Monday, May 5, 2014

Perils of the Writer: Real World Politics and SF/F

I don't usually bring up real-world politics here.  But it's been drumming around the circle for a while now, so I might as well address it. I might be something of a rare bird in this industry, in that I'm on friendly terms with people with vastly varying political leaning.  People who I disagree with, even vehemently.  And don't get me wrong, I do love occasionally getting into it, politically speaking, as long as it's a good argument, and not just yelling, "You're wrong!" back and forth. 

But let's not confuse politics for behavior.

Because there are plenty of people-- people on the far left and far right, frankly-- who gleefully act like assholes, and then when called on that behavior, use their political affiliation as a shield.  "Oh, you're coming after me because of my beliefs!"  Terms like "witch hunt" are used, because it's easier to hide behind that, make yourself a victim, instead of acknowledging: hey, I'm acting like an asshole.

It's so much easier to act like you're being persecuted.

But if you act like an asshole-- and believe me, I've been there: back in my twenties I'm sure I had some Grade A moments-- people will and should call you on it, and it's disingenuous to say it's because of your politics.  You know why?  Because I know people with the same political lean who aren't assholes, so it's clearly not some sort of obligatory behavior based on political opinion.

I am all for people wearing their politics on their sleeves.  And put it in your fiction.  Have your fiction be a full-on polemic; rip your political opinion off your sleeve and shove it down my throat.  Politics I agree with, politics I don't agree with.  Go full out.

All I ask is that it actually be a good read, too, you know?

Which brings me around to the Hugo Nomination thing.  I want to believe that people who nominate things do so in good faith, even if they are politically motivated.  I haven't read Larry Correia's Warbound-- or anything else by him-- but I've seen enough people praise the books.  He was nominated for the Campbell a couple of years ago.  I can honestly believe that there are plenty of fans who really liked his book and feel it deserving of a "Best Novel" award, even if their reasoning was motivated by politics.

However, I actually read “Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day.  Now, I won't go into Mr. Day's personal history or anything-- it's out there and well documented, and you don't need me to give you an opinion on him.  You have your opinion, one way or another.    But here's the thing about “Opera Vita Aeterna": it's just poor writing.   Overly florid, trying-too-hard writing that, if I were in critique-teacher mode I would have made a lot of red-pen marks on. 

I get, as a matter of principle, wanting more stories with an explicitly conservative or religious message to them. I get wanting those stories to be lauded and nominated for awards.  If that's your political or theological lean, then of course you want to see that.  But given that, why would you hitch your wagon to a work that is so mediocre and hold it up as a shining example of the sort of thing you want to see?  What do you gain by that?

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