Monday, September 10, 2018

Everything wrong with SF/F in one post.

Saw this gem today. "Everything wrong with science fiction is John W. Campbell's fault."

Campbell was basically a racist garbage-person.

Campbell supported slavery. And segregation. And believed black people were inherently intellectually and culturally inferior to whites. You know that whole, "But how could you possibly expect readers to empathize with a black protagonist?" thing? Something Campbell quite famously told Samuel R. Delany, in quite possibly its first documented incarnation. That whole "I don't care if they're white, black, or polka-dotted" thing white people say when they're trying to pretend they're not being racist? Campbell, while making apologetics for slavery no less, which was something he got up to a lot.

It goes on and on like that. Campbell was a RAAAACIST!!! Heinlein was a RAAAACIST!!! Asimov, Hubbard, Clarke, all RAAAACISTS!!! Sure, baby. Sure they were.

Why write this? What's the point? Well, about that:

Which is why I can't help be reminded of the whole World Fantasy Award H.P. Lovecraft bust… thing that went on a few years ago. And, well… I'm not saying that maybe it's time for a similar conversation about the Campbell, but…
Maybe it's time for a conversation, y'know?

Yeah, because HP Lovecraft was a RAAAACIST!!! So there was a rush by SJWs to get his face taken off the World Fantasy Award statue.

Having got that done, this bitch now wants the John W. Campbell Award re-named.

I guarantee you some other bitch has his/her/its sights set on Hugo Gernsback, who committed the twin unforgivable sins of being Jewish and a Capitalist.

What's revealing here is the -speed- with which these denouncements are coming. One after the other, the men and women who built the Science Fiction I grew up with from the 1960s onward are being declared heretics and their names stricken from polite society. The pace is frantic. They've only just finished burning Robert Silverberg at the stake, now John W. Campbell is getting tied on there.

It isn't sufficient that a commentator like Alis Franklin doesn't like JWC, or she doesn't like his work, and she therefore talks about the man or the work and points out the flaws. That's not enough. No, she demands the very memory of the man must be erased, chiseled off of monuments and even removed from an award given for science fiction books.

Everything wrong with Science Fiction as we know it today is personified by Mrs. Alis Franklin. Oh yeah, the edgy purple-haired SJW is actually a cis/het/white/married Normie. With fat arms. Shock, surprise.

At this rate of acceleration, in three more years there won't be a WorldCon and there won't be a Hugo award. They'll have burned it all down to the ground themselves.

The Phantom


jimf said...

Unfortunately, you are probably correct.

Zsuzsa said...

It does seem like Vox and the Rabid Puppies may have been wasting their time. Just give the folks at the Hugos enough space and they'll burn down their own clubhouse without any need for encouragement from the outside.

Also, maybe it's just me, but I don't think I would invoke Samuel Delany's name in a piece that's basically just a personal attack...

The Phantom said...

Greetings, jim and Zsuzsa.

I'm thinking before they were lighting the drapes on fire, and now, post Puppies, they're throwing Molotov cocktails in there.

I thought the bit about Delaney was a scream. If Campbell was such a racist/bigot/homophobe, why was Delaney even working for him?

Bigots in the 40s did not hire black guys, at all, ever, not even to cut the lawn. In the 1940s, a black guy writing a book would be considered in the same light as a talking dog. Impossible.

Were Vox and the Rabids wasting their time? Eh, hard to say. On the one hand, they do look like they're going to burn down Worldcon with no help from Vox. On the other, baiting the SJWs was probably enjoyable for them, so there's that.

Anonymous said...

So embarassed to find that she's Australian. Pathetic, talentless idiot.

Emmett Fitz-Hume said...

On the plus side, it looks like she's doing her part not to reproduce. So, we've got that going for us.

I'm not a fan of Campbellian SF myself but that being said, I wonder where she gets her evidence that the man supported slavery. I mean, in regard to Segregation, many people-decent normal people- supported it because it was all they knew. But who supported slavery then? (I mean, except for the Democrats who robed up for their KKKross burnings...) And how does she know? From Delaney? I don't trust a word out of Delaney's mouth. So,I wouldn't buy it.

Aside from the erasing of men and monuments for 'problematic' reasons, what gets me is the complete failure of imagination on display from the SF/F SJW Community: they can't imagine or conceive of a normal everyday person, growing up in a system of slavery, or segregation or apartheid or [insert pernicious system of abuse here], failing to see that their society was wrong, and then go about life.

The SJW's descendants will someday treat their own ancestors the same way (if they have any-Stop Breeding SJWs!) for failing to notice today's cultural evil that hasn't been named yet.

Banshee said...

Re: talking dog, you underestimate our racist forebears.

No literate person in the US in Campbell's time would be unaware of Frederick Douglass' autobiography or Booker T. Washington's scientific and literary work. E.B. White was one of the most popular fiction writers and essayists, and Langston Hughes was a well-known poet. Zora Neale Hurston's voodoo nonfiction would have been difficult for an sf/f fan or writer to ignore, and her fiction was also well-known.

Also, how would Campbell have known that Delany was black or a young prodigy unless Delany had told him in his cover letter? (Although it's possible his work may have announced him as young, or his clumsy first writings may have written about a black protagonist in a way that made Campbell think he was white and ignorant. But I suppose it's also possible that Delany wrote from a Harlem address, the detection of which would perhaps not require a Sherlock Holmes in that day.)

When Campbell rejected Nova for Analog, he was a cranky old geezer, set in his ways, who was about to die in the next few years. He should have rejected Nova for the right reasons -- it's a weird book that doesn't fit well with the Analog of that moment, and the linguistics in it isn't all that good of science.

Claiming that he rejected it because his readership was racist was a cowardly liberal way to reject the book, so one should get mad at Campbell for being too SJW. The same thing is true of his editorials on "the race problem;" he was being a typical New York liberal SJW of his day, and that's what today's SJWs can't stand.

(Although one should also note that we only have Delany's agent's word for the reasons for the serialization rejection, filtered through Delany's recollection. Agents were notorious liars even then, so....)

Finally, it's well-known that Campbell's assistant editor/secretary was first reader for Analog too. So was she racist and sexist AF, too? Should her power be even more scrubbed from the field than her feared iron hand has already been? (Tried to find her name for this comment, but couldn't get the right search engine terms.)

Anyway... I've never been convinced that Delany was the first black person to be pubbed by Campbell. Just the first one we know much about.

Banshee said...

Kay Tarrant! I can't believe I forgot her name!

Yep, every time she's mentioned in regard to sex in the field, she is the feared tyrant who destroyed writer liberty. (Campbell and Tarrant wanted their magazine to be reader-appropriate for people 14 and up.)

But when one mentions sexism in the field, suddenly she is not to be mentioned or becomes oppressed.

Of course, it doesn't help that (IIRC) Asimov always called her Campbell's secretary in his reminiscences, when she really was an assistant editor by title and work.

Banshee said...

Just found a super-interesting thread about all the women editors of the magazines, including one I didn't know: Cele Goldsmith, aka Lalli Goldsmith.

From 1958 to 1965, while editing Amazing and Fantastic, she brought in Ursula K. LeGuin, J.G. Ballard (in US publishing), Thomas M. Disch, Roger Zelazny, Keith Laumer, David Bunch, etc.

She then left sf to spend the next three decades as editor of Modern Bride, which was of course a huge moneymaker (and the most popular magazine at my high school and many others). She did big stuff in sf in a tiny time window, but it was a footnote to her real career!

Banshee said...

Oops! Confused Nova (the book rejected by Campbell for serialization) with Babel-17 (the linguistics "sf" one with the magical linguist).

Nova is the one with the misfit crew and all the Tarot cards, the one that makes less sense than Babel-17 and has creepier characters.

The misfit crew seem to be influenced by Jack Vance as well as by Melville (the usual comparison), but they just aren't likeable. There's a big point made of making them multiracial, but the part I remembered was that they are all weird and degenerate. The minority characters even say racist things about each other. This is not Star Trek.

So yeah, now that I remember what book it is, I am even less surprised that it was rejected for serialization by Analog. I mean, heck, the self-referential viewpoint character spends all his time looking for a plot! Bleh.

Banshee said...

So here's the timeline:

Delany was first pubbed in 1962. He pretty much always had minority protagonists. Nova came out in 1968.

All his books went direct to Ace Books, and then from Dhalgren on, they went direct to Bantam Books. None of them were serialized in any magazine, US or UK.

His agent must have been crazy if he thought Nova had the tiniest freaking chance of being serialized in Analog, which was already trying to focus on hard sf at that time. (New Wave sf, by contrast, usually ran in other magazines.)

So I am really, really wondering about the truth of the whole story now, and especially about the lameness of the supposed reason. It could have happened that way, but it seems more like "Your story doesn't belong in our market. Sell it to somebody else."

Gah. I should go back to sleep. Sorry for all the comments.

Unknown said...

I hadn't even heard that Silverberg had been a victim of their 2-minute hate.

Nor, truthfully, do I care.
His work stands on its own, and the ankle-biters are beneath anyone's notice.
They exist only to be mocked.

Stephen J. said...

The New Utopia always begins with Year Zero.

The Phantom said...

Greetings, all! Banshee, all the comments are welcome. The whole reason I have this blog is to keep from yelling at the TV. ~:D

Jim in Alaska said...

As an avid SF reader, including Astounding, Analog, etc., since the 50's, until jut lately I had no idea Delany was black nor that many of the first and second initial followed by last name authors were women. Didn't care back then, care even less now.

The Phantom said...

Hi Jim, fellow Old Guy. ~:D

Likewise, I did not know or care a damn who was what colour or what plumbing variety. I didn't -notice- that stuff, much less care. It didn't even make it on my attention scale. Andre Norton is a woman? So?

So and so author is a creep in Real Life? Again, so? I had literally no way of knowing that back in the day, and it made no difference.

Is the guy who owns the local McDonald's franchise a creep? Can you tell by the food? If not, do I care?

Reputedly, Keith Laumer who wrote some of my favorite stories of all time, was a complete dick later in life. Did really terrible things. And I have to say, peace be unto the people he did those things to, those are still my favorite stories. I do not care that he was a dick.

Tell you something else, John Scalzi is a dick too. He's been a dick to me personally, online. I still like Old Man's War. I just don't like John Scalzi.

The author makes the story. The story, once made, has its own life. It stands or falls no matter what the author said or did in real life.

Of course there are people whose crimes are sufficient that I won't read their books, usually the books are pretty sick to begin with, the crimes just make them sicker.

Qadgop the Mercotan said...

> "Everything wrong with science fiction is John W. Campbell's fault."

The last time I saw that sentiment, it was from the Pulp Revolution folk, who would otherwise be diametrically opposed to everything else on that linked site.