SFWA, or STFU? WTF?

It’s not a new concept that the wonderful world of writers, like every other organization, has fights. And back stabbing, back biting, and other backwards thoughts, ideas and concepts. Then there’s the SFWA, the Science Fiction Writers of America.  If you haven’t been brought in on this round of inside baseball, the SFWA has started appealing to one small, particular demographic, namely the psychotic political left. You know the ones I’m talking about, because there are no leftist moderates anymore — just turn on the news, and watch for five minutes before the next riot happens. In story form, one story that meets these standards includes a world where the universe is filled with subservient men, the women rule everything, and there is peace throughout the world … a story that has every woman I’ve told it to laughing themselves sick.

Apparently, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for good fiction to meet SFWA standards.

This is a bit of business that has some old-school (and new) SF writers pissed. Names include Harlan Ellison and Harry Turtledove, among other.  And Harlan is no conservative. The chronicles of the SFWA’s downward spiral does make you wonder exactly how far down this rabbit hole goes.  Though I’m not brave enough to go spelunking into that particular asylum.

However, I noted something in the above articles, that the SFWA got pissed off over “a book with women in chainmail on the cover.”  Well, one, if it’s fantasy, what else are women going to wear? It’s either chainmail, leather armor, or platemail (the latter heavy enough to tip someone over like a turtle on their back, so I don’t recommend it for anyone).

Then, something occurred to me.  Could this hissy fit have been over Chicks in Chainmail? For those of you who don’t know this classic comedy series, it’s laugh out loud funny stories in fantasy universes, like the Suburban fantasy anthology Witch Way to the Mall, Strip Mauled, and Fangs for the Mammaries.

The two series have something in common.  Two somethings, in fact.

1) They’re all edited by Esther Friesner.

2) They’re published by Baen books…Sound familiar?

Does anyone else have a bad feeling about this?

And if you don’t want to go by the version in gifs, the pure text version of what’s been happening is even LESS reassuring.

Now, there are a few problems with everything the SFWA has been pulling.  Using feminism as authority structure creates pedantic drivel in favor of a false narrative of multiculturalism (ie: we’re going to shove this down your throat, and you will like it, because. Just because). They want writers to effectively write stories about “womyn,” gays, transgenders, african-Americans, native Americans, gays, Asian peoples they have no idea about “but hey taoism sounds cool and namaste, yo.”

You can view this a few ways.  The rabbit hole, making a “women only” race course, putting a Stalin-ish leash on their editors to make certain they’re publishing the “right” things, or redefining “literature” as whatever supports the current tint.  No matter what you call it, it’s not good for writing, storytelling, or the genre. If you wanted to say they’re trying to destroy the genre, well, you wouldn’t be the first.

Though you can also see it as people like Baen and Castalia house are busy taking over the universe of science fiction, and we just can’t have that. Castalia House, after all, has the eeevvviiillll Vox Day …. who SFWA kicked out of their little clubhouse for being politically incorrect. And publishes John C Wright — Catholics aren’t good for business, I’m sure. (Says the snarky Catholic)

Baen, for those of you who might not know, is filled with interesting people.  Many of them are conservative, but also Libertarian, and at least one card-carrying Communist, Eric Flint (he pulled out his card at a DragonCon one year).  Unfair, but balanced might be a way to put it.  Each person will bring their own politics and philosophies to bear in their own novels, but usually not in a way that would piss me off. I’ve read Flint, and he’s quite interesting. They also have John Ringo, David Weber, and Timothy Zahn, who are conservative-ish, if not outright conservatives.  And then there’s Tom Kratman.

These two are making TONS of money.  Metric tons. They are everywhere, and always publishing.

So, a libertarian press making money? And making money with something like Chicks in Chain Mail?

If Jason is right, then this SFWA brough-ha-ha is really a purge in response to Baen.  After all, with nimrods this ideologically pure, Baen is downright heretical.  So we have the “conservative” juggernaut of Baen versus an ever-more left-leaning SFWA… If Jason’s idea is true, then the SFWA has a problem.  By catering to smaller and smaller elements of their own preconceptions, they’re just throwing good money after bad. Like all of those horrid anti-war propaganda films from 2001 on, I’m sure it makes the producers and writers feel good, but who’s going to see it? For every five films like Syriana, they still couldn’t match the profit of 300, Iron Man, or Captain America.

As some of you may know, I escaped from a PhD program. Academia is rife with the sort of PC crap the SFWA is doing, but I haven’t noticed it in too many POPULAR books or movies. Sure, Hollywood cranks out this drek endlessly, but who watches it? 300 was a January release, and it made so much money, they started a sequel immediately (it only took forever to write and produce). So, certainly, people are teaching this stuff in the halls of academia, but when it comes to where the metal hits the road — where people spend their money — John Wick, DC, Marvel, and their ilk outperforms that sort of drek every single time. If The Dark Knight Rises had a feminist message beyond “Anne Hathaway looks good in leather,” I missed it (I actually thought the message was “Occupy Wall Street = Bad”). There is even a Kickstarter dedicated towards making these politically correct nightmares in print. “Women destroying science fiction,” is the actual title of one such stupid project.

This, of course, is a stupid idea for a book series, anthology, novel, what have you, if only because of actual SF written by women.  Let’s look at JD Robb, aka Nora Roberts — her In Death series is a fun science fiction murder mystery series set in the 2060s. How about Julie Cochran, coauthor to John Ringo? Or Jane Lindskold. Is Tamora Pierce or Naomi Novik hurting for cash because they’re women? I have yet to dodge JK Rowling because she’s a woman. Laurell K Hamilton was a okay writer for about 8 books, then it became smut, but at least it wasn’t feminista drivel.

Isn’t it nice to see that writers can be as petty as everyone else? Then again, I became a writer because I don’t like dealing with people as a rule.

My takeaway from all this? Write good books, and no one will care what gender you are. Honest.

I, for one, won’t even NOTICE what gender you are (You can’t imagine how long it took me to sort authors by gender, you really can’t).  If you write bad books, no one will read them, and the SFWA will just keep burning its cash, and its credibility — assuming that they have any left.

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About Declan Finn

Declan Finn is the author of Honor at Stake, an urban fantasy novel, and nominated for Best Horror at the first annual Dragon Awards. He has also written The Pius Trilogy, to be released by Silver Empire Press. Finn has also written "Codename: Winterborn," an SF espionage thriller, and "It was Only on Stun!" and "Set to Kill," murder mysteries at a science fiction convention.