Apr 28, 2014

Monster Meanies

Larry Correia
I'd never heard of Larry Correia before today. I'm not a fan of vampires, werewolves or other monsters. Apparently Correia is facing some harsh treatment within some Sci Fi/Fantasy circles because of his political views. I don't know what his political thinking is.

This past weekend I was re-reading some old editorials written by Isaac Asimov (bundled in Gold). One (the book chapter is called "Outsiders, Insiders", originally published in the Feb 1986 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine) deals with the "brotherhood of science fiction".

In that editorial, Asimov described science fiction writers and readers as a band of brothers and sisters who like each other and support each other.

I don't think the word "politics" is in that 1986 editorial, but Asimov wrote about dangers that can disrupt the cohesion of a social group and he wrote, "We may not be able to defeat those dangers even if we see them, but we certainly can't, if we don't see them."

Asimov mentioned that the annual voting for the Nebulas "seems to rouse hard feelings and contentiousness every year". In 1986 Asimov seemed a bit dismayed by the mean spiritedness that had crept into his beloved literary genre during his life time.

Why Can't We Be Friends?
Good humor man.
Part of the problem he attributed to money: Asimov was a bit nostalgic about the good old days when all science fiction writers were poor. Both the writer and their fans did not really have anything worldly and serious to fight over. Asimov ended his editorial with a plea:

"Let's be friends. There are endless worlds of the mind and emotions to conquer, and we can advance more surely, if we support -not fight- each other."

My Weaknesses
In Asimov's editorial "Outsiders, Insiders" he gave some examples of occasions when he had been unable to be gracious to his fellow science fiction writers. Of course, he later regretted his past pettiness.

There have been times when the political tone of a science fiction story turned me off.  Glenn Reynolds mentioned that Robert Heinlein might not be viewed as "politically correct" in these times.

cover by Patrick Woodroffe
Ah,the 1970s!
Heinlein was one of the people who Asimov admitted to being jealous of and Asimov later regretted his inability to celebrate Heinlein's successes when he was pushing Sci Fi into the lime light. When I was young, I read a lot of Heinlein's science fiction stories, but eventually I grew tired of his approach to story telling. Some of my distaste was related to the political "flavor" of his stories.

cover by Darrell Sweet
Later, I enjoyed several of the novels of James Hogan. Eventually, as more and more of his political and fringe ideas showed up in his stories, I had to abandon reading his work.

I went through a similar binge and bust affair with Gordon  Dickson. It was Dickson who gave me my fill of military science fiction. After a while, I just wasn't interested in blowing things up any more.

Through all the darkness of Heinlein, Hogan and Dickson there was always the light of Asimov, Clarke, Vance and many others who managed to stay on my "good side". We all have our personal interests and tastes and we are free to pass our money on to only those authors who provide us with what we are looking for. I learned to ignore the dark side of science fiction that I found troubling, politically or otherwise.

Are there some topics, themes or ideas that are worthy of being drummed out of the science fiction genre? I like the idea of free speech, but we live in a society where some types of speech have been criminalized. Someplace between our desire to stoically withstand distasteful speech and our desire to promote edifying and entertaining speech is a gray place where we feel the need to complain about what other people are saying. Can we do so in a civil manner, without distorting and demonizing, without allowing ourselves to turn into mean and ugly mobs?
Related Reading: About the Hugo by Larry Correia
More book and magazine covers.

1948 Amazing Stories cover art (to the right).

fictional politics
2015 update: more Sci Fi politics.

2016: political science fiction

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