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This is why Science Fiction can't have nice things

This is why Science Fiction can’t have nice things

SFSignal: Here is the table of contents for a new anthology called The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF, it is edited by Mike Ashley.

The General SF Reading Public: WTF there are only men in that anthology.

Many SFSignal Commenters: OMG this is messed up! Only men? Boo.

Some Black Chick: Yeah and also: no POC.

Many Other SFSignal Commenters: EVEN WORSE, omg.

Paul Di Filippo1: Dear Friends of SF–

I generally steer clear of controversies in my senescense, having participated in more than my share as a card-carrying cyberpunk2–but I simply cannot allow the unanimity of asinine comments on exhibit here to go unremarked-upon3.

Every single commenter here seems to me to be committing a logical fallacy of tremendous dimension, one so big it distorts entire worldviews:

DEMANDING THAT EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE OF EVERYTHING COMPOSITE SHOULD BE ABSOLUTELY STATISTICALLY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE COMPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE COSMOS4

You know what:  a potato field is not likely to contain corn plants5.  A pine forest might feature an oak or three, but be 99% pine trees6.  The Beatles were 4 white guys7.  Sonic Youth has no people of color8My ream of copy paper is all white, with no sheets of lettuce included9!

Variety is great.  Heterogeniety is great.  Bias and prejudice suck.  A genre–VIEWED AS A WHOLE–must feature a million different voices to be accurate and interesting10.

BUT NOT EVERY SINGLE BOOK OR MAGAZINE OR BAND OR WORK OF ART NEEDS TO CONFORM TO THE LATEST CENSUS RESULTS11.

SFSignal Commenters: WTH was that shit?

Paul Di Filippo: But let me reiterate that there is no law of the universe or of sensible human culture that demands that every institution or product fully represent every possible choice in its compositional makeup12.

If you go to a restaurant, do you demand to see the staff of the kitchen to ensure that they represent the full spectrum or genders and races and ethnicities13?  I hope not!  You order food and if you like it you patronize the place again.  (We’re omitting elements of atmosphere, price, fellow customers, etc. here14.)

If this particular anthology delivers stories that fulfill its premise and title, then it’s done its job15.  If you or someone else chooses not to support its existence because it does not meet extra-literary criteria16, then that is perhaps a morally superior, wonderfully principled, honorable stance17.  Or perhaps it’s an addled, PC, chip-on-the-shoulder stance18.  But there was never any obligation or constraint on Mike Ashely to satisfy these demands19.

Now, if you got the annual LOCUS survey of books published and pointed out to me that there were N number of anthologies published in 2008 featuring Y number of stories, and that only X percent of these stories were written by folks who were not WASP males, and then you argued that X percent was way too low, I would consider you had the beginnings of a rational argument and gripe20.

SFSignal Commenters: Are you HIGH?

Some Black Chick: Dear Paul Di Filippo, What the hell is wrong with you?

Paul Di Filippo: I’d like to raise two matters: First, how are anthologies assembled?  By 1)  an editor’s reference to his past reading experience, for reprints; 2) “invitation only” for new stories; 3) “open call” for new stories.

The book in question was assembled by a combo of 1) and 2).  Obviously, Mike Ashley recalled only stories by men and invited stories only from males21.  (Or possibly, invited women who did not respond or qualify22.)  This resulted in a men-only book.  Is this sexism23, or is it a function of the phenomenon illustrated in the SEINFELD episode of the big-breasted waitresses?  Elaine was incensed that a certain diner featured only big-breasted waitresses–until she discovered that all the women were the owner’s daughters.  In other words, what seemed to be sexism was “family bias.”  Mike relied on his “family connections,” to the dead or living24.  And that family included no women.  Limited family maybe, but sexism?  Your call25.

Second, I think in any such argument it’s always useful to ask “whose ox is being gored?” and to “follow the money.”26

I don’t want to cast aspersions on anyone’s motives, or attempt to mind-read27.  But I have to say that when ANY WRITER (not just female writers or writers of color) complains about being excluded from a venue and cites issues of platonic principle and idealism, I always first posit underlying jealousy28 and a desire for status underneath all the lofty hypothetical talk29.  Why do I posit such a cynical thing30?  Because I’m a fucking writer31, and guilty as all others32!  I vividly recall my sense of exclusion from the “adult table” after having had one or two stories published, but before being able to sell regularly33.  Hell, I still feel this way, being without a major publisher34.

Now there’s nothing wrong with wanting a place at the table for one’s personal, individual works.  If a writer did not believe in her stuff, why would she bother?  And if you believe in your stuff, you’ll want it to get the best possible treatment.  But to cloak one’s personal gripes, however subconsciously, in the cloak of solidarity with all downtrodden is just plain disingenuous–to use the nicest word35.

I really wonder, as an unperformable thought experiment, whether if the MAMMOTH book had included a token one or two writers of color or female gender, if these writers would have returned their paychecks or even spoken out when the current controversy arose36.

“Walk it like you talk it” remains the operative phrase37.

SFSignal Commenters: What. The. Hell?

Paul Di Filippo: I don’t have time to answer all your petty questions about my ridiculous statements, I have a story to write! Email me if you want, but I have more important things to take care of. *flounce!*38

SFSignal Commenters: What. The. Hell? No, just no.

Paul Di Filippo: Oh, also, Walt Whitman is gay, so therefore you won’t mind if I quote from him. What does Walt Whitman being gay have to do with anything here? Well, Some Black Chick said that he hated men! Okay, bye for realz now! *flounce again!*39

SFSignal Commenters: [attempt to pick up the pieces of the conversation and return it to something resembling sense, all the while on the lookout for further resurgences of greater internet fuckwaddery.]

The End.

Footnotes

  1. Who is, incidentally — or perhaps not — in the anthology in question []
  2. this is the part where he tries to position himself above everyone else in the conversation — oh, ho ho silly beings. I will lower myself to your level, but only this once! []
  3. if he allowed it, it would be like some free speech or something. []
  4. notice how actually no one was demanding this. []
  5. what? []
  6. And this is relevant to the discussion how? []
  7. … []
  8. and strawmen have no brains, what the hell is your point, Paul? []
  9. So, I’m given to understand that women and people of color SF writers are like lettuce in copy paper? The Othering going on here is just astounding. []
  10. But viewed as just a section we don’t need all that pesky diversity! Gotta have some safe spaces for the white men. []
  11. I again wonder who ever suggested this? Oh wait, no one. Okay then. []
  12. Show me a universe or sensible society where a deliberate selection is uniform by accident. []
  13. No, but that’s because I assume that any business that wishes to stay in business will conform to laws that say it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of several factors, including gender and race. SF anthologies are not subject to this law. Nor should they be. But it would explain the variation in how I approach two completely different and unrelated situations such as you have posited here. []
  14. also omitting anything that makes any damn sense at all. []
  15. if that job is presenting its readers with a heteronormative, white and male view of SF, then yes. If it claims to be presenting the “The 21 Finest Stories of Awesome Science Fiction”, then no. []
  16. Here’s what you don’t get: the specifics about the authors are not extra-literary, Paul. Who a writer is, where a writer comes from, how they see and experience the world, all feeds into their writing. I thought you were a writer, surely you understand this. []
  17. Only inasmuch as it doesn’t exclude and marginalized oppressed groups, yeah. []
  18. Oh, you’re about to pull THIS argument out? []
  19. Nope, there sure wasn’t. And look what he produced: 21 stories of the same old monochromatic maleness. []
  20. Actually, I believe people have done this and more and left out the bad algebra to boot. []
  21. Yes, obviously, and if you had any damn sense you would see why that’s extremely problematic. []
  22. I guess they don’t qualify if they only write stories about “people and feelings and crap”. []
  23. Yes. []
  24. And while it’s acceptable to have your family staff your restaurant, if you’re putting together an anthology of “best” stories and you only ever choose authors you’ve heard of, you’re not really choosing a best, are you? You’re choosing the best of a narrow subset of stories. That is: the best by white men whose writing appeals to someone who can’t be bothered to read anything by women or people of color. []
  25. Oh good. Cuz I say: yes. Or, at the very, very least: bias borne out of lazy ignorance. []
  26. Yeah because women and POC don’t have money to spend, or when they do they don’t buy books. I think they buy pretty dresses and “bling”. []
  27. Liar. Cuz you’re about to do just that. []
  28. ABW takes off her earrings. []
  29. So, let me see if I rightly understand you: the only reason anyone would ever have to complain about this kind of thing is jealousy and a desire to be included? Even when the people complaining are readers, not writers? Even when the writers complaining are not just women and people of color but white men? Even when other publishers and editors are like: “Dude, that’s not right.”? Even when ALL of those groups get together to call this out as a problem it all comes down to some jealous, whiny women and darkies causing a fuss because they want to be included? Listen, Paul, I have something very important to say: FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE. You are NOT, I repeat: NOT allowed to dismiss the concerns of readers and writers and editors and fans and lovers of the genre and those who strive to erase racism and sexism and other forms of prejudice just because they have an issue with an anthology you are in. Seems to me that the reason this upsets you so much, the reason you obviously find it so threatening, is that if someone were to judge your writing up against that of, say, Octavia Butler, Nisi Shawl, Nnedi Okorafor, Samuel R. Delany, Stephen Barnes, Tobias Buckell, L. Timmel Duchamp, Elizabeth Hand, Nancy Kress, Connie Willis, Yoon Ha Lee, or any number of the amazing women and POC writers in this field, it would be found wanting and you’d find yourself in fewer anthologies. And while I strive to see more diverse voices in anthologies just for its own sake, I have to say that the idea of them edging you out is just buttercream icing on the cupcake. Because I don’t care how good a writer you are, this genre and this community does not need people like you spewing this utter, utter bullshit all over its public places. What we need are people who don’t use the term PC like it’s a dirty word, who don’t compare women and minorities to pieces of lettuce, who don’t stomp into conversations around contentious and important issues and proceed to pull down their pants and wave their asses around with vigor. Get out of my genre, dude! We do not need your crazy! []
  30. because you’re projecting? []
  31. Wait, you mis-spelled that last word. Should be: wanker []
  32. yeah, projection. Look, our issues are not yours, Paul. []
  33. …if sitting at the adult table means being next to creepy uncle Paul who no one ever leaves you in a room alone with then, um, yeah I’ll stay over here at the kids table. []
  34. No comment. []
  35. THANK GOD YOU’RE USING THE NICE WORDS. []
  36. I guess we’ll never know, since the editor doesn’t believe in tokenism. But good to know that if there had been some women or people of color in there, they’d just be tokens and undeserving! Also of note: had there been any women or POC, we would not be having this conversation because the controversy would not have arisen. People don’t get all upset when anthologies are inclusive. Well, normal, sensible people. []
  37. Indeed. It just doesn’t mean what you think it means. []
  38. This one is paraphrased. []
  39. Yes, paraphrased. But yes, Walt Whitman and gayness did randomly come up. []

74 comments to This is why Science Fiction can’t have nice things

  • NOISEAUX

    Brillant post! thanks so much for sharing it. It’s just incredible how lame, desperate and far-fetched this guy’s “arguments” are, is he actually living on the same planet? Apart from what you write (which is flawless), the footnotes-style is a whole new stylistic device for even more fun for us readers (please don’t get me wrong here, I think the fact that you can make all those topics that are serious and that hurt “fun” to read, is another big achievement and reason why I love this blog). Please do it footnote-style like that every once in a while. ** Keep up the great work. Your writers and musician fans from Germany.

  • LOL! I know it’s impolite to laugh at people but that Paul Di Filippo! What a card! HA HA HA!

  • ChloeMireille

    I find the explanation fail from the Man Who Explains Things to be utterly astounding.

    If sci-fi is a potato field, and women and POCs are corn stalks, then he knows nothing about crop rotation.(Yes, I know potatoes and corn probably grow during the same time of year, but if DiFilippo can screw up a parallelism, so can I.) When you grow the same thing in the same soil every year, the soil can be depleted of nutrients. In terms of literature, reading the same literary voice/perspective all the time can get boring, dry, stale, repetitive, suffocating, and ultimately redundant.

  • Can’t post coherent reply. Laughing too hard.

    Love this post. Thank you for the pitch-perfect summary of that trainwreck.

  • lisa

    i love and want to marry footnote #29.

  • Diatryma

    Only tangentially related, but I know people who refer to mindblowing revelations as ‘Omelas moments’ from Le Guin. And how did the editor know he was getting awesome stories if several of them were written new for the anthology?

    Beyond that, I like his farm metaphor because it fails so very well. No matter how you apply logic, it falls apart!

  • I agree so much with comment 29. And, well, all of it.

  • maevele

    your point in 29, that if it hadn’t been all whiteboys he might not have made the cut, is what I have been trying to say, although I showed up after he took his balls and went home, so I didn’t get to tell him that.

    also, I fucking love you so much right now.

  • Zahra

    OMG, this was hilarious! It takes a very creative mind to wring something this brilliant out of something so nonsensical that you’ve heard so many times before.

    Footnote #28 is pretty awesome, too.

  • Lóng

    Oh come on, apart from the analogies in his first post, you left out the best part!

    Dear Paul Di Filippo,

    What the hell is wrong with you? I mean, I feel I could answer that question on my own (you’re a man,

    END QUOTE

    He quotes someone, ends after a comma in between two parentheses and, just to be absolutely sure that everyone would understand that nothing relevant would come after that, adds END QUOTE.

    (The appropriate ending would have been “you write SF, you have a vested interest in status quo and keeping things the way they are: to your benefit.)” but I guess that didn’t suit him.)

    Regardless, hilarious post yet again.

  • Juan

    This would be so unashamedly hilarious if it wasn’t true… or seemingly common. But this recap does make the fail a little easier to endure. Especially if you read it again after reading the actually thread. =/

  • You’re so cute when you’re angry. ;-)

    Seriously, brilliant post! (But you already knew I thought that.)

  • The title alone is sheer genius. The post is even better.

    The potato-field analogy is apt in a sinister Freudian way, since potatoes, being planted from eyes, are clones — thus both drearily uniform and vulnerable to devastating diseases. (See “Potato Famine.”) Moreover, as James Nicoll pointed out, the only reason potato fields contain no other plants than potatoes is that farmers work hard to eliminate other plants, AKA weeds.

    Nice to know that, in addition to being lettuce and corn, we are also weeds.

  • To footnotes were the best. They kept me laughing, which assisted me in controlling the urge to reach through cyberspace to slap a man. Just one more reason that we need more multicultural and non sexist choices in our spec fic as a whole. Get writing ya’ll!!! :)

  • Erica

    Excellent summary… and quite telling that he believes the only way a female or non-white author could have been in the book was if they were “token” inclusions!

  • yeloson

    Naturally, the only reason that only white men get published is because we live in a world of meritocracy and reason, free of injustice and bias, where only white men are capable of writing great science fiction and all others are, naturally mere shadows of ability.

    Yep. I see the science fiction in that.

  • brownstocking

    Best.

    I heart this post. <3 forevs!

    I just made a list (just starting) of the authors you listed above, and while I can’t buy from everyone (diva’s about to be furloughed) I will definitely make a few purchases and hit the library up!

    No David Weber? Elizabeth Moon? I mean, sure, it’s Mili SF, but still. Dang good stories.

  • Oh, how disappointing. He’s one of my favorite writers. Damn.

  • Jonquil

    Your footnotes brighten my life. (not least the rad use of HTML/Javascript/whatever).

    You are so right, and so righteous, and so hilarious all at the same time.

  • Fran Walker

    ROFL! I know racism and sexism aren’t funny, but I can’t stop giggling.

    This is Yet Another Book I won’t buy. On the other hand, I’ve found the book reviews at 50_poc *very* helpful and about half the books I buy now come from that list. So thanks again for the good work that y’all do.

  • Lysana

    Oh, dear gods, YES. And it’s a good thing I never really started reading Paul di Filippo or I might have to stop now.

  • Huey

    Y’know, as a white male, I _try_ to be an ally — and I accept that no one has a responsibility to teach me how to do this but myself — but every time I see something like this, or that idiot Officer Justin “banana-eating jungle monkey” Barrett (who today sued the city of Boston for suspending him, under the theory that they’ve violating his Constitutional Rights, presumably Bill of Rights Article e^(pi*i), “The right to be a racist police officer”) it just makes me want to turn in my white male card.

    One of the hardest lessons I ever had to learn was taught to me by my grandmother, who said “There will always be stupid people, and sometimes, those people will be in positions of power.” Every so often, life hands me a painful reminder of this.

  • Auntie Wend

    LOL. I love that you have an actual category tag for “waving your ass in public”

  • [dave]

    GENIUS reponse.

  • Everyone who is interested in this issue from a feminist perspective (and yes there are indeed other quite legitimate perspectives to take in here): I would love to receive thoughtful commentary for the Think section of the Broad Universe Broadsheet web magazine along the lines of how far women writers in the sf/f/h genres have come (or perhaps not, given this discussion!). We pay for contributions we accept for publication. Sorry for the advertisement, but my goal is to connect with people who have something to say on this topic and offer yet another URL opportunity to spread some thoughtful discussion.

  • BC Holmes

    Brilliant!

  • Wow — I hadn’t seen that TOC or those comments until I read your post. Just … ohmygawd… Thank you for finding words for something that has made me speechless.

    I have many favorite ABW posts, and this one is now high on the list. (And not just because I adore footnotes.)

  • Katie

    This is SO GREAT. Too bad it actually had to happen for it to be fisked so damn hard.

  • Satyrblade

    Well, Paul – as an editor myself, I can say that your comments (and the poor manners and writing displayed therein) assure that you will never appear on the TOC of any book I have anything to do with.

    As for this “mammoth” book, I can only shake my head and agree with Shira Lipkin’s comment. No Le Guin? No Cherryh? No Butler, Delany nor even Harlan Fucking Ellison? This book fails on every imaginable level. Sheesh!

  • ROFLMAO. Tears falling from my eyes I laugh so hard.

    Full disclosure: I have read some Paul Di Filippo stories (Ribofunk) and much enjoyed them. But wow. This is more better fun.

    Nothing else substantial to say. Just, thank you, Tempest.

  • Placebo

    Listen, Paul, I have something very important to say: FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE

    LMAO!!! Best part. I got more pleasure out of that than you will ever know. I remember the last time I told some dude to “fuck off” on the internet; he accused me of being a quote “bulldyke”. Ahhh.. white heterosexual males love their labels. After all, it helps to detract from the issue being discussed. Very classic deflection.

    Anyhow, you’re awesome, and I’m inspired to create a blog of my own, even though I know it will never be as good as yours. :)

  • smonkey

    Wow,
    1)awesome post
    2)don’t judge poor paul too harshly, he’s an amazing short story writer tho he does wander into heinlein like super-sexual girl fiction sometimes. We should all remember, its the internet and flames just pop from one’s mouth sometimes.
    3)did I mention, awesome post

  • smonkey

    hmm…
    I realize my above comment was rather trite and perhaps I should say a bit more.
    I am a huge fan of Paul and have read just about everything he’s had published in a book or anthology. That’s more to establish my cred and full disclosure than to say I know more than y’all.

    I would say, based on my readings of his work, that Paul is of the “male id” style of writing. A bit like ’70s counterculture cartoons in that he’ll roll with what he’s going with whether or not it pisses some people off. And I’m sure it often does. His protagonists are often curmudgeonly middle aged males caught up in a science fiction world gone awry and they usually meet hot women in the process (often finding love, sometimes not so much). Does he identify with this antihero stereotype? Perhaps.

    In this theme I suspect he riles at people suggesting that one should make attempts at being intentionally inclusive. Just a guess of course, but I would argue that it irks him to think that the editor should second guess his choices.

    I’ve always felt that his work reads a bit like R. Crumb comics. Sexist? Anit-Semetic? Very possibly. Or perhaps just an attempt to express his white male Id. And don’t forget, nobody’s got a pretty Id.

    I’m not defending his above quoted post (as its pretty damn annoying) but I thought I’d throw in my 5 cent profile of him.

    And if you haven’t read his “Steampunk Trilogy” you really must. It is some amazing stuff (including a very odd skewering of 18th century racist creationist naturalists and H.P. Lovecraft)

  • So, basically, what he’s saying is…. “It’s not racist/sexist! It’s a good-old-boys club! There’s a difference! The difference is… um. Corn! And potatoes.”

    What. the. fuck.

    Brilliant commentary and footnotes on a ridiculously awful set of statements. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go do an epic facepalm.

  • Man, your summary is spot on.

    Looking over that TOC, all I can say is: what the fuck?

    Seriously, that anthology sucks. Parochial doesn’t even begin to cover it. A lot of the best short stories written – including by the “mindblowing” criterion – aren’t there, even the ones written by white men who happen not to be American or British. (Greg Egan not on that list? Are you fucking KIDDING me?) All other things aside, I suspect the editor’s mind is too small and too easily blown, and he just can’t handle the genuinely brilliant mindblowing sf that gets written.

  • Ralph

    Haha, it’s funny to see how you fail to understand anything Paul says! Maybe because you’re so intensely man-hating?

    This is a sad, unintelligent discussion.

    :(

  • Yehuda

    Hi.
    You don’t know me but I want to apologize for an assumption I made.
    I got here from Tor.com, read this post and assumed that you were exaggerating the content and tone of Paul Di Filippo’s responses, because…well, look at them.
    So I went to the original thread.
    Holy crap. Word for moronic word.

    Therefore, I apologize for my assumption. I also really like your annotation.

    • Part of the mind-blogglingness of this whole thing IS Paul’s overthetop reaction, which is why I wanted to reproduce it here completely. Summarizing just wouldn’t do it justice. But yeah, it’s always good to include a link back to the source so people can see how much I am not exaggerating at all.

  • I’m not a science fiction fan, but I can’t help but have this little thought experiment. Can you imagine having an edited volume of short stories which only included women writers, or writers of color, and calling it ‘The mammoth book of mind-blowing science fiction’? No way. It would be “the mammoth book of women’s science fiction” or make some reference to race/ethnicity. But men have no gender, white people have no race in these matters. I remember being at a folk festival in the UK a few years ago and on one evening the bands headlining both the concert and dance tents were all women bands. No ‘Ladies’ Night’, no qualification. They just happened to be excellent bands. Now, that seemed like progress to me.

  • Oops, sorry for html fail.

  • I’m not a science fiction fan, but I can’t help but have this little thought experiment. Can you imagine having an edited volume of short stories which only included women writers, or writers of color, and calling it ‘The mammoth book of mind-blowing science fiction’? No way. It would be “the mammoth book of women’s science fiction” or make some reference to race/ethnicity. But men have no gender, white people have no race in these matters.

    I remember being at a folk festival in the UK a few years ago and on one evening the bands headlining both the concert and dance tents were all women bands. No ‘Ladies’ Night’, no qualification. They just happened to be excellent bands. Now, that seemed like progress to me.

  • thorn

    who the hell is paul di filippo, and why was he talking just then?

  • This. Is. Brilliant. Thank you for making the most delicious wine from PDF’s sour grapes.

  • Mind blowing sf that employs unusual hard science?

    Didn’t a woman win all kinds of awards for doing this in a group of stories published in Analog, the world famous mindblowing magazine that publishes hard as a rock and gettin’ harder science fiction, and then together in a book titled Falling Free, published by that hard as steel publisher, Baen?

    O wait, that was engineering, not science. O wait though, there was biology. O wait, that’s a soft squishy girlie science.

    Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.

    Love, C.

  • So very good of him to mansplain!

  • nunya

    “reading the same literary voice/perspective all the time can get boring, dry, stale, repetitive, suffocating, and ultimately redundant.”

    So this book (whatever it is), is now the sum total of all literary output? Damn, must be nice to be whomever these fucks are. I’ve never heard of any of them.

    What part of don’t buy it if you don’t like it don’t you people understand?

    Don’t *read* it even, if you don’t like it.

    It’s a free country.

    Also, why the fuck are you trying to tell other people what to do?

    It’s their money, labor, and love. You have no right to tell others who to love, or how to spend their money, or who they need to work for, sweat for, or bleed for.

    I’ll read whatever is good, and I barely keep track of who the authors are, because I could care less.

    Life is a do-acracy. If you don’t like what’s going on, then fucking make/do something better. Geee-sus.

    Think, with all this time wasted whining about someone else, you could’ve made something I would’ve cared to read – even if you’ve got a vagina, or purple skin. Go make something better. Do it now. If it’s interesting, I’ll even read it.

  • Josh Jasper

    If Paul shows up at a KGB reading, I swear to shit, I will sit at some other table, call it the “adult table” and move the designation and myself elsewhere if he tries to join me.

    Can we have a “Adult table, no Paul Di Filippos allowed” sign? I’d pay to get that shit laminated.

  • Thank you for publishing this. It is absolutely fantastic! And I will never buy anything Paul di Filippo has ever written or contributed to, ever.

    So, would you like your internet gift wrapped? Because you have just won it.

  • Karrin Jackson

    Absolutely brilliant.

  • Josh Jasper

    Nuya – What part of don’t buy it if you don’t like it don’t you people understand?

    Don’t *read* it even, if you don’t like it.

    It’s a free country.

    Also, why the fuck are you trying to tell other people what to do?

    I missed the part where anyone told anyone what to do. Di Filippo seems to have read that missing passage too. Is it written in magical pixels that you have to slay the twin dragons of reason and decency to be able to see?

    It’s their money, labor, and love. You have no right to tell others who to love, or how to spend their money, or who they need to work for, sweat for, or bleed for.

    Perhaps you have to sweat blood for money in order to see the magical pixels. If I was sweating blood for money, I’d probably hallucinate too. Have you considered seeing a doctor?

    Life is a do-acracy. If you don’t like what’s going on, then fucking make/do something better. Geee-sus.

    Or perhaps it’s too much un-shielded exposure to Ayn Rand at John Birch Society meeting? That too can make you sweat blood. Sadly, there’s no cure for that.

  • Girl, I’m not gonna lie. When I read #29, I jizzed. in. my. pants.

  • Here via Tor. This is a great post and I’ve linked from Wyrdsmiths. Put me down as another white male f&sf author who thinks the composition of that TOC is seriously screwed up and who is frankly appalled by Paul Di Filippo’s response.

  • dejla

    I love you so much.

  • Emily Millay Haddad

    You are beyond brilliant. Thank you for taking this bullshit apart piece by piece. I know you’ve done it before…I hate that you’ll probably have to do it again…but I am grateful for your words here and now. When you took off your earrings, I knew what was coming — and your listing of authors brought tears to my eyes. Damn right.

  • Harpy nailed it.

    If it were all women or all POC’s it would be qualified by that label.

    That ALL white men isn’t called the The Mammoth Book of White Men’s Mindblowing SF again speaks to that pesky little notion that being a white male is the “norm”, the default state of being and so represents everybody, just fine…

    …ONLY WHITE MEN can do this, mind you.

    And there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong that. /sarcasm

  • Lesley

    I wonder if there’s been much discussion on the racist implications behind the Drow (or dark/black elves) in the Forgotten Realms books (also affiliated with Dungeons & Dragons). I haven’t thought about those books in ages, but all the posts about POC in fantasy/sci-fi reminded me of it.

    Drow elves became popular with R.A Salvatore’s “good” Drow elf named Drizzt, and the many many books about him. The books do into detail about how the Drow, who have black skin and hate all the other (re: white) elves, are eeeeeevil sons-o-bitches who routinely try to enslave, slaughter, or just generally go to war with opposing family Houses. Also, the women flog the men with whips and have orgies. A lot.

    Anyway, sorry for the slightly off-topic post. I wanted to write this down before I forgot about it.

  • aedifica

    Ew ew ew! I admit I haven’t read all the comments here (just the most recent page) so someone may have addressed this already, but:

    a potato field is not likely to contain corn plants. A pine forest might feature an oak or three, but be 99% pine trees…My ream of copy paper is all white, with no sheets of lettuce included

    Did he not notice how skeevy these examples are? That a potato field isn’t supposed to contain corn plants, and thus by analogy he’s saying that a SF anthology ISN’T SUPPOSED TO contain works by women and POC? That works by women and POC would be something to be weeded out, like a corn plant would be weeded out of a potato field?

    Ugh.

  • Rhube

    I… think you’re my new hero. I found this via Fandom Wank, which I mostly cruise for light relief. But this is glorious. You say everything I wish I could have the words for and the guts to articulate. Consider your blog favourited. I shall be poking about to see what else you have written.

  • I’ve had a standing rule for years that I try to avoid anything edited by Mike Ashley for exactly this reason, and I’m appalled by the idea that Paul Di Filippo thinks it’s OK (another author for my don’t read list, I guess). In response to some other commenters: editorial comments by MA in some of his earlier anthologies suggest that he would think the cornfield analogy a good one, and really believes that the presence of non-white-male people in SF/F drags the field down. Personally, I think the presence of MA in the field drags it down, but hey….

  • via Fandom Wank!

    OMG YOU’RE SO AWESOME. I TOTALLY LOVE HOW WITH ASTOUNDING CLARITY YOU JUST DEMOLISH HIS BULLSHIT AND TRASH HIM TO LITTLE LITTLE PIECES.

    I AM IN LOVE.

  • you rule!!!!!!!!! You should read Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series and see how she handles a black detective named Alcie Beck was it? I want you to tell me what you think of his character descritpion by the protagonist!

  • gardnerhill

    Funny he should talk of vegetables. I’ve been doing my best to wish Paul into the cornfield ever since I’ve read this thing…

    Thank you for getting angry in such intelligent, articulate, terms; it’s a gift I lack. Maybe I’ll show up at a con with this prick carrying a potato and a sling.

  • Kenneth Cavness

    I mean, seriously — I don’t understand the responses from those who support this travesty of an anthology. Apparently, the only way women and people of color can be expected to be included in anthologies is if they specificially are labelled as “diverse” or something along those lines.

    The mind scarcely has the courage to boggle.

  • MsDuck

    May I just say that you are seriously, seriously awesome? Because you seriously, seriously are. :D

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