I have been reading an awful lot on the internet recently about the battles going on in the Science Fiction Writer’s Association (SFWA). What really strikes me as bizarre about this battle, between the Liberal and Conservative writers, is how vehemently both sides are attacking the other. I don’t really fit into either political camp. In fact, I would have to start my own party in order to have an organization that fits my views perfectly. I used to call myself a liberal, as I do care about what happens to people in general, and did enough work in social services and as a therapist to see how some people really get the raw end of the deal. But my form of liberalism was very different than what most people seem to subscribe to today. I believed in free thought, a helping hand, equality, not always following the same political line as my Southern Democrat parents. In common sense environmentalism (and yes, I love animals, and don’t really like the idea of species going extinct through our actions. Not against killing a deer that one of millions, but shoot that last snow leopard, and I’m pissed. Don’t agree, too bad. I’m not telling your what to believe, only what I do.) Not marching in lock step with the majority just because they are the majority, not following the party line because the party says you must. I still get aggravated by political emails that tell me I must feel enraged about some decision or other. I can get mad over some of the stupid decisions of politicians on both sides, but I am not in permanent state of rage like some people, and often I can laugh at the things that enrage some other people. I am also pro death penalty, but only for mass murders and killers for hire. The biggest problem I have with putting killers to death was that, if a mistake were made, you could not bring them back. But people who kill many, or for money, can normally be convicted with absolutely no doubt. I was and am still promilitary, which means I think we need a strong military with all of the tech and equipment we can give them. But not that we should sacrifice them for no good reason. I was a soldier myself, and really wouldn’t have liked being sent off to do for something completely stupid for no reason. But the people in charge were smarter than me, you might say. They know what they are doing. And I would have to say that in many cases you are wrong. I was also always strong Second Amendment, having owned a gun since I was nine, and learning to shoot at eight. I still have them, and feel that how many I have is my own business. Now I find myself leaning a little more toward the conservative side, with a libertarian slant., though I probably won’t vote for either major party in the next election. So, what in the hell does this have to do with the battle in Scifi between political persuasions.
Mostly this. I really don’t care what the political persuasion of an author is. I have read works by rabid fascists and card carrying communists. I really didn’t care about their political views, the same as I don’t care much if an actor subscribes to what I consider a nutty religion (most people can guess that one in Hollywood), or was a draft dodger in his youth. I want a good story, plain and simple. A story I can enjoy, with enough detail to make it interesting and believable (or allow me to easily suspend my disbelief). I love military scifi, stories that explore wars of the future, not because I want those wars to occur, though I have enough of a real world view of humanity to be sure war will be around for a long long time. No, because I find the whole concept of people battling with high tech fascinating. Great characters are a plus, especially people who are likable, but even more importantly people who are strong, who fight back, who do something, even if their decisions are bad. Not people who cower in a corner complaining about what victims they are, waiting for someone else to come to their rescure. And stories where something good survives at the end, no matter the crap the protagonist had to go through to get there. What I do not want is a story that tries to beat me over the head with a political viewpoint as if it is my own (when most probably it is not), and shows what evil bastards the human race is made up of. Hey, I’m human. I want to see a future like the one shown in Star Trek, where we are judged by our abilities, with no concern whatsoever for race, ethnic group, even species. Post apocalyptic stories? Some can be good, but I still want to see a triumph. A story with a horrible ending for all can be interesting, once in a while, but not all the time. Why would I want to beat my psyche down with a continuous diet of those kind of tales.
Some people seem to think that whatever a writer produces has something to do with their personal feelings and psychological makeup in general. I have been accused of being an imperialist because I write about Galactic empires. Just like other authors have been accused of being misogynists or racists because they have such characters in their books. I think this mostly happens because people who read the stories that espouse a certain political agenda expect the writer to be pushing his own agenda. As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes that SOB character is just a character, the product of an imagination that is part of a mind that really does not think like that. I will continue to read what I like. I still like to read Howard and Burroughs, who many people today consider racist authors. I consider them men of their time, to be judged in their time. Just as we will be judge by others in the future as products of our own time and place, if the Universe is just.