.

    I’d be a lot more in sympathy with the sad puppies if they’d stop whining and weren’t involved with the nutcase ahole. And the more those two voices resound, the less sympathy I have.

  47. Terranovan says:

    Recommending – if I had read the Puppies’ case first, I think I would have come to the conclusion of a general bias in the voters, rather than a deliberate conspiracy. And/or a general – liberalizing? left-wing? – trend in the material available to vote on. (I apologize if either of the adjectives on “trend” is inaccurate or offensive. Neither of them is meant as an insult.)

  48. LarryM says:


    Great response, but …

    At the end of the day, I’m not sure that engaging the likes of Mr. May gets us very far. He’s not persuadable. One could argue that there are some people out there who are sympathetic to the SP argument but ARE persuadable, and that this is directed at them. I’m not sure that that is terribly likely either. That is, there probably are some SPs that are persuadable and worth engaging, but those people are likely already a bit embarrassed by association with Mr. May and his ilk.

    • Mike says:

      I read it more as Eric saying what he felt like saying rather than any attempt to convince James May of anything.

  49. That’s true. However, it was a delight to me to read such an elegant takedown of Mr. May, since Mr. May leaves such puddles of puppy piss wherever he goes.

  50. Pingback: Writing rape scenes and other links (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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