Kirkus goes bad and other publishing news…

How Never-Satisfied Social Justice Mobs Are Ruining YA Book Publishing

As we’ve seen in Hollywood, television, and comics, young adult fiction audiences have been tuning out of the traditional platforms and seeking independent entertainment.
Jon Del Arroz

By 

 Last week, the professional review website Kirkus Reviews came under public fire after removing a positive review of “American Heart” by Laura Moriarty. They were pressured by an online mob of hate-reviewers who deemed the unreleased book problematic due to cultural appropriation, a politically correct code-term meaning a white person writing about any other race or culture. The book is about a young American who through friendship with a Muslim young woman learns to oppose U.S. government internment camps for Muslims.

Kirkus stated: “Kirkus’ diversity collections go beyond grouping by race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or dis/ability to consider the desired reading ‘experience.’ This consideration of experience—categorized as learning, cultural identification, or inclusion—is integral to the effectiveness of Kirkus Collections’ recommendations, as it addresses the demand for contextual information around diversity content.”

 This means the author’s identity is more important than the content he or she produces. By all accounts, including Kirkus’s own original review, Moriarty’s work was about the dangers of internment camps and racial discrimination. It was inclusive and pro-acceptance, tolerance and diversity, everything a far-left ideologue in theory champions. Yet even that isn’t enough in the world of 2017 outrage hysteria. This is the end result of political correctness, and is the most recent chilling example of censorship due to identity politics.

Moriarty isn’t alone. The publishing industry is riddled with discriminatory practices against authors who identify as white, male, Christian, or conservative. However, like other entertainment media that place identity politics over good, entertaining stories, sales have decreased considerably over the last decade. The trend continued into last year, with book sales down 6.7 percent year over year, as reported by publishers.org.

As we’ve seen in Hollywood, television, and comics, audiences have been tuning out of the traditional platforms and seeking independent entertainment. Many of these trends begin in the science fiction and young adult markets, genres that purport to be forward-thinking and youth-oriented, which has come to mean delving into extreme left-wing politics.

As Goes Science Fiction, So Goes All Publishing

Read more at The Federalist

More from Jon Del Arros and Superversive Press:

   

Science Fiction Authors Make America Great Again in New Trump Themed Anthology by Superversive Press

Superversive Press is excited to announce MAGA 2020 & Beyond, a collection of speculative fiction stories and non-fiction essays, set for release on November 8, 2017.

MAGA 2020 & Beyond is the best alternative to all of the over-the-top anti-Trump press and social media out there. More than a dozen writers came together to envision a brighter future for America inspired by the election of Donald J. Trump.

With a foreword by Milo Yiannopoulos, author of Dangerous, a short story by best-selling author Brad Torgersen, and thought-provoking essays by John C. Wright and Ivan Throne, this anthology is poised for success.

Lead editor Jason Rennie says, “It’s a great time to be alive, with President Trump making America great again, we are pleased to announce that we are making anthologies great again with the release of MAGA 2020 & Beyond. A collection of stories of hope for the future with the adults in charge again.”

The anticipated release date for MAGA 2020 & Beyond is significant: it marks one year from the day Donald J. Trump was elected President.

Generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.

This was the moment we elected Donald J. Trump as President of the United States of America.

 MAGA 2020 & Beyond tells the tales of a prosperous future where evil is defeated, the border wall is built, society has righted itself, space exploration is common and world peace has been attained. These aren’t just fantastical stories of a far-fetched future, they are stories of a future that can be obtained.

Jason Rennie, continues, “This is going to be yuge, mate!”

Superversive Press jumped into the spotlight in January 2017 with its anthology, Forbidden Thoughts, a fictional commentary on the state of society, and has not let up since.  With published books by two Dragon Award nominees, and more works prepared for release in the coming year, Superversive Press is poised to lead the way to a newer, more hopeful future for science fiction and fantasy.

Pre-order MAGA 2020 & Beyond today!

PRE-ORDER MAGA 2020 & Beyond

Lead Editor: Jason Rennie

Cover by: Dawn Witzke

Forward by: Milo Yiannopoulos

Essays by: John C. Wright and Andrew Torba

Authors include:

Best-Seller Brad Torgersen

Dragon Award Nominees
Jon Del Arroz
Declan Finn
Marina Fontaine
Daniel Humphreys
L. Jagi Lamplighter

Paul Alan Piatt
Arlan Andrews Sr.
Tamara Wilhite
Sandor Novak
Monalisa Foster
Elaine Arias
Chris Donahue
Justin Robinson
Richard B. Atkinson III
Christine Chase
Dawn Witzke
Scott Bell
Alfred Genneson
Molly Pitcher

First Thoughts on FORBIDDEN THOUGHTS

Others will no doubt post about more coherent thoughts about Superversive Press’s new anthology, FORBIDDEN THOUGHTS, but…here are mine:

Wow…it is so exciting to see something go from a glimmer of an idea to reality! And then see it fly off the shelves (electronically). Here’s how it happened:

About two years ago, a friend of mine wanted to put together a charity anthology for the Charlie Hebdo artists. She said, “Send me the most controversial thing you’ve ever written!”

Well, I don’t normally do controversial per se. But I sat down and prayed a bit to see what would come to me. I had just read Face-to-Face with Jesus by Samaa Habib, one of the best books I’ve ever read, and my mind was full of thoughts about her experience. So, I sat down and wrote the. most. controversial. story I was capable of conceiving.

The story is called “The Test of the Prophet”.

At first, I thought I’d done quite well. My mom immediately worried that it would get my shot, and my atheist Liberal friend called it hateful. But, my Muslim friend loved it and took it home to Pakistan to show her parents. (Life can be strange sometimes!)

By this time, however, I realized that the first anthology wasn’t going to fly. But I REALLY wanted to do something with my story. It was the best thing I had ever written.

But what can you do with a super controversial story in this age of safe spaces and trigger warnings?

Then, in the midst of the Sad Puppy fervor, I caught a glimmer of an answer. Jason Rennie, editor of Sci Phi Journal and the brilliant mind behind SuperverisveSF, suggested in the midst of a flurry of Sad Puppy emails, that the authors involved get together and do an anthology of anti-PC stories, kind of a modern Dangerous Visions–putting into story form all those thoughts that the SJWs don’t want people to think. Basically, doing what SF is supposed to do, posing difficult questions.

Those of us on the email chain decided on the title: Forbidden Thoughts.

I LOVED this idea. Here was my answer to what to do with my controversial story.

So, I kept on Jason about this, and I kept on the other authors. When a few were too busy to be able to fit writing a new short story into their schedule, I convinced them to submit incendiary blog posts.

So we now had a volume with stories by, among others, John, Nick Cole, Brian Niemeier, Josh Young, Brad Torgersen, Sarah Hoyt, and, a particularly delightful surprise for me, our young Marine fan friend, Pierce Oka. Plus, non fiction by Tom Kratman and Larry Correia submitted some of his original Sad Puppy posts–the thing that started it all!

But we still needed a Foreword.

Last winter, during one of our SuperversiveSF chats, we had invited the one reporter who reported truthfully on Sad Puppies, an amusing and irreverent fellow named Milo Yiannopoulos. Just as the chat was scheduled to begin, Milo was informed that he had been deverified on Twitter. This made it so that he was never able to attend our chat. He made it clear that he regretted this and kind of owed us.

So, I asked Jason to see if Milo would let us cash in our favor in the form of him writing the Foreword.

He did!

Milo wrote an excellent Foreword. We put the stories in order and voila! A delightfully thought-provoking volume that reminds me of the daring stories one found the pages of Science Fiction volumes in my youth.

There is one other delightful story that goes with this volume. Last summer, as we often do, we spent a week in Chincoteague. Our teen writer fan (some of you may have seen the victory dance she did when John won Dragon Award), asked if she and her family could join us, so we and the Freeman family spent a wonderful week together.

As I arrived on Chincoteague, I got an email from Jason informing me that he had read a submission by April, and it was really chilling. He thought it would work for Forbidden Thoughts. So, when April walked into the house we were renting for the week, I got to inform her that her first published piece would be in an anthology with John and I!

She was so stunned that she had to call me the next morning and ask me to explain it all again. Lol It was a delightful moment.

Now Forbidden thoughts is live! There will be an official Launch party with a live chat on Inauguration Day.

So, Politically-Correct friends, you might want to avoid this, but the rest of you, come join in the fun!!!

You are not supposed to read this book.
You are not supposed to think about reading this book.
In fact, just plain thinking at all is unacceptable.
You have been warned….

On Amazon!

(Print version coming. Probably by next week.)

Comments

 

The Difficulty with Political Diversity

At the last Worldcon, there was a panel whose title I liked, but which I did not want to attend because the panelists lacked diversity. The title of the panel was: “Ideology versus Politics in Science Fiction”. It caught my eye, because I follow politics closely. The description ended with a very good question, asking how politics might be represented in SF in an authentic way, whilst remaining interesting to readers. But then I saw who was on the panel. Whilst I had no objection to any specific individual, I thought there was a big problem with the panel’s composition. This was the panel:

  • Teresa Nielsen Hayden, moderator
  • Martin McGrath
  • Laurie Penny
  • Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Jon Courtenay Grimwood

I dislike labelling other people’s political beliefs. Political views can be complicated, and labels encourage unhelpful generalization. The left-right spectrum is a crude way to allocate beliefs to individuals, and people should speak for themselves. But for those of you who may be unfamiliar with some of the names listed, let me succinctly characterize their views in ways that I believe are fair to them. To do that, I will try to draw on facts about the individual, as opposed to anyone else’s opinions about them.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden is an American editor. She started a popular weblog described as “liberal to libertarian” per its Google entry.

Martin McGrath is a British academic. In a recent blog, he identified with the “task” facing the British Labour Party if it is to win in future.

Laurie Penny is a British political journalist. The name of her personal blog, Penny Red, is meant to signal her political sympathies.

Kim Stanley Robinson is an American author. When asked if he was a libertarian anarchist, he replied:

No, I am a green socialist, roughly. A utopian. I don’t like libertarianism as I understand it because it seems to keep private property, police, and other aspects of the current system, indeed it seems to keep capitalism.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood is a British author. I know least about his politics; his views may be the hardest to pigeon-hole. But after the British general election he tweeted that he lived in a “weird country” and that he was eating chocolate muffins as “compensation” for the result.

Given the facts, no reasonable person would dispute that all these people identify with the left-hand side of the political spectrum in their respective countries. That means none of them identify with the right, or even the current middle. But they were asked to discuss how to portray politics in a more authentic way. Does that not seem odd, if the goal was an impartial analysis of authenticity?

Last week I wrote some things that upset some people. Put very simply, I observed that American writers are more likely to win awards if the awards are decided by people who are mostly American, and who participate in conventions that are mostly held in America. I also believe that lefty writers are more likely to win awards if the awards are voted on by lefties who attend conventions where lefty speakers are preferred.

I have less data of relevance to the second observation. Hugo voters do not register their political affiliations, and it is harder to objectively determine a person’s politics than their nationality. But I struggle to see how these observations could be considered controversial. Substitute the word ‘Cambodia’ for ‘America’, or the word ‘Buddhist’ for ‘lefty’. The statements are true based on what we know about people in general, irrespective of the specific tribe they belong to. People vote for book awards according to taste. Their tastes are influenced by their experiences, and are manifest in the groups they choose to identify with.

For all the debate about awards and politics in SF, few have proposed good ideas for promoting polite conversation between them and us (or between us and them, depending on your point of view). That seems odd, because every single Worldcon has been hosted in a democratic country, meaning that the vast majority of Worldcon participants are familiar with cultures that encourage dialogue between political adversaries. We understand the point made by Churchill, when he said:

To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.

I think the next Worldcon should emulate the last one, by having a panel that overtly discusses politics in SF. But this time, a full range of opinions should be represented. If that occurred, the speakers might – there are no guarantees – demonstrate how it is possible to disagree without resorting to name-calling, tantrums, no-platforming, or any other shenanigans that seek to promote some by excluding others.

So then I wondered who would be on that panel, if I was given the task of selecting the speakers, and the omnipotence to ensure their willing participation. Kim Stanley Robinson would be a good choice, even though I was unhappy about last year’s panel. Brad Torgersen would be an obvious pick, if not detained by an actual war-war somewhere else.

However, I found my challenge was beyond me, or else I would have presented a list of names here. It is devilishly difficult to pick five people to intelligently and sincerely discuss how politics might be authentically represented in SF, whilst also reflecting a comprehensive range of political opinions. To get a good choice, you would have to select individuals who are passionate without being divisive, who are earnest and persuasive, who are knowledgeable and credible, and who play well with others, though you will strongly disagree with some of them. What do you think a truly balanced panel would look like? Not having a good answer to share, I am curious to learn from others.

Brad Torgersen talks about fear in SF

As the Hugo nomination announcement draws close Brad Torgersen has another post up detailing the concern and fear that so many in the SF field feel when they dare to express ungood opinions.

Sarah Hoyt did a bang-up job highlighting this in one of her recent blog posts. She talked about how she had to constantly watch herself: what she said, who she associated with, what signs she might give the editors or the other authors or even the fans that Sarah was the “wrong” kind of writer. I know what Sarah is talking about, on a very intimate level. Sarah’s not kidding. In fact, she’s almost being too nice about it. The field (of SF/F publishing and fandom) is soaked with fear. Moreso now than — I dare say — at any time in its history.

I think part of it comes from our general societal fear factor. Activists of all stripes have discovered that — through the magic of the internet — even very small fringe groups can make themselves appear more substantial, by crowd-sourcing their efforts and using Alinsky-style tactics to threaten and punish businesses, politicians, public figures, actors, musicians, comedians, writers, you name it. If there is somebody capable of being pissed off at a thing in this world, that somebody is (at this very moment) staging, or preparing to stage, a letter-writing campaign, a boycott, a comment thread mob, a twitter storm, or some other type of harassment designed to shut the target down. Force the target into the defensive posture. Make the target apologize, capitulate, scrape his belly, mewl for forgiveness, etc.

And the sad part is: this usually works. Folks know that behind every activist mob, there is the threat of a) bad publicity and b) a law suit. Folks don’t like either of those things. So if push comes to shove, a targeted business or individual will almost always try to give the plaintiffs what they want. Either in the form of superficial concessions, or worse yet, by converting and flying the plaintiffs’ own flag — See, world? We’ve changed! We’re one of the good guys now! Not like all these other evil people who’ve not seen the light! Forward, comrades!

Nobody is safe. Not in any area of our world. Witness the poor comet probe scientist who was mobbed and shamed into a tearful Soviet-style mea culpa by the so-called feminist activists — who were outraged that he had worn a loud bowling shirt with James Bond style women depicted in the print. Such a shirt would not have caused anyone to bat an eyelash 20 years ago. Now? Now, it’s a hanging offense.

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Brad Torgersen has some more Sad Puppies 3 News

It seems that not everybody is happy about the Sad Puppies project and Brad Torgersen has some thoughts about it.

I don’t usually take to fisking the comments of others in the field, but the recent words of Teresa Nielsen-Hayden simply demand it. Since my inception as a professional, I have made the case for an “open” system. No barriers. Not on writers, and not on fans. Publish, connect with your audience (for fun and profit!) and for God’s sake, no more gatekeeping of the “ghetto” that is the literary Science Fiction and Fantasy field. Writers are writers are writers, and fans are fans are fans. My reasoning along these lines is not original to me. Others were saying similar things ten-plus years ago. But now it’s gotten to the point that certain would-be gatekeepers have become so thoroughly convinced of their station — and so absolutely sure of your unworthiness to partake — that it’s time to stand up.

Sad Puppies 3 terrifies SMOF queen (and former TOR editor) Teresa Nielsen-Hayden because she knows that TruFans (the dyed-in-the-wool, insular, legacy group of fans who cluster about World Science Fiction Convention) are a dying breed. She knows that if enough glare is placed on the award (the Hugos) and enough “outside” fans (you and me and the rest of the universe) come to claim our place, then TruFans are done. Their relevance will be at an end. They had a good run, got big heads, decided they could begin trashing whomever they felt like, and now the mask is being cast off — at the end, when TruFans are imperiled by the harsh light of reality.

TNH: I should have been clearer. Those of us who love SF and love fandom know in our hearts that the Hugo is ours. One of the most upsetting things about the Sad Puppy campaigns is that they’re saying the Hugo shouldn’t belong to all of us, it should just belong to them.

This is a very Kafka-esq example of narrative-spinning. Sad Puppies 3 has always been about bringing new people to the Hugo process; from the very start. We never said the Hugo was ours, nor did we claim it should be ours. We claimed it belonged to no single person, nor any special group. It was (and is) the award of the field. Of all Science Fiction & Fantasy. It’s not Teresa’s personal property. It is not the property of the TruFans. Nor the SMOFs. Teresa is not even playing for the undecideds at this point, because this is pure dog-whistling for the other TruFen; the people who’ve convinced themselves that they (and they alone) are the only ones who can appreciate, love, or enjoy, SF/F. Teresa is telling a fairy tale for the morale of TruFans, because Teresa knows the cause is lost. The flame of the TruFen is dying. No more gatekeepers. No more SMOFs. No more big fish in small fishbowls. No more taste-making.

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Will Sad Puppies #3 destroy SF?

hugo_dilemma

Brad R. Torgersen explores this question in a recent blog post called, unsurprisingly, Why SAD PUPPIES 3 is going to destroy Science Fiction!. Have you read Brad’s new book, The Chaplain’s War? You should it is good.

Anyway, have a read of his article

It’s remarkable how fast word travels on the intarwebz these days. No sooner had I posted the (rather tame) announcement that SAD PUPPIES was coming back for a third go-around, than some people began carping about it. Which is to be expected. SAD PUPPIES breaks the rules. RULE #1: thou shalt not publicly campaign. Even though campaigning (in this award) has been done for many decades. RULE #2: thou shalt not publicly point out blind spots or biases in the voting body. Even though behind-closed-doors rage about these biases and blind spots has also been going on for decades — just not always about the same biases and blind spots. And lastly, RULE #3: thou shalt not publicly criticize Worldcon or “fandom” proper. Even though “fandom” (as an actual, coherent label for a specific body of people) hasn’t been applicable since the 1970s, nor has Worldcon actually represented the largest gathering of the largest body of consumer fans.

So . . . some personal opinions. Take ‘em or leave ‘em.

I could care less about Rule 1 and Rule 2, since these are endlessly violated anyway. Rules which are perpetually broken behind the curtain, are not actually rules. And if SAD PUPPIES is to be damned for breaking them, fine. At least we’re honest about what we’re doing. I don’t have much patience for people who aim an accusatory finger at us, then do precisely what we’re doing, just sneaky-like. Hypocrisy is hypocrisy, even when it dresses up in its Sunday best and has good table manners.

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