Reading this piece by Jon Del Arroz about alleged anti-male bias in SF&F made me think about two events of my life which bear on this issue. Jon’s point –and the numbers he presents seem to support his claim– is that there is an anti-male bias in some parts of the short story market (and probably also in others.) I think that’s plausible, and there are some obvious examples like Tor.com or Uncanny. However, the problem goes deeper than that, and the alleged anti-maleness may be just an unfortunate consequence of an even more indelible bias than merely avoiding stories by testosterone-poisoned individuals. Let me tell you about two things that happened when I was young, so you get an idea of what I’m talking about.
After a long struggle, the paperback version of my book, “Dangerous Gamers,” is available. Now you can read my
ramblings critique of the new over-bloated class of cultural commentators and their latest controversies concerning allegedly violent, sexist, and racist media, including entertainment and (video) games.
The final version (1.2) of my book, Dangerous Gamers, is available. Typos and some odd grammar constructions have been fixed. To ease reading, the formatting of the e-book is now as close as possible to how it is going to look in the paperback version. If everything goes well, that should be available next week. I have already bought one proof copy to see how it looks. There shouldn’t be any problem, but there may be some complications with the stupid cover (curse you, KDP and CreateSpace!) which is why the book isn’t available yet.
I also have added a few extra “mini-chapters.” This is stuff that, for one reason or another, I failed to add to the original version. It’s not essential material, but it’s stuff that helps to get the point across:
-A few paragraphs about the influence of globalization and foreign (i.e., non-American) markets in the content and criticism of mass culture. That’s something that’s actually very important since the business of politicizing culture is, well, a business in the English-speaking world, but it’s also inextricably linked to marketing and consumption, which nowadays is global. I added this at the end of Chapter 1, starting at “The questions and issues I talk about in this book cannot be…“
-The inevitable suckiness of “political” or “message” fiction, explained by pointing out at their extremely short and shallow range of emotional expression, meaning that the protagonists and characters are humans in name only. Unlike other chapters, where my point is mostly about unnecessary or misplaced content and readings (“this shouldn’t belong in entertainment and games”) here I explicitly mention that the narratives of politicized storytelling are false since they are a gross mutilation of human nature.
I added this part at the end of chapter 12, starting at “The problem with so-called “political” stories is not…” and it may be one of the best parts of the book.
-A few paragraphs about the importance of “nicotine” and “poisoning” metaphors when talking about media effects. Those appear at the beginning of chapter 20 (or Part 2, Chapter 4 in the paperback version)
Unless I come across another minor issue (probably a typo or some annoying comma that refuses to stay where it should be,) I won’t make any more updates until (and if) I make a second edition.
Now you can buy the final version of the best book out there about the politicized commentators of games and entertainment and our contemporary moral panics. Why the best? Well, because I say so and, besides, it’s the only one.
My DRM-free ebook, “Dangerous Gamers: The Commentariat and its war against video games, imagination, and fun,” is available on Amazon. Currently, it’s only in ebook format, but I intend to upload a paperback version as soon as possible (Amazon is giving me problems with the formatting of the Table of Contents and a few footnotes, and I need a new and better cover.)
Edit: The book has been updated (grammar, typos, etc.,) be sure that your version (in the “copyright” page) is at least version
1.1. 1.2 If it isn’t, turn the autoupdates on.
There is something missing in the big conversation about the current and future state of sff. Well, I’m sure there are many things, but I will focus on one.
Some of the people I read and follow claim that what is needed is to go back to the more pulpish roots of the genre, with AD&D’ Appendix N (not exactly pulp, but still, close enough) being a great starting point to know more about those now-forgotten or ignored classics. Some even read the editorials and interviews from old magazines to better understand the cultural zeitgeist of that era. Now, Appendix N may very well be a fundamental document of a bygone age, but it’s not like its author (Gary Gygax) died, struck down by a malignant curse in the prime of his life, just after penning his sacred doctrine.
What the title says.
There is no great sword & sorcery adventure without exploration and discovery. Exploration requires wilderness, and wilderness implies a negation of the World-Building (“everything needs to be mapped and known”) ethos in sff. Adventures require tension, and tension is impossible if everything is mapped, if civilization is dominant, or if the protagonist can go back to their HQ to resupply and rest. Hence, a vast blank space on the map and danger from wich you cannot escape are required: dungeons, caves, ruins, or being trapped inside a magician’s tower. The hero, if he wants to survive, has no other option but to keep going down.
Because the word “pulp” references the material on which those stories were published (compared to the “slicks,” for example) and not any specific genre or style (beyond the fact that all the stories attempted to be exciting -not a minor trait-) it is sometimes difficult to write about them without misrepresenting the whole phenomenon of the pulps, which was huge and encompassed at least three generations of authors. There is also the problem that most of the writers died many decades before our current literary and cultural controversies (or died too young,) or left the field once they could start writing in more prestigious circles.