Mary Anne Mohanraj Gets You Up to Speed, Part I

You may recall that rather recently I said “we should be talking about things that are hard to talk about, and race (and the role it plays in sf/f) is one of those things.” And since I said it, it’d be nice if I followed up on that. But when talking about these things, it helps to have some useful context (trust me), and it helps to know someone who can provide you some of that context, particularly about some of the recent conversations about it online. So I asked my friend Mary Anne Mohanraj if she wouldn’t mind writing something on the topic of race and science fiction and fantasy, as I know it’s something that she thinks quite a lot about. She most excellently did, and I’m delighted to present it to you here.


Hey, folks. I’m Mary Anne Mohanraj. John’s kindly given me a space here to start a conversation about some of the useful points that came out of RaceFail ’09. Quick intro: nine years ago I started Strange Horizons, which has become one of the premiere SF/F magazines, and which once published one of John’s stories, which is how we met. I currently run the Speculative Literature Foundation, a non-profit arts organization that works to support SF/F, and I was a founding board member of the Carl Brandon Society, which works to support minorities in the field through various awards and other initiatives. In my day job, I write and publish fiction (mostly mainstream), and teach fiction writing and literature (mostly post-colonial) at the University of Illinois. Also, I was born in Sri Lanka, and have brown skin. So now you know where I’m coming from.


If you come into this discussion cold, without a long history of dealing with being a PoC (person of color) in the SF/F field, without practice in discussing race and privilege, you’re likely to find the sprawling imbroglio of RaceFail ’09 more than a little overwhelming. It can be emotionally difficult to handle, with a lot of grief and anger in the room. Also often quite off-putting, as there’s a lot of insults, threats, outings, harassment, and other nonsense flying around. I’m guessing that’s what led John to his initial response, that the discussion didn’t offer anything useful to him, that, in his assessment, it was a whole lot of noise for pathetically little signal. That was my initial reaction too.

But I kept reading, and slowly, my opinion changed. I learned (or re-learned, because sometimes this is an ongoing process and you need reminders) some things about race, privilege, writing, teaching, and about getting it wrong and being called out on it. That’s what I want to talk about now. These basic ideas about racism and privilege may all be very familiar to you, or they may be entirely new. Regardless, I think it’s helpful to think about these issues in the context of the SF/F community and its literature.

This is not a summary of RaceFail ’09, nor an exhaustive list of links on the subject.

This is also not focused on:

Speaking Truth From Power

White Folks, and Hearing What They Have to Say

Writing Identity, and the Need Thereof


Trying to Have Productive Discussions Online

…because I have already covered those topics elsewhere. If you haven’t read those brief pieces yet, I encourage you to go do so, and then come back. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.


I offer you a few premises — feel free to disagree. I won’t tell you to shut up, or to stay out of this discussion, and neither will John — as long as you stay civil, that is. Promise. Here’s what I’m arguing:

Part I: For Everyone

  1. We’re all racist.
  2. If you’re white, you have white privilege.
  3. Your other oppressions don’t erase your white privilege.
  4. Racism does damage to the genre.

Part II: For Writers

  1. You get to write whatever you want, including CoC (characters of color).
  2. If published, you may then be criticized for your handling of race.
  3. PoC don’t have an obligation to teach you how to write CoC well and avoid criticism.
  4. Nonetheless, here are some suggestions on how to write CoC well.
  5. You will get it wrong. This is what you should do.


Part I: For Everyone

1. We’re all racist.

Nalo Hopkinson, a wonderful SF/F writer whose work I recommend to you, put this pithily in my blog comments when she said, “…many in the science fiction community — like many in all kinds of other communities — lack an understanding of racism as a system. It’s pretty tough to live in a system and be unaffected by it. That’s like floating in a pool of shit and claiming that you don’t smell. So whenever you have the urge to silence people by shouting, “I’m not racist!” it’s probably a good idea to take a long, hard think and ask yourself how in the world is that possible? Really, it isn’t. Not until a whole lot more about the world changes.”

That’s a starting assumption for me — the world is racist, the culture I grew up in is racist, I’ve internalized and carry around a hell of a lot of racist baggage, and on some deep level, many of my basic assumptions are racist. So are yours. That sucks. But I also don’t feel particularly guilty about it, and neither should you. It’s something you’ve inherited, living in this world. The onus now on you isn’t to wallow in guilt — it’s to be aware of these deep-buried attitudes, and consciously try to avoid letting them dictate your choices in life.

I should note that there’s an alternate and widely-used definition of racism that goes like this: We’re all prejudiced, because we grow up in a racist culture and we inherit those prejudices. But racism is a system of institutional, systemic oppression, and in order to be racist, you need both the prejudice + the power to affect people. By that definition, which a lot of progressives share, PoC (people of color) can’t be racist, because they don’t have any reinforcement from that institutionalized power. We may hold individual racist ideas and thoughts, but we only have the power to do damage with our actions in the rare, brief contexts where our other privileges temporarily override color privilege. A relative of mine may say racist things about black or white people in her own home, but when she engages with the wider world, as she must do daily, she’s just another brown girl, and is therefore at risk.

There’s a definite utility and sense to that definition, but it isn’t the one I normally use. Part of what often goes wrong in these discussions is that people are using two or three different definitions of racism, but don’t realize that they’re using different definitions. So for this piece, please understand that I generally use the definition of racism that argues that in the world we currently live in, everyone’s racist, and when I want to talk about prejudice + institutionalized power, I try to say so explicitly.

The corollary to ‘everyone’s racist’ is that you needn’t get too upset when someone notices and calls out your racism. Let’s say you make a stupid racist comment. A friend might say, “Damn, John, that was kind of racist.” It’d be really easy for John to get incredibly upset at that point, because for a lot of folks, ‘racist’ = the kind of extreme racist who burns crosses on people’s lawns and wants to lynch black people. But most of the time when I use the word ‘racist’ these days, I’m not talking about that kind of extreme action. I’m talking about the often subtle thoughts and words that emerge out of a culturally-conditioned subconscious. That’s the kind of racism I have to deal with on a regular basis (racism in others or myself), and that’s what I’m generally working to eliminate in my life.

So when John gets called out on his racism, the best response I can think of is for him to take a step back. To think about whether he actually said something stupid and racist. If he did, he should apologize and then move on — because pointing out he’s been racist is not a scathing attack on his character — it’s just someone pointing out that’s he’s messed up, like a friend pointing out that you’ve got snot hanging off your nose. Wipe up the snot, get on with your life. Or, if you think the person who called you out got it wrong (after fair and careful consideration of the subject, and keeping in mind that if you’re white and they’re a PoC, there’s a good chance that they have a hell of a lot more experience on this subject that you do), then that’s fine too. Maybe they misread your actions, or misunderstood you. It happens. Clarify, if you think it would be helpful. And then, again, move on.

I do think there are phrasings that help with calling people out. People are more likely to respond calmly to “Dude, wasn’t that kind of a racist thing to say?” than to “You’re so fucking racist!” (Jay Smooth has a great and funny video on the subject: How To Tell People They Sound Racist.) But when you’ve said something stupid and racist and in the process badly hurt somebody else, they’re not always going to be calm enough (or care enough) to choose the kindest phrasing to point out your mistake. Since you screwed up first, the onus is on you to handle the fallout and then try to fix the problem.

For a first step in practicing this, check out Ampersand’s How Not to be Insane When Accused of Racism.

2. If you’re white, you have white privilege.

John has talked eloquently about class privilege on this site. Privilege is not a bad word. When someone tells you that you’re privileged, it’s not an insult or an attack on your character. It’s just a fact, a set of traits that you may have inherited by virtue of your gender, your class background, your body type, your sexual orientation. Your race.

Privilege is a smooth road. When you have privilege, you still have to travel from point A to point B to get what you want. It may tire you out. But the road you walk is smooth. It’s paved. The sun is shining and birds are chirping and there’s a cool breeze helping you along. You don’t even notice that your road is smooth; you expect it to be, and it is, so you walk it. Whereas the less privileged person beside you, also trying to get from point A to point B? There are potholes in his road. There are man-made barriers that he has to climb over. There may be a pit of snakes. Oh, and it’s raining, and he can’t afford a coat or umbrella. Sucks to be him.

This is not to say that your road is always and entirely smooth. Just the portion of it affected by race, in the case of white privilege. Or the portion of it affected by gender, in the case of male privilege. And so on. This doesn’t invalidate the individual and specific pain you may feel as you walk your road, because you have chronic arthritis, and your son has cancer, your boss is a sociopath, and your marriage is falling apart. We all have our individual pain. Privilege is the absence of pain in areas you can’t even see.

White privilege is a way of saying that in a racist society (and whether you’re living in America or elsewhere, I’d argue that they’re all racist societies), being white gets you privilege. Sometimes less, sometimes more. There are small exceptions here and there, pockets of time and place where maybe being white is going to screw you over. Yes. But overwhelmingly, it goes the other way, and if you are one of the handful of white people who have experienced real racial discrimination, you should ask yourself whether bringing that up in the middle of a discussion about the overwhelming institutionalized racism against people of color is actually going to be helpful. And remember that because privilege is a smooth and invisible road, the vast majority of the time, you can’t even see how privileged your road is, compared to the brown people standing next to you. That’s not your fault; it’s just the way it is.

The classic essay on this subject, that I highly recommend, is Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. And this is a great and moving piece on white privilege in white minority contexts, from a contemporary SF/F writer.

3. Your other oppressions don’t erase your white privilege.

This is an error I see so damn often in these discussions. Someone comes into a room and says, “Hey, we’re all racist, and based on that thing you just said, so are you.” Sometimes they skip saying the first part, probably because for them it’s been a baseline assumption for so long that they don’t even realize it still needs saying, that it might be totally new to you. Maybe they follow that up by saying, “You don’t think that was racist? You don’t understand, because you’re white. You don’t understand my pain. You can never understand what it’s like to be a PoC in this country.”

And people get defensive, because hey, no one likes being called racist (not even me). They think — hey, my life has totally sucked. I’m female, or poor, or oppressed because of my religion or lack thereof. I’m child-free, or a geek, or queer, or fat. I’m living with disability every damn day. My father raped me. My mother was an alcoholic. I have suffered, dammit, so don’t tell me that I don’t know what suffering is.

There’s a fundamental slippage here. Because the thing is, you don’t know. You know other suffering, yes. But it’s not a contest. It’s not a ‘my pain is bigger than your pain’ debate. The question is whether you have experienced a particular thing — whether, in a culture of institutionalized racism, you have walked down the street in a brown or yellow or red or black skin, and dealt with the consequences therein. That’s all. Because while there’s a damn good chance that you’ve suffered more than me (I’ve led a relatively sheltered life for a PoC, insulated by being part of the model minority, and by my family’s upper-middle-class status), that’s still not the point. The point has to do with specific experience.

One small example: On September 11, 2001, I got on a bus leaving the campus where I taught in Salt Lake City. I was still shaken by what I’d seen on the news, still worried about a friend of mine who worked in the Twin Towers, whom I hadn’t yet been able to reach. I got on that bus, and the bus driver, the passengers, everyone else on that bus, all of those overwhelmingly white faces, turned to me and there was this look on their faces. A look that said — ‘oh no, a scary brown person — maybe she’s one of them’. Based solely on the color of my skin. It shocked and scared me, and for the next ten minutes, I tried to sit very quietly and be as non-threatening as I knew how. Was this terrible suffering on my part? No. But it is race-specific, and if you were a white person in that time and place, you could not have known how I felt. You may have had other experiences of getting a bus and facing hostile stares for other reasons — your clothes, your disability, your fatness. But it’s not the same experience.

4. Racism does damage to the genre.

Maybe you never actually say or even think anything racist. (If so, you’re doing better than I am.) I hope you still choose to engage with these issues, because this shit is hurting us. Institutionalized racism is a massive structural system that leads to whole groups of people getting passed over for jobs because their names sound too ‘ethnic’ or too ‘black’. Whole communities get sidelined into reservations, with all the social ills that causes, and then have it blamed on themselves. It’s not single acts of hatred or fear that make those things possible; it’s a system that the dominant culture creates that gives permission to and often encourages those acts in the aggregate.

For literature, such racism leads to writers of color not getting their work published. Or only published if it falls into certain narrow ‘exotic’ categories. (Sometime soon I’ll get my analysis of South Asian book covers up on the web, and talk about why S. Asian women’s book covers do such damage to the writers’ books and careers.) In fifteen years of involvement in SF/F, I’ve met fewer than 30 writers of color — compared to literally several hundred white writers. The lack of writers of color, and of white writers writing characters of color, leads to a lack of literature featuring such characters — which leads to fans of color deciding that SF/F isn’t meant for them, because there’s no one in the stories who looks like them. Or if there is, they’re always the villain, or the emasculated sidekick, or the whore.

Too often, when people of color start pointing out the racism inherent in such representations, white writers and their fans become defensive about work they love. They fall right back into #1 above — too upset that they think they’ve been tarred with the brush of racism to engage in a real discussion of what they might have actually done that was racist, that caused damage. That’s how this whole RaceFail discussion started. That’s the kind of reaction we need to learn how to move past.


This is all basically Racism 101. If you’re looking for a friendly place where anyone is welcome to come and learn more about bingo cards, spoons, cookies, white privilege, how not to be insane when accused of racism, etc. and so on, please let me direct you to the newly formed Livejournal community Racism 101, where all of your questions will be answered, without mockery, by people more patient than I. This is the short version.

I was going to go on to talk about what writers can do to combat this in their fiction, but this is already long, so I’m going to save that for a separate post. Writers, stay tuned for Part II, coming on Friday.

For readers, if you love literature, what you can do to help support writers of color and combat institutionalized racism is simple — read their books. There’s a challenge going on right now — read 50 books this year by people of color. Any genre, and no need for them to be serious, heavy books. Comics count. Cookbooks count. For more details on the challenge, and book recommendations, visit the 50 Books_POC Livejournal Community. The Carl Brandon Society also offers some reading lists that can help you get started if you’re interested in genre fiction. (They also take donations and love volunteers, of any color.) And I encourage you to start discussions of your favorite films, tv shows, and literature — where are they racist? Where do they go horribly, horribly wrong? And on the other end, because this is valuable too — which novels, shows, movies are getting it right? Talk about the best and the worst, so that we can all learn how to make better art together.

Finally, for everyone, if you want to combat racism in our society, the best suggestion I can make is that you call it out when you see it (with a focus on what racist thing has been said or done, rather than on what people are), and try to handle accusations with grace when people call you out on your own racism.

I know a lot of white folks who have been following this are now very scared of getting it wrong, of being called out on their internalized, unsuspected racism by the scary PoC. And all I can say to you is — this stuff is hard, and with the best of intentions, you will get it wrong sometimes. I do too. That sucks, but racism is a huge, painful, intractable problem deeply embedded in our society, so it’s not surprising that the fix isn’t going to be easy. But the answer is never going to come from white folks or people of color sitting back on their hands and refusing to participate in the discussion. Come on in and talk about it. We’ll figure this out together.

Okay. Any questions?

Edited to Add: Part II of this essay is here.

My Morning

Will be spent taking my daughter to the funeral of a friend and classmate of hers. I very sincerely hope your morning is going to be better than mine is about to be. I also very sincerely hope at some point in your day you let the people you love know just how much you love them. It’s important.

See you all a bit later. Play nice until I get back. Thanks.

Big Ol’ Sun

The clouds in yesterday’s sunset made the sun look about five times bigger than it actually is; this is what I imagine sunsets might look a few billion years from now, after the sun has started its expansion into red giant territory. Minus, you know, the grain silo. For some reason I think the land-walking squid who will inherit the planet from us will not use grain silos. But I could be wrong.

Why Video Game Movies Suck

I explain why in this week’s AMC column. The answer is not just “Because Uwe Boll makes them,” although truthfully that is a large part of the answer. As always, if you have comments on the subject, AMC’s comment threads welcome you with open arms.

Walking Myself Back

All right, here’s the thing: I’m an arrogant schmuck, but I can also listen from time to time. After I went off earlier this week, a number of people I trust came to me and told me I was being unfair to a lot of people, and in varying ways walked me through stuff I missed or lacked context for, and asked me to engage that brain of mine and think about it. Well, I’ve thought about it. And at the moment, here’s what I think:

1. The discussion was a big fat mess, and I still wish it had been better all the way around.

2. But a large chunk of it was a lot better than I had characterized it as being, and thus my characterization of the whole thing as a complete waste of time was based on ignorance, an assumption that the parts I tracked through were the majority of discussion (i.e., more ignorance), and a fair amount of pissed-offedness that an especially irritating if minor part of it showed up at my site.

So for that inaccurate characterization, and the various offense it caused: I apologize. I was wrong.

If you want to know who helped walk me back, both Justine Larbalestier and Tempest Bradford were instrumental; both of them did a good job of doing the “uh, dude?” thing, and because I know them both well and trust them to let me know when I’m bumping into objects, I gave their opinions great weight. Likewise, lots of folks in the comment thread here were good in challenging my position and doing it in a way that was polite but pointed, which was useful to me. I realize a few of you weren’t expecting that I was really actually thinking about what you were saying. Surprise! I was. I am grateful to Justine and Tempest and the commenters for taking the time, pointing out things I had missed, and being patient with my brain while I worked this out to my own satisfaction. We should be talking about things that are hard to talk about, and race (and the role it plays in sf/f) is one of those things.

Note, incidentally, that I don’t expect the people who are pissed off at me at the moment to stop being so; I worked hard at poking at them, so I imagine they’ll continue to be annoyed for some time. The apology isn’t to cover my ass in any event. The apology is to acknowledge my error and the wisdom of friends. For the moment, I think that will suffice.

Tonight’s Context-Less Sigh of Exasperation and Mild Depression

Here it is:


Yes, I’m fine. No, I don’t want to talk about it at the moment, since I’m still working with it, other than to say:


Thanks for your patience. As you were.

The Last Colony Limited Edition Pre-Order

As it has done with the previous two books in the series, Subterranean Press is producing a limited run of The Last Colony, signed by me and featuring artwork by the ever-awesome Vincent Chong, who has turned in some of his best work of the series with this book — and if you’ve seen the work in the limited of Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades, you know how much of a compliment that is.

Subterranean is taking pre-orders now for both the signed limited (of which there are 400) and for the boxed lettered edition (of which there will be 15). The limited is $60 and the lettered is $250. The previous two limited editions in the series sold out pretty quickly, so if you’re interested, it’s better to move sooner than later. (And, hey, while you’re pre-ordering, why not also pick up the Metatropolis anthology?)

To forestall the next question from collectors, yes, Subterranean has the limited rights to Zoe’s Tale as well. So it’ll be a complete set at some point.

Maroons Vs Morons

Here’s a story to warm my heart: The odious members of the equally odious Westboro Baptist Church went to the University of Chicago (my alma mater), apparently to protest the existence of Barack Obama, and found themselves pwned by 100+ students, who among other things created signs that both mocked WBC’s own hateful screedings, and were naturally far more clever. Good on ya, Maroons. Good on ya.

(more pictures here)

Your Thought For the Day

Sometimes just talking with a friend on the phone is the best thing in the world.

That’s all.

The Big Idea: Carrie Ryan

You know, it’s not very often that the mere title of a book scares the crap out of me, but I have to tell you, The Forest of Hands and Teeth gives me the willies just looking at it. And as for the book itself, well, it comes with the coveted Kristine Scalzi Seal of Approval (which is to say, she read the book, came back when she was done, and said “hey, that was a good book”), so that’s always a positive. Everyone’s happy!

With a title like that, it should not be surprising that there are zombies involved. What may surprise you is that a certain amount of romance — and law — is also involved in the book’s creation. Here’s Carrie Ryan to explain how.


I wish I could remember what JP, then my boyfriend and now my fiancĂ©, said to convince me to go to opening night of the Dawn of the Dead remake. I’m not a scary movie person and haven’t been since my babysitter turned out all the lights and made me watch Poltergeist with her when I was five (during which time she never failed to point out the similarities between me and the girl being chased by ghosts – same name, same hair, same closet full of stuffed animals). And yet, the theater filled to capacity, the lights dimmed, the movie began and I spent the next two hours alternately gripping his arm (finally understanding why boyfriends everywhere like to take girlfriends to scary movies) and checking the time on my cell phone mentally trying to calculate how much of the movie I had left to endure. It terrified me.

And thrilled me. Walking out of the theater that night I couldn’t stop talking about it, wondering what I would do faced with the same situation. Because at one point, while watching the worst of the worst parts of the movie I wondered if I could do it, if I could really survive. Or if I would give up.

This is how my love of apocalyptic fiction (especially the zombie apocalypse) began. JP brought home Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide and read aloud from it during slow law school evenings (of which there were many). He promised to warn me of the scary parts when we watched 28 Days Later. We devoured the original Romero movies, the remakes, the spinoffs. We bought the books, the graphic novels, the television shows, more movies.

But I was still writing chick lit YA books. It just never occurred to me to write about a post-apocalyptic world even though that was what I was reading, watching, and dreaming about.

Until one day when JP and I were at lunch and we started to talk about a town surrounded by a forest full of zombies. He wanted to write a short story set in that world and I was mesmerized by the idea of it. Except that our visions were totally different. His world still had cars and roads and the people in the town knew about the outside world.

My version was set much much later in a tiny village where the people had forgotten everything beyond the forest: history, the ocean, even the cause of the Return. And though time had continued forward, it was as if the village had fallen back, regressing to an almost Puritanistic lifestyle and belief system.

JP wrote his story and I loved it. But, still my vision of the world kept tugging at me. I was obsessed; yet it never occurred to me to write anything set in that world. Until I was lamenting to JP one day that I didn’t know what project to work on for National Novel Writing Month and he told me to write what I love.

“You mean the zombie apocalypse?” I joked with him and he smiled. He was right. Two days later, on my way home from work a first line popped into my head. I emailed it to myself and when I got home I started writing. When JP came home a few hours later I’d drafted the first chapter. I read it to him and he loved it. That drove me to keep writing – the desire to keep unfolding for him the story of Mary and her village.

My book became a sort of love letter to JP, sparked by the movies we’d watched together, all the books we’d read, all the walks we’d taken imagining worlds and characters. I wanted to give back to him a fraction of what he’d given to me.

When I finished the first draft and JP read it, I said jokingly that he’d have to tell me if I needed to change anything since it was his world I’d used. I wish I could describe the look on his face, the way his voice sounded when he told me that this was my world – that it had always been my world.

I sometimes joke that I’m a full time writer still paying off my law school loans. People ask me if I regret having gone to law school since I only practiced for three years. But how can I? If I hadn’t gone to law school I wouldn’t have met JP. He wouldn’t have taken me to opening night of Dawn of the Dead and I would have held fast to my scary movie phobia. I never would have written The Forest of Hands and Teeth. JP truly did give me the world.


The Forest of Hands and Teeth: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s

Read an excerpt of the novel. View the trailer. Visit Carrie Ryan’s blog.

After That, You’re Gonna Need a Cat

Here you go. I woke her up just so you could see something sweet and fluffy.

She very much has the groggy “Do I hafta go to school?” look down here. I’ll pay for it later, but for now, enjoy.

The Internets Hate Scalzi!

Yes, I Know: Lots of people on the Internets hate me today. You don’t have keep sending me concerned e-mails about it; my ego-surfing matrix keeps me informed, thanks.

For those of you going “huh?” to this, this current round of The Internets Hate Scalzi is very much like previous rounds of The Internets Hate Scalzi, in which some people who feel they are having A Very Important Discussion of a Very Important Topic are upset that I believe this particular discussion has been really awful overall (and worse, have said so publicly), and thus therefore I stand in moral opposition to all they believe in, which makes me A Bad Man, etc. The Very Important Topic changes from Hate to Hate; the dynamic of the response is pretty much the same. Mind you, this is not the only reason why The Internets Hate Scalzi; there are so many. But it’s a frequent one.

The irony in this particular case is that the folks currently flinging spittle in my direction and I are largely in accord: A Very Important Discussion of this particular Very Important Topic in fact needs to be had, and once that discussion is had, I would not be at all surprised to find myself and these spittle flingers almost entirely on the same side of the discussion (this does not always happen). However, to my mind this late discussion has not been that discussion — indeed emphatically not — which is a) why I stayed out of it until I was dragged into it by people pulling discussion-related shenanigans on my site and b) why at the moment I am in need of a virtual umbrella.

What am I going to do about this latest edition of The Internets Hate Scalzi? At the moment, not a damn thing. The sort of person who believes that if one doesn’t like their particular discussion of [x], one must therefore be an [x]ist, is the sort of person who is has just eaten a heaping plate of Dolley Madison Fail Cakes with Bad Logic Creme Filling™ and is looking to chomp down on a second platter. I’m not in the least obliged to participate in a discussion on those terms, and I’m even less obliged to care what a person holding such an opinion thinks. This may additionally annoy some folks and precipitate yet another round of why I am A Bad Man. Please circle back to the top of this paragraph as necessary.

In the long run, I think it’s useful for everyone to remember certain things about discussions of Very Important Topics, whatever that topic might be:

1. Not every discussion of a topic is going to be definitive or even useful, even if you are participating in it;

2. People can hold a wildly differing opinion on the value of the discussion at hand than you do, which does not a priori make them the enemy;

3. Someone’s opinion of the value of the discussion often has little bearing on their opinion of the value of the topic being discussed (and whether their views on the topic are congruent to yours);

4. Someone not participating in the discussion when you think they should does not make them guilty by their silence;

5. Making lists of enemies based on who you feel has not adequately jumped through the hoop of your discussion goals is no way to go through life.

I figure by this time blood is fountaining out of the necks of some of the more enraged folks, so I’ll go ahead and stop here.

None of this, incidentally, should be construed as an attempt to change the mind of anyone participating in the current round of The Internets Hate Scalzi, or any other that might/will arise in the future. They’re free to keep at it; it’s all the same to me. What matters isn’t what people think of me on the Internets, but whether I follow through on the things I believe in. Internet Scalzi Hates come and go, but I’m stuck with me for the rest of my life. I’m working on it.

Edited to Add: Follow-up here.

Rest in Peace, Tiffany Moyer

A classmate of Athena’s, Tiffany Moyer, passed away over the weekend. The kids in her class found out about it today. It was a rough day here.

If you could find a little time to wish peace to this little girl and her family, I would appreciate it.

The Funniest Watchmen-Related Photo of the Day (SPOILERS)

Via the ever-awesome Doselle Young and his iPhone.

Due to the photo’s spoilerrific qualities, it’s behind the cut.

If you’re reading this via RSS feed and haven’t seen Watchmen yet, well, I guess you should avert your eyes right about now.

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Today’s Simple Answer to An Incredibly Complex Question

Yeah, I’m going to go with “really, NO” on this one.

If you want to try to convince me otherwise, be my guest.

(Context: The CNN story the above headline is clipped from)

I Had Nothing to Do With It, I Swear

LiveJournal seems to be down at the moment. I found out about it, naturally enough, by people on Twitter accusing me of killing it with my rage. Which, while amusing, vastly overstates my influence and/or telekinetic powers. Sorry.

No, wait. Actually, it’s true. So don’t piss me off. Yes, that’s it.

Update, 7:40pm: See? Back safe and sound. And if you ask it, it’ll say I was nowhere near it the entire time. If it knows what’s good for it.

(walks off, whistling innocently)

Open Window Weather

Zeus the cat is passionately interested in what the birds have to say to him through the open window, and would like to subscribe to their newsletter. Or eat them. Either way. He’s not picky.

In other news, as the title suggests, we have open window weather. Today, at least. Tomorrow, we have thunderstorms on the schedule. Which could be open window weather, if I wanted to get killed for ruining the carpet. I’ll stick with today. Icons and Diversity Statement

You might recall that when we announced we used the above illustration of an author as our icon. What you don’t know is that we have some other icons as well, designed to reflect the fact that anyone can be an author, and every author has a big idea. To see the rest of our icons, and how we at intend to pursue diversity in our content, click through for the rest of the entry.

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For Authors: Blurb Solicitation Reminders

Since it’s happened a few times in the last week, a plea to authors wanting to ask me about blurbing your work:


Instead, please please please read my blurbing solicitation policy here (scroll down), for the correct way to get your editor or publisher to solicit a blurb. Yes, I realize it’s jumping through an extra hoop. Sorry, that’s how I do it. And doing it this way will save you from being offended when my answer to your request for a blurb is to point you to the policy. It’s up on the site in a fairly conspicuous place for a reason.

Quick Watchmen Review

It was fine. It would have been even better, and possibly excellent, if someone had lopped 20 minutes from it. It wouldn’t have been difficult, since Zack Snyder let quite a few scenes drag a beat (or two, or four) longer than they needed to, possibly from a misplaced sense of textual obligation. Zack, dude, Alan Moore will hate you no matter what you do, and you’d’ve placated the fanboys with your DVD Director’s Cut. It wouldn’t have killed you to pick up the pace a snap or two for everyone who won’t angrily confront you at ComicCon. That said, it had its moments, mostly involving Rorschach, and Snyder and his screenwriters really did cram most of the graphic novel in there. It’s hard to complain.