Why do lady SF writers suck?

Before you seek to lynch me, let me clarify the title slightly. Not all female SF writers are bad and I work with a number of very talented ones. What I am wondering is, why do places like Escape Pod and others think they are so dreadful?

Jon Del Arroz has been doing some interesting investigative journalism and has discovered that the long running Science Fiction podcast Escape Pod has a policy of giving preference to female writers over male ones. There is also the phenomena of regular anthologies and magazine issues that are women authors only (or some other “minority”).

The question I have about all this is, Why? Are female writers of science fiction really so terribly unreadable that they can’t actually get published without needing to rely on someone taking pity on them? The long history of science fiction publishing would suggest otherwise with many female authors writing under male pseudonyms and have successful careers, not to mention the large number of female authors who do just fine without needing one. I’ve bought stories as editor of Sci Phi Journal and as editor of Astounding Frontiers. The last thing I care about when purchasing stories is the sex of the writer, all that matters is that the story is good.

Usually when I say things like this someone will articulate concepts like “structural oppression”, “unconscious misogyny” or some other political buzz phrase to excuse why they need to make excuses for bad female writing but I find this unconvincing. The reality that a woman can submit under an obviously male pseudonym means that the barrier doesn’t really exist, they can always bypass the gate keeper (if he exists) in such a fashion. Is there any research today that shows a large number of stories submitted to different magazines using different names of both sexes, that get accepted at different rates based on the sex of the author? I realise such research would be difficult to conduct because you can’t just submit the same story to the same editor with different pseudonyms and expect a useful result, but the same author (or group of authors) could easily submit under many different names, a large number of different stories, and then get some statistically useful results. At least then there would be evidence of this bias should it exist.

My guess is that they would discover that female writers get bought more often than male authors in certain markets and in other markets there would be no meaningful difference. They did a similar experiment in Australia where they degendered resumes and used voice disguising technology to conduct candidate interviews. In such environments the men did better than the women, and in a sexed environment they actually did worse. They ended up needing to discontinue the practice because it got the “wrong” answer.

So what is the answer? Should places like Escape Pod be giving women a helping hand when buying stories? Such a patronising practice is not going to do the women authors any real favours. A publishing credit with Escape Pod for a woman will now unavoidably seen as some sort of participation prize for a crappy author. Who can have any idea how good an female author is, if when she is published in Escape Pod the bar has been artificially lowered? Maybe she is a good writer but there is no way to tell because it isn’t a level playing field. [easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B01M23YOS4″ cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51w3Xe9B7kL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”superversivesf-20″ width=”113″] The Product by Marina Fontaine[/easyazon_image]

At Superversive Press, we have published the wonderful Dystopian story,The Product by Marina Fontaine. Why did we publish it? Because it is a great story of the struggle for freedom in a nightmare future. Read it today and see what a good lady SF writer looks like. Marina has no need of an artificial helping hand because she is talented and I would never want to suggest she was a lesser writer that needed such a leg up.

The real solution to the “problem” of “under representation” is not to lower the bar for crappy author but to encourage them to become better writers and to encourage them to persevere in the face of setbacks. Ladies if you want to succeed, then suck less and persevere more. It really is that simple.

A Rambling Wreck, with Hans Schantz

The Catholic Geek: A Rambling Wreck, with Hans Schantz 06/25 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:

Hans Schantz joins host Declan Finn to discuss Social Justice in Science, and how it relates to his books ‘The Hidden Truth’ and ‘A Rembling Wreck’ 

Dr. Hans G. Schantz is a physicist, an inventor, and a co-founder and CTO of Q-Track Corporation, a supplier of indoor location systems. He wrote the science fiction thriller, The Hidden Truth, a textbook, The Art and Science of Ultrawideband Antennas, and a short history on The Biographies of John Charles Fremont. Hans will be launching A Rambling Wreck, the sequel to The Hidden Truth, at LibertyCon next weekend. Hans lives in Huntsville, Alabama with his wife, and two sets of twins.

Pius Politics

I mentioned politics in the last post, and I meant to really get on that a little more, but I sort of drifted away from politics and into my general temperament, which impacts my politics, but doesn’t spell out what the bleep they are, or how they show up in my novel, A Pius Man — which centers around Pope Pius XII as a MacGuffin.
As I said before, I lean libertarian-right. More laws just means that the government can screw you over in more and more various and sundry ways, so I’m wary on laws for the “common good.” I won’t say kill all the lawyers, but I think tort reform can do that easily enough. Unfortunately, like most people, I’m a bit schizophrenic. I dislike the premise of feeding Moloch, but there are certain people I really want to remove themselves from the gene pool. I’m a New Yorker who thinks everyone should own a handgun, a rifle and a shotgun. I think drugs a really, really bad idea, but hey, legalize them — the more people who get high, the more Darwin awards we can hand out…. except for PCP, not even drug dealers will sell that crap anymore, as a general rule.
Like libertarians, there are a lot of things I don’t personally believe in, and wouldn’t recommend, but I’m leaving the fate of your own soul between you and God. Enjoy.
I generally despise politics with the burning passion of a thousand suns. The government should leave me alone unless I need actual aid — like someone has broken into my house and I’ve run out of bullets.
So, of course, since I truly loathe politics, A Pius Man happens to be the most politically charged book I’ve ever written. With the overall topic of Pius XII, I do take a side. I believe my conclusions are obvious based on my research. For those of you who have read The Irrational Atheist, you probably have an idea about that punchline.
However, the political portions of the book are discussions, not rants. And the politics are driven more by the characters than by me.

For example…

Sean A.P. Ryan. Mercenary. Believes in the free market system, heavy weaponry, and grew up in Hollywood: therefore he has lived his entire life swimming out of a Leftist cesspool, and dove into the chlorinated waters of libertarianism. When queried on his political affiliations, he would say, “I believe people should be able to own marijuana and machine guns. I will laugh at the marijuana crowd, but if I have my guns, I’m happy.”

Scott Murphy. He’s a spy who huts down terrorists for a living. His politics: “I believe in the power of waterboarding. But I’d sooner talk terrorists to death. It’s more painful in the long run. When you can talk them into revealing everything they know, kill them, move up the chain of command. Repeat until they’re willing to be peaceful, or they are peacefully dead.” He’s an accountant by training, so his first thought is how to steal terrorist money.

Giovanni Figlia. Cop. His father was blown up by a Red Army faction in the 1980s, so he has a grudge against extreme, gun-toting Leftists. Aside from that, his politics are: “I have to protect the most powerful religious leader on the planet, and he insists on pissing off nearly one-third of the world’s population. Leave me alone and let me do my job.”

Pope Pius XIII (Born: Joshua Kutjok): Hard right-wing. Has all but declared war on the Sudan. Thoroughly dislikes tyrannies, which means North Korea and China dislike him right back. “I am against abortion, gays being married in my church, and contraceptives are against the religion. Then again, you should only have sex with the person you marry, so abortion and contraceptives shouldn’t be needed. However, my homeland of Sudan is going through thirty years of religious and ethnic warfare, I have better things to do than deal with whining hedonists!”

Father Francis Williams, S.J.: “I’m a Jesuit transfering into the Opus Dei. I speak six languages and I can kill people with my rosary beads … what was your question?”

Maureen McGrail. Interpol. “I’m too busy being shot at to have a political opinion. Leave me alone.”

Secret Service Agent Wilhelmina Goldberg: As a special adviser to anyone who wants the Secret Service to audit their security, she has been all over, and her political opinion is simple. “At the end of the day, America looks good by comparison.”

The above characters have more influence over how the political discussions go than I do. So, the topics will be… interesting.

So, have enough fun yet? Just click here.

And, if you’ve done that….
The Dragon Awards are open and ready for nominations, and I have a list of suggestions you might want to take a look at. If you already  have a good idea of what you want, just click here to go and vote for them. The instructions are right there.

A Doctor to Dragons is Launched!

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A new hilarious collection of short stories by G.Scott Huggins has been released today by Superversive Press:

The Dark Lord’s favorite dragon is constipated. Dr. James DeGrande, veterinarian and orc-slayer, is going to have to deal with it.

This one could get messy.

“Everyone says it was better in the Good Old Days. Before the Dark Lord covered the land in His Second Darkness.

As far as I can tell, it wasn’t that much better. Even then, everyone cheered the heroes who rode unicorns into combat against dragons, but no one ever remembered who treated the unicorns’ phosphine burns afterward. Of course, that was when dragons were something to be killed. Today I have to save one. Know what fewmets are? No? Then make a sacrifice of thanks right now to whatever gods you worship, because today I have to figure a way to get them flowing back out of the Dark Lord’s favorite dragon. Yeah, from the other end. And that’s just my most illustrious client. I’ve got orcs and trolls who might eat me and dark elf barons who might sue me if their bloodhawks and chimeras don’t pull through. And that doesn’t even consider the possibility that the old bag with the basilisk might show up.

The only thing that’s gone right this evening is finding Harriet to be my veterinary assistant. She’s almost a witch, which just might save us both. If we don’t get each other killed first.”

If that wasn’t enough, here is a promotional video (thought up during a sleep-deprived creative frenzy) that inflicts my vocal stylings upon your ears, and I must warn you it shall not be the last such torture to accompany a book launch, so be afraid!

Click the image below to grab the book for yourself.

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The paperback version can be found here

For those of you who want to subject yourself to the full song, see below:

One Day More! (A roleplaying-Kickstarting musical)

This arrived this morning. To enjoy it fully, one needs to know that this is for Heroic Fantasy & Barbarian Conquerors Collection, a Kickstarter that ends today, and the Hafling class is the one that has not yet been unlocked:

With just one day more to crowdfund this effort, I present… ONE DAY MORE, sung to the tune of the song of the same name in Les Miserable. 

Macris
One day more!
Another day, another ask from me
For funding of Heroic Fantasy.
The ones who did not give a dime
I’ll ask again a second time.One day more!

Bugman Dredger
I did not live until today.
Cause my book’s just getting sorted.

Macris
One day more.

Bugman Dredger and Ovate
We’ll both be ready for some play
Because of you, our race got started!

Halfing Burglar
One more day without a home.

Bugman Dredger and Ovate
Will our class be overpowered?

Halfling Burglar
One more day with them not caring.

Bugman Dredger and Ovate
We were born to play with you.

Halfling Burglar
What a life I might have known.

Bugman Dredger and Ovate
Our classes are completely new!

Halfling Burglar
But the funds are just not there!

Macris
Tomorrow we’ll be on our way
Tomorrow is the funding day

ALL
Tomorrow we’ll discover
What Autarch’s backers have in store!
One more dawn
One more day
One day more!

(To see on Kickstarter.)

The Wrights Hijack Catholic Geek Radio!

Tomorrow from 7 to 9 pm EST, while the unsuspecting Declan Finn rests on his long-needed vacation, John C. Wright and L. Jagi Lamplighter will be hijacking his radio show: Catholic Geek Radio.

As if this were not bad enough, the Wrights have turned the show over to a crew of imaginary characters. The Lady Rachel Griffin and her blood-brother Sigfried Smith the Dragonslayer will be conducting the show and interviewing other fictional characters from the works of Wright and Lamplighter, with an eye toward whether any of them are worthy to be hired to star in a book. Interviewees may include Miranda and Mephisto Prospero, Wendy and Raven Ravenson, Menelaus Montrose and Blackie Del Azarchel, Gil Moth and his trusty friend, Ruff the phooka dog (Not a spy for elfs.)

Tune in to find out how Montrose and Blackie survived living together in a tin can for all those years, what Ruff thinks about spying for the elfs, and whether Mephisto really does like cheese.

Feel free to leave questions for any or all of the characters below!

Catholic Geek Radio — Feb 26th with Wright and Lamplighter

A Halloween Story Repost: “Closure”, by MJ Marzo

Much like “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, “Closure” is a story that can be happily read twice a year, Halloween and Valentine’s Day, being both a ghost story and a love story…sort of. Is it superversive? We’ll let you decide.

MJ Marzo is the author of two stories in the critically acclaimed collaborative novel “God, Robot” (be sure to leave a review!), and the assistant editor under the name Mariel Marchetta. You can find her soon as the assistant editor, and co-author of the frame story, of the upcoming anthology “Tales of the Once and Future King”.

And without further ado, “Closure”…

The woman’s house lacked the crystal ball and dim lighting of every other place Robert had visited, which he took to be a good sign. There were no tarot cards, or bowls of powder. The very fact that they were meeting in a living room and not some seedy, back alley parlor was a novelty.

Robert squeezed the hand of the woman next to him lightly, both of them pacing the room while they waited for their hostess to return. The hand was clammy and had a slight tremor. The short blond woman smiled uneasily.

“Bobby, are you sure about this?” she whispered to him.

“What makes you so unsure?” he asked, smiling as he took in his surroundings.

“Well, this isn’t exactly what I pictured when I think of a medium. It’s certainly not like any of the places we’ve been to so far.”

He took both of her hands, looking into her concerned eyes. “That is precisely why I’m so excited Christy! No smoke and mirrors. This is going to be the one. I can feel it.”

His optimism was infectious; Christy couldn’t help but give her fiance a brief kiss, her own confidence rising to match his.

The woman they had come to see–a tall, thin woman in her forties, with streaks of grey running through her hair–walked in rubbing her hands on an apron tied around her waist.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized, “I had to get the cookies in the oven for my  son’s soccer team. Please, sit down, sit down. We’ll get started.”

The woman’s nervousness only added to the authenticity of this experience. Finally, he was going to get answers.

“So…I’m afraid I’ve never done this for, uh…payment before,” She started. “Or for something like this. Usually it’s little things. Favors for the neighbors.”

“That’s perfectly okay, Mrs. Keller,” Robert answered, “We haven’t had any luck with people who call themselves professionals.”

This seemed to calm her down a bit. “Please, call me Edith” she said, smiling. She wiped her hands on her apron once again, finally folding them in her lap.

“Well, why don’t we start with why you’re here?” she asked tentatively. “The advertisement mentioned something about your wife?”

“You see,” Robert explained, “Christy will actually be my second wife. My first wife Sandra, she…” He seemed to have trouble continuing. Christy took out a tissue she kept in her pocket–it was obvious that she had done this before. Robert waved her hand away and ran his hand through his beard.

“She died of breast cancer,” He continued. “Such a wonderful woman, full of life even until the end. I don’t know how I survived without her–until I met Christy of course.” He grabbed her hand, lightly tracing circles on the back with his thumb.

“We met a year later when I decided to go back to school to get my degree and got engaged six months later.” Christy finished.

The back and forth between the couple felt almost rehearsed. Edith could tell that they must have told this story many times before. Robert took a photo out of his pocket and began to tear up.

“And you want me to see if I can help you contact your dead wife?” Edith asked gently. Robert nodded, wiping tears with the back of his free hand.

“I just can’t get married without knowing Sandra is okay with it. That she approves. We’ve been to so many other places that have told us what we wanted to hear, but I just never felt like they were really her–when it is, I’ll know. We’ve postponed the wedding for five years while we’ve searched for someone who could help us. I’ve put my entire life savings into offering a reward–at this point we can’t even afford a wedding. If things go well today Christy and I will just go to the courthouse.”

Edith couldn’t help but be impressed at the patience of his fiance, who looked to be trying very hard not to let her disappointment show.

“Well, I’ll see what I can do. May I see the picture?” Robert placed it gently into her hand. The picture was of a rather plump woman with a short bob of red hair. Despite her size, her dress suggested that she was very confident in her body. Edith held it in her hand and began to concentrate.

The couple sat on the couch, hand in hand, waiting anxiously for only a few minutes, but what seemed more like hours. Robert felt a twinge of guilt shoot up his spine as he watched Edith close her eyes and furrow her brow with effort. Was it really fair to put so much pressure on her?

But all of a sudden it changed. Edith relaxed, her eyes opening slowly. She placed the picture, very carefully, on the glass coffee table in front of her.

“Robert?” She said, her voice different. It became deep, with the slight rasp of a habitual smoker.

Robert’s mouth dropped open. It amazed Christy that after all this time, he still had that initial reaction. “Sandra?”

Robert. Oh my god, I didn’t think I would ever see–”

She stopped, her eyes flitting to his and Christy’s hands clasped together. “Who is this?” she asked, her smile now forced.

Unlike Christy, Robert was oblivious to the poison dripping from that seemingly innocuous sentence.“She’s why I wanted to talk to you. This is Christy. She’s my fiance–”

“YOUR WHAT?!” She got up from her seat, throwing her hands in the air. Robert put his arm around Christy protectively and pulled her closer to him. Christy thought that leaving might have been the better option.

“You’re engaged?” Sandra screeched. “Why the hell did you think I wanted to be dragged here for that?”

“I–I–I just thought–” the man stammered.

“What, that I wanted to be her bridesmaid? When did you decide this was a good idea?”

“We met a year after you were gone,” He muttered, but unfortunately his words did not escape the scorned woman’s tongue.

“You mean I was barely cold in the ground,” She snarled, “And you’re already with this…this…skinny bitch!”

Excuse me?”

“Christy, please don’t–”

“YOU STAY OUT OF THIS!” The two women screamed.

Robert shrank as far into the couch cushions as he could, praying no one in Edith’s family was returning soon.

“I would rather be skinny than some fat-assed cow, I saw your picture, how Bobby ever found you attractive I have no idea–”

“At least I have a chest, people are going to look at you and think my husband is gay!”

“You mean my fiance!”

“No. MY husband!”

At this point the two women were leaning into each other, their hands resting on the glass coffee table.

“Girls, maybe we should calm down.” Robert suggested weakly.

With an unholy screech of anger, Sandra flipped the coffee table to the side. It flipped over their heads, hitting the wall and shattering. Reflexively Robert tackled Christy to the ground, guarding her from any shrapnel; it was a miracle none of them were hit.

When Robert looked up, Sandra was only glaring at them. “You protected her and not me?” she huffed.

Robert couldn’t even find words. He only opened and closed his mouth like a fish.

“I know when I’m not wanted.” Sandra answered simply, and with that she had disappeared. Edith stumbled backwards and fell back into the chair she had started out sitting on.

“Did it work…?” she asked weakly, her voice back to normal. “Did you get to speak to your wife–oh my God, what happened in here?” she gasped. seeing the remnants of the coffee table scattered throughout the room and Robert and Christy huddled together on the floor.

“That was absolutely ridiculous!” Christy shouted, getting up from under Robert and smoothing out the wrinkles in her skirt. Robert got up as well and stayed silent.

“Robert and I have been to dozens of these people–five years–the most humiliating scam we’ve ever been subjected to–flipping a coffee table? We could have been killed!”

Edith looked absolutely confused. Christy put a hand on Robert’s arm. “Bobby, I’m so sorry it didn’t work out. Get your coat and we’ll get out of here.”

But Robert was not leaving; in fact, he had moved away from Christy and sat down. Taking a pen and his checkbook, he began filling out a check.

“I’m very sorry about the table,” He said evenly. “But you’ll have plenty left over to buy yourself a new one.”

“You’re giving her the money?” Christy exclaimed. “I mean, I want to marry you Robert…But what about finding someone who could actually talk to Sandra?”

Robert ripped the check out of the book and gave it to Edith, who took it with trembling, disbelieving hands.

“Yes,” He said, the tension gone from him body, looking more tired than ever before, “I had forgotten. But that’s Sandra all right.”

He took Christy’s hand and left without saying another word.

“Robert, I’m so sorry–” Christy began, but was stopped when Robert grabbed her around the waist, spinning her around and laughing.

“We’re finally getting married!” he exclaimed.

“But–But Robert–You’re not upset?”

Upset? Why would I be upset?”

“What about everything you said? About wanting her approval?” She held her head lightly, growing dizzy. Robert had, at this point, spun her three times.

“From her? Christy, I got something better! I’ve realized how lucky I was to get out of a marriage with that bitch!”

With that, he finally stopped spinning her around. Taking her hand again, the happy couple set off towards the courthouse.