Book Review: For Steam and Country by Jon del Arroz

A couple of weeks ago, I took my 12-year-old daughter to the town library in search of something to read. When I asked the librarian in charge of the YA section to recommend something without suicide or sex, she said, without hostility but quite firmly that we were in the wrong section. Apparently those were the predominant themes of modern YA literature. (Mind you, this is the stuff offered to them as pleasure reading, in addition to the doom-and-gloom highbrow literature they’re already required to read for school.) And then we wonder why so many of today’s teens are A. depressed and B. avoid pleasure reading at all costs.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I report on this latest offering from a science fiction author Jon del Arroz. For Steam and Country is, as the title implies, a steampunk adventure first and foremost, but it also succeeds brilliantly as YA.

The protagonist, Zaira von Monocle, is a 16-year-old, who–shocker!–actually behaves as a normal teen, even though the circumstances of her life are anything but ordinary. Sure, she is a daughter of a great adventurer, who inherits her father’s airship and goes off to far away lands and gets involved in battles that might decide the fate of her country. Yet at the same time she is subject to the same challenges and emotions as any teen. She has a secret crush on a neighbor boy who, frustratingly, only sees her as a friend. She feels sad about having lost her mother at a young age and devastated at the news that her father is presumed dead. She has a comically adorable attachment to her pet ferret (yes, there’s a ferret named Toby, and he’s important to the plot!). And, as most teenagers, she has her flaws: she is stubborn, occasionally rash, doesn’t know her limitations while at the same time being insecure… Did I mention the “normal teen” thing? If you don’t have teens of your own, just take my word for it. Zaira is true to life, perhaps more so than the cynical and too-smart-for-their-age creatures that populate modern YA fiction, especially the kind geared towards girls.


Read the full review at Marina’s Musings

Back to future past — feminism — philosphy

I find myself missing philosophy — I know it’s still out there — but I’ll be nice and keep my thoughts on that and comments to myself.

Be forewarned — I like old stuff — This century is worthless for philosophy — generally.

We are going to see if our Mr. Richard A. Wasserstrom and friends can educate us on feminism, primarily using their own words. This is all old stuff – nothing new happens in feminism – all research is limited to 1993 and prior. Just short of twenty-five years.
We first need to determine exactly what it is we are discussing here. If we are to look at sexism and the efficacy of Wasserstrom’s assimilation theory, then for the purposes of this discussion, I am considering Wasserstrom’s idea of sexism to be:

‘…taking…sex into account in a certain way, in the context of a specific set of institutional arrangements and a specific ideology which together create and maintain a specific system of institutions, role assignments, beliefs, and attitudes. That system is one and has been one, in which political, economic, and social power and the advantage is concentrated in the hands of those who are white and male'(9).
“Additionally, the assimilationist ideal is a society in which the sex of an individual is ‘the functional equivalent of the eye color of individuals in our society today’ (9).
‘In our society, no basic political rights and obligations are determined on the basis of eye color. No important institutional benefits and burdens are connected with eye color'(20).

John Stuart Mill (and perhaps Harriet Taylor) might well contribute,
“The very words necessary to express the task (we) have undertaken, show how arduous it is'(150), but this must not keep us from this duty.

‘That the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes–the legal subordination of one sex to the other–is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it out to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other'(150)
…this concept which you seem to share, I find irrefutable. My only difficulty with your position is in the implementation.
‘All causes, social and natural, combine to make it unlikely that women should be collectively rebellious to men. They are in a position far different from all other subject classes…All men…desire…in the woman…not a forced slave, but a willing one…'(153)”

Wasserstrom would come back with;
I too have difficulty imagining the implementation of this concept,
“The assimilationist ideal in respect to sex does not seem to be as readily plausible and obviously attractive as it is in the case of race…the assimilationist ideal would require the eradication of all sex–role differentiation…(21)'”

We aren’t really disagreeing yet, but Mill/Taylor is likely to add;

“‘When we put together three things–first the natural attraction between opposite sexes, secondly, the wife’s entire dependence on the husband…and lastly, that all…can in general only be sought or obtained through him, it would be a miracle if the object of being attractive to men had not become the polar star of feminine education and formation of character…'(153).

Wasserstrom would likely come back with,
“I also and unsure of how we might accomplish this transformation, yet, ‘There does, however, seem to me to be a strong presumptive case for something very close to, if not identical with, the assimilationist ideal'(29).”

Friedrich Engels might bring in the Teutonic idea of;
“This is a great goal and an honorable pursuit–yet it seems more is attempted than required. If we look to the problem at its root…
‘Then it will be plain that the first condition for the liberation of the wife is to bring the whole female sex back into public industry, and that this, in turn, demands that the characteristic of the monogamous family as the economic unit of society be abolished'(170).

Wasserstrom might be a bit self-evident in his position,
“There is substantial, vehement and apparently intractable disagreement about what individuals, practices, ideas, and institutions are either racist or sexist–and for what reasons”(1).

Until our first female Marxist here today, Heidi I. Hartmann reminds us;
“Mr. Wasserstrom does not go too far–he goes not far enough. He has a radical adjustment for a deeper problem he does not understand. We have much more that need repair. True,
‘…it is in studying patriarchy that we learn why it is women who are dominated and how…(196)
‘…we must organize a practice which addresses both the struggle against patriarchy and the struggle against capitalism. We must insist that the society we want to create is a society in which recognition of interdependence is liberation rather than shame, nurturance is a universal, not an oppressive practice, and in which women do not continue to support the false as well as the concrete freedoms of men'(200).
“Until and unless we do this–we do both too much and too little. Trading an oppressed society of women for an oppressed society of men and women is not the direction we wish to negotiate. Equality is a necessary condition, but not an end when it is not complete.”

Wasserstrom comes back with;
“Granted, ‘complex and sophisticated accounts have been developed which utilize the theories of Freud, Levi-Straus, and Marx to explain the oppression of women'(2). They just don’t seem to provide a solution.”

And Charlotte Bunch brings us some perhaps well-deserved sarcasm;
“Well, I’m amazed. In a discussion of feminism paradigms, you actually let women speak! Albeit a woman who completely supports your ideals–or is it simply that she idealizes you. That has always been the problem. ‘So a real woman is a woman who gets f—ed by men'(174
“Women don’t need to be androgenized. We don’t need to be fixed. Should we become more like you? I’m sure your intent wasn’t to make yourselves more like us. Sure, we should all become part of the problem–that’s a great idea. That’ll solve everything.
“Women are not the problem–but we’re working on a solution. We are bonding together and creating systems that work. Sexism is the root of all oppression–sex and sexual characteristics are not to blame–the oppressors are to blame–the men are to blame.

‘…woman–identified–woman, commits herself to women not only as an alternative to oppressive male/female relationships but primarily because she loves women…It is political because relationships between men and women are essentially political, they involve power and dominance…it is a political matter of oppression, dominance and power'(175).

Wasserstrom seems almost apologetic;
“I don’t disagree. ‘By almost all important measures it is more advantageous to be a male rather than a female'(5).

Charlotte (Bunch) keeps up the pressure,
“We don’t need men, not ‘even for procreation'(176), and we sure don’t need your androgynous assimilationist society. Fix YOUR problems–eliminate YOUR oppressions–then we can discuss the society of the future. We ‘must form our own political movement in order to grow'(178), We’ll get back to you on your male ideas after we take care of that little bit of business.

Wasserstrom, perhaps a bit dazed by that last strike of Charlotte’s;
“The point is there is something that needs to be fixed. ‘Sexism could plausibly be regarded as a deeper phenomenon than racism. It is more deeply embedded in the culture”(8). Assimilation seems the most logical answer–or at least the only one that is not logically flawed.

Wittig is being witty;
“We already have your assimilationist society–it is called lesbianism.
‘Lesbianism is the only concept that I know of which is beyond the categories of sex (woman and man), because lesbian societies are not based on woman’s oppression and because the designated subject (lesbian) is not a woman either economically or politically or ideologically. Furthermore, what we aim at is…the destruction of heterosexuality–the political system based on women’s oppression, which provides the body of thought of the differences between the sexes to explain women’s oppression'(181).

Wasserstrom comes back solid;
“The fact that we regard this assertion of the transsexual as intelligible seems to me to show how deep the notion of sexual identity is in our culture …It is even clearer in the case of sex than in the case of race that one’s sexual identity is a centrally important, crucially relevant category within our culture”(5).

We find another female philosopher, Monique Wittig;
“Your assimilationist theories are inexorably tied to that concept of differences. You play at removing them while you revel in their existences. You are as false as it is possible to be. You are the enemy playing at cooperation and support, and as such you are the most heinous and by far the most dangerous.
‘Our fight aims to suppress man as a class, not through a genocide, but a political struggle. Once the class of “men” disappears, women as a class will disappear as well, for there are no slaves without masters…'(181).
And Charlotte Bunch is quick to back her up;
“Lesbianism lacks direction now because it has failed to understand the importance of heterosexuality in maintaining male supremacy and because it has failed to face class and race as real differences in women’s behavior and political needs”(177).

Wasserstrom just won’t let go,
“I don’t think we are that far apart.
‘Even though there are biological differences between men and women in nature, this fact does not determine the question of what the good society can and should make of these differences'(24).

Wittig stays feisty;
“It is our turn to exist–you shall not take that from us. We will not let you. We will fight for our ‘separateness of ego’ and ‘autonomous entity’. We can agree on the destruction of some terms–though not upon their underlying entities. You seek the recreation of society in your own image–still obsessed with a God-like perception of your own male perfection. We reject your concept because,

‘…once we reject the basic determination “woman” and “man”, once we have no more attributes by which to identify ourselves (I am this or that). We are for the first time in history confronted with the necessity of existing as a person'(182).”
Wasserstrom states the obvious,
“It sounds like you agree with me.
‘…the socially created sexual differences…tend to matter the most. It is sex role differentiation, not gender per se, that makes men and women as different as they are from each other, and it is sex role differences which are invoked to justify most sexual differentiation at any of the levels of society'(24).”

And Wittig finishes with a grand slam, of sorts;
“It is because you hear with your genitalia. You hear what you want. We are different–we just don’t want to be punished by you anymore for that difference. You can’t get past that. We ‘have to be something else, not woman, not man, a product of society not a product of nature, for there is no nature in society'(180). And you cannot inject it with an assimilationist theory.”


Bunch, Charlotte. “Lesbians in Revolt.” Feminist Frameworks. Ed. Alison M. Jagger & Paula S. Rothenberg. New York:
McGraw-Hill Inc., 1993. 174-178.
Engels, Friedrich. “Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.” Feminist Frameworks. Ed. Alison M.
Jagger & Paula S. Rothenberg. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1993. 160-170.
Hartmann, Heidi I. “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Towards a More Progressive Union.” Feminist
Frameworks. Ed. Alison M. Jagger & Paula S. Rothenberg.
New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1993. 191-200.
Mill, John Stuart (Harriet Taylor). “The Subjection of
Women.” Feminist Frameworks. Ed. Alison M. Jagger &
Paula S. Rothenberg. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1993.
Wasserstrom, Richard A. “Racism, Sexism and Preferential Treatment: An Approach to the Topics,” UCLA Law Review.
24 (February 1977), 603.
Wittig, Monique. “One Is Not Born a Woman.” Feminist Frameworks. Ed. Alison M. Jagger & Paula S. Rothenberg.
New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1993. 178-182.

The Catholic Geek: Peter J Wacks and shared Worlds

The Catholic Geek: Peter J Wacks and shared Worlds 06/11 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:

Guest Peter J Wacks joins host Declan Finn as they discuss writing in shared worlds, like Last Cities of Earth.

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.

The Love at First Bite series. 

Makers and Breakers

Subversive Literary Movement

Throwback Thursday: a superb guest post by author Dave Freer. (clicking on the covers for more info about the book.)


Makers and Breakers

by Dave Freer

Joy cometh in the morning

Now of course you want to take anything I say with a whole shovel of salt, because, according to the self-selected arbiters of modern standards, I’m barking insane.

As sanity is a relative concept (take some of my relatives. Please), salt is great preservative, and if I’d rather not be judged sane by their standards, this is all good.

Of course they don’t like you listening to me or reading my folly, but that is, as they say, is hard cheese…

Which brings me around to what I was going to write about.

“‘Hard cheese?’ maybe he is mad after all,” I hear you mutter.

Well, maybe. But what you have to grasp about hard cheese is that, as opposed to milk, or even soft cheese, hard cheese was made as a way to keep food for the long, dark winter months. To store against a possible bleak year and poor harvest.

Making hard cheeses is the opposite of instant gratification. It’s not easy or quick (soft cheeses are, even if you don’t nip off to the shops and buy some cream cheese).

Cheese these days comes from the supermarket… unless of course you’re a nutter like me.

I make cheese. I make bacon. I make salami. I make hams. I make jerky… I preserve, dry, or freeze everything that doesn’t run fast enough to get away.

Part of this is choice and part of this choice-inflicted. I live on a remote island, a once a week ten hour ferry trip off the coast of Australia. Actually, yes, I can buy anything you can in urban America. I can even buy today’s newspapers, as long as I only go and collect them tomorrow. It is just very expensive to do so, and if there is bad weather (and this is the ‘roaring forties’ of sail-ship legend) there is a chance that tomorrow may be somewhat delayed (it’s not quite like mañana. It eventually does come). It does force you to change the way you live, and how you see the world. To plan, to build up stocks and to think ahead. And of course, to delay gratification. It also changes the way you look at that now much maligned and derided hero of yesteryear, the pioneer, the colonist, and those who built on that legacy, so someone urban lout who never got up at half-past predawn to milk, could whinge about government cheese. The farmer, the guy getting a sloppy-with-somewhat-processed-grass tail whipped across his face, the fellow squatting planting seeds he kept from last year, the fisherman on a wild and rolling sea… these are my people, my heroes and my role models. These are the builders, the makers. These are the foundation stone people on which my Australia and the US and Canada (yes there are others, but at least I know a little about those) were built, and still actually stand.

Not surprisingly they tend to see the world very differently from those who are sheltered from these things in the raw, and completely differently from the takers and breakers.

They tend to be pragmatic, to think ahead, to think for themselves, which seems to mean conservative these days (bizarre, isn’t it, how words change meanings. Once that was what one meant by liberal. It still does in some English speaking places.). They value things that they can see have worked (for their parents, grandparents, and more), and do still work. They’ve learned the hard way of the value of hard labor, of honesty, of good neighbors and of a real ‘community’ (not the stolen use of the word that politicians like to burble about).

These are people who know each other, who turn up to fight fires or clean gutters for the old people, because they know, like and respect them. Church is still important, and so is earned respect, appearances, less so. You know people for what they are and do, not for what they look like, and what labels they stick on themselves.

It’s not always an easy way to live, which is one reason why cities draw. The other is that cities offer a great deal… of employment, entertainment, choices and also fast food.

No, I don’t want everyone to live like we do.

If everyone did it, it would be harder going for a hunter-gatherer-farmer like me.

I might have to rely on my writing to put food on the table for my family, And there’d be No-one to make computers, so you’d best all stick to making computers or mining or writing programs, from my point of view, anyway. That’s also making.

But it is much easier to become distant from it. To not see the gulf between making and taking, between building and looting what others build. Although I work the land and sea much as my ancestors did, and with the same attitude – if a piece of machinery made it possible to do it better and faster — I’ll try it, I am two other things (well, yes, actually many. A man is a complex thing) firstly, by background, a scientist who likes logic and numbers, and secondly, a lifelong reader.

And it was books, and identifying a trend in them that I found, well, was making them less pleasurable, that got me writing.

Observation said that there were less books with heroes I could identify with.

Logic said something about them had to be bothering me. It took me some time to work out what it was, because it was counter-intuitive to me.

The center of the books had shifted over the years. Steadily, to the point where it was now bothering my logic and suspension of disbelief, as well as my enjoyment. Fiction is not a how-to manual or even necessarily plausible, as long as it is enjoyable. When it starts to fail the latter part… well, we start to question the first parts.

I realized that the makers, without stopping being the cornerstone of real society, had somehow gone from being mostly the heroes, to inevitably the villains. Somehow we’d gone from FARMER IN THE SKY to only books where humans (particularly white male, Western, heterosexual middle aged ‘country’ people/or those making things) were always villains.

The heroes, weren’t building, they were breaking. And if anything at all, they were striving for or defending the ‘utopia’ we’d narrowly escaped and discovered the horrors of, barely decades ago. Or, possibly worse, humans could be some kind of hedonistic parasite… but making, colonizing, exploring and taming were now evil as were the people (always the same villains) who even thought of such things. They weren’t just evil, they were core-rotten. There was no good in them at all.

Now, of course, I approach this from my own philosophical and religious perspective: While I accept the reality of evil, and that some people can be so corrupted by it that there is little good left in them, I start from the position that humans are made in God’s image. However you take that, it means they start pretty good.

Rotten genes, and bad rearing, and a lousy moral environment can create some very nasty products from that – but not inevitably.

Freer 3

People (or perhaps something more than people) have surprised me over and over. There is still an amazing capacity to do good within just ordinary people, and the capacity of individuals to be that, despite the worst, is something we should celebrate.

Acts of kindness, altruism, generosity, idealism, are not rare. I’ve broken down in areas of South Africa where that is apparently a death warrant… and yet met nothing but kindness and help.

Does that mean I’m some stupid rose-tinted spectacle American Liberal, thinking we can all sing Kumbaya and get on? Not hardly. I’m a pragmatic country-man. I realize that breakers and takers are there too. I just think there are actually more makers than one realizes… but we’re not very noisy and not very busy crawling into the control-spots.

And one of those control spots is fiction.

Freer 1

Fiction is, of course, terribly effective propaganda – but like all propaganda, fails once the target audience is aware it is being manipulated and thus takes the opposite point of view.

What’s more, once they realize it is propaganda, they’re quite likely to dislike the vessel – the story – as well as the ‘message’.

Now I freely admit I started submitting writing (with no delusions that I was a particularly good writer) but with a “I’ve got to be able to do a bit better than this, even if I’m no Heinlein,” look at what was coming out of publishing.

I didn’t realize that those on the levers of publishing didn’t want Heinlein, with ‘makers’. They wanted to break everything that it stood for. If you sneaked it through, you had to clothe it in heavy disguise. I foolishly thought that publishing was long-sighted and logical, and not willing to act against their finest, their foundations, out of short-sighted partisan self-interest.

I thought that there was just a shortage of the kind of heroes I admired, aspired to be like and enjoyed reading about because authors weren’t providing it. Yes, not very bright for a man prides himself on logic.

But it was just so stupid, I didn’t think anyone would do that.

I did figure it out, though. I did then try some stealth, but I am not good enough at it.

And then I was lucky and tried Baen who were still publishing the old kind of Science Fiction.

The trouble, as I see it anyway, is that fiction as propaganda can only work well, long term, when there is a lot of non-propaganda for it to swim amongst, and pass as. So by trying to make the whole field your tool, you must do it so badly that either you prevent the reader from being able to suspend his disbelief (and kill your market, outside the converted), or you convince them to believe falsehoods which may be in your personal short-term interest, but are going to cause devastating long term and collateral damage.

For example: Your teen daughter who reads sf/fantasy is making her first long distance drive home from college. Her car breaks down one night in the middle of nowhere. Two guys stop and decide to grab her and rape her (look at the stats to see who they’re likely to be).

Freer 2

Guns are bad, according to the books she’s read, so she can’t shoot them dead.

Does she, like the feminist heroes of her books – beat them to ground, or maybe just shame them into checking their privilege on twitter? Or, having slightly more brain than cheddar (it’s all about cheese) run to the house across the field – which, given the location is certain to be occupied by the arch-villain of her books, the middle-aged white farmer, who has a wife and three kids, is a church-going Christian, who votes Republican and thinks an Agricultural fair with a rodeo is the best thing ever… and probably keeps a shotgun behind the door and can throw an 80 pound hay bale into the loft sixteen feet up.

The crime stats (the facts, not the fiction) show that he’s her best possible help: not only will he help her, and fix her car, and his wife will feed her and look after her, but he’s almost the single most likely person to physically deal with or to shoot the two varmints, if they decide to try come and get her.

Yes there is a remote chance that he’s some backwoods Hannibal Lector. But the probability is so microscopically slim as to be wearing a dress size minus 24 000 000, which is still too big for it.

But what is she going to believe, if the propaganda has worked? Which is why I started writing books that might be fantasy or sf… but took reality and logic back to where they belonged. That took makers, builders, colonists back to the heart of the story as what they really are a lot of the time: human, fallible and foolish sometimes, but with the characteristics that make the real people.

Pushing that envelope just a bit further I’ve just written a ‘cozy’ Who-dunnit, JOY COMETH WITH THE MOURNING. Set in a small country village in my home, Australia, with the ‘detective’ the person I could think of fitting in with most difficulty there – a timid, urban lady-priest. The point was to write a good murder mystery… with anti-propaganda. With current sneered at villains – ordinary people making lives for themselves and food for others, people as real, and human as I could make them.

With the warmth that they really have. I’m not trying to pretend there are no villains, and no evil.

It’s just not where they claim it is.

We OWN the high ground. We made it. It’s time to stop conceding it. I’m sure some of you can do this far better than I can.

And we can, now.

Let’s do it.

Dave Freer’s blog on writing, politics, and philosophy. blog on the self-sufficiency on the Island





So I Watched Pirates of the Carribbean 5

I am off to work soon, so quick thoughts (Spoilers ahoy! Be warned…):

  • This was an inferior remake of the first movie. We have:
    • A villain with a personal vendetta against Jack
    • Who was cursed so that they couldn’t go on land and where stuck as undead beings
    • Who need the daughter of a pirate in order to end their curse
    • This daughter of a pirate refuses to believe her father can be anything but a good man. Except he’s a pirate.
    • Jack is going to be executed, except he’s rescued at the last minute by the son of Will Turner
    • We have the son of Will Turner using Jack to rescue someone he loves
    • And it ends after the curse is broken and their newfound mortality is used against the villains. Seriously. It’s beat for beat.
  • The problem is that it isn’t NEARLY as good as the first movie. The villain isn’t as interesting as Barbossa, the reveal of the undead pirates wasn’t nearly as cool and creepy, Jack wasn’t nearly as funny or as necessary to the plot, the story was far too disjointed, and the ending wasn’t as clever.
  • WITH THAT SAID – it’s better than the second and third movie, and at least as good as the fourth. The designs on the villains were very creepy and extremely cool, the actions scenes were fun, and Jack was still Jack, and thus amusing. It was good to see him relegated to a more secondary status, and focus on new leads; Jack is not meant to be a lead.
  • This should be how the series ends. It puts a neat capper on every loose thread from the original trilogy and gives all of our main characters satisfying endings to their respective stories. But I’m sure they’ll shoehorn in a sequel regardless.

So the movie wasn’t bad, per se. But I’m not going to see it again. If I ever want to watch it, I’ll just put on the original and see a better version of it anyway. So it goes.

More “An Unimaginable Light” Talk

You know, I’ve been avoiding responding to criticisms of “An Unimaginable Light” on the grounds that authors shouldn’t respond to criticisms of their own stories directly, but let them speak for themselves, but then I realized…I’m not the author. I’m the editor. And I have every right to defend my authors from unfair criticisms!

Goodreads has set up its own “An Unimaginable Light” page. Let’s see what it shows us.

We have this (these are snippets from reviews, not the full thing:

In some ways, the story is thought provoking, but Wright’s emphasis seems to be too much on the “provoking” side: the characters are designed to elicit a specific response, sexualization and use of force against the female character even more so.

I wonder when people are going to realize – as many people, bizarrely, also missed with Mr. Wright’s previous story “The Plural of Helen of Troy” – that the story is actually *specifically opposed to* oversexualization of female characters? But I guess that doesn’t fit the image in their head of that nutso crazy religion guy Wright.

This explores robot-human relations, very similar to what has been done many times in the last 50-75 years. There’s not a lot new to explore, and the argument posed is not very creative.

If you dislike a subgenre, that’s not an actual value judgment.

Wow. If Asimov’s collected body of work was, in fact, a steaming pile of shit, this story would fit right in. Read solely for the fact that it’s on the Hugo ballot and I want to be an informed voter. No Award definitely ranks higher than this piece of garbage.

It’s fascinating how right up until people explicitly hostile to Wright’s philosophy started reading this story, it was almost universally praised, and by people with no direct connection to the superversives or reason for bias in our favor. Perhaps – just perhaps – these negative reviews are written by people incapable of separating their opinion of the philosophy underlying a story from the quality of the story itself.

Because otherwise I would contend – and I think many would agree – to call the story, and I quote, “a steaming pile of shit”, is utterly preposterous.

The reviewer Marco, seen through the link, is apparently the same guy who wrote a previously linked negative review, given his bizarre insistence that some sort of creationism is being pushed (this is total nonsense; I don’t even think Mr. Wright is a creationist himself, though you’d need to ask him to confirm).

My favorite (ironically, of course):

I felt as though this story was an attack on femininity, beauty, on intelligence, sexuality etc, even though the story was pretending to be about ethics and philosophy.

It’s almost unfathomable to me how any sane person could possibly think this. It is literally a defense – an explicit, stated defense – of every single one of those things. How can you possibly think otherwise? How biased do you need to be going in?

Want to prove I’m off my rocker? Go ahead, give the story a look yourself.



“What’s With the Asimov Obsession?”

I have been accused on several occasions of spending more ink than the man deserves defending the legacy and writing of Isaac Asimov. After all, he’s not superversive, right (he’s not, at least most of the time). And anyway, what’s the point of defending him? He’s not the one who’s been edited out of history like the pulp authors are – in fact, he was one of the hand-picked chosen ones to replace them, and despite that STILL never became as popular as legends like Howard and Burroughs.

So what gives?

Here’s the thing: I’m a fan of Asimov. The man can write. I think this is indisputable; that he has his flaws doesn’t change that. Most authors have flaws, and most aren’t as popular, and haven’t written books and stories as good as, Isaac Asimov. Are there better writers? Of course, but that’s not my point.

So when I see people claiming that Isaac Asimov wasn’t that influential (a preposterous comment) or wasn’t a good writer, I’m seeing pure revisionist history – and I don’t like it. It’s not true and it’s not honest; at best it’s stating your own opinion of the man’s work as if its a fact. I’m not saying you need to like the guy. I’m not saying *I* like the guy. I’m saying that his influence on the field is undeniable, and to honest observers – even those not necessarily fans – his skill as well.

I don’t appreciate revisionist history by anyone, and we shouldn’t be engaging in it just because we don’t like someone.

One last thing – I’ve also been told, more than once, that I spend too much time defending Asimov because he’s an enemy of the superversives. Shouldn’t I be focusing on how he hurt our cause (he did, in some ways at least)?

But it’s simply not true to say that I’ve done nothing to conter Asimov’s negative effect on the genre. In fact, regarding Asimov specifically, I’ve done more than most: I reframed Asimov’s robot puzzles in a superversive context.

And how about that for a response?