Monday, April 28, 2014

Tolerance - the moment between breathing out one orthodoxy and breathing in another...

...hits science fiction.

There was a time when science fiction was a place to explore new ideas, free of the conventional wisdom of staid, "mundane" society, a place where speculation replaced group think, and where writers as different as libertarian-leaning Robert Heinlein, and left-leaning Isaac Asimov and Arthur Clarke would share readers, magazines, and conventions.
But then, there was a time when that sort of openness characterized much of American intellectual life. That time seems to be over, judging by the latest science fiction dust-up. Now, apparently, a writer's politics are the most important thing, and authors with the wrong politics are no longer acceptable, at least to a loud crowd that has apparently colonized much of the world of science fiction fandom.
The Hugo Awards are presented at the World Science Fiction Society's convention ("Worldcon") and nominees and awardees are chosen by attendees and supporters. The Hugo is one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in science fiction, but in recent years critics have accused the award process — and much of science fiction fandom itself — of becoming politicized.
That's certainly been the experience of Larry Correia, who was nominated for a Hugo this year. Correia, the author of numerous highly successful science fiction books like Monster Hunter Internationaland Hard Magic, is getting a lot of flak because he's a right-leaning libertarian. Makes you wonder if Robert Heinlein could get a Hugo Award today. (Answer: Probably not.)
Here's how Correia, writing on his blog, characterizes what's happened since he was nominated:
The libel and slander over the last few days have been so ridiculous that my wife was contacted by people she hasn't talked to for years, concerned that she was married to such a horrible, awful, hateful, bad person, and that they were worried for her safety. I wish I was exaggerating. Don't take my word for it. My readers have been collecting a lot of them in the comments of the previous Hugo post and on my Facebook page. Plug my name into Google for the last few days. Make sure to read the comments to the various articles, too. They're fantastic. ... I've said for a long time that the awards are biased against authors because of their personal beliefs. Authors can either cheerlead for left-wing causes, or they can keep their mouth shut. Open disagreement is not tolerated and will result in being sabotaged and slandered. Message or identity politics has become far more important than entertainment or quality. I was attacked for saying this. I knew that when an admitted right winger got in they would be maligned and politicked against, not for the quality of their art but rather for their unacceptable beliefs.
The ins and outs of politics and science fiction fandom are inside baseball to most people, though lately they've been juicier than usual. But unfortunately, this sort of thing is symptomatic of what's going on in a lot of places these days. Purging the heretics, usually but not always from the left, has become a popular game in a lot of institutions. It just seems worse in science fiction because SF was traditionally open and optimistic about the future, two things that purging the heretics doesn't go with very well.

Does the left even understand that it's engaging in "McCarthyism"?

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