Much as Brad Torgersen argued that his real issue with left-wing specfic isn’t race or politics but how much it hurts the field, so author John Ringo is claimng that Baen Books is the only genre publisher that has consistently grown its sales because it never publishes a book unless it’s a “cracking good tale.” Other companies have chosen to publish politically correct texts by “social justice warriors” (which seems to be the new buzzword for Liberal PC—and may I say that using “social justice” as a pejorative automatically gets my hackles up. Because justice in society is a good thing) and so there sales tank.
Ringo makes multiple points, pretty much all debatable or just plain wrong:
•White males have dominated the arts for centuries. The only possible exception is music, where black artists had talent, but were denied the rewards of their ability.
As with John Wright’s assertion that Europeans produce the most beautiful art, I’m disinclined to accept Ringo’s claim his statement is unquestionable and unassailable. For much of human history, Africa, Asia and South America produced their own art, and many of them still do. Certainly the US as far as I know has dominated the movie and pop music world for a long time, but painting? Sculpture? And manga and anime show Japan is quite capable of cutting into some of our dominance.
I’m not clear whether Ringo is imply whites are actually better than other people, or just that we’ve managed to dominate through racism or business tactics (he declines to get into that). I’m also unclear how this fits into the rest of his post—I’m guessing his theory is that Social Justice Warriors are demanding that publishers rectify white dominance by any means necessary, rather than simply trying to write good books.
•Said warriors care absolutely nothing about anything except whether a piece of fiction conforms to their politics. This is the only reason John Scalzi’s Red Shirts won a Hugo, because while the book isn’t about social justice, Scalzi conforms to all the expected liberal norms, so the SJWs gave him an award.
Evidence? None, other than the fact Scalzi doesn’t like the book. Me, I’ve never read it precisely because it sounds too fan-fic (and not in a good way); even if I thought the same after reading it, what would that prove? As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes awards go to books/movies/plays/TV shows that don’t deserve them. It doesn’t take a conspiracy.
I’d also like to point out that I can find the kind f political correctness Ringo laments very easily on the right wing. Conservative Michael Medved once wrote that he hated recommending a particular movie because he’d heard the screenwriter donated to Democratic candidates. It’s hard to get more PC than that (I have other examples, but not enough space).
•Because other companies are dominated by social-justice books, Baen does better than all of them combined.
Suffice to say John Scalzi and Jason Sanford show that Ringo’s numbers and logic don’t add up: the evidence doesn’t show that Baen is an invincible juggernaut.
And as Scalzi points out, Baen Books has published extremely left-wing and radical Joanna Russ. Also Eric Flint, a self-confessed socialist. So if Baen only publishes cool, exciting stories regardless of politics, apparently SJWs can, in fact, turn out “cracking good tales.” Which kills Ringo’s thesis.
All of which got me wondering, why is it that all these complaints about how politics are fouling the genre never include right-wing tracts? My friend David Bagwell’s Grandchildren of Liberty is loaded with David’s thoughts on the UN, environmentalism, the Constitution and Islam. The Caliphate, by Tom Kratman, warns against Muslims taking over and dominating Western Europe [edited after Kratman left a comment below—I made an invalid assumption]. L. Neil Smith’s novels are long lectures on libertarianism and Terry Goodkind’s Faith of the Fallen devotes half its pages to a bad Ayn Rand knockoff. Larry Niven cowrote Fallen Angels, in which an extremist environmentalist movement takes over the US, shuts down all science and tech and even represses SF because it’s too pro-science.
By Torgersen’s logic (that readers want fun adventures and don’t expect political tracts) these would all be bad books. So why single out the left-wingers?
If I were to guess I’d say the objection is to the politics, not the fiction.
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