Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Pow Wow with the Mad Genius Peeps

A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the past three years. Not everyone has come to the same conclusions, as this post by Brad Torgersen over at Mad Genius Club illustrates.

Dig this exchange from the comments over at the clubhouse:

Jeffro: The problem with this analogy is that around 40% of the reading audience is ether underserved or not being served at all. When these people figure out what been done, that they have a choice… they walk away from the fake and watered down sff creators and they don’t come back.

The industry’s applecart is in the process of being upset. It doesn’t surprise me at all that they feel like a bunch of scrappy outsiders are busting in and shaking them down for their lunch money. Because that’s exactly what’s happening.

They wouldn’t have their position at all if they were able to conceive of another way. So yes… from their vantage point, the pie really is shrinking.

George Phillies: Jeffro, Which 40% did you have in mind, and why? I am not concerned if 40% is an exact number or a WAG.

Jeffro: There is a large number of people that thought “man, I really love me some science fiction and fantasy.” Over the past three decades or so, they dipped into the top tier magazines, said “nothing to see here”, and then went and played video games or tabletop rpgs instead of reading.

Forty percent is the number of people that the media narrative has declared to be irredeemable sexist racist homophobes. It’s no accident that the exceedingly moderate Sad Puppies were tarred with that brush. It also no accident that shows like Vikings, Flash, and Supergirl are completely unwatchable. They are vehicles for the exact same narrative you see in Time, on CNN, The New York Times, etc.

If you want undiluted heroism and romance, you pretty well have to go back to before 1940 and read a bunch of stuff that nobody is talking about. The stuff was synonymous with sff in the seventies but the sff encyclopaedias were subsequently rewritten to downplay, erase, or smear. The literary strain of sff exemplified in works like The Man in High Castle is essentially a repudiation of traditional Western ideals. Edgar Rice Burroughs and Lord Dunsany both are in the same camp as the author of Beowulf. The literary set is at war with that camp.

So yes… when ordinary people go looking for sff… they tend to think it doesn’t exist anymore. And they’re largely correct.

George Phillies: I am not clear what your problem is with Supergirl, which is one of the few TV shows that I watch, but thank you for your polite answer.

Jeffro: You know, I really didn’t want to go there. But I felt you deserved a straight answer to a direct question. Cheers.

Suburban Banshee: Don’t hold back! Tell us what you really think, Jeffro….

Ironically, Dunsany was pretty far out himself at the time he started writing; but he is certainly on the side of poetry and fiction as a binder, not a divider.

Jeffro: Dunsany is an interesting case as he defined fantasy for over half a century. His tales were more explicitly Christian than either Narnia or Middle Earth. Science fiction grandmasters like Poul Anderson and C. L. Moore worked in more or less the same spirit.

The living author whose work most resembles these classic authors…? John C. Wright. “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” would have fit right in with Fifty-One Tales.

Neville Ross: jeffro, pray tell, what’s so wrong with both The Flash & Supergirl? Especially since both as as heroic as they’ve always been? The girl power thing’s been eased up this season, BTW, so that shouldn’t even be a factor anymore.

As for The Man In The High Castle, that novel’s a bulwark of SF-why all the hate? It’s just exploring an alternate history.

Jeffro: You just reduced this:

“The literary strain of sff exemplified in works like The Man in High Castle is essentially a repudiation of traditional Western ideals.”

To “hate.”

You know, I get that I look like I’m really out there to people, but you really need to up your game if you want to talk about this stuff.

Pulp Revolution: Not everybody gets it. Some people really don’t get it.

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4 responses to “Pow Wow with the Mad Genius Peeps

  1. jlv61560 December 17, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    You know, I just want to say, major props to you for continuing to engage them in these discussions. You are both more polite, and more tolerant of nonsense than I am. In my experience, trying to have a reasoned discussion with the people that perpetrate SJW-dom is, to paraphrase Lincoln; “Like shoveling flies across a room.”

  2. Planetary Defense Commander January 14, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Jumping onto this post late, but I think you’re right about casual readers wandering away from sci-fi. I’m motivated enough to write a sci-fi book blog, but I’ve contemplated giving up on sci-fi completely several times, after reading a string of awful novels and/or sci-fi mags.

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