Our rights do not originate with government, but they are to be "secured" by government.
Formerly: Libertarian Party of Citrus county

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Where has all the Good SciFi Gone? A tale of Censorship

By Tom Rhodes, 10/4/2013

One of my all time favorite books, Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card is coming out as a movie over 25 years after it was first published. If first written today, in the politically correct publishing world it may have never been published. Maybe this article should be titled where have all the good books gone because the discussion here doesn't affect just SciFi, but since I'm a serious SciFi buff and the vast majority of what I read for enjoyment is SciFi and fantasy, that's what the discussion is about.

What I consider "new" SciFi authors, include Anne McCaffrey. Orson Scott Card, Stephen Brust, and Eric Flint, and some of their stuff has been in print nearly half a century. However something has happened. Most new SciFi/Fantasy is crap and carries very little gravitas and even less science. Using Barsoom and gravitas in the same sentence may be a stretch, but ERB's Mars series did accurately describe hundreds of inventions that are just now becoming reality, so the science and vision of the John Carter series cannot be questioned. It's just hard to imagine a serious SciFi/Fantasy buff who grew up reading the vision of ERB or deep thought and social commentary of Tolkein, Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein adding Amish Vampires in Space to his library.

Let's face it when the 2013 Hugo Award for best novel is given to "Redshirts" a derivative of Star Trek with not an iota of new or original material, and more talk about BJ's than technology, you have to know that SciFi publishing has turned to crap. Lucky at Amazon the first couple chapters are free, I tried but I couldn't even get past the prolog, and this from a guy who can enjoy just about any Star Trek book, and likes the prose of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

There may be good new SciFi out there but from the looks of things, if women don't find them politically correct they may be censored. SciFi author Constance Cooper's bragged about the
success of her 8yr old daughter in getting a book store to remove titles she thought were sexist.

Cooper said she posted the experience on her writing website, www.constancecooper.com, and submitted the link to boingboing, one of her favorite blogs, "because I knew from reading it that the editors are concerned about issues of gender and culture and also how to raise kids to think critically."

"Unfortunately it triggered a somewhat nasty flurry of comments about censorship, which I feel really distracted from the point of the post," Cooper said.

A SciFi author championing the success of censorship, in getting books that contain ideas her "8-year-old considered 'sexist'" explains a lot. The kind of thinking that could prompt Cooper to think that comments about censorship distracted people from the point is the kind of thinking that makes "newsspeak" a reality, and certainly can't be called "critical thinking". WTF was the point if it wasn't to get a business to censor books and justifying censorship?

SciFi authors actually championing censorship is one of the reasons we can't have good SciFi books anymore. Imagine SciFi legend Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, even suggesting any book be removed from the shelves of a book store because of the ideas it contained, much less bragging about being successful.

I'm not saying there isn't new good SciFi/Fantasy or good new authors out there, but they don't seem to be getting published. This isn't new but it's gotten far worse, Bruce Bethke wrote "Cyberpunk" around 30 years ago, not really new. But because of the interweb and new technology, you can read it. You can only get Cyberpunk as a free ebook because Bethke wouldn't compromise the story to meet the publisher's whims. In today's world I don't think Heinlein could get published.

In today's politically correct culture you have to go look for new good SciFi, you won't find it at your local book store, but you can find it. Kudo's to Bruce Bethke who's trying to do something about the problem. Not only an author, he's the editor of one of the few sources for new authors and solid SciFi/Fantasy. In the tradition of Amazing Stories, and other anthology magazines of the past, Bethke edits, Stupefying Stories. Check it out, I'm sure he's not censoring stories that 8 year old girls think are sexist.

For the record I switched to ebooks about 10 years ago before Nook and Kindle were even thought of; reading them on my PC or palm, regular books just take up too much space, and ebooks are too convenient, but I do have an adequate selection of real bound paper type SciFi and other books. That said I'm ordering Amish Vampires in Space , how can I say I have any sort of SciFi/Fantasy collection when such a title exists and I don't have it ;) I own a copy of "Trials and Tribble-ations" and Shatner's "Tekwar" so I can't really brag about the "quality" of my SciFi library. For the absurd title and cover alone I'm adding to my collection, it will sit between my copy of Thuvia, Maid of Mars with the Michael Whelan art and "M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link".

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