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It is good advice for any writer to look for patterns in reviews.  If a number of readers all complain about the same matter, even if their interpretation is incorrect, it means the writer either did not explain the issue properly, or failed to reach the correct audience.

At the same time, a reader should comprehend the subject or genre enough that axiomatic issues don't need to be explained because they are axiomatic.

To see an example of this, we need look no further than modern "liberal" science fiction readers and Heinlein's novel, "Friday."

I first read this in high school, and understood it on several levels.  But, as of the mid 1990s, I've heard repeated complaints, most of them around the assumption, "No woman falls in love with her rapist."

Well, first of all, women do that all the time, and with non-sexual abusers, too. There are a variety of psychological discussions as to why this is, but they're outside of my field and beyond the scope of this post.

The important point, and Heinlein was not at all subtle about it, is that Friday is not human, she is an alien.

She is an Artificial Person, required in every society in her world to carry ID stating so, and discriminated against in levels from being forbidden to vote or own property, all the way to slavery or sanctioned extermination.  Due to her job as a clandestine agent, she has fake ID that says she's human, and she's well aware of the privilege she holds over others of her kind, and is ashamed and guilty about it.

She is so very aware of her non-human, unperson, unclean status that even the act of being raped and tortured doesn't bother her emotionally.  It's just a thing, like getting wet in the rain or having debris fall on you. Artificial entities that are not people don't feel emotion, or so she's had beaten into her her entire life.

Except of course, at another level, she actually is human, and is grasping at personality and self worth.

It's a constant matter of discussion for the character. "How do you feel about Artificial Persons?" She could as well, within the last century, asked about gays, Jews, blacks, and the question would be as relevant.  She asks this because she looks like a "normal" human being, and is, as are the others, even when a society doesn't recognize that.

Her boss/father figure constantly reassures her she is normal and human.  She's genetically engineered to the point where she is smarter, faster, stronger, fitter and more durable than almost anyone around her, but this vulnerability is the vulnerability of spirit, and no amount of labwork can fix or prevent that.

Further, the rapist she eventually falls in love with was himself both an Artificial Person, and a slave, being ordered to perform the task. It's made very clear he isn't happy with it, and would like to treat her decently, but is forbidden the opportunity.  He also is not "human" for purposes of the society.

Nor was Heinlein particularly subtle about it. Every chapter has an interaction with a family, partner, friend, associate on how frustrated she is at not being human, not being accepted, considered a thing, only of worth as a machine to be used and discarded.

The failure of readership is that despite the very obvious presentation of a character as an outsider to the society, not only unsuited to it, but ostracized by it, all those particular readers see is "female body, ergo female human."

Exactly the same issue so many of them claim to care about and rail against in other contexts.

They are literally so privileged they are unable to grasp the point of view of the underclass even exists, much less what it is.

This supports an hypothesis of mine that most such "social justice" types are themselves exceptionally shallow, narrow-minded bigots.  When something even more blatant than "Friday" comes along, and they are forced to be aware of their own human failings, they over-react, as does the reformed alcoholic or druggie who suddenly "Finds God" and obsesses over religion (versus faith or piety) to the point where it's apparent it's merely a substitute addiction.

Once aware of their own failings, their form of denial is to project their shortcomings onto all "normal" people, who obviously feel as they do, about those "non-normal" people they suddenly realize were in fact human beings all along.

If anyone dares to say, "Yes, I knew about this, and your sudden obsession is disturbing," they still struggle with their own internal ignorance, reluctant to accept their error, and can only assume their antagonist must not actually grasp the wrongness.

When I began writing this, my thought was, "These people shouldn't read science fiction. They're obviously incapable of comprehending it."

But I think instead, they should read science fiction, rather than the crap they have replaced it with, where every culture and cast is stratified into the "correct" ratio and recognition.

Because that type of society is exactly the problem, and they still don't get it.

 

 

And I wasn't even sure how to respond:
 
Michael,
You may remember me from a few years back when we shared dinner together in Atlanta Ga during Dragon Con. I really enjoyed our meeting and learned that I should NEVER accept a table next to the waitstaff station. No matter the case, this year I was in the hospital hoping to die, and your book "Rogue" gave me what little hope I have. I was well prepared to end my life, but your character not ending his because he felt responsibility to his daughter gave me pause. I will live a few more years because you created a character who would not abandon his child. I thank you for the lesson.
Very respectfully,
 
[redacted]

New Book Now, More News Later
Sep 22, 201511:49PM

Category: Writing

I need to catch up on a few things, now the panic season is over.

First, new book:  

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015P8FFI8?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwmichaelzwi-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B015P8FFI8

A contemporary mystery written by Travis Clemmons, with me as co-author.  

A man awakens in a 21st century Illinois hospital, holding very distinct memories of being shot in Switzerland decades earlier. The nurse calls him Detective Crabtree and says the DuPage County Sheriff will be by to check on him shortly. Yet he remembers his name being Sherlock Holmes. 

~~~

It's on Kindle for now, and may be in hard copy later.

NO AWARD
Jul 13, 201509:13PM

Category: Writing

I have just voted NO AWARD across the board for the Hugo awards, including the category in which I am a finalist.

At one time, the Hugo WAS arguably the most significant award in SF, with the Nebula being the pro award with a different cachet.

The Nebula lost any credibility when it was awarded to If You Were An Alpha Male My Love, which was not only eyerollingly bad Mary Sue, but wasn't SF nor even an actual story. If that's what the pros consider to be worthy of note, it indicates a dysfunction at their level.

As for the Hugos, in the last twenty years or so, they've been less and less awarded for either literature or entertaining storytelling, and more and more awarded for trite fanfic.  When not, it's been the same incestuous group awarding it within a circle of in-people, to the point where there are winners with literally 50 nominations and 30 wins.

This is just ridiculous.

There was some push back this year, and one could argue about the merits of doing so, or the merits of the works in question.

Instead, what has happened has been egregious ad hominem to the point of Godwin failure (Referring to us as "neo-Nazis") followed by false apologies ("I'm sorry it upset you to be called a neo-Nazi"), defense of the false apologies by alleged professionals in the use of language, with simultaneous denial that apologies were necessary or even actually took place (we agree. No apologies were actually made).

One former winner, whom I feel did in fact deserve his award, piled on to the point of equating us in exact words to domestic abusers, which is not only egregiously ridiculous, it is morally corrupt and a gross insult to actual victims and survivors of domestic abuse. Including me.

Another suggested we should create our own award, separate but equal, and then betrayed his position by failing to know anything about other SF awards.  Perhaps we can have a Civil Award, that will be like a Hugo, but not like it, preserving the sanctity of the Hugo for the trufen.

The sheer, frothing, irrational vitriol aimed at us makes it clear that content will not be considered.  We are Unclean, and many have stated they will not even look at our works.

Sadly, there are quite a few nominees this year who genuinely deserve awards for their work and creativity, including other members of my own category.

And perhaps someday, an award will come along that reaches the standards of credibility and accolade their works deserve.

But at present, no such award exists.

This was my choice.  I am not telling my fans not to vote for me. If you feel my work is worthy, by all means vote for it. Just understand that if I win, it will be subject to the same scathing derision I give to any and all social and political issues.  It deserves no less.

 

Challenge Delivered
Apr 21, 201512:18AM

Category: Writing

Dear Fellow writers, particularly in SF:

My first novel featured a female lead, bunches of mixed race characters, and a positive portrayal of a sex worker who was a bisexual Asian/Hispanic.

I then wrote a trilogy where one of the two leads was black.

I stuck a female into a special ops team in a functional role.

More mixed race, discussions of reproductive choice, and of the excesses of Fascism.

The richest, most powerful person in my main universe is a mixed Asian/African/European woman. EDIT: And one of the recrurring supporting characters is transgender.

I've written atheists, Muslims, fundamentalist Christians, people with medical and physiological handicaps, Pagans, and others I don't keep track of, because I think of people as individuals, not stereotypes.

More importantly, my readers, of every one of those demographics, have written me fanmail about the accuracy and positiveness of those character portrayals.

So, unless and until you've done the same, take your statements about "ultraconservative," "right wing," "Read less white males" and "privilege," and shove them up your ass.

Then write the story where that was a pleasurable and positive learning experience for you.

I Remain
Apr 16, 201501:48AM

Category: Writing

Today, two writers pulled their names off the Hugo ballots.

Cited was the indirect association with Vox Day, who may be the most hated man in SF. Also cited was the harassment they were obviously getting.  They each expressed their thoughts differently on these.

On the second:  Congratulations, "tolerant" "liberals," especially those of you with multiple chrome phallus statues. You've successfully protected your precious award from a gay woman and an immigrant.  You just keep on talking about tolerance.  We hear you.

As to the first:  I very much sympathize with the writers' positions. It's not easy taking flak for someone else who deserves it, even if it's misplaced.

However, this behavior is dangerous.  

It gives Vox more control over the Hugos.  All he has to do to prevent someone winning is have his psychophants (sic) nominate them, and they have to withdraw in shame.  And he can even endorse someone AFTER they're balloted, and there will be a pall over their win.

Also, if his endorsement was genuine (He IS a sci fi fan, after all), then you've narrowed the number of potential candidates his fans will vote for, thus increasing the odds another of his nominees will win.

Yes, he's a troll and an asshole.  He trolled SFWA into removing him, even though per their own bylaws the officers have no authority to do so.  He might be planning a lawsuit as we speak.  NEVER think you can win against a man like this.  He is narcissistic, vicious, and an expert at manipulation.

The only way to win is not to play.  If his endorsement was serious, then it's still real. You can't control the personalities of people who read your work.  If he was trolling, you're playing into his hands.

Participants:  Ignore the man. Vote as your conscience dictates, on the quality of the work, only. To do otherwise gives him what he wants.

Well, That Was a Fair Trial...
Apr 14, 201510:39PM

Category: Writing

http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2015/04/ill-casting-final-hugo-vote/

 

And here was our exchange: 

 

Mike Williamson  Apr 2 (12 days ago)

to Info
I intended no "Disrespect for the institution" by my accidental early announcement, which I deleted once I was aware of the matter.

I did not receive the full email, and was not aware of the tradition of waiting for public announcement, which I support.

I apologized to the committee, who assured me it wasn't a problem.

Had you, or any other offended party, informed at once, I'd have removed it at once. As it was, I heard from a friend about 24 hours later.

Your actions are a textbook example of the problem. Rather than communicate, you'd rather rage in public. You did nothing to address the matter, but only used it for clickbait.

The SP slate included quite a few liberal authors, had you bothered to actually look at the proposed authors, rather than scream and leap.

I, for one, am nowhere near "conservative," and disdain the association.

It is unfortunate that rational discourse has become impossible with certain elements of fandom.

As to TNH's ridiculous and egotistical assertion that only certain fans are really fen:

http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/item/who-s-a-real-fan

I would hope for more mature behavior from people with such credentials.

Thanks

Mike



Steve Davidson - Amazing Stories
Apr 2 (12 days ago)

to me
Mike,

I mentioned the circumstance, I did not name any names.

I have looked at the slate. My argument clearly states that it has nothing to do with the individuals involved or the works in question. It addresses the methodology.

I do not believe that the Hugo Awards are a proper venue for political action.

I'm sorry you got caught in the cross fire. I do however believe that you should have checked before announcing.

I made a distinction between fans and "politicized fans", nowhere did I suggest that the people involved are not fans.

Nowhere did I mention Teresa Nielsen Hayden.


steve



Mike Williamson <mzmadmike@gmail.com>
Apr 2 (12 days ago)

to Steve
If you see "politicized fans," it says more about you than about others.

And what "Checking" was I supposed to do? My point stands--bunches of people, including you and TNH, apparently started twitstorm about how I was ruining things. None of you took the time to send a polite reminder, which I would have heeded. It was 24 hours later when a friend more familiar, having been nominated before, made mention to me.

[EDIT:  NOTE: I BELIEVE THE OTHER EARLY ANNOUNCER WAS A NON-SP WRITER WITH TOR. SOMEHOW, THAT WRITER GETS BOTH A PASS, AND THEIR WRONG ASSIGNED TO SP.  THIS IS WHAT PASSES AS JOURNALISM IN THIS DEBATE.]

You speak in similar tones, I assume you are similar in outlook.

I don't believe anyone is trying to ruin, usurp, or otherwise damage the Hugos.

Again, that, to me, says more about you than others.

I would actually have preferred one of my other works of the year, which I feel was a story with serious merit. But then, it is a popularity award, and always has been. The Nebulae are the professional award. This is a fan award.


Steve Davidson - Amazing Stories
Apr 3 (11 days ago)

to me
Mike,

and its obvious to me that you read things through heavily tinted glasses.

Who should you have asked? How about the awards committee?

I think its pointless for us to trade emails.

steve



Mike Williamson
Apr 3 (11 days ago)

to Steve
To ask them, I'd have had to know to ask them. I assumed such info would be in the email--and it was, just buried.

But, you likewise could have asked me, as a courtesy, rather than assuming my intent was to "denigrate" the awards.

There's your tinted glasses.

It is indeed pointless. You have labeled me a villain without knowing me, and are uninterested in polite discussion.

In any case, the awards committee, whose opinion matters, assures me it's not a problem.

The George Is The Dragon
Apr 11, 201504:24PM

Category: Writing

George R.R. Martin (grrm) replied to a comment you left in a LiveJournal

post (http://grrm.livejournal.com/417812.html). The comment they replied to
was:

> GRRM said, “If the Sad Puppies wanted to start their own award… for Best
> Conservative SF, or Best Space Opera, or Best Military SF, or Best
> Old-Fashioned SF the Way It Used to Be… whatever it is they are actually
> looking for
[emphasis mine]… hey, I don’t think anyone would have any objections to that.
> I certainly wouldn’t. More power to them.”

> Joshua, on April 9, 2015 at 9:24 pm said: If gays want to have their own
> pizzas places that cater their weddings, hey, I don’t think anyone would
> have any objections to that. I certainly wouldn’t. More power to them.

Their reply was:

 Subject: Re: That sounds familiar...

  Oh, nonsense.

 ~~~

Okay, so you're one of the richest, highest paid writers in the world, but you couldn't be bothered to click on a link to find out what one side of the debate was before putting fingers to keys?  Professional much?

Seriously, 7th graders fail papers for doing that.

https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/announcing-sad-puppies-3/

As I've said before, and to you, the recent decade of Hugo winners show a spectrum of Writers of Palor, mostly left leaning, largely from a couple of publishing houses.  Again, this is not evidence of collusion, but it is evidence of incestuousness.

We're writers and fans who want more diversity in the Hugo. Writers of color. Immigrants.  Citizens of other nations.  Politics across the spectrum.  You can talk about it all you want, but when you use the epithet, "Many of them conservative," you attempt to condemn by association everyone in this fight who isn't.

You don't know what we want or why we're upset?  Here's a headline for you: RICH WHITE MILLIONAIRE AUTHOR WITH 9 NOMS AND 6 WINS SAYS "LET THEM EAT CAKE!"

And yes, Joshua's comparison IS correct.  "Sure, these people are part of our society, but they're not the part of society we want to deal with, so they should just go away.  They can have something separate, but equal, but it won't really be equal."

BTW, the Prometheus Award, that you're not sure where it's awarded, is often awarded at Worldcon, often in a bar or restaurant, because "Real" SF won't acknowledge it.  This year it's at Marcon.  But hey, you're sure it's a worthy award. You just couldn't be bothered to look it up.

We write SF and related works, we do SF art. That makes us part of SF fandom, and part of the culture.  We are not the "Wrong" type of fans, and anyone who thinks so is the wrong type of fan.

How's that Iron Throne padded with $100 bills feel, George?  I bet it's comfy.

Oh, yeah--you also like that people have to shell out at least a couple of Jacksons to vote, to keep the award "Special."  So special that most of the world can't afford to participate.

But we're the hateful conservatives.  Got it.

The Graying of the Hugo
Apr 11, 201501:12AM

Category: Writing

Several years back, when I was still a SFWA member, there was a huge panic over the "Threat" of electronic publishing.

Think about that. In an organization of writers of speculative fiction, there were a large number of people who wanted to shovel back the tide.  The smart ones got into it on the ground floor and are making money. Some of them fought it for years and didn't.

The second part of the discussion was a writer complaining about "pixel-stained, technopeasant wretches" giving work away for free online, thus watering down the paying market for "real" writers.

I had a very polite discussion with Piers Anthony, who expressed the opinion that while online presence was probably marketable, he didn't see how it could compare to a "well-run ad campaign."

Of course, an ad campaign costs money for either publisher or author, and if the publisher, it cuts into their margin for other matters, including paying the writers, which is why it's generally reserved for well-known, big-selling authors.

At the time, I'd written five books in two years, but was still largely unknown.  I pointed out that one of my free satirical pieces had been Farked, and gotten a half million hits in under 24 hours.  There's no way I could have bought publicity like that.  It was off the cuff snark that took me perhaps two hours, for which I might have eventually been paid $200.  Which would you rather have, $200 now, or half a million prospective readers for the future?

Piers was absolutely correct, but he was also speaking from a zone of comfort in an established position.

I attended SFWA functions at Torcon, where I tended bar, Loscon, and then Philcon.  The staff of SFWA knew who I was.  They greeted me on sight by first name. When I pulled out cover sheets of my next book ("The Hero"), one of the officers said, "Oh, a collaboration. Who's John Ringo?"

At that point, John had about ten more books than I did, including three NYT bestsellers with David Weber.

But the in-crowd hadn't heard of him.

And thus it often still is.  The in-crowd goes to the meetings, to the literary conventions, the writer that goes with them gets known, and then gets mentioned by friends, blogged about, and eventually, gifted with suggestions of awards.

Think about winners the last few years.  Are they good?  Generally. Popular? Within a small subsect always.  Not always among SF fans overall.  Can you think of any winners, where you'd think, "This other book that came out that year was better. Why didn't it win?"

George RR Martin laments the "marketing" that has come to the Hugos, that the Old Way is no longer respected. 

That's because an NYT bestseller with 13 books out was unknown to the people who promote the award.

And this is not their fault. When Piers and George started selling, there was no internet, and bookstores, quite common, if they sold SF, had a section with most of the current releases and staff who knew what they were.

It is no longer that time.  There are works that were promoted for the ballot this year that are good works, two of them from friends, and I never knew these works existed.  There's just no way to track the huge disbursement of SF.  We won.  Nerds won the culture war. We're everywhere.

We're so everywhere we don't even know who each other is anymore.

It used to be that the World Science Fiction Convention was THE place in the industry, and everyone knew everyone through no more than two connections.

Now, though, the comic cons, GenCon and DragonCon get more writers, and more readers, than Worldcon.

The only reason the internet wasn't used as a huge pimping and platform tool until now is because so many of the younger fen had no idea what the Hugo was, or how it was decided.

Once they discovered it, these young kids, in our thirties and forties (!) realized the only way to get seen was to make use of technology.

Piers laments free content (or did. That was some years ago).  George laments internet marketing. But both are here to stay, and I doubt most younger fen have any objection at all.

There are rumblings, proposals, and I fully expect that next year, there will be a dozen slates on major blogs promoting works for the Hugos.

So how is that bad?  Works you've not heard of will be mentioned, where you can easily see them. This translates as more sales for the authors. (My piece, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QZV08SW?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwmichaelzwi-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00QZV08SW, when promoted, shot back into the Amazon top ten for Political Humor.  It had been #1.  Most of you have never heard of it until now, of course.)  It translates into more visibility for the award, more participation, more works proposed, more slated.

This is not the end of the Hugos. It is the rebirth.

Let us not rally the old guard to protect it from the future.  Let us celebrate it.

So is Worldcon.

My daughter's first event was at 10 days old.  She's 17, has been to 17 Pennsics, 15 Windycons, 17 Marcons, dozens of Capricons, Libertycons, numerous other cons as one-offs. She runs my booth when I'm on panels.  She runs my booth at Comic and Anime cons, because she speaks that language.  She reads Molly Harper, Tamora Pierce, TA Barron, Piers Anthony, occasional Niven, Heinlein, Burroughs, lots of manga, some comics, she games a bit, cosplays. 

She has probably been to more events and conventions than you.

Today, she asked me, "So how do you get a Hugo?"

I explained that last year's Worldcon members, and this year's, can nominate, and this year's can vote and then nominate for next year, either supporting or attending.

She replied, "That's it?  From a small convention like that?" (She just finished running my booth at Indy Comic Con, with 30,000 attendees.)

Raised in fandom, child of an author who's been published since she was five, a dealer and attendee since before she was born, she:

A) Didn't really know what the Hugos are, and

2: Finds Worldcon to be small, unimpressive and not of note.

I guess she's the wrong kind of fan, too.

Don't worry. In twenty years, all 50 Worldcon attendees can vote each other a Hugo and be impressed with each other.