Category Archives: rant

In Defense of Romance

What?  Yes, of course that’s a click-bait title.  It worked, didn’t it?  You’re here, aren’t you?

This is not the type of lice hunting romance I’m in favor of.

There’s been some changes recently to how authors can categorize their works when uploading them on Amazon.  Amazon has implemented the following restriction:  Do not add books from any Romance category to these categories: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Children’s.

(Children’s? Who puts romance in a children’s book? What the hell is wrong with some of you people?)

And of course the butt-hurt has been epic.  A casual scroll through the comments quickly revealed some of the women who write “blended” novels will be putting them in the science fiction and/or fantasy sections rather than the romance section (which is where they probably belong).

But that’s okay.  I don’t get my recommendations for what I read from Amazon very often.  Usually it’s from people whose taste I know aligns with mine.

They want to write and read that stuff, that’s their business, and I have no problem with their doing so.  As long as they don’t scold me for not reading it or invade my space with it, we’ll be fine.

Here’s the type of romance I’m advocating: Continue reading

Thoughts on Dell Magazines Publication Schedule Change and the Role of Short Fiction

AFF_JanFeb2016_400x580This isn’t any breaking news, just something I’ve been ruminating about lately.  Back in November, Dell magazines announced that their four fiction magazines would be going to a bimonthly schedule.  Those magazines, in case you’re unaware, are Analog, Asimov’s, Ellery Queen, and Alfred Hitchcock.

Up until a few years ago I picked them up on the newsstand since I didn’t like how the USPS tended to tear things up.  (I learned this because F&SF wasn’t always available on the newsstand, so I had and still have a print subscription.  My copy came today, partially accordianized.)  When digital subscriptions became available, I switched over.  (Shelf space had a lot to do with it as well.)

Now, instead of ten issues per year, two of them double, the magazines will have six 208 page double issues.  The current schedule already contained two double issues.  I can remember when Analog published thirteen issues a year, two of them double issues IIRC.  But then I’m a dinosaur.  Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov’s, has said this will allow them to add 16 pages more than their current double issues as well as holding subscription prices steady.  I suspect cost more than anything is behind this move. Continue reading

Frm Crcl Jrk t Clstr Fck

See what I did with the title of this post?  No, it’s not a typo.  Nor have I been drinking.  It’s called disemvoweling.  Clever, isn’t it?

No.  No, it’s not clever at all.  In fact, it’s pretty juvenile.  But it’s a favorite tactic of some people when they don’t agree with comments on their blog posts.  I guess it’s supposed to make the person doing the disemvoweling look smart or something.  Mostly it makes them look they’re afraid to engage in a conversation.

Many of the same people who engage in this practice are some of the same ones who’ve been having a hissy fit for the last six months over the Hugo Awards.  Which should tell you all you need to know about the maturity level of disemvoweling.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, just fell off a turnip truck, or have a life, here’s a quick recap.  This is of course my interpretation.  It’s going to be long, so consider yourself warned. Continue reading

Geez Lou-eez, Will the Stupidity Never Stop?

idiot klubSo there’s this idiot individual who wrote this piece for The Guardian calling for a year in which no new books by men be published, only books by women.  (If you read through the entire piece, I suggest you invest in a platter of cheese first.  It will go well with all the whine.)  And I thought the Tempest in a Chamberpot proposal was ridiculous.

Apparently she’s really serious.  Continue reading

The “Reading Only X Writers for a Year” Challenge…

…or Just When You Thought the Stooopid Couldn’t Burn Any Worse Than it Already Does.

I wasn’t going to post anything after today’s Trigger Warning.  I’ve got three reviews to write, plus a ton of reading to get caught up on, not to mention the second set of exams that I haven’t started grading.  So what did I do tonight?

finger-shaking-scoldI got sidetracked by a number of things, with the highlight being the latest fisking (read it, it’s brilliant) by Larry Correia of K. Tempest Bradford’s challenge to only read approved writers for a year.  Approved being defined as what she thinks you should read, of course.

Or rather in this case, what she thinks you shouldn’t.  That would be books by straight, white, cisgendered males.  Finger lady there doesn’t think you should read books by authors who fall into this demographic.  Because badthink or something.  You’ll notice that the book she’s holding up is by Neil Gaiman, while the T-shirt she’s wearing is Dr. Who, some episodes of which were written by Neil Gaiman.  (What is it with these people and Gaiman lately, anyway?)

Bite my ass, lady.  Who are you to tell me what to read or not read?  I’ll read what I damn well like and make no apologies to anyone.  Certainly not to the likes of you.

Here’s my challenge.  It’s twofold.  First, I’m challenging myself to read interesting, exciting, entertaining books by writers who gender, race, religion, etc., I don’t give a rat’s red ass about.  Second, I’m going to challenge myself not to read any books by outspoken SJWs who want to indoctrinate me in goodthink more than they want to entertain me.  That would include authors like…what was her name again?…the finger lady up there.

And don’t raise your scolding finger to me, Bradford.  I might raise my middle ones in response.

Trigger Warnings

Neil GaimanI’ve been buried under exams that should have already been need to be graded, so things have been a little quiet.  I might post a report about ConDFW in the next day or so if I can clear some stuff off my desk.  But I saw something I couldn’t pass by.

Neil Gaiman has a new short story collection out entitled Trigger Warning.  Now the term comes academic feminist theory.  It basically means that what follows could trigger some post traumatic reaction.  That’s not quite the context that Gaiman is using the word, which he apparently talks about in his introduction.

This has drawn the ire of at least one of the SJW thought police.  This particular individual published a post the other day in which she took Gaiman to task for using the term in a way in which she did not approve.  You see, Gaiman is an important figure, and he has the ability to alter the conversation.  This is a bad thing because he’s altering it a way in which this self-righteous self appointed arbiter of word usage doesn’t approve. Continue reading

I’ll Continue Using My First Generation Nook (Even Though I Don’t Want to)

This post is going to be a lot of bitching and moaning.  Feel free to skip if you aren’t in the mood to hear me kvetch.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a rant about how the Nook Glowlight is a big step in the wrong direction, as least as far as my ereader needs are concerned.  Long story short, in spite of a much better battery life, the Glowlight limits how much of the internal memory can be used for files that aren’t Nookbooks, things like screensavers or, say, third party books.  Hint: not nearly enough.

GlowLight_imgI could only load about 2/3 of my third party books on it.  At the time, all of these would fit on the first generation Nook.  (I’ve since filled the device memory.)  The Glowlight (what Freudian slip is making me keep typing Blowlight?) does not allow for a memory card.  Time to switch  to a different brand of ereader.

The logical thing would be a Kindle, except that all of my third party books are in EPUB format.  Plus, none of the Kindles I looked at would allow the addition of a memory card. (I’m talking ereaders, not tablets.)

I did some research on Kobo, but they were a little pricey.  Then I noticed yesterday that they had the Aura on sale, which does allow the insertion of a memory card.  While I’m not willing to pay the full retail price, especially since I would rather have the Aura HD which is more expensive, I was willing to shell out the sale price.

So I set up a Kobo account and ordered one.  The transaction was declined.  I thought it was a security thing with my credit card, so I called to authorize the payment.  No, the payment went through.  After a day of emails and phone calls to Kobo that didn’t really go anywhere, I called the credit card company to cancel the payment.  Turns out that after I talked to them yesterday, the payment was automatically canceled.

I decided to give it one more try, and this evening I sent a new order in to Kobo.  During the checkout process, I realized what the problem was.  I had put my home address (i.e., the shipping address) in for the billing address.  I use a PO box for most of my mail, certainly for things like credit card bills.

Well, duh! No wonder the credit card transaction was declined.  The billing address I entered didn’t match the billing address on the credit card account.  Proof that you have to be smarter than what you’re working with.  Which, as least as far as yesterday is concerned, I wasn’t.

So I entered the correct information in the correct places.  I clicked the final SUBMIT button.

And the order didn’t go through.

Kobo refused to accept a PO box.  Not as a shipping address, because I put my home address for that.  As the billing address.  You know, the billing address that my credit card company declined yesterday because it wasn’t a PO box.

There is no number to call to make a direct order.  Which means I wont’ be buying a Kobo.  So there is no ereader that meets my needs that is available.

I will continue using my first generation Nook.  At least the battery dies.  (I suspect you can’t get batteries for the original Nook anymore.)  Or until someone comes up with an ereader that has a long battery life, will let me add a memory card, and actually is willing to take my order.

Until they do, I have a message to all B&N, Amazon, and Kobo: a pox on all your houses.

Free Speech Takes a Major Hit

If you’ve paid much attention to the news lately, you’ve surely heard about the major hacking attack Sony Pictures has suffered.  (This is an active news story, so I’m not going to put in links, because things may have changed considerably between the time I write this and you read it. Edited to add: Risk Based Security is compiling daily updates here.)

Everything stems from a movie called “The Interview”, the plot of which involves an attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.  The movie, a comedy, stars Seth Rogen and James Franco.  The movie was originally scheduled to be released on Christmas Day.  That’s not going to happen now after several major theater chains pulled the film and refused to show it.  It’s questionable now if “The Interview” will ever be released, at least officially. Someone leaked the death scene and posted it on YouTube today.  That’s it below.

The attack was launched by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace, which threatened violence at theaters where the movie was shown.  Today the US government released a statement claiming that they had evidence that North Korea was behind the attacks.

How is this not an act of war?

It’s still too early to tell what the US response is going to be.

Kim Jong Un seems to think he’s above criticism.  He’s not.  He’s a two bit dictator who deserves to be put on trial for numerous crimes and human rights violations.  And then executed.

No one in public life is above criticism.  Or being the subject of satire.  Not Congress.  Not the President.  Not the Queen.  Not the Pope.  Not a bunch ayatollahs.  Not ISIS.  Not monarchs, prime ministers, chancellors, members of parliament, university presidents, or celebrities.  And certainly not a sorry excuse for a human being like Kim Jong Un.

I’m appalled at the pathetic response of the theaters and the studio.  Cowards.  Craven cowards.  When you give the bullies what they want, they win.  And it only encourages them.  I get that theaters are worried about liabilities if something were to actually happen.  But let the public decide if they want to take the risk.  “The Interview” isn’t a movie I would normally have any interest in seeing.  But now I do.  That’s the way bullying and censorship always work.

In the meantime, I think we should show the Supreme Leader of North Korea all the respect he deserves.

Kim Jong Un

An Open Letter to the AAS

So with the holidays coming up, my reading list – We interrupt this blog post for the following public service message:

Earlier this month, the Rosetta mission made history by landing a probe on a comet.  This is slightly more difficult than playing a video game, in case you were wondering.

t 2Dr. Matt Taylor was the spokesperson spokesman for the ESA, the organization which accomplished this feat.  He wore a shirt which caused some people to get knots in their knickers.  I discussed this at the end of my review of Interstellar.  I’d hoped we’d heard the last of this because the stupid, it burns.

Then the AAS (American Astronomical Society) issued a statement.  Let’s look at it in detail, shall we? Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Bradley, Breen, Kramer, and Delaney

Warning:  This post deals with issues of child molestation and may not be safe for work or young children.  These situations discussed herein are complex, and to keep this post from becoming longer than it is, I’ve not addressed all aspects that have come up in different places.  Feel free to bring up in the comments things I’ve left out.

I don’t know how much some of you keep up with the controversies in the sff community (either observing or actively participating) and how many wish some of the more shrill people would shut up and write more (or in some cases just shut up).  If you’ve been paying attention, you might be aware of revelations about several child molesters.  The reaction to these revelations has been disturbing at times, to say the least.

What got the whole ball rolling was a post on (since taken down) singing the praises of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, followed shortly by this post from Diedre Moen.  Bradley’s second husband, Walter Breen, had been convicted of child molestation.  I remember reading that years ago in an obituary (in Locus, maybe?) when Bradley died.  Moen’s post pointed out that she was an enabler to Breen’s depravity, something I had not heard.  The post contained both quotes from the court documents regarding this as well as a link to Stephen Goldin’s site where there are further links to the complete depositions as well as additional information.

Shortly after Moen posted that information, Bradley’s daughter Moira Greyland came forward with allegations that Bradley had molested her beginning when she was three and ending when she was twelve.

Breen was tried and convicted, but it’s too late to for Bradley to face charges.  Bradley and Breen are both dead, and if these things are true (and I think they are), I hope it’s quite warm where they are now.

There’s been quite a bit of bandwidth devoted to these revelations, with much of it in defense of Bradley.  Not all but a great deal.  I’ll address that below.

Next on the list is Ed Kramer.  With all the commotion about MZB, Kramer’s name was sure to come up.  He’s one of the co-founders of Dragoncon, and Dragoncon tried to sever ties with him for years because of his rumored pederasty.    (They eventually did.)  While Dragoncon was doing this, a number of people in the field were actively supporting him.  Granted a man is innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, and no reasonable person wants to be participate in rumor mongering, but when things are as open as they were here, you should really stop and think.  Monsters can be kind and charming.  It’s part of what makes them monsters.  Kramer was recently convicted after pleading guilty.

A number of people over the years have supported Kramer and Bradley. Some certainly had no idea what was going on and chose to believe that nothing was, especially if someone said the stories were only rumors.  It was easier that way.  This is a perfectly normal human reaction.  We tend to want to believe the best about people, especially if they are artists whose work we’ve enjoyed.  And in Kramer’s case, he was manipulating the situation by doing everything he could to get the trial delayed while claiming he was being denied a speedy trial.

Other people willingly chose to close their eyes to what was going on right in front of them.  And a few aided and abetted.

Jerry Pournelle addressed how much was known about Bradley and Breen in his circles in a comment on Sarah Hoyt’s blog.  There are further discussions between Pournelle and some others on that post starting at Dave Freer’s comment further down the page.  The whole exchange indicates how sticky things can become when trying to determine how much specific individuals may have known about what took place in a case like this when not everyone was in on the “open secret”.

There has been a great deal of discussion about whether or not an individual should continue to read Bradley’s and/or Delaney’s work.  I’m not even going to try to link to it; there’s too much.  Numerous readers have said that her books have helped them through a dark time in their lives.  Other people have said they are going to burn anything they have by her and/or Delaney (who’ll be discussed next).

The question of to what extent an artist’s personal life can be separated from their work is one that won’t be settled in a single blog post.  I doubt if it ever really can.  It’s  a complex question that’s too much a matter of personal conscience for everyone to reach a consensus on.  What can be done is to not honor or support someone whose proclivities cross the line into abuse, perversion, or molestation.

Which brings us to Samuel Delaney.  Delaney has been openly gay for decades.  This is common knowledge in the field.  What is less known is that Delaney is a supporter of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA).  This is an organization that supports and promotes sexual relations between adult men and boys.  In other words, it’s an advocacy group for pedophiles.  I won’t link to the organization.  You can look them up on your own if you’re so inclined.

Here are a few quotes from Delaney:

I think sexual relations between children and adults are
likely to go wrong and that most of them are likely to be, start off
as, or quickly become, abusive, that I also support a group like
NAMBLA?which I do. But that’s because I feel one of the largest
factors in the abuse is fostered by the secrecy itself and lack of
social policing of the relationships,  Source

“I read The NAMBLA Bulletin fairly regularly and I think it is one of the most intelligent discussions of sexuality I’ve ever found. … Before you start judging what NAMBLA is about, expose yourself to it and see what it is really about, the issues they are really talking about; and deal with what’s really there rather than this demonized notion of guys running about trying to screw little boys. I would have been so much happier as an adolescent if NAMBLA had been around when I was 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.”
— Samuel Delany, science fiction writer (Queer Desires Forum, New York City, June 25, 1994).

I find these quotes extremely disturbing.  I don’t know if Delaney actually advocates sex with children and teens, but he certainly isn’t taking a stand against it.  As far as I know, there have been no accusations of him having sex with children or teenagers, and I am not saying he has.  But he supports a group that advocates for pedophiles, calling their views “one of the most intelligent discussions of sexuality I’ve ever found”.

It’s interesting that SFWA recently named him a Grand Master.

You see SFWA has been acting like a thought police in the field lately.  Two respected authors were taken to task over calling a female editor from the 1950s a “lady” and then fired when they refused to apologize for it (link here).  Larry Correia calls someone a word that is often used to refer to female genitalia, and the torches and pitchforks were being passed around (link here).  One author had a meltdown on Twitter over something a comedian who had been asked to host the Hugo Awards might say (links here and here).  Then there was the individual (a lifetime member) SFWA ejected last year over a tweet linking to a blog post with racial content many found offensive.  I’m not sure where to start linking on that one, there were so many posts. None from SFWA, which won’t even publicly name the individual in question.

Has SFWA or its leadership said anything about Delaney and his associations?  Or Bradley and the allegations against her?


If they have, I’m not aware of it.  I can’t keep up with every blog post or tweet out there, nor do I want to try.  If there has been some type of statement from SFWA or any of its officers regarding these things, I would appreciate someone letting me know.    They have addressed Kramer’s membership, sort of.

Here’s why the silence, the excuses, and the apologies are a mistake.  In spite of the talk in recent years of fantasy and science fiction going mainstream, it really hasn’t.  Sff on film has, driven in large part by the Marvel Comics blockbuster movies and other special effects oriented films.  It’s cool to be a fan of those and to publicly exhibit your geeky side.  But sff in film tends to focus on visuals, superheroes, and outer space, things that the general public feels comfortable with.  The more unusual ideas about culture, technology, and sexuality remain in the written form.

There is still a large segment of the population that views sff, especially written sff, with suspicion.  After all, it was those weird kids in junior high that carried that stuff around, played D&D, and were generally kind of creepy.  At least in some people’s minds, and those stereotypes are still around.

And when the mainstream media picks up on the preeminent sff writers group defending child molesters and honoring writers who have views about adult-child sexual relations that are…problematic (and sooner or later they will), expect a backlash.

All it will take is some demagogue or self-appointed protector of our children’s minds looking for a boogeyman to stir things up. When some kid goes off the deep end and goes on a shooting rampage, one of the things the media focuses on is the kid’s interests.  And they tend to fixate on things of a fantastic nature: role playing games, comics, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.  Which inevitably leads to a segment outside the sff field calling for a boycott or Congressional hearings or public book burnings or…you get the idea.

I don’t want that to happen.  It’s time for some people in the field to draw some lines and say certain things are not acceptable.  Under any circumstances.  Ever.