Only Goodthink Allowed in SFF

The cult of social justice strikes again. Social Justice Warriors have launched a whisper campaign to purge the works of John C. Wright, Larry Correia, Brad R Torgersen and Michael Z Williamson from science fiction and fantasy bookstores in Toronto.

All of them have been accused of making homophobic comments. Only Wright has made remarks that could be argued as such; he called homosexuality an ‘aberration’. The others have not.

Their true crime was being associated with the Sad and Rapid Puppies campaigns, designed to encourage greater participation and transparency in the Hugo Awards. In doing so, they challenged the SJWs who insisted on turning the Hugo awards into a parochial contest to determine who can most blatantly signal their adherence to the principles of social justice in fiction, culminating in a self-congratulatory ritual that refuses to recognise the groundbreaking authors who have broadened the field of SFF.

The objective of the campaign is clear: to purge authors for thoughtcrime, leaving room only for goodthink. This is naked authoritarianism, and authoritarianism is authoritarianism no matter which side of the political spectrum approves it. Coming from a country that bans politically embarrassing books, such as Once a Jolly HangmanI cannot stand back and watch others attack the livelihoods of authors solely because they disagree with their politics.

There will come a time in the not too distant future when the SJWs will no longer resort to whisper campaigns. They will openly leverage the arms of the state to have thoughtcrime removed from bookshelves — and governments will acquiesce. Authors the world over need to be ready for this possibility.

The short-term solution is redundancy. Print and mortar bookshops are a dying trade. The modern author needs to explore alternative means of getting books out. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is the world standard in publishing and distributing books. Other options include Smashwords, Lulu and Lightning Source. Authors can also attempt to sell and distribute books, print and digital, from online shopfronts, like Chuck Wendig and Joanna Penn. Multiple redundant distribution streams will prevent a sudden loss of income should SJWs succeed in cutting one down.

But the long-term answer is antifragility. An SJW censorship attack should be treated as an opportunity, not a crisis. Hit back on every media channel you own and get your side of the story out. Ride the waves of controversy to generate greater attention for your books. Expose the SJWs for who and what they are, and ally yourself with the people who would stand against them. And let all and sundry know where else they can find your books.

There is no such thing as bad publicity, only opportunities to leverage other platforms. There is no censorship, only opportunities to drive customers to other distribution channels. There is no permanent victory for SJWs and their ilk: through the power of truth and new media, they shall be overcome.

No safe space for predators

Castalia House recently concluded a series of posts on paedophiles in science fiction. (Part 1 here.) Drawing on testimonials, newspaper reports and oral statements, the expose accuses a number of high-profile writers as sex predators or defenders of sex predators.

The series makes for morbid reading. It includes descriptions of outrageous sexual violence, exploitation of children, and celebrations of the same. It also includes testimonies to a slightly lesser evil, of people sweeping accusations under the carpet and protecting known predators. I am disappointed to see so many of well-known authors on the blacklist, especially a few of my childhood favourites.

I can understand why so many celebrities and fans chose to defend these people. It is human nature for people to circle the wagons against outsiders, critics and accusers. But it doesn’t make things right. It does not, and cannot, excuse such depredations. The right thing to do would be to report these accusations and allegations to the police and determine the truth of the matter.

Science fiction is the literature of the future. Fantasy is the literature of values. Children are the future of civilisation, and civilisation is founded upon what we value. There can be no safe space for people who prey upon children and the bedrock of civilisation.

To SFF writers and readers who care about society, I urge you to speak up. Do not tolerate naked evil. Do not sacrifice the future for expediency and poisonous friends. Call the enablers and the silent to account, especially those who should know better. The monsters in the midst must be identified, isolated and dealt with.

There must be no safe spaces for predators. Not in the world, not in society, not in SFF.

 

Directions for 2016

In 2015, I broke in to the SFF market with War Crimes and Flashpoint: Titan. The response to these stories, and the anthologies they’ve been associated with, have been very encouraging. Come 2016, I aim to build up the Cheah Kai Wai brand — and that means writing.

Last year, I submitted a novel titled No Gods, Only Daimons to Castalia House. In the coming weeks and months, I will be working on bringing it to life.

No Gods, Only Daimons is a science fantasy thriller, the first in a long-running series. It follows the exploits of an atheist black ops agent who, during a mission, comes face-to-face with the physical manifestation of an archangel. Granted supernatural powers, he must prove his worth and fire the opening shots of a secret war. There will be high-intensity martial arts sequences, physics-based superpowers, elaborate mythology and counterfactual history. I’d like to think that this novel is what happens if you cross Brad Taylor with Roger Zelazny, throw in two divine elements, and with a dash of post-cyberpunk.

In addition to editing the story, I’m working on what can only be described as a magnum opus. Light Between the Stars is a hard military science fiction / space opera story, in the tradition of early 20th century sci fi — and with extensively researched physics. The story follows an interstellar war, and the love story at its heart. Think Hoshi no Koe, but with far, far harder science — and, alas, no mecha. With a target length of 400,000 words, it is also the longest manuscript I have ever worked on — though it would likely be split into two or four separate novels.

I don’t like to talk about works in progress; they have an annoying tendency to change themselves before completion. I can say that it will feature ultra-high-powered lasers, fusion-powered starships, hypervelocity and relativistic munitions, space Marines, light speed lag, and a romance that spans light-years and star systems.

Flashpoint: Titan is set in the same universe, twelve years before Light Between the Stars begins. Flashpoint: Titan tells the story of an event that will come to influence the politics, strategies and mindsets that drive characters and nations in Light Between the Stars — and, if I say so myself, is a perfectly serviceable story of space combat in its own right.

Novels aside, I don’t have any plans to write shorter works. Simply put, novellas and short stories do not sell as well as series novels in the current market. I also need to focus my creative energies on one work at a time. However, if I’m invited to write for an anthology or magazine, or if a publishing call catches my eye and sparks my imagination, I might be willing to make an exception.

In 2015, I established a toehold in the market. In 2016, I will break out. Here’s to a productive year, and to many more to come.