Categories
Uncategorized

Oh No, He Said, Wringing His Hands, Where Are All the Men in Science Fiction?!?

I don’t know if you knew this, but in certain quarters of the Internet, it is currently the fashion to suggest that men are being squeezed out of mainstream science fiction and fantasy, as it is being overrun by all the people who are not men, writing stuff that men certainly would never read because the man quotient in it is too low (or something).

Well, I am a man, and I write science fiction and fantasy, and I was curious if indeed I and other dudes like me, being men and all, were currently in the process of being squeezed out the genre. I figured a good place to start would be my own publisher, Tor Books. As it happens, I have access to the Tor Books catalogue for 2022, detailing the titles that it is publishing in hardcover and in trade paperback. The hardcovers are all new releases, while the trade paperbacks are either new releases or re-releases of titles previously in hardcover. Because Tom Doherty Associates has several imprints (aside from Tor, there’s Forge, TorDotCom, Nightfire, Tor Teen and Starscape), I decided to focus specifically on Tor Books, i.e., the imprint my work is published with (save for one novella at TorDotCom).

For the purposes of this exercise, I will be counting authors (as opposed to editors) and if an author appears twice — as several do, because they are either releasing two new books in 2022 or (more usually) one new book and one reissue of the previous hardcover into trade paperback — I’ll count them only once. I’m also not counting editors, no matter how large their name is on the cover (sorry). If a book has more than one author, I’ll count them both. Also, and finally, this analysis comes from the Tor catalogues I found on Edelweiss; it’s possible there will be late additions/subtractions and that I might have missed a few titles here and there. But I did try to be careful and also made sure to double-check publicly-presenting genders when I was in doubt.

So for 2022, I counted 38 male authors with work coming out from Tor Books (alongside 31 authors who are women or non-binary/genderfluid). These male authors include debut authors, current bestsellers, genre stalwarts, beloved authors, authors lost to time but being reintroduced, and authors expanding on the worlds that others originated. There’s fantasy, science fiction, alternate histories and the stuff that slides in-between the usual categorizations.

It’s a pretty good range of (male) authors, presenting a pretty good range of material! One might say, with literally dozens of books across several subgenres, that there might be something for everyone there. And that’s just a single imprint of a single publisher — albeit the imprint and publisher that so many of the folks wringing their hands about the state of men in SFF like to single out as being at the forefront of stomping men out of the genre. However, the numbers, at least, do not seem to support this argument.

Where are the men in (mainstream) science fiction and fantasy? They are, literally, right in front of y’all, and have been all this time. What has changed, I suppose, is that the genre is now wider than it used to be, and that it’s not just men (and not just white men), or at the very least, not just mostly white dudes with a sprinkling of others. This is not to suggest there’s not still work to be done expanding the genre even further. But it’s a more diverse genre than it used to be, and in my opinion, better for it.

So, yeah, if you see someone out there complaining that they can’t find work from men in the SFF genre, remember that there are literally dozens of dudes putting out books this very year, from a single imprint, from a single publisher. I would be very surprised if Tor’s output here is notably unusual for the genre; other mainstream SFF publishers seem likely to me to have more than a smattering of men among their authors.

Maybe if the people complaining can’t find them, it’s because they’re not bothering to look all that hard. Try a bookstore or a library, folks. These titles, and authors, will be there, waiting for you.

— JS

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

93 replies on “Oh No, He Said, Wringing His Hands, Where Are All the Men in Science Fiction?!?”

@RickH That would be a deeper dive, that would take more time and more than the list of titles and the authors.
However, it’s highly likely that the main characters are at least at the 38 to 31 ratio found in authors.

I just popped over to Baen’s website and took a quick look at their author list. Lots and lots of men Also many women and very possibly other genders. I didn’t try to count or figure out proportions. Just wanted to add some more data to reassure the pearl clutchers that the men have not disappeared from SFF.

And I note that another one of my favorite authors (John S is also of course a favorite!) is Lois McMaster Bujold, who is an amazing woman. She first published the early books of the Vorkosigan series in 1986 (36 years ago) and portrays men terrifically! Surprise! Great authors can portray great characters of either gender.

This seems like an even more ridiculous claim than most from the He-Men Sci Fi Fans club. I mean, something subjective like “No one’s writing the good kind of science fiction anymore!” can get some traction because there’s plenty of room for debate and disagreement. But “There aren’t enough men?” We can all count, guys, and count guys for that matter.

Perhaps it is only Real Men™ who who write Real Manly Fiction who are being forced out. They are so few, so rare and precious we might not even notice, deceived by the mere quantity of excellent SFF being published by many other authors.

I have seen more female characters in Sci-Fi books lately, but why would this be a problem? It is more like parity or real life. One would expect that in the future the sexes and the races will be better distributed.

Maybe it is the guys playing victim (because all main characters should be men) that are the problem?

Silly John, bringing facts to an emotion fight. Of course there is not any actual disappearance of male writers. That fact doesn’t matter to those people. What matters is finding ways to continually power the grievance engine.

Over the past few years this old white dude has made it a point to read more non-white-dude science fiction, and reading it feels like science fiction used to feel! The worlds and societies are less familiar, the characters are new and interesting, the conflicts often have surprising resolutions.

These authors take me to strange new worlds, with heroes I haven’t seen before, where anything can happen. And it’s great.

Thank you for the link to “Aspects”. I was slightly acquainted with Mike Ford and I have read much of his work, so he needs no re-introduction, but I hadn’t realized his last book was about to be published.

As another old white guy, I haven’t made any special effort to seek out non-male, non-white writers. However, in seeking out good books to read, I have found myself reading a lot of books by those kinds of writers anyway! Go figure. (Not that this is entirely a new thing. I’ve been reading Ursula K. Leguin since I was in high school back in the early seventies.)

I was just browsing in the horror section at barnes and nobles, and thinking it was nice to see a few more women’s names on the shelf. Still dominated by men, but there are starting to be more options and that can only be good for fans

I’m having trouble locating citations right now (I haven’t hit upon the right combination of search terms) but I have seen studies indicating that men perceive that mixed-gender groups are dominated by women when the ratios are equal, and when women make up something like 25-30% men report that the group had equal numbers. Other studies done on perception of scenes in media give roughly similar numbers, when looking at contributions to dialogue.

There’s got to be a relation to this silly complaint.

It’s astonishing how a group of people who’ve never faced any discrimination, upon seeing someone who is Not Them get something approaching a fair shake, have their heads fall off.

A lot of my favorite SFF I’ve read since I started reading SFF again when Redshirts came out has been written by Not Them. I’m especially and deeply in love with Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series and can’t wait for the next Monk & Robot book. I’m really enjoying books from different viewpoints than were the vast majority in the 60s and 70s. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to buy The Kaiju Preservation Society.

#Nathan Campbell:
I’ve seen similar studies; as I recall, the percentage of blacks only has to reach something like 20% for the same phenomenon (“the Not Us are dominating the conversation”) to occur; but the percentages, ISTR, are for persons actively participating, as opposed to being silent audience members.

I’ve got a real manly author to recommend, whose day job’s manly component is highly appropriate: Intelligence analyst and psychological war specialist at a three-letter agency in Langley, Virginia. Can’t get much more manly than that! So let’s hear it for James Tiptree, Jr. — a truly manly name. It’s got an exclusive-to-men suffix and everything!

Sadly, I’m old enough to remember some of the controversy from that one…

Whew! I’m so glad you set me right! How embarrassing to think that women were being better represented in Science Fiction. Clearly men are being squeezed out.

Next thing you know, folks will start writing fantastic stories that represent people from different ethnic backgrounds in a light that shows anyone can be a hero!

What’s a snowflake to do?!

I have noticed that it is harder to find many of the older mid-list writers being published by the bigger publishers. This, though, seems to be a continuation of the difficulties that mid-list authors have been dealing with for years.

There’s a 1981 movie that I haven’t seen, called First Monday in October. It’s a speculative drama/comedy about the first female Supreme Court Justice. I remember a quote from the movie, where Walter Matthau, playing one of the justices, complains, “There’s only eight of us left…against ALL of her.”

If Biden fulfills his campaign promise, and his nominee is confirmed, the Supreme Court will soon comprise four women and five men.

There have been a few studies done about how do people perceive minority participation in stuff. So, show men a crowd scene and ask them “about what percentage of the crowd is men and what percentage is women?” or show them a scene with multiple male and female characters talking and ask them whether men or women talked more. And they’ve also done it with race, too, asking white people how many Black people there are and how much of the time they spend talking.

At around 15%, people from the dominant group start noticing members of the minority group. When you get to about 30% minority, members of the dominant group honestly believe you’re at parity and there are as many of the minority people present as the dominant group. When minority participation rises above 30%, members of the dominant group usually believe that the minority is larger and more dominant.

IOW, if there are 40 Black people and 60 white people, a lot of the white people (whether or not they are racist!) will perceive that Black people are the majority. If women speak 40% of the time and men speak 60% of the time, most men (even men who genuinely believe in feminist principles) will perceive it as women speaking a lot more than men. Regardless of what’s actually happening, they’ll FEEL like the minority group is dominating.

I bet that’s what’s going on here. White men are used to dominating SF/F, as they have dominated everything; anything even close to parity, therefore, feels like they are being ignored.

sigh

Q: why are so many idiots so unnecessarily loud?

if it is a good book, I read it… if it is a great book, I’ll re- read it… gender-skin-age-etc of author only matters slightly… in context of trying to reverse-engineer their creative process in cases of great books… such as with Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga…

otherwise?

shrug

I’m really glad for that first “also” comment because I was stomping over here to post just that.

Also thinks for the cites on women and minority perceptions of groups, which I was also going to mention but y’all did it better.

Kevin Bailey: If Biden fulfills his campaign promise, and his nominee is confirmed, the Supreme Court will soon comprise four women and five men.

I think it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who, when asked how many women should be on the Supreme Court, said something like: “How about nine? Nine men was a satisfactory number for a great many years.” It was a clever but serious response that is relevant to this discussion: four women isn’t even a majority, but how long did it take people to realize that nine men was a monopoly? (Even counting only from when large numbers of women were law school graduates, successful lawyers, and yes, judges.) As the current conversation indicates, perception and reality often have only a passing acquaintance with each other . . .

Another (subjective) phenomenon is that there is far more interesting work coming out than I can keep up with and the “problem” seems to be getting “worse.”

I believe you are purposely misunderstanding them, since what they clearly mean is that someone let some of THOSE people into the club.

(And, just to be clear, they don’t really care that the club is now bigger and better, because now it’s got cooties in it.)

Ah, but where have all the female authors gone who wrote under make pseudonyms such as Alice Mary Norton (Andre Norton) or Alice Bradley Sheldon (James Tiptree, Jr)?

I sure miss the heady days when women had to hide their gender to get published. :-)

So why aren’t men writing SF/Fantasy anymore? Where did all the recent men whose titles seemed to dominate the sales racks–Harry Turtledove, Larry Corriea, John Ringo, Travis Taylor, Thomas Kratman et al go? Their books seemed to sell well, publishers don’t reject manuscripts from authors with name recognition who consistently sell, so what happened?

Or is it that they’re still doing as well as ever within their market, but the field has expanded enough so it now encompasses a much wider variety of stories than these guys typically write, their concepts/stories have gone stale, and the ones replacing them with fresh and new ideas aren’t clones?

A google search for “sci-fi fantasy” gave me a lot of general discussion articles, but nothing on individual authors. A google search for “science fiction authors” gave “10 famous science fiction authors you must be reading” as the first result. All 10 are men. Admittedly, that list is focused on “golden age” and “classic” authors, so maybe things have changed? Hmm… Down the page, there’s a list of “best modern science fiction authors.” 17 out of 23 are men. (Scalzi is on the list)

Men are so oppressed…

“if you’re a dude and you only read fiction from men (SFF or otherwise), you’re a fool, and you’re missing out on some very excellent work.” – Couldn’t agree more.

There does seem to be more women writing sci-fi now than there were 10 years ago, but they have always been part of the heart of the genre, and there are certainly no lack of men writers at this time. My top 50 authors list of all time has long included such great sci-fi authors as LeGuin, Kage Baker, Cherryh, Friedman, Bujold, Kress, Rusch, Vinge, Zenna Henderson, and Willis. Recent additions include Jemisin, Leckie, Muir, Devenport, Palmer, and Susan Matthews. Jemisin in particular is an author that I just automatically buy (one of very few that I do that for). I will always buy a book that brings a new concept or twist or universe into being, and the latest group of women authors certainly seems to be doing that (and more).

Women authors have always represented more than 25% of what I read (across all genres), and new authors of all stripes are another 30% or so. I think that if a reader doesn’t even try a book because the author is a woman or a black person or is gay then they’re potentially missing out on some excellent stories. In addition to Jemisin, I particularly like Muir and where she’s gone with the “Ninth” series, and I’ll also read anything by P. Djeli Clark (especially his Cairo stories) and Walter Mosely.

For reference: 60+ YO cis white male here. Hope to see you at one of my favorite bookstores (the Savoy) next month.

NK Jemisin is one of the authors who gets picked on most by the anti-social justice brigade. So I’ll note that I’ve just finished her recent The City We Became, and of the eight “city” characters, four are male – so it’s literally 50/50.

Regarding people writing under pseudonyms, I was somehow thinking that Cordwainer Smith was a female, but not. He was a government employee, no doubt concerned that his pretty way out there fiction might impact his successful career in the military spook world back then. Highly appreciated work, tho, with very different approaches to gender you should look it up if you haven’t already seen it.

Are these people complaining that men are not well represented any more the same sort of people who were once referred to as Sad Puppies? Quelle surprise!!

I’m still plugging away at re-reading the Baroque Cycle, just started the third volume, on pg 2990 of 4347, 66% of the way. The book covers the era from the mid-1600s into the early 1700s, all over the world. He manages several leading female characters even in the era when most cultures regarded women as the property of their male relatives. Not that this subjugation isn’t still all too common everywhere…

So the actual numbers do not show that men are no longer well represented as authors of strange fiction? Great. Murderbot rules! As do the calculating women going to the moon and mars.

The biggest problem that we have here goes much deeper than the topic being lampooned in the article. It’s not so much that hateful and bigoted people exist, it’s that social media has allowed their voice to be amplified far beyond what their actual demographic totals should allow.

Social media has allowed for the fringe elements on both sides to absolutely hijack any potential good faith conversation about degradation of talent when it comes to writing. Any legitimate good faith criticism, no matter how well stated is far too easily and incorrectly lumped into some sort of men’s rights trash bin of terrible bad faith arguments. All this is really done is shut down discourse and given proponents or opponents of a particular work an easy strawman to argue against as a means to avoid actually having a useful discussion.

I blame bad faith arguers on both sides for this, but I blame social media in general for giving them a voice they never should have had in the first place.

And about Harry Turtledove. I enjoyed his work at first, but decided he had way too much trouble bringing a big work to a successful conclusion, and so pretty much stopped buying and reading him.

Correct me if I’m wrong about his newer stuff…

Jaws: Are you combining Alice Sheldon with Paul Linebarger (Sheldon did do intelligence work, but Linebarger was the psychological warfare expert)? Or am I confused (which is always possible)?

Rochrist: this isn’t a simple case of both sides are bad, what we are seeing is social media rewarding Fringe elements all across the spectrum for bad faith and dishonest behavior. It’s nearly impossible to have an actual reasoned discussion without someone jumping in to derail the conversation simply so that they can say that they won in an argument against strangers on the internet.

Andrew:

Linebarger was directly and overtly involved in psyops.

Sheldon’s work section was not literally, but in practice, primarily in support of a psyops-oriented group. I should have been a little clearer that her direct work was primarily “analytic” but it was largely in support of the other, darker pursuits. (Which, for the 1950s through 1970s, was about as masculine a set of good American values as one could get! Deep, dark thoughts about Buckley’s spy novels simmer away in the background.)

Is it avoiding responsibility looking past the surface level symptoms for the core reason why discourse is falling apart?

The easiest way to avoid any kind of responsibility in an online conversation is to engage in a binary back and forth ignoring the larger issues that you don’t feel like talking about.

We can argue back and forth all day whether it is too hot in the house or not, or we can actually look and see that the house is on fire.

I have never understood why the writer’s gender matters. I have many favorite authors of all genders. One of my favorites is Jude Fisher and her Fool’s Gold series. Didn’t know what gender at all on my first read thru. Also, didn’t care. Just good stories.

Exactly, I’d does not matter about the gender of the author, protagonist or antagonist. It’s the quality of any of these that matter.

Your protagonists’ journey is only going to be as rewarding to read as the quality of the antagonist, the antagonist is only going to be as engaging as the quality of the author allows, the quality of the author is largely going to be based on the author’s understanding of storytelling elements.

In the end, that’s all that matters and most of our online arguments are simply people that want to argue on the internet because they like feeling important after yelling at a stranger on the internet.

Although I agree generally with this post and the consensus in the article about ratio of male to female authors, I want to point out that female authors ARE actually dominating Hugo/Nebula/Locus. If you count the Hugo nominees, for example, it’s almost entirely female authors. Perhaps as a corollary most of the media attention and push is given to titles by female authors, which leads to the perception that men are being pushed out of SFF.

This is due to an entirely different problem though — there is disproportionately more female readers than male readers today. It’s unfortunate but I don’t think it stems from writers not writing “manly” content. It just stems from a greater demographic shift in readers throughout publishing. It’s certainly not a problem exclusive to SFF.

I like to imagine a qualitative test, much like Turings, but for gender. (Insert tongue in cheek)

If you read a good book without knowing the author’s name, and can’t tell the gender of the author, do you really care?

A situation where sometimes men dominate the lists, and other times there’s near parity, isn’t fair to women either. To be fair, both sides have to dominate every once in a while, or else not at all.

Men being squeezed out of SF? Sounds similar to the claim that Stanislaw Lem was actually a subcommittee of the Polish communist party out to corrupt the minds of American youth. But it is well known that by the time he wrote that letter to the FBI, Philip K. Dick was suffering from mental illness. Could be the explanation for the current claim as well.

The study ur all trying to remember is the Geena Davis Institute’s work on crowd scenes, plus i think Cutler and Scott 1990 was mentioned which is about speaker sex and perception of speech – specifically showing that everyone overestimates how much women contribute to a conversation.

As a side note, people who say this really mean “i saw someone being critical about Gor or John Ringo or something and the very idea of analysing what I read terrifies me”

Funny, I remember discussions a few years about about the goal of casting a wider net and getting more non-white-male authors published and more diversity in SF, and people would try to sidestep that discussion by claiming that they never noticed the gender of the author, they just wanted to read The Good Stories?

Would I be wrong to bet that this hand wringing about the lack of men in SF today comes from those very same same people? Author gender matters not; oh no! It matters not! Just read the good stuff.

Goal posts moved again. Sigh.

I started keeping a list of all books I read in March 2017. Early on, most of what I read was from men; starting late 2019, most of what I’ve read was by women. ALL of the books/series in that period that I started and dropped partway through have been by men.

Is there meaning in this? Probably not, but what the heck.

I have to admit I’m baffled by this whole thing.
I tend to look at the flyleaf and/or the blurbs to get an idea if I’d be interested.
Then to see if it’s someone whose work I enjoy.

I’ve got enough things to worry over.

My favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors are a mix of male and female. McCaffrey, Julian May, Connie Willis, and many more I count as in my favorites, as well as relative newcomer, Claire North. In my opinion, they just happen to be women. The fact that I’ve read more male authors is likely due to the fact that these genres were historically populated by a greater number of male authors. There’s certainly more parity now than ever before, which, I imagine, can only be a good thing. The one thing I have noticed over the last couple of years are the lists people are putting out of great books to read. Everywhere you turn, someone is putting out a new list of new books they feel we should read. What I’ve noticed is that most of these lists consist primarily of female authors. A list of 10 books might have 2 or 3 male authors with the rest being women. I’m not in the publishing business in any way so I’ve wondered over the last couple of years if we’re seeing less men being published, more women being published, or just more people pushing female authors more in these lists. I personally couldn’t care less if an author is male or female. I’m honestly not sure why it even matters but it seems to matter to more and more people. A good book is a good book, regardless of your XX or XY chromosome status.

With all due respect, the problem is not that men are not writing science fiction books anymore, it’s that the awards in general mainly go to female or genderfluid persons. Please take a look at the Nebula and Hugo awards in the last years (after 2015) and you will see what I mean. A huge majority of the nominees and award winners are female. there is a huge miss representation there. and as you stated yourself, it’s not because men write less sci-fi novels nowadays than they did before. So could you please explain how how this came to be and how is this not a problem?

Why is this a problem? Literary awards are notoriously random and have a high noise-to-signal ratio.

The problem for me, a prospective science fiction writer (male), is who is my audience? Can I write from anything except a male POV? Would I be more successful if I use initials instead of a first name? If I’m not writing a steamy romance, does the set of a character matter? No answers, just questions.

@ Ahelis:

“the problem is not that men are not writing science fiction books anymore, it’s that the awards in general mainly go to female or genderfluid persons.”

Why would this be a problem?

Winning awards is not just about the number of books written by male authors – it’s also about the quality of the writing. While there have been some good sci-fi books written by male authors since 2015, the ones written by women have been by and large better.

E.g. I’ve just gone over the Hugo shortlists in the past 7 years, and there’s not a single author, male or female, whose work appears to have been overlooked.

Ahelis:

“With all due respect, the problem is not that men are not writing science fiction books anymore, it’s that the awards in general mainly go to female or genderfluid persons.”

With all due respect, it’s not a “problem” because the finalist work has generally been fucking amazing and deserves to be there. And as a dude who has been a finalist for and won awards in the last few years, I’m not 100% behind your police work there.

When I look at a list of recent science fiction authors I have read, I find that the ones who use their initials ( N K Jemisin) rather than names tend to be female or males with ethnic sounding names – it still seems like there is some pressure to disguise gender / ethnicity.

@ Ahelis: “With all due respect, the problem is not that men are not writing science fiction books anymore, it’s that the awards in general mainly go to female or genderfluid persons.”

I suspect that the issue here is that women/genderfluids frequently end up taking majors in English, Communication, Marketing, etc. and often gets a Masters degree or Ph.D. The end result of this is that the average female writer starts with a much better idea of how to express themselves in the English language in a way that speaks to an editor.

My go-to example here would be Rachel Swirsky. “Dinosaur My Love” has a clear example poor authorial decision-making, but that fault was buried in both awesome prose and a clear grasp of what it feels like to have a loved one on a respirator after an unexpected, terrible, event.

Back in the 1980s, I started a job in the aviation industry. I was hired into a brand new technology-related department of 100 people. During my first week, a colleague mentioned at lunch how delighted he was to be working for the first time in a department that was “mostly women”. I sat down with the phone list and counted, establishing that 25% of the employees (and none of the managers) were women. He had just never been anywhere where there were more than one or two women before!

(Since I had just transferred from a job in the steel industry, I, too, found it delightful.)

To support Ahelis’s point, since 1973 the Hugo awards for Novel, Novelette, Novella, Short Story, and non-Hugo Astounding Award have been given out at Worldcon. Despite rampant sexism during that time, women never went as long as 5 years without an individual winning one of those awards. The only man to win one of those awards the past 5 years was Max Gladstone and he won in a pairing with Amal El-Mohtar where he received second billing. 24 awards went to an individual and all 24 went to a woman. This may or may not be a problem but when something has never happened before it is certainly worthy of discussion.

When intelligent people wringed their hands, perturbed there were no more men in science fiction, they were emphasizing the age, not the gender. Current mainstream stories are very childish and unsophisticated, accepted by a majority readership that is childish and unsophisticated, as capitalism is wont to generate, as sufficiently evidenced by their ongoing joint predilection for meticulously counting genitals perceived and real as well as cultural-saturated psychological states thereof, as if identity quotas were the most fascinating and even wide ranging problem-solving occupation in the world. Well, it isn’t either, and the adults are, at best, bored. At worst, the adults are disappointed. When science fiction was a tiny minority niche, it could (and was) seized by the high IQ minority as a legitimate tool for progress. Once science fiction became profitable and popular, it was only a matter of time before demand for content by an increasing number of lumpenproletarian and proletarian customers (increasingly devoid of family, memetic transference, and much property) would, in their consequent increasing un-wisdom, accept increasingly lower quality output for the lowest entertainment purposes, to serve as new and better labor opiates. And the writers? They are mostly proletarian workers too. How to mitigate the shame of being treated like a machine of mass production (and treating yourself that way too)? Pretend that every sentence you write magically cures diseases, alleviates poverty, or at the very least, failing those, makes every possible identity out there feel so very welcome… to buy your products! Profiteering designed to feel like ultimate compassion combined with the social presumption that therefrom will flow miraculous results completely detatched from any realistic material effort and order of productive operations, has proved to be the most potent opiate ever devised between salesman and consumer to rigidly maintain (and, in fact, even narrow unto rareified altitudes) the great human pyramid.

Oh, lastly, as such, nobody actually reads books anymore. They collect cool cover art. The happy few clever complainers are actually upset about the fact that 9 out of 10 video game and movie protagonists these days are genius female superathelete models, because the industry is definitely not pandering to male sexuality at all — it’s really, truly all about (entirely fictional) super-empowerment and (mere portrayals of) inclusivity. So inclusive as to guarantee negative population growth. Structural eugenics is our most subtle and sacred social machine. Entirely automated. We even built it to accrue congratulations for criticizing it while we use it.

The ancient Greeks put coins on the eyes of the dead. Ours are blockchained in metropolis; plus we pinch up the corners of the mouths. Let no frown offend Hades. Move on, nothing to see here.

dbr: Concerning those who use initials, in romance, it’s often the opposite: It’s the men who disproportionately use initials!

In science fiction (especially), the initials might just be academics over 40 years old slumming in commercial writing. E.g., “J.R.R. Tolkein” (who was neither a woman nor holder of an non-Northwest-European-ethnicity-sounding forename). This is particularly so in parts of Europe, more so in Africa and much of Asia, not to mention some scientific disciplines everywhere. Many academic journals still encourage use of initials (not forenames) for everyone except the principal investigator — the guy (almost always a guy) whose name is first on the grant applications, if not always in the listing of authors. This is another example of “academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low”; it used to be a sign of true familiarity to actually know the first name of someone on faculty at another institution (let alone their preferred form of address to drop into conversations, such as knowing “Malcolm” was “Mick”) … and still is in some fields and nations.

@ Johann Popper:

Your comment is the longest, and definitely best written, piece of specious, factually unsupported dreck I’ve yet encountered on the topic of the alleged under-representation of male writers in science fiction award considerations.

You are the envy of every whiny, dweeby bitchdude with unrealized authorial ambitions, the shining white knight of every otaku crying himself to sleep in their parents’ basement after wrathfully shitposting about the current state of a world that Just Doesn’t Understand Him.

My hat is off to you, sir.

Johann Popper:

“Oh, lastly, as such, nobody actually reads books anymore. They collect cool cover art.”

I’m doing very very well off my cover artists and designers then!

Jesse H:

As for things that have never happened before in Hugoland, no one ever won back-to-back-to-back Hugos before either, yet here we are. Speaking as the fellow who came in second place for the last one, I don’t see any reason to complain about it. Things change, it’s fine.

(Also eliding all the time before 1973, and ignoring that the Best Series award was won by two(!) men a couple of years ago, is some very fine cherry picking)

@ Jesse: thanks for the info, I didn’t know that. It explains a lot. Sadly, I don’t think that this is the place to have an intelligent, argument based conversation (see Scalzi’s reply to my comment).

@ Johann: well this is what I was looking for. I was wondering myself why I don’t really like modern SF anymore. Your reply explains the “mystery”. For me, as an almost exclusive reader of SF, these 2 awards have always been a starting point for finding good books. But I’ve noticed that the winners in the last decade or so just don’t ring with me (for example, I liked Connie Willis’ Blackout, but I don’t think it holds a candle to other award winners from the ’90s or early ’00s). Your explanation made me see things in a new way. Thanks for that. Btw, any recommendations for GOOD modern (post 2010) SF books (disregarding the gender of the author)? I guess I won’t find those among the nebula/hugo nominees. My favourite writer is Dick, btw, so this is where I’m coming from.

@ Joy Cohn

That was Turing’s test, more or less.

“Turing describes the new form of the problem in terms of a three-person game called the “imitation game”, in which an interrogator asks questions of a man and a woman in another room in order to determine the correct sex of the two players.”

Who the heck is Johann Popper and what are they smoking? The case of the literary elite against SF has always, since the days of Gernsback, drawn on the idea that SF writers and readers were likely to be vile peasants without refainment, donchaknow. The idea that the newer SF is worse because it’s being proletarianized…. woah, dude!

Dear Ahelis,

Oh, quit your flouncing! No one here wants to have what you consider to be an “intelligent, argument-based conversation” because none of us agree with you that there is a fundamental problem here to be argued. You are under the mistaken impression that the Hugos are supposed to be, in some way, demographically representative. They are not and they have never been. They are, at best, a meritocracy and at worst, a popularity contest. They simply reflect what the voting membership happens to like.

If you believe they are a meritocracy, then the simple answer is that the women are better writers these days. If you believe it is a popularity contest, then the simple answer is that the readers like the women authors better. There is no Problem.

Except, of course, for the Sad Puppies ilk, who declared that it was so very, very unfair that they weren’t winning their “fair share” of Hugos.

There is no such thing as a fair share. There never has been. Get over it.

It is not up to us to explain to you why there is not a problem, it is up to you to explain why there is one!

pax , Ctein

@Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey:

“The idea that the newer SF is worse because it’s being proletarianized…. woah, dude!”

You must be new to the phenomenon of whiny dudes bemoaning the “demise of science fiction”, while resorting to sealioning, the invoking of strawmen, and the use of ever-shifting goalposts to “explain” away the recent successes of non-white, non-male authors in the science fiction field. I’ll do my best to summarize:

First, women and minority writers were in fact obscure, but their work was disproportionately promoted via social media and other channels thanks to the insidious efforts of a shadowy yet powerful SJW cabal dominating science fiction / fantasy publishing. Real Sci-Fi Fans, which are legion, would swiftly spot and ignore these fakes, and publishers would go back to publishing Real Science Fiction(TM), which has of course always been about telling a rollicking good story and has never, and I mean NEVER, included any sort of sticky social/political messaging.

Then women and minority writers started winning awards (i.e. the votes of fans). So the narrative shifted to the shadowy SJW cabal somehow manipulating the process to ensure under-representation of white male science fiction authors among the winners. Women and minority writers may (unfairly) win the awards, but their work didn’t sell. Publishers were driving themselves to bankruptcy by continuing to beat the dead horse of SJW science fiction, and this untenable woke pyramid scheme would soon collapse.

Then the above fiction became impossible to maintain, save for among the most deranged of the lot (because numbers tend to… not lie). So here comes the latest iteration in the bitchdudes’ retrofitting of reality, courtesy of Brother Johannes. Yes, women and minority authors now definitely outsell the writers of Real Science Fiction(TM), in addition to winning more awards, and getting more exposure. However, this is because the audience has grown more “proletarian”, childish and unsophisticated, quite unlike the Real Sci-Fi Fans of old, that original “high-IQ minority”. You see, it is society itself that’s gone to the dogs, and Real Science Fiction(TM) is only one of the many casualties of the never-quite-coherently-explained, but imminent plunge into total {insert pet reactionary peeve du jour].

Stick around. I’m sure this convoluted sour-grapes wail has a few iterations left yet.

As somebody who’s reviewed SF for forty years, I’m familiar with all that; but I’ve never before encountered the new tesseract-spined twist of arguing that SJW/”woke” SF readers and writers are excessively proletarian. The traditional slur is that we’re all vile effete inaleckchuls, perfessers and grad studints and gummint workers.

I wish these whinging knobs understood subjectivity.

Determining “good” sci-fi is a subjective judgement. Cultural tastes have changed and your subjective preferences are no longer in the majority. Too bad.

Making up rationalizations in order to pretend that your subjective preferences are somehow objective truths is just sad.

I’m sure that the poor fellows just miss the good old days when every major SF writer was a socialist (Asimov, Heinlein), and some of them card carrying Communists (Pohl, for example). The current ideological diversity is no doubt confusing to those of limited intellectual flexibility.

Comments are closed.

Exit mobile version