The entire sweep of science fiction and fantasy history really does seem to culminate into the phenomenon of role-playing games. And as present as those decades upon decades of stories are in those first generation games… the older works practically vanish with the explosive popularity of things like Star Wars and Shanarra. As much as anything, the first rpgs are a time capsule, preserving a formerly ubiquitous view of science fiction and fantasy in a time when many people are so doctrinaire they unable to read anything from before 1980.
Based on everything they’ve said about her peers, there is simply no way any of these people can be fans of C. L. Moore. Oh, they might have read her decades ago. They may still have a nostalgia for the feelings she evoked in their younger, less worldly-wise selves. But times have changed and at this point she is revered as an icon primarily for her sex and not her work. Were she somehow alive, she couldn’t be published today– just as with Tanith Lee they’d find some excuse to let her manuscripts stack up on her desk. Even when she’s reprinted, she has to be wrapped in a lie. Her work is that problematic. But they’ve turned her into an idol that people genuflect to. They’ll praise her in the abstract, sure. But they won’t read or discuss anyone that writes like her today.
I guess there’s two types of people, really: the type that will roll their eyes at the above remarks because it’s so painfully, tediously obvious. The other type will turn will adjust their monocles, scoff, and then work up their best insults, barbs, condescending remarks.
Why would people get so worked up about stuff like this that they’d get positively nasty about it? Hey, I don’t know. My theory is that the only thing they’ve got going for them, really, is the fact that they won’t let people like me sit at the same lunch table as them. Because of tolerance, exclusivity, and making people feel “welcome” or some such. (No, I don’t get it.)
Anyway, here’s Misha Burnett’s take on this from a while back:
There is a continual rewriting of history to make what is currently popular with the in-crowd to be The Best Thing Ever (for whatever values of “Best” are currently popular with the in-crowd.)
The pronoun usage in the Ancillary books is praised as being new and groundbreaking, which requires people to ignore that Samuel Delany did it in “Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand” which was published in 1984.
All fantasy before the current crop has to be dismissed out of hand as being derivative of Tolkien (and Tolkien dismissed as irredeemably racist, sexist, cis-normative, and so on), which means ignoring Jo Clayton, Ursula K Leguin, Kate Wilheilm, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Andre Norton, and so on, all of whom were writing and publishing in the days when the SF/F market was supposed to be impossible for women to break into.
To go back to Chesterton, in Orthodoxy he talks about the fear of the past, that the insistence on the primacy of modernity is based on an unwillingness to be judged against the greats who have gone before. In SF/F circles I think that’s very literally true–it’s easier to simply dismiss everything than came before than to try to live up to it. (Can you imagine “Redshirts” winning a Hugo if it had been up against “Dune” or “The Left Hand Of Darkness”?)
Your Appendix N series exposed the myth that everything before now is unworthy of consideration. Naturally you’re going to get people who want to shout you down.
And yeah, “exposed the myth that everything before now is unworthy of consideration” is going to be on the dust jacket somewhere. That’s almost as good as a “cyclopean monument to retrofiction.”