Even when the SF Ghetto tries to get it right, it totally gets it wrong

So there's a new old thing going on in the SF Ghetto now. And this time it's stumbled into mainstream public discourse via the usual organs of the incoherent left, primarily the previously linked Guardian, and then this story from the equally histrionic Nation.

For those of you unfamiliar with the trope, every time this particular conversation comes up it goes something like this:

1. Some Idiot who cares about the SF Ghetto notices that a subculture largely created by and maintained by socially inept straight white men seems to overly cater to the fantasies and wishes of socially inept straight white men.

2. Said Idiot sets out to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT and stages some sort of event or crisis or program designed to probe the question of why an insular group of people with low levels of empathy and a general lack of ability to self reflect seem to primarily create and read stories about characters that look and act a lot like they do.

3. Other Idiots, looking at what said Idiot is doing, and being members of an insular group that's generally pretty poor at self-reflection, rush to jump on board with said Idiot's program because hey, this is NEW, nobody has EVER pointed this out before.

4. Genre critics who are invested in the academic language of identity politics then flock to the program and there is a great deal of sturm und drang, inevitably Tor gets involved and the whole thing is a huge deal.

5. Everybody forgets about it and goes back to talking about how the Lord of the Rings was the "BEST THING EVAR! w000t!" because they don't really give a shit about any of this stuff, they just go through the motions because they know they're supposed to.

6. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Now, far be it from me to deny that something is deeply, morally, culturally, aesthically, and socially wrong with the composition, output, and activities of the SF Ghetto. But they ain't gonna fix themselves through a clumsy and inept application of mindless multicultulturalism based not on any genuine appreciation for people who are different, but rather out of an obligation felt to the ideal of multiculturalism itself.

And, lest ye forget, it's only a matter of time before the backlash comes rolling in and the aspergertarian hordes of military SF, Robert Heinlein, and various other right wing elements of the SF Ghetto start making the whole endeavor seem really ugly.

The short answer to all of this is the SF Ghetto looks like it does because it looks like the fans. And the fans are who they are largely as a result of their flaws as much as anything else. But even at that, some of the best SF has to offer (Leguin, Moorcock, Iaian Banks, Butler, Zelazny, Dick) have worked with the issue of difference in their work extensively and they never get mentioned in these sorts of discussions because, you know, that would make the whole thing harder to cast in black and white manichaean language. Which, as should be clear to everybody, is the form of mental laziness preferred by all the idiots who perennially do this shit.


I'm not sure calling them

I'm not sure calling them idiots is helpful. They're people who genuinely care about a genre that tends to discriminate and sideline them. So they want to change it. There's nothing wrong with that.

However, you're right in that the problems of the SF world are largely self-purpetuating, as white, straight males of a certain temperament write books for white straight males of a certain temperament.

Caring about a marketing

Caring about a marketing category used to sell you low quality shit you don't need is a good working definition of false consciousness. And I didn't go into it in the post, but it's hardly like the SF Ghetto is unique in its marginalization of the other. even my own beloved avant garde poetry for all of its radical inclusiveness and the fact that it's generally much better about all that sort of thing than most areas in the arts is still heavily dominated by white guys, albeit the big names are just as often gay men as not thanks to the enduring influence of the New York School.

MY point being that you have to be engaged in a sort of blinkered narcissism in the first place to be engaged in this sort of navel gazing pseudo self-reflection without recognizing it as being microcosmic of larger social trends. There's nothing special about the SF Ghetto, not even in its areas of weakness.

Also, let me ask you this:

Also, let me ask you this: who is your audience for posts like this? Because if your intention is to educate people the SF world about something, calling them idiots is going to immediately turn them off to whatever you're saying. And people outside the SF world probably don't give a shit about any of this. So your post here is self-defeating. All it serves to do is make people angry.

The willing members and

The willing members and boosters of the SF Ghetto are a lost cause. There's nothing I can say to them that they will listen to because of the aforementioned blinkered narcissism. My audience for this is people who, like me, enjoy fiction with fantastical elements and appreciate seeing it done well but who can't stand the antics of the SF Ghetto. And the purpose of my post here is to once again roll my eyes at this nonsense. Like always. Don't be so defensive, it's unbecoming.

Let me put this another way

The list of similarities

The list of similarities between me and Walter Sobchek do not begin and end with us being correct assholes. The Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint. I'm going to sit here and drink my coffee.