These Books Are Partially My Fault

And I mean that in the best way possible. Marko Kloos, the author, was a student of mine at Viable Paradise a few years ago, and among other things I did there, I critiqued part of what would become Terms of Enlistment. Marko finished it up and released it first as a self-pubbed book and then through 47 North, which also picked up the sequel, Lines of Departure. I believe a third book is on the way, too.

Can’t tell you how cool it is when someone you taught goes on and publishes. I taught three years at VP and a year at Clarion, and each of those classes were filled with writers who were smart as hell and genuinely fine wordsmiths. Several have gone on to publish — and I’m absolutely delighted each time it happens. One cannot take too much credit for other people’s work (and besides there were several other very excellent instructors both at VP and Clarion), but one can still feel pride in their accomplishments.

(I also feel proud when people who I gave their first pro sales to go on to do fantastically, like Rachel Swirsky and Ann Leckie. They would have done well without me opening that door, of course. But I still opened that door, and am glad to have been able to do so.)

Marko and all the other alumni I had the honor of teaching at VP and Clarion are one reason I don’t worry too much about the future of science fiction and fantasy. Smart and talented people continue to come in the field. They write excellent work. It sells and gets talked about. And the process continues. As a reader and a fan of the genre, that makes me very happy.

Incidentally, this is an excellent place for me to you let you know that both Viable Paradise and Clarion are accepting applications for students for this year. Clarion is excellent if you have six weeks to devote to workshopping; VP is where you want to go if you can spare a week. Both are wholly worth your time. Click on those links to go to the Web page of each.


About That Coke Ad

Dear every conservative getting his underwear in a twist about that Coca Cola Super Bowl commerical in which not only was the “deeply Christian patriotic anthem” sung in something other than the English that Jesus spoke, but also featured a gay couple being happy with their kid:

Dudes, you’re aware that Katharine Lee Bates, the writer of the song, was almost certainly a lesbian, right? And while undoubtedly Christian, Bates used her faith as a foundation for progressive social activism that would have given the conservatives of her time, and possibly some conservatives now, the shudders and shakes (she also nearly resigned her professorship at Wellesley when the school thought to force its faculty to profess their fealty to the Christian faith).

Bates was a pacifist with the dream of uniting people “from the Pacific to the Atlantic, around the other way… and that will include all the nations and all the people, from sea to shining sea.” Which is to say that it’s an excellent bet that Bates would be delighted to hear her song sung in as many different languages by as many different sorts of people as possible.

And as for the idea that “unity” requires all people to be the same and adhere to the same top-down political and social orthodoxy, there’s this useful quote:

In 1910, when a colleague described “free-flying spinsters” as “fringe on the garment of life”, Bates answered: “I always thought the fringe had the best of it. I don’t think I mind not being woven in.”

In their outrage about “America the Beautiful” being hijacked to represent something it does not, conservatives are perhaps missing the irony that the song has been hijacked at least once before, by them. Perhaps they’re just mad that someone had the temerity to hijack it back. I don’t think it’s entirely out of the realm of possibility that Ms. Bates would be amused by that.

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