Cover art for “Elephants Are Not Birds” by Ashley St. Clair
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Every once in a while, I’ll craft something here about Superversive as opposed to “subversive” writing and other art forms in Science Fiction and Fantasy. The idea is that for the past several decades, the entertainment industry in general has moved away from ideas such as:
- Heroes being heroic
- Doing good for the sake of being good
- A happy ending isn’t such a bad thing after all
- Love and beauty are real in the world and in people
- It’s okay to be spiritual/religious beings and maybe we aren’t complete if we shun that
- Family is positive and not dysfunctional
- Civilization is better than chaos
- Strength, courage, honor, beauty, truth, sacrifice, spirituality, hope, and humility are all virtues and have their place in stories. Superversive tales should NEVER leave the reader in despair
No, not every single SF/F book published in the last twenty years is doom, gloom, and overridden by a progressive politics and social view…
…it just seems that way sometimes.
Cover art for David Weber’s “On Basilisk Station”.
In my continued effort to review Baen Publications, I’ve just finished reading the first novel in David Weber‘s “Honor Harrington” series On Basilisk Station.
It was kind of hard to get into. Weber has a tendency to lapse into long pages of dense exposition, which tends to put the reader into one person’s head (more often than not, Honor’s) than into the action.
However, if you can power through that, you finally get to a space opera laced with political intrigue, the dynamics of provincial planetary plotting, and then the climax of classic space battle.
Weber seems to have a background in military strategy, which shows in how he depicts martial activities, both in space and on the planet. However, there were times when life aboard Honor’s ship “Fearless” felt a little like “Star Trek.”
The one thing that would have made his book better would be to cut back on each character seemingly talking too much about themselves. Also, antagonists like Lord Pavel Young and the ultra-wealthy Klaus Hauptman weren’t as prominent or as formidable as I expected them to be based on how they were initially presented.
Promotional image of author A.C. Haskins
If you’ve read THIS and THIS, then you know why I’ve been reviewing a small series of short stories published by Baen Books.
Today, I review the third and last tale in the 2021 freebie I downloaded called Misfits authored by A.C. Haskins. He doesn’t seem to have a blog or website, but according to his Amazon Author’s page:
A.C. Haskins is a former Armored Cavalry Officer and combat veteran, turned economist and business strategist (and occasional firearm instructor). He has a lifelong love of speculative fiction, having written his first science fiction novel as a class project in the eleventh grade. His interests include (but are not limited to) ancient and medieval history, mythology, applied violence studies, tabletop gaming, and theoretical economics. He lives in Michigan with his wife, two cats, and a dog.
You can find what books he’s contributed to by clicking the link above.
Cover art for the novel “The Cunning Man”
If you read my review of the short story Appleseed: A Founder Effect Legend, you know this is my opening effort in taking a closer look at the literary products of Baen Books.
I’ve written enough (more than enough) about the Baen’s Bar kerfuffle, but I’m convinced that the worst Baen editor Toni Weisskopf is guilty of is neglect. I’m also, if not convinced, at least deeply concerned, that this entire mess was orchestrated (with the original “catalyst” either deliberately crafting the hit piece, or unwittingly serving the purposes of others) to muffle or even mute a publisher who is politically agnostic as far as selecting authors and books (apparently this can be a bad thing if you want to promote an industry serving only a single perspective, excluding all others).
I’m writing these reviews, in part, because I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog, and having been bullied as a kid, I don’t like the adult bullies, either.
Cover art for “The Founder Effect”
After the whole Baen Books or rather Baen’s Bar kerfuffle and being “shamed” into silence by various groups and individuals (including garnering the disapproval of Paul Weimer who I actually kind of like), the one thing I decided to do when I gave up everything else, was to read more Baen Books.
I probably have over the years, but unlike modern “fandom,” I’ve never paid much attention to who published what book as long as I enjoyed the reading (or even if I didn’t).
I can say that I do remember consuming Cobra (1984) by Hugo Award winning author Timothy Zahn. I don’t know how many others I’ve read over the years, but my current review is an effort to pay more attention to that sort of thing. After all, for whatever “crimes” individuals on Baen’s Bar may be guilty of, to the best of my understanding, the worst we can hang on Baen Books in general and editor Toni Weisskopf in specific is that she neglected to police her forum. I’ve seen discussion groups violently crash and burn over the years for this exact reason.
Well, it’s not every day that Mike Glyer uses his File 770 fanzine to insult me, so I guess I should be honored. I’ve been criticized for being an attention hog (look who’s talking) and for not knowing the various names of SF/F authors involved in the Baen Books forum debate (oh the horror…I didn’t kiss someone’s arse or something).
Anyway, here’s the link to the relevant Pixel Scroll. Scroll down for item 6.
Now here’s the screenshot since things sometimes go “poof” on the internet (keep on scrolling).
Groucho Marx publicity photo.
“I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member” –Groucho Marx
This isn’t so much about Jason Sanford and the Baen Books forums saga as it is about its major consequence: Discon III “uninviting” Toni Weisskopf to WorldCon 2021.
Once again, Mike Glyer’s File 770 (he must be pleased about all the free publicity I’m giving him and his fanzine) provides the catalyst.
Item 1 in Pixel Scroll 2/19/21 Why, I Sweep My Scroll With A Geiger Counter Every Day, And Nary A Pixel! is DISCON III REACTIONS.
The most interesting response was the first one, from David Weber (makes me think of Jason Bourne’s original name “David Webb”) as posted on his Facebook page on February 19th and quoted by Glyer the same day:
Screenshot from twitter
I know after writing about THIS and THIS, I said I was washing my hands of it all HERE, but people still keep bringing it up, especially on this commentary.
Stuff produced by folks such as Matthew Hopkins and questions asked by retired journalist Richard Paolinelli HERE and HERE led me to see if Sanford’s twitter account might be back up (I didn’t expect it to be), but indeed it is.
In fact, he’s tweeting to a group of people, including me, as I write this (patience Jason, I can only keyboard so fast).
Cover art for Robert A. Heinlein’s novel “Starship Troopers”
I suppose I should leave this alone, especially after taking quite a bit of criticism, mainly from conservative authors, when I suggested that the left side of the science fiction industry was using the “Baen’s Bar” incident, which I chronicled HERE and HERE, to paint all conservative authors and just plain all conservatives with the same unjust and extremist brush.
However, I also acknowledged that at least some of the things said (or allegedly said, since the accuracy and validity of Jason Sanford’s report has come under dispute) on the forum could foment violence, and this is where I triggered quite a number of people. At this point, the matter has become too muddied for me to make sense of, so I’m going to stop commenting on something I’m not nearly as emotionally invested in as both Baen’s supporters and critics.
Though if indeed, some undisclosed competitor of Baen’s is using up their bag of dirty tricks in an attempt to deplatform a publisher that is just as friendly to conservative science fiction writers as it is to more liberal and socialist authors, it’s a pretty low deed.
Baen books logo.
What a mess.
Scrolling through twitter this morning (it always comes back to twitter), I found Paul Weimer’s thread (never heard of him before this) citing File 770‘s article Baen Strikes Back; Sanford Under Growing Storm of Harassment.
As you may remember from my previous blog post, a whole bunch of nastiness has been happening, not really exactly at Baen Books, but because of an investigative piece written by Jason Sanford titled Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence.
That was three days ago and this has gotten anything but better.
According to the aforementioned “Strikes Back” write up, a number of people have come to Baen’s defense, and some of them in a spectacularly hostile manner (so much so that Sanford has temporarily locked down his social media accounts based on a great deal of harassment including death threats).