Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek
benpeek

Today's Speculative Fiction Argument

Today's speculative fiction argument began with this table of contents:

Here are the contents of The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF edited by Mike Ashley.

1. "Out of the Sun" by Arthur C. Clarke
2. "The Pevatron Rats" by Stephen Baxter *
3. "The Edge of the Map" by Ian Creasey
4. "Cascade Point" by Timothy Zahn
5. "A Dance to Strange Musics" by Gregory Benford
6. "Palindromic" by Peter Crowther
7. "Castle in the Sky" by Robert Reed *
8. "The Hole in the Hole" by Terry Bisson
9. "Hotrider" by Keith Brooke
10. "Mother Grasshopper" by Michael Swanwick
11. "Waves and Smart Magma" by Paul Di Filippo *
12. "The Black Hole Passes" by John Varley
13. "The Peacock King" by Ted White & Larry McCombs
14. "Bridge" by James Blish
15. "Anhedonia" by Adam Roberts *
16. "Tiger Burning" by Alastair Reynolds
17. "The Width of the World" by Ian Watson
18. "Our Lady of the Sauropods" by Robert Silverberg
19. "Into the Miranda Rift" by G. David Nordley
20. "The Rest is Speculation" by Eric Brown *
21. "Vacuum States" by Geoffrey A. Landis

* = New story written for this anthology


You'll note, fairly quickly, the lack of female names in the book, followed, I imagine, by the lack of racial diversity.

Commentary began in the original post by Catherynne Valente, who wrote, "Wow...not a woman in the lot. Been awhile since I've run smack into that. My fragile female mind, she is...not exactly blown." Caitlin Kiernan followed with, "Not even one single female author. Seem, that's mindblowing." Charles Stross was fourth to leave a comment, and he said, "Bonkers. Nothing by James Tiptree Jr., Ursula le Guin, C. J. Cherryh, C. L. Moore, or (insert list here)? I note an interesting mixture of classics with rather newer, more obscure items ... where's Elizabeth Bear? Or -- Aaagh: fail!"

That went on for a bit, until Paul Di Filippo arrived and said:

Dear Friends of SF--

I generally steer clear of controversies in my senescense, having participated in more than my share as a card-carrying cyberpunk--but I simply cannot allow the unanimity of asinine comments on exhibit here to go unremarked-upon.

Every single commenter here seems to me to be committing a logical fallacy of tremendous dimension, one so big it distorts entire worldviews:

DEMANDING THAT EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE OF EVERYTHING COMPOSITE SHOULD BE ABSOLUTELY STATISTICALLY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE COMPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE COSMOS

You know what: a potato field is not likely to contain corn plants. A pine forest might feature an oak or three, but be 99% pine trees. The Beatles were 4 white guys. Sonic Youth has no people of color! My ream of copy paper is all white, with no sheets of lettuce included!

Variety is great. Heterogeniety is great. Bias and prejudice suck. A genre--VIEWED AS A WHOLE--must feature a million different voices to be accurate and interesting.

BUT NOT EVERY SINGLE BOOK OR MAGAZINE OR BAND OR WORK OF ART NEEDS TO CONFORM TO THE LATEST CENSUS RESULTS.


A shiny coin if you can guess how it went after that?

"Paul, I'll see your asinine and raise you a fatuous."

"Paul, I completely disagree with your position."

"Dear Paul Di Filippo,

What the hell is wrong with you? I mean, I feel I could answer that question on my own (you're a man, you write SF, you have a vested interest in status quo and keeping things the way they are: to your benefit) but I'm really hoping that maybe this morning you woke up and took a FailPill or maybe hit your head on something or maybe just forgot to insert the hard drive that allows you to make logical comments and not sound like a completely out of touch, boorish, privileged jerk."

Personally, I thought the last was a bit uncool, given that Di Filippo has always struck me (on his blog and in his reviews and fiction) as a alright sort've guy, and hardly one who'd promote sexism, racism, or anything of the such. But then, you know, it's not like Tempest Bradford has ever been accused of being subtle.

From Jim Hines, in a post entitled, 'Here We Go Again':

Most of the frustration I’ve seen expressed over this sort of thing, my own included, comes from a very different place. My sentiment about the anthology wasn’t so much “This editor is a horribly sexist oppressive Nazi” as much as it was “Here we go again.” If you see this as an isolated incident, it might not feel like a big deal. If you see it as yet another white-male-dominated project in a long history of such, then it becomes more frustrating. As an isolated anthology it’s annoying; as a symptom of a larger and ongoing problem within the genre, it’s both discouraging and highly troubling.


Link.

(crossposted)
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Comments allowed for friends only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 8 comments