Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Narrow Perspectives and Suppressed Writing

There’s an interesting article that just ran in the latest issue of Uncanny:

The Call of the Sad Whelkfins: The Continued Relevance of How To Suppress Women’s Writing

Here is the section that caught my attention:

The sad whelkfins seek to return to a non–existent past, when science fiction was a walled garden of boys’ adventure stories. They see the growing presence and prominence of women in genre fiction as a failure to properly keep the gates; refusing to acknowledge that their narrow perspective has never captured the entire picture.

While the whelkfins have a long tradition of gatekeeping and excluding people from the science fiction community, their walls have never been an inherent part of the community. Women of all races and people of color of all genders have been writing genre fiction since its earliest days. Women of color invented genre fiction, and a white woman wrote the first science fiction novel. The walls didn’t start going up until men began to codify science fiction—long after women established the genre.

Those walls don’t belong in the community. The whelkfins have to constantly maintain and rebuild them as they perpetually crumble into the cesspits upon which they’re built.

The current patchwork of walls is built out of double–standards and false categorizations that allow the whelkfins to draw their arbitrary aesthetic lines: in here are the “good stories” that center them and their perspectives and conform closely enough to their politics to not be categorized out as “message fiction.” Out there is everything else, beating tirelessly against the walls; trying to “take over”—simply by existing. By unapologetically taking up space, and by gleefully accepting well–earned awards and recognition for artistic merit.

The sad whelkfins seek to return to a non–existent past, when science fiction was a walled garden of boys’ adventure stories.

Let’s examine just this one sentence. If you say “boy’s adventure stories”, then I can only assume you’re talking about the strain of science fiction and fantasy literature that was made famous by Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, Leigh Brackett, and Andre Norton. It’s some seriously great stuff, well worth reading today.

The authors of this essay refer to this period of sff history as “a non–existent past”. They also call it “a walled garden”. I’m not sure what they’re getting at exactly, but in any case, this period of sff history really did happen and it was considered a first class element of the genre at least through the seventies. Was it a “walled garden”? I don’t think so. When you read about Robert E. Howard desperately seeking some means of making a sale, trying almost every permutation of theme and character and tone to find something that editors would be willing to pay for… it simply sounds like a terribly tough time. But that cutthroat market was the same one that C. L. Moore could succeed in, to the point of getting cover stories with top billing.

So what, then, are these essayists talking about…? Well I have no idea, really. I mean they wrote it, but it doesn’t make any sense. Sift out the nonsense and the projection and there’s just not a whole lot there. They object to people differentiating between good stories and bad stories even as they labor to demarcate the line between good fans and bad fans.


35 responses to “Narrow Perspectives and Suppressed Writing

  1. Chris Mata November 6, 2015 at 10:19 am

    What are the OSR stats for a Sad Whelfkin?

  2. Louis J. Desy Jr. November 6, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Control of anyone’s writing?

    How can anyone’s writing be controlled today? The only thing you have to do to ‘write’ is to have a computer, Microsoft Word, and an internet connection to upload your writing to Amazon’s Kindle Publishing, and self publish?

    Anyone can publish anything they want to on Amazon’s platform.

    Louis J. Desy Jr.

  3. Cirsova November 6, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    “Women of color invented genre fiction” is definitely one of those “citation needed” statements.

    • jeffro November 6, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      It gets a pass because you can say what you want as long as you are attacking the approved targets.

      • Cirsova November 6, 2015 at 2:11 pm

        I’m actually curious as to what criteria they’re using, because as a lit student, the ‘first this’ and ‘first that’ would often be tossed around in regards to works and authors, and yeah, they would be technically true if you used a very specific set of criteria.

        For instance, Murasaki Shikibu’s Tale of Genji sometimes gets tossed around as “the first novel” so long as you apply rather Victorian definitions of what is and is not a novel to a nearly 1000 year old work written completely outside of the literary tradition granting it that honor and jump through other hoops like tossing Apuleius out because it was structured more episodically like a Rhymer penny dreadful than the a Dickens serial.

        So, I mean, yeah, I’m sure they think they have some example that when shoe-horned into a certain range of parameters they can make a case for their claim, but I’d sure like to know what it is.

        I mean, I’ll step out on a limb and claim that Sumerians invented the potboiler, but I’ll at least drop this link:

  4. jlv61560 November 6, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    It’s not actually intended to convince anyone of anything, but rather to reinforce the sense of “other” against those who the author disagrees with — it’s a long, despairing scream by a SJW who realizes that the Sad Puppies have actually begun to gain ground and that the leftists are suddenly beginning to lose the cultural war they chose to start. In the process, the author goes about launching ad hominem attacks, making false statements of fact, drawing false parallels, arguing strawmen, and, in short, committing every logical and intellectual fallacy it’s possible to commit in a single page. Had this individual been required to attend college back in the days when they still tried to educate you, this screed would have received an “F-” for every single sentence in there. I’d accuse the author of stupidity, but it’s clear it was written out of malice, not ignorance, so there’s that.

    • Xxx November 7, 2015 at 7:22 am

      …like The Time Machine didn’t address the ‘us and them’ of then and isn’t the same ‘us and them’ relevance today?…

      Politics isn’t in another space time continuum completely separate from this one and nor is class division which is a matter of fact. Gender disparity is a matter of fact. Gender disparity happens because of a divisive process. Class division is the divisive process. And no matter how perfectly someone ‘s impression of an ostrich with just one bucket of sand is the elephant is in the middle of the room and only those in denial of reality can’t/wont see it.

      • jlv61560 November 7, 2015 at 1:19 pm

        Strawman much? I was talking about the drivel written by that SJW over on Uncanny. You apparently can’t read and therefore want to argue about the value of the classic SF authors. While you are certainly entitled to your own ignorant and unfounded opinion (in fact, I gave twenty years of my life to protect your right to hold an ignorant and unfounded opinion), you can’t seriously expect that I’ll waste my time engaging a pig in a mud-wrestling contest. You spend way too much time living rent-free in conservative and religious people’s heads.

      • Trimegistus November 7, 2015 at 5:31 pm

        So what are you doing to help women match men’s suicide rate?

      • BobtheCertifiedIdiot November 7, 2015 at 8:23 pm

        Leftism is just a disguise created by confederate revanchists to hide and promote white supremacism.
        Every text imbued with leftist thought is an instrument of terror and repression against minorities.
        Third wave inter-sectional feminism is a thinly disguised version of recapitulation.
        Feminine empowerment is a code word for racial violence.

      • Xxx November 8, 2015 at 12:07 pm

        “I gave twenty years of my life to protect your right…”
        no you didn’t so don’t give me your bullshit. Volunteers are gamblers and conscripts are slaves. You can nice that up and big that up as much as you like but it doesn’t change reality.

      • jlv61560 November 8, 2015 at 10:27 pm

        “Xxx November 8, 2015 at 12:07 pm

        “I gave twenty years of my life to protect your right…”
        no you didn’t so don’t give me your bullshit. Volunteers are gamblers and conscripts are slaves. You can nice that up and big that up as much as you like but it doesn’t change reality.”

        And psuedo-intellectuals are mindless sheep unable to aspire to the higher aspects of humanity. With all due respect, fuck you. You never have sacrificed anything for anyone other than yourself, nor have you ever risen to anything even marginally classifiable as a “higher calling,” and therefore your hippy-slippy regurgitation is merely typical of the sort of egotistical lack of social skills that we’ve come to know and love from our self-described “betters.”

    • Xxx November 8, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      “…about launching ad hominem attacks, making false statements of fact, drawing false parallels, arguing strawmen,…”

      yourself. your projection. you. ‘S’ for simpleton.

      • jlv61560 November 8, 2015 at 10:39 pm

        Hey, I know! Maybe you can insult my mom, or say something like “I’m rubber and you’re glue…” next! So far, that’s what your responses have amounted to.

        I get it, you don’t like anyone who stands to the right of Che Guevara (who was an enormously demented coward and sadist, much like most lefty heroes), but really, as one of my self-proclaimed social and intellectual betters, I really expected something more coherent than this anguished scream of “Nuh-uh, you are!” by way of a counter-argument. But then, so far you’ve resorted to strawman attacks, name calling, outright contempt for others, pseudo-intellectualism, and in short have been steadily working your way down Mr. Correia’s Internet Arguing Checklist for Leftists.

        It’s funny, by the way, that you are now taking my response to Jeffro’s original post as a personal attack on you. So far, you’ve constantly assumed everything said here was all about you. In effect, sir or madam, you’ve completely proven my point. Have a nice day.

      • BobtheCertifiedIdiot November 9, 2015 at 12:19 am

        In fairness, my ‘feminism is racial violence’ talking point didn’t exactly raise the level of discourse. That said, given that 1) feminism somehow makes Planned Parenthood an urgent priority 2) Sanger’s explicit goal 3) the disparate impact of Planned Parenthood on minorities and the poor 4) that fifty million isn’t exactly chump change for racial murder, I’m not actually sure that it is wrong.

        In which case, in addition to mirroring their arguments, it might not be wrong to consider thirty to be some sort of racist.

      • jlv61560 November 9, 2015 at 1:07 am

        Bob — I seriously believe you’re on to something. After all, aren’t extreme “environmentalists” really just expressing a desire for mass genocide — as long as they get to pick who lives and who dies, at any rate?

        And isn’t that exactly what PP and all the other baby butchers are all about?

    • Xxx November 8, 2015 at 11:51 pm

      thank you for confirming all the right wing has to offer is disdain. I’m so pleased to be able to tell you I’m not in your tribe or the other one you are referring to and that watching you tied to your fixed point going round in ever decreasing circles is amusing. The obvious conclusion of your doing exactly what you accuse others of doing will cause very real scientists to ponder whether you can escape your own event horizon.
      Meanwhile in the real world women are indeed oppressed by gender disparity which is generated by the class system. And since the cracks of division run fractally through all of society such absurd division is not to our species benefit. It impedes social currency which is what the invention called money rides on the back of. It impedes quality communication and thus amplifies the dumbing down process.
      You just don’t have to be lost in a binary ping pong universe (left right left right left right etc.) to see the effects of excessive division but you do have to be a moron to willfully ignore that which is manifestly evident. When the inclusive process is overwhelmed to such an extent that social cohesion is gone the survival optimum obtained from survival in numbers is also gone. So also since the inclusive process, culture, is necessary for social currency and social currency is necessary for monetary currency so too has the economy gone. Too much division is a decultivating process and oops there goes another empire.
      But you just carry on with your worn out anti lefty froth after all communism failed…
      to drive our species over the brink of the ecological abyss
      but capitalism is bang on course…

      just saying as they say.

      • jlv61560 November 9, 2015 at 1:02 am

        Allow me to summarize; “Bigot, blah, blah, blah, run-on sentences, discredited liberal psycho-babble, standard Marxism 101, name calling, blah, blah, blah, strawman erection and destruction, blah, blah, blah, more run-on sentences…. *sigh* You HAVE reached maximum Correia argument levels! Congrats. I just wish it were all a little less predictable.

    • Xxx November 9, 2015 at 2:46 am

      Everything you accuse others of you do yourself.
      What’s it like being a living cliche?

      • jlv61560 November 9, 2015 at 3:01 am

        “The lack of self-awareness in this one is strong, Luke!”

        “Plus, he/she/it continues to respond to the voices in his/her/its head instead of what I actually write, Obi-Wan!”

        “Well, he/she/it IS a poo-flinging monkey, Luke, so we must make allowances for him/her/it.”

        “Must we, Obi-Wan?”

        “No, not really.”

  5. Xxx November 7, 2015 at 7:13 am

    so much science fiction is and has been political.
    fiction exists to make unpalatable truths palatable and the author immune to ‘having their head cut off by the king’.
    There’ll never be gender parity withing the class system. A point addressed by some of the best of science fiction. The best literature being timeless and relevant to now for the future does not exist and has never existed and never will exist as a matter of fact.
    The piece of article quoted above makes sense to me. Most pulp science fiction of the era referred to is a load of boys own wank. I don’t and didn’t see much of that extremely low quality shite science fiction being written by women.

    • jeffro November 7, 2015 at 7:31 am

      Would you classify Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett as “boys own wank”?

      • Xxx November 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

        would you describe The Time Machine as boys own wank? or The Machine Stops as boys own wank? or 1984 as boys own wank? all male writers too… yet something more than the hero/saviour story trope tendency bias which is redolent of the rocket-science/science-fetish priapism of a particular era.
        We are talking about bias and balance are we not? Not absolutes which are absurdly perfect absurdities… or something.
        I mean to say glass ceiling is a middle class euphemism for class ceiling and gender disparity within social classes is a result of the class system. Them up there and them down there being a major part of The Time Machine, The Machine Stops and 1984. I have no doubt Edgar Rice Boroughs used the sci-fi genre to point to that elephant in the middle of the room no? So why, in particular, the examples chosen by you?
        I would say excessive social division to the point of reducing culture consequentially reducing our species survival optimum is what they all have thematically in common. either foreground or background to greater or lesser degree.
        I think the repression of women’s writing is systemic although I don’t think the two people concerned and referred to in the article above put their case too well.
        btw I’m not a writer. My pyslexia makes all of this a chore to me so I rarely respond to blogs.

      • jlv61560 November 8, 2015 at 10:18 pm

        Wait. YOU’RE the one that described all cisnormative pre-1980’s pulp sci-fi as “boys-own wank,” and “The Time Machine” was the ultimate pulp of its day. So are you now saying you changed your mind?

        And, just for the record, pulling whole sentences out of some social-justice text extracted from your local “Male White Guilt” course really isn’t something that improves your point, whatever it was. All it really does is convince us that you haven’t got any idea what you’re talking about and have resorted to “pseudo-intellectual babble” in order to distract from your lack of an actual point.

    • Trimegistus November 7, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Why are you trying to suppress people who don’t agree with you, then?

    • BobtheCertifiedIdiot November 7, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      Your racism is disgusting. Perhaps you should take your HoRaWa nonsense and go back home to Storm Front, your home.

    • jeffro November 8, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      You didn’t answer my question directly.

      It sounds as if you not only hold Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett in contempt, but their target audiences as well. Maybe I have you wrong, though. You’re not coherent enough for me to parse what you’re actually saying.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool November 8, 2015 at 4:08 pm

        It condenses to a combination of ‘men are bad’ and leftist bitching about the capacity for social cooperation.

        All social animals have hierarchy. The only alternative is a bunch of dispersed individuals too dysfunctional for social interaction.

        So, in addition to being racist, in thirty’s perfect ‘society’, thirty would die alone and unprotected.

        Thirty’s terrible reading and terrible writing is matched with terrible thinking. Thirty must communicate so poorly that the poor dear is already very near being that alone. Bless her heart.

      • Xxx November 9, 2015 at 12:34 am

        why did you pick those two examples?

      • Xxx November 9, 2015 at 12:35 am

        those two being significant in what way?

      • Xxx November 9, 2015 at 12:57 am

        What I said isn’t that difficult to understand. Pretending it is is disingenuous to say the least.
        As for the Morlocks and the Eloi isn’t that a critique of and warning of the possible consequences of excessive disparity? The time machine is after all just a MacGuffin to get us there.
        As for your saying that novel was pulp of it’s day…. pfff. No.
        Pulp of that era was as simple as jlv61560.
        Now I am genuinely interested in why you threw Boroughs and Brackett at the ‘boys own wank’ descriptive. Why did you do that? Why those two in particular?

      • jlv61560 November 9, 2015 at 1:22 am

        Xxx said: “As for your saying that novel was pulp of it’s day…. pfff. No.
        Pulp of that era was as simple as jlv61560.”

        And, I rest my case. The first two “sentences” prove this person has failed to read any pulp of the era (and perhaps of any era) as well as being lacking in any ability to comparatively analyze much of anything. The second sentence proves that he/she/it’s got nothing and has now gone back to item #2 on Mr. Correia’s list; “Disqualify that Opinion.” The only item on the list that we have yet to actually see is “concern trolling,” but can that be far off? It’ll probably take the form of a threat to boycott Jeffro because we were so “racist” and “unwelcoming” when this twit decided to insult and dismiss us as unenlightened heathens that rejected his/her/it’s self-sacrificing attempt to show us the true path to universal love, or something.

        We have now reached peak ignorance with this commenter and are actually all now slightly dumber than we were before for having engaged in a battle of wits with an obvious poo-flinging monkey.

      • Xxx November 9, 2015 at 1:51 am

        “It sounds as if you not only hold Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett in contempt, but their target audiences as well.”

        Does it? If it does to you then that is your own projection. I haven’t actually pointed at any particular writers so you are the one associating Burroughs and Brackett with ‘boys own wank’.
        I don’t really hold anything in contempt. I’m more the mind of more or less useful. I leave contempt to the boring leftyrighty rightylefty frothers. Y’know the ones who start foaming at the mouth when ever anything complex confronts them. People who think in binary just sound like machines to me. It’s the way they fearfully abreact to intelligent people that is bizarrely fascinating and amusing. It’s like they didn’t get further than slapstick for laughs.
        So why did YOU launch Boroughs and Brackett at the ‘boys own wank’ descriptive?

  6. BobtheCertifiedIdiot November 9, 2015 at 12:51 am

    So what are you doing to help women match men’s suicide rate?


    Growing up, I invented something that was similar to being for children and against adults what feminism is for women and against men. This is part of why I consider feminists hypocrites who compromise on rape. Feminists are too moderate and not radical enough.

    The ideology I developed, frankly, was not compatible with peace of mind or living a normal life. If I hadn’t been blessed with a strong mind and guidance on maintaining mental health, I would have done myself a lot more harm.

    So it seems quite plausible to me that feminism can be harmful to mental health. Add in that many young people have so poor a foundation in science and medicine that they don’t appreciate the potential dangers of self-medication. A feminist who spends their adulthood in a intellectual echo chamber might develop problems, then makes them worse with self-medication or recreational drug use. After some decades, she probably has an elevated risk of death by suicide or OD.

    If this is correct, we should be seeing results with recent cohorts in ten to fifteen years. Which means our friend thirty here may be doing more to increase the female suicide rate than the rest of us combined.

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