The Whisper Campaign Against SFF Author Jon Del Arroz

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Jon Del Arroz, a Dragon Award nominated science fiction and fantasy author, is facing a whisper campaign of blackballing, harassment, threats and ostracism. His crime: exposing the institutional sexism of the SFF short fiction field.

On 8 September, Del Arroz published a blog post highlighting the rampant misandry within the premier SFF magazines. He discovered that nearly every magazine was biased against men. 2.8% of female submissions were published — but only 0.8% of male submissions were given the nod.

Cat Rambo, the President of the Science Fiction Writers of America, decried the report as ‘alt numbers’ and turned on him. Previously, she was on cordial terms with Del Arroz, but after he published the article, she immediately turned hostile. In a clear violation of SFWA rules, she used SFWA’s Twitter account to tag Jon to discredit the post.

“I of course messaged SFWA and they did not care,” Del Arroz said in an online interview.

A week later, Jon offered to host her on a YouTube show to patch things up. Instead, Rambo threatened to sue him for ‘harassment’ if he ever contacted her again.

To Del Arroz, it was the last straw.

“That being a war declared, I started memeing about her / mean girls,” Del Arroz said. “She started Facebook messaging calling me a harasser — as if I attacked her — and stirring up industry professionals against me.”

Messages started pouring in across social media, calling him a “harasser”, with some originating from “people who get published in the big mags like Analog”. These are the same magazines whose sexist practices he exposed. A former editor of Clarkesworld took things one step further, calling Del Arroz on Facetime to berate him and his writing.

“Very bizarre,” Del Arroz remarked. “I don’t know him.”

The harassment campaign continued to escalate. A troll posted on his website with information about his children, while others did the same on Twitter.

“[Rambo] never disavowed that,” Del Arroz said.

Del Arroz has since deleted the offending comment, and Twitter has suspended the doxxers.

Throughout this ordeal, Del Arroz has received messages demanding he should make a public apology. As the whisper campaign continued, former friends distanced themselves from Del Arroz, unfriending and blocking him on Facebook. Among them are industry professionals and editors, including those who work at Baen — previously the only major SFF publishing house that strives to remain apolitical in its publication decisions.

Del Arroz believes Social Justice Warriors applied pressure on them to isolate him.

“A person who has worked for Baen told me he received messages warning him about being my friend,” Del Arroz said.

A whisper campaign of this magnitude is deliberately designed to isolate and pressure the target into admitting defeat, and threaten everyone who supports him. For an independent author like Jon Del Arroz, who depends heavily on social media to sell and market his books, this campaign is a threat to his writing career.

Jon Del Arroz is not a troll. While his communication style is upfront and direct, he has always comported himself in a sincere and friendly manner. Whenever he comes into conflict with someone, his first reaction is to attempt to bury the hatchet. In addition to his offer to Rambo, Del Arroz also entered into a spat with SFF author John Scalzi. Del Arroz publicly offered to have dinner with Scalzi, and later to watch a baseball game together, in an attempt to reconcile their differences. Scalzi ignored both offers.

The SFF community was once a big tent where people of all backgrounds could come together to celebrate a shared love for wonder and adventure. Now, a den of vipers has infested the tent, driving out everyone who disagrees with them. Jon Del Arroz is merely their latest target. The moment you question the narrative, they will turn on you and everyone you know. These harpies and backbiters will stop at nothing to destroy your reputation, your friendships and you.

Cat Rambo’s silence is deafening. The behaviour of the SJWs driving this mob is damning. By word and deed, by silence and treachery, they have shown that they are not interested in civilised conduct. All they want is to hang on to their crumbling empire as the seas of change relentlessly batter their strongholds, and to drive off everyone who isn’t one of them. The response to such behaviour is simple.

We will replace them.

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If you want to support Jon Del Arroz through this trying time, you can pick up a copy of his Amazon Top 10 bestselling novel Star Realms: Rescue Run, his Dragon Award nominated novel For Steam and Country, and new novella Gravity of the Game.

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Current serial fiction: INVINCIBLE Part 1 and 2

The War on Truth and Free Thought

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The Bible posits that the world is in the grip of the Father of Lies. With each passing day I am inclined to agree.

Today there is a war on truth and free thought. It is a war fought on the airwaves, in the newsroom, on social media, in print and in lectures. It is a war for nothing less than your mind.

This is not a war fought with guns or bombs–not yet. The weapons of choice are obfuscations, emotional hijacking, memory-holing, cyberswarming and outright deception. When these weapons are exposed and blunted, the next step is censorship, discriminatory firing, demonetisation and no-platforming. In recent times we are seeing the latest round of escalation: riots and targeted violence. The purpose is to smother the truth with lies, and punish everyone who speaks the truth.

Who are the ones running this war? The radical progressives who wish to bend the world to their whims. The oligarchs who profit from the manipulation of demographics, economies and politics. The governments allied with them who seek to keep the people under their thumb.

Who are their targets? They are the people who commit the crimes of thinking for themselves and speaking their minds. They are the ones who express even a hint of skepticism of the party line. They are ordinary people whom these oligarchs wish to control. People like you and me.

The Quiet War

Everybody knows the political orthodoxy. Manmade climate change will lead to an environmental apocalypse. Neo-Nazis are right-wing extremists threatening the world. Anyone who criticises Islam must be Islamophobic and racist. Diversity uber alles, and everyone who questions it are racists/sexists/homophobic/transphobic/bigots. The mainstream media always tells the truth.

And if you question the narrative, you are branded a heretic and punished.

James Damore was fired for distributing a memo that highlighted the echo chamber in Google. The mainstream media lied about his memo and disappeared his citations. The Establishment turned him into a villain, ruining his job prospects everywhere in the technology sector, for the crime of daring to contradict the narrative and shine a spotlight on potentially illegal HR practices.

Damore’s departure is a symptom of a deeper rot within Silicon Valley. If a high-profile user’s politics do not completely agree with those of a platform, they are gone. Google, Facebook, YouTube, PayPal and Patreon have been relentlessly purging thoughtcriminals from their platforms–and the mainstream media ignores them.

Here is a sampling of their latest victims:

Paul Joseph Watson was banned on Facebook for a video making fun of a feminist, a video in which the ‘target’ was in on the joke. His YouTube account was also demonetised.

YouTube personalities Diamond and Silk discovered their videos were demonetised, and are now filing a class action suit.

Pop critic Rageaholic’s YouTube videos were demonetised shortly after uploading. Even an innocuous one discussing the games he’s looking forward to in 2018.

Giovanna Laine was issued a strike for a livestream and the video was removed — 3 hours before it was scheduled to begin.

Patreon deleted high-profile right-winger Lauren Southern’s account while allowing those of violent Antifa users to stand.

YouTube has demonetised every firearm channels — but not channels that promote gun control.

Public intellectual Thomas Wictor’s YouTube account was terminated. After he posted a video on Vimeo, his account was restored without comment.

PayPal banned Jihad Watch from accepting donations on its platform — though the ban was quickly rescinded.

The Amazing Atheist’s YouTube content was demonetised.

SouthFront, which reports on world conflicts, had their YouTube account terminated.

Social media network Gab had its app refused from the Apple App Store nine times, and their Android app was taken off the Google Play Store. The official explanation was that Gab promoted hate speech. But that same hate speech is prevalent on other social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and tumblr, whose apps are not banned.

Twitter has shadowbanned high-profile members of the SFF community, including Brian Niemeier. Shadowbanned users can’t see replies to their tweets, and their friends can’t see the original tweets. More troublesome personalities, chiefly right-wing personalities, had their accounts deleted.

Google altered its search algorithms to filter out ‘fake news’. According to Renegade Inc.:

Wikileaks experienced a 30% decline in traffic from Google searches. Democracy Now fell by 36%. Truthout dropped by 25%. Its own traffic dropped by 67% percent over the same period. Alternet saw a 63% decline in traffic. Media Matters saw a 36% drop in traffic. Counterpunch.org fell by 21%. The Intercept fell by 19%.

Silicon Valley is running a campaign to punish users who do not toe the party line, and the mainstream media isn’t covering it. With so many high-profile creators taken off the airwaves and so little from the media, the only conclusion is that the media is deliberately hiding the news through non-coverage.

And when the news can’t be hidden, the mainstream media will obfuscate it.

The media machine spotlit the Neo-Nazis who marched on Charlottesville. Self-righteous condemnation and op-eds flood the papers and the screens whenever someone so much as utters a “Sieg Heil!”. But what about Antifa and their riots in Berkeley, Hamburg, Seattle and Boston?

The media ignores the Antifa who show up with makeshift weapons and body armour, bottles of urine and brass knuckles and bike locks. They downplay the actions of the Antifa thugs who attack everyone around them, framing it as self-defence or as a response to right-wing violence or the presence of Trump supporters. They won’t talk about how Antifa rioters violently disrupted speeches by conservative darling Milo Yiannopoulis.

It’s clear who the mainstream media sympathises with. CNN claimed that Antifa seeks peace through violence before amending its headline shortly after. Other journalists have expressed sympathy with Antifa.

The media is painting Neo-Naxis as right-wing extremists to smear everyone on the Right while studiously ignoring Antifa violence. When Donald Trump condemned “both sides” at Charlottesville for committing violence, he is attacked for not explicitly calling out the Neo-Nazis. And the media won’t discuss the similarities between the antifascists and actual fascists.

The culture war is spilling into the streets. This war is not about the Left or Right; the victims of these oligarchs come from both sides of the political spectrum. This is about defining acceptable discourse and rewriting history. This is technology oligarchs punishing content creators who pushed controversial opinions that do not square with their ideology. This is the mainstream media burying the truth to further a political agenda. This is a deliberate collusion to hide the truth.

This is a war for your mind.

The Weapons of Truth

This war isn’t limited to politics. This is an extension of the culture war fought over Gamergate, Sad Puppies, the Hugo Awards and the Dragon Awards. The dark powers seek to control everything: your culture, your politics, your beliefs.

If you value freedom of speech and conscience, you have to fight.

Get off hostile platforms. Sooner or later, the oligarchs will come for you. Strike first. I stopped using Google as a search engine a long time ago. I barely use Facebook and Twitter if I can avoid it. If I have to reference a mainstream news site, I use archive.io. If the oligarchs choose to engage in economic warfare, reprisals are called for.

Use alternative platforms that support your right to think and speak freely. Gab is my social media platform of choice. DuckDuck Go is my default search engine. Brave browser can replace almost every Net browser, including Google Chrome. Infogalactic is superior to Wikipedia. I’m on Steemit partly as a defence against government censorship. By supporting and building these alternative platforms, the oligarchs cannot silence you.

Always speak the truth. Truth is the sword that cuts through all deceptions and sophistries. By always seeking and speaking the truth, you develop an immunity to manipulations and lies, and gain an understanding of the true state of the world. No amount of lies can override the truth; you need only the courage and the will to speak it.

If you diverge from the narrative by even an infinitesimal degree, the social justice warriors will brand you a Nazi — and they claim it is righteous to punch a Nazi. If you dare to speak your mind, you will be on their hit list sooner or later. Like it or not, you’re now a part of the culture war, the war to take back your right to speak freely.

But deny the oligarchs your soul and continue speaking the truth, and they will have no power over you.

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The Dragon Awards needs YOU to hold back the tide of SJWs who wish to hijack them. Vote for No Gods, Only Daimons under the Alternate History category. You can find the novel here, and you can sign up for the Dragon Awards here.

Amos Yee and the Freedom to Offend

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Yesterday 18-year-old Singaporean Amos Yee was granted asylum in the United States, throwing a spotlight on freedom of speech in Singapore. Judge Samuel Cole called him a “young political dissident”, and the ruling claimed that Yee has a “suffered past persecution” and has a “well-founded fear of future persecution”. Yee has been jailed twice, once in July 2015 and again in September 2016.

A victory for freedom of speech?

Maybe, but it’s a hollow victory indeed.

Yee has spoken no hard truths, fomented no revolutions and started no grassroots movements. He has created no groundbreaking works of art or philosophy or politics, nor has he revealed any government or corporate malfeasance. He has run for no political party and has contributed not one iota to the development of Singapore’s civil society.

Yee is merely a shock jock.

In 2015, Yee released an expletive-filled video praising the death of Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, calling him a ‘totalitarian’ and comparing him unfavourably to Jesus and Mao Zedong.

The government opened investigations into Yee and detained him for 53 days. A family and youth counsellor, Vincent Law, bailed Yee. On May 13 Yee demonstrated his gratitude by falsely accusing Law of molest on Facebook. Yee then claimed he would be present at Bukit Panjang MRT station to speak to the media. The media swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker, and Yee didn’t show up. The following day, he posted another expletive-laden Facebook post laughing at the media, boasting about how he had trolled them.

In 2016, Yee produced and uploaded a picture and two profanity-filled videos insulting Muslims and Christians. Once again, he was arrested, this time for ‘wounding religious feelings’. He was further fined $2000 for failing to show up at a police station twice to give his statement.

Amos Yee is no hero. He has not furthered the cause of democracy and freedom, nor has he contributed meaningfully to society. He is no free thinker or dissident, only an attention-seeking teenager whose only talent lies in offensive speech.

But freedom of speech means the freedom to offend. Wounding ‘feelings’ is no reason to arrest and jail people; down that path lies ritualised self-criticism, the gulags and the killing fields. People like Yee are canaries in the coal mine: when the government squashes the canary it’s a sign that freedom of speech is under fire. If people approve of shock jocks being arrested for spurious reasons, the government will be encouraged to crack down on people with legitimate arguments and different points of view. Free speech must be for everyone, or it applies to no one.

With that said, I don’t see Yee making the most of his second chance.

Yee claims he is now an ‘anarchist communist’ who believes in feminism. He has a known history of turning on people who want to help him, displaying callous disregard for anyone whom he hurts, employing vulgarities in place of cogent argument, and generating content that rely on offensiveness instead of rational thought. When the going gets tough and he’s in trouble, he has no qualms about compromising his principles to save his skin. Anarchist communism calls for abolition of private property, capitalism and the state; but he relied on a state organ to grant him safety, and when he was held in America, he asked for people to give him money to cover his costs instead of doing stuff for him like a proper anarcho-communist. He also claims that he supports free speech but like all good social justice warriors he has no problem with media platforms taking down ‘anti-feminist’ speech.

Yee is an arch-SJW who has doubled down and continues to double down. If Yee won’t change his ways — and I don’t see that happening anytime soon — he’s not going to amount to much.

What about the impact on Singapore?

Singaporean politician Kenneth Jeyaratnam claims that the ruling “may create waves in Singapore. It may show Singaporeans that there’s nothing to be afraid about. The Singapore government is a paper tiger. We don’t have to swallow the brainwashing that is constantly put out.”

Jeyaratnam sure is optimistic. The government has not softened its stance on Yee or hate speech. The police has not signaled any shift in policy, overtly or otherwise. Opposition politicians have not argued for liberalisation of Singapore’s laws on hate speech nor proposed new free speech laws in Parliament. Political bloggers are still free to say what they want, within the blurry boundaries of the law. Citizens still won’t know what are the limits of the law until someone like Yee tests it and is slapped down. Nothing has changed.

Save for one thing.

Amos Yee is America’s problem now.

Image from Yee’s Facebook page

Why Singapore Literature Turns Me Off

Once again, the arts community is promoting Singapore literature through social media and the mainstream media. The latest initiative is #BuySingLit, billed as “an industry-led movement to celebrate stories from Singapore”.

Once again, the news turns me off SingLit.

A History of Disappointment

As a child I was a voracious reader. I read every book I got my hands on, no matter the subject. I inhaled encyclopedias, fairy tales, the Norse epics, Greek and Roman mythology, world folklore, comics, and so many more stories. In the mornings I would read about hobgoblins and dragons, in the afternoons I studied atomic theory and photography, in the evenings I followed the exploits of supersoldiers and scientists.

At the age of 12 I grew conscious of Singapore literature and the classics, and began to seek them out. Catherine Lim, Gopal Baratham, Goh Poh Seng, Russell Lee, Wena Poon, Joanne Hon and other less-famous writers. Always I compared them to the other stories I’ve read, and found them wanting.

My synesthesia won’t allow me to read books. Instead, I experience them.

Ernest Hemingway’s prose is lean and taut and muscular, demanding a hundred percent of your attention. Michael Connelly’s stories are as black as a murderer’s heart and as slick as ice. Tom Clancy alternates ponderous white slabs with blazing crimson streaks. J. K. Rowling began as smooth caramel, but her later works transformed into dark coffee shot through with green and gold. J. R. R. Tolkien seminal work, The Lord of the Rings, stretches out into lush green vistas and soaring grey mountains. John C. Wright ignites fireworks with his words, blending them together into gold and bronze and violet and emerald on every page.

Compared to all that, every Singaporean writer produces thin mist of pale shades. Some are white, some are yellow, some are brown. Occasionally the mist parts to reveal black-on-white shapes as shallow as the ink that produce them. Other writers make the mist so thick and sticky and dry it feels like wading through a hail of glue drops frozen in the air. These stories are plain, staid, prosaic, illogical, shallow, boring, unreadable — and nearly interchangeable.

Singaporean genre fiction consistently ranks the lowest among the books I have read. Star Sapphire by Joan Hon is a romance story thinly veiled as science fiction, and not a particularly memorable one at that. The Singapore Noir anthology is bleakly bland while Best of Singapore Erotica fails to titillate. Douglas Chua and Barry Chen claim to write thrillers, but I have found their stories more useful as reusable sleeping aids. Only two writers caught my eye: Johann S. Lee, whose writing is competent but unremarkable (and I don’t swing towards gay male romance stories), and Neil Humphreys (who was born in England), specifically his thrillers.

The majority of Singapore’s prose output is high-brow literature, and even that fails the test. Baratham’s A Candle or the Sun promises a spy story focusing on a radical Christian sect, but all that stands out is that the protagonist seemed very concerned over whether he (and his manager) was gay — and that the secret police seemed pointlessly sadistic and otherwise inefficient. Lions in Winter by Wena Poon has multiple scenes that possessed neither a story arc nor relatable characters, yet claimed to be stories. Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore by Catherine Lim is little more than dry sepia. Held against the starkness of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the hidden depths of Road Dahl or the dark absurdity of Jean-Paul Sartre, these stories were limp and colourless.

Even so, I tried to participate in Singapore’s literary circles. I joined writers’ groups — and left soon after. I paid to attend workshops and classes — and learned nothing. I joined writers’ events and seminars — and all I found was navel-gazing, bloviating and boredom.

Everything But Writing

The chief problem as I see it is that the Singapore writing scene is about everything but writing.

Every writers’ group I have joined were for hobbyists. They brought together like-minded people to talk about their own writing, encourage them to write and participate in writing activities. This isn’t wrong per se, but I am not a hobbyist. I aim to be a professional. Professionals delve deep into craft and examine the state of the industry. These groups did not.

Programmes at writers’ events do not build up writers. #BuySingLit‘s events have art displays, treasure hunts and book tours. Only a handful of workshops are geared towards writing — and even those workshops are foundation-level courses. The same holds true for Singapore’s premier writing event, the Singapore Writers Festival. SWF has film screenings, music, history, panel discussions — anything and everything about the writers’ craft, or, indeed, writing. Contrast this to events like Dragoncon or Thrillfest, which teach more about the art, craft and business of writing in three days than SWF does in a month. The instructors at Dragoncon and Thrillfest go into the kind of detail that is sorely lacking in Singapore. I don’t have anything against the non-writing oriented events in local writing events, but one would think that the events, being about writing, would at least focus on the core audience and try to do more than teach beginner-level writing craft.

Singaporean publishers are only interested in a specific type of literature: stories about Singapore culture set in Singapore aimed at a Singaporean audience and foreigners who enjoy reading about Singapore. Writers who do not fit the mold will not find much support from the industry. While publishers are free to pursue whatever business model they like, people like me, a Hugo Award nominated science fiction and fantasy writer who will not limit his stories to Singapore, will have to look elsewhere. Likewise, Singapore’s mainstream media tends to focus on Singaporean writers who have either published through the usual publishing houses, or who are too big and controversial to ignore.

Add them all up, and what you have is a culture that encourages newbies to write and people to feel good. Not a culture that encourages people to sustain their writing or to further hone their craft. The only goal is producing a novel, anthology, poetry collection or whatever, not about living journey about pursuing a career at writing or the art of the written word. When someone publishes a work, the usual cry of “Support local talent!” echoes in the usual circles, without anyone paying heed to the actual quality of the content. Indeed, a couple of the stories and writers I mentioned above were award winners — and the award-winners of today aren’t better.

No Country for Writers?

Sturgeon’s Law states that ninety percent of anything is crud. In Singapore’s case, there aren’t enough writers to have a statistically significant ten percent of non-crud stories.

I intend to change that.

I’ve been writing fiction since I was 12 years old. My published fiction writing career spans 4 years. Later this year, I will publish at least one novel through Castalia House and one short story through Silver Empire’s [Lyonesse] (http://lyonesse.silverempire.org/) programme. I am already working on a bunch of other stories, which will be revealed in due course. If Singapore is no country for writers like me, then I will find other avenues to publish my works.

I will also be passing on the tricks of the trade. It’s been a long time coming, and now I feel ready to give back to the wider community of writers. Expect more posts zooming in on the way of the pen.

Fundamentally, I don’t care whether stories, especially mine, can be labelled SingLit or not. I care about good writing, wherever they may come from. Since my country continues to disappoint me, I will reach out to a wider audience.

The Boston Tea Party and the Washington Riots are Not the Same

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery attempted to draw moral equivalency between the Boston Tea Party and the Washington riots.

They are not the same. I can’t tell if it’s willful ignorance of history or deliberate distortion of the record, but when dealing with the far left, there is no difference.

By drawing comparisons to the Boston Tea Party, the Left is attempting to legitise wanton acts of destruction and rioting. They are attempting to create a narrative to justify future riots, the same kind of riots seen in Ferguson and Baltimore. But the Tea Party is not the same as a riot.

The Boston Tea Party


(W.D. Cooper. Boston Tea Party., The History of North America. London: E. Newberry, 1789. Engraving. Plate opposite p. 58. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress)

The primary target of the Boston Tea Party was the East India Company, a government-granted monopoly that benefited directly from the Tea Act passed by King George.

When the Sons of Liberty boarded the Dartmouth, Eleanor and the Beaver they destroyed the tea — and only the tea. They did not sink the ships. They did not attack the crew. They did not lay waste to the port.

It was a deliberate, focused act of violence aimed at property, with a government-linked monopoly as the primary target and the government itself as the secondary target. It did not involve anyone who was not a beneficiary of the Tea Act. Even so, the Sons of Liberty — and everybody else, including their allies and sympathisers — recognised that the protest itself was illegal. The colonial government did not suppress the Tea Party because the colonial government supported the cause, not because the protest was legal.

The Boston Tea Party itself was the culmination of decades of colonial frustration with the British government. The colonials believed it was not fair for King George to levy taxes on the colonies without granting them representation in Parliament. They saw King George and Parliament as remote rulers far removed from the goings-on in their lands, utilising taxes and the Regulars to keep the colonials in check. Despite decades of arguments, London did not budge. Taxation without representation was the order of the day. When the Tea Act passed, it undercut the livelihoods of colonial tea merchants while propping up a government monopoly on the brink of collapse. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The Black Blocs of Washington

Now contrast this with the riots in Washington, fronted by the infamous Black Bloc.

This is in no way comparable to the Tea Party. The Tea Party did not deliberately attack people. The Washington rioters attacked police officers, and smashed windows and torched cars belonging to private businesses and individuals unaffiliated with President Donald Trump or the Federal government.

Disrupt J20 was an excuse to indulge in random acts of gratuitous violence. The rioters didn’t target anyone or anything belonging to Trump or his administration. They simply attacked ordinary Americans who live in a city that overwhelmingly voted against Trump, a President who has not done significant anything yet.

Think about that: the progressives, anarchists, antifascists and other groups were attacking their own supporters, in a country that prides itself on freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. Instead of peaceful protests and petitions in a nation known for responding to such methods, the rioters indulged in violence.

The Washington riots had far more to do with the Stamp Act riots than the Tea Party. And the Stamp Act rioters, it should be remembered, were so destructive that the Founding Fathers sought to distance themselves from them.

The Slippery Slope

To be fair, the Boston Tea Party and the Washington riots have one thing in common: they were both acts of political violence.

Political violence rots the body politic. It is an irrevocable step towards chaos and bloodshed. Mob violence signals to everyone that the political process has failed, and it is time to unleash the beasts within. History tells us that mob violence is the death of liberty, democracy and civilisation. From the fall of the Roman Republic to Byzantium during the Imperial Exile, the French Terror to the Cultural Revolution, mob violence is a symptom of coming chaos.

The Boston Tea Party irrevocably led to the American Revolutionary War. America looks fondly upon the Tea Party today because America won the war. Had the British won, the textbooks and the popular narratives would be far different indeed.

The Washington riots allow Progressives to tell themselves that mob violence is acceptable, and a preferred tactic in future controversies. But this is a delusion. The riots also tell the Hard Right what to expect when the Progressives come for them.

I have seen discussions of armaments and tactics among the militant right. They are ready and willing to inflict bloodshed on a scale beyond what the Left can dream of. The Left calls for gun control, safe spaces and feminism; the Right believes in gun ownership, training and preparation. The Progressives may bring boots and clubs and stones; the Hard Right will wield AR-15s and Molotov cocktails and IEDs.

If the culture war goes hot, who do you think will win?

Female Characters are not Men with Breasts

The stench of social justice is strong with this piece.

Which is why Rat Queens is so damn important: it’s essentially a D&D campaign driven by women. The heart of the story follows the eponymous mercenary team, a brash quartet who know what they want and just go for it…

 

On the off-chance that you don’t relate to any of the Queens, good news! There’s a slew of other ladies to love and admire! Lola is the muscular second-in-command in the city guard; Braga is a death-defying lady orc built like a tank; Tizzie is Hannah’s very blonde and very feminine friend-turned-chief rival; Faeyri is Betty’s punk elf girlfriend.

Even some of the baddies are women! “Old Lady” Bernadette is a merchant, tired of the Queens constantly destroying her businesses, and the team has to face down a troll army led by a pissed off girlfriend (after they killed her boyfriend earlier in the story—hey, the dude was trying to smash them all into paste! It was absolutely self-defense!)…

 

And, let’s not forget, some killer representation. Not only is there an amazing preponderance of ladies, there’s also people of color (in a fantasy world! Because if you can have dwarves and dragons, you sure as hell can have black people) and LGBT+ representation (Betty’s a lesbian and Braga’s transgender)…

 

With so many of us ladies demanding better representation and hungry for anything starring women, the network that adapted Queens would also be guaranteed a huge female viewership, which is nothing to sneeze at. We’re half the population, folks, and we deserve to have more loud and proud heroines to admire in our media.

When I read fantasy, I think of sweeping landscapes, intricate magic systems, sprawling empires, clashes of cultures and civilisations, and tales of good and evil. The best fantasy stories should tell readers something timeless about human nature. Spending one in six paragraphs talking up women and diversity tells me that either the story is incredibly bland, or that the writer is incredibly solipsistic. I suspect both.

Look at the character descriptions.

Hannah is the mage: an aggressive, tattooed, and confrontational lady who would like nothing better than to pick a fight with the entire world. Her parents are necromancers, so she has a direct line to the next world.

‘Aggressive, tattooed and confrontational’ are masculine traits. There are women who are like that, and all of the ones I’ve met who embody those traits are fundamentally broken. People who ‘would like nothing better than to pick a fight with the entire world’ usually get their wish–and usually die soon after. There is always a bigger fish, and if you spend your life fighting everybody you meet, the bigger fish will oblige. People with this character trait aren’t badass — they’re flawed. They are ticking time bombs with a sharply limited life expectancy.

Violet is the resident dwarf and swordswoman. She’s got a chip on her shoulder re: her culture and family and shaves her beard as a statement. She’s also the most heavily-armored of the Queens and has a driving need to prove herself.

Body hair is political only to feminists. This seems to be an inversion of modern-day feminism’s obssession with keeping armpit and leg hair. This tells me nothing about the character, only the creator’s hamfisted attempts at pushing a political message. Further, people with a ‘driving need to prove’ themselves by taking up an inherently violent profession and deliberately entering combat tend to be men with an excess of testosterone.

Further, being the resident swordswoman, she should know better than to mount swords on her back, and she would understand the virtues of not carrying so much gear that they could catch on anything, interfere with her actions and slow her down. The character designs tell me that the creator chose style over substance — as expected of third-rate stories.

Betty is fondly referred to as a “smidgen” by her teammates; she’s pretty clearly a halfling/hobbit, and because of her size and speed, she’s often the thief (when they need information) or a projectile weapon (in a melee). Betty’s typically high on a lethal mixture of magic mushrooms and sugary candy and is pretty laid back as a result.

In other words, she’s a drug addict. That makes her a liability in the real world. Not badass.

And size and speed does not a thief make. Real thieves are stealthy and smooth. Fast and unnatural actions draw attention, and attention leads to a lethal dose of metal poisoning. A real thief would be invisible in plain sight, unseen and unknown until after the job. A good thief would stay unknown well after the job — quite the opposite of the Rat Queens’ reputation. (See The Thief, the Burke series, and other crime noir stories for more realistic representations of actual thieves.)

Further, ‘(small) size and speed’ do not a good projectile weapon user make. Longbows, for instance, require immense upper body strength. Crossbows may need less strength than longbows, but longbows have a faster rate of fire. Slings, darts and javelins are propelled by the user’s muscles; speed comes from body mechanics and proper application of bodyweight. If we’re talking fantasy weapons not reliant on gunpowder or magic, strength matters. So does size–the larger the better. Not the other way around.

Dee is the group’s cleric and healer. An atheist with divine abilities, thanks to being raised in a cult that worships a flying squid—think Lovecraft meets the Flying Spaghetti Monster—she’s also the homebody of the Queens. While the others love nothing more than a rousing bar fight, Dee would prefer to stay home with a big book.

Now this does not make sense. Clerics are not inherently powerful; they channel the power of their god(s) based on their long-standing relationship with the divine. In harder fantasy settings, clerics and other believers must act in ways commensurate with the morals and creed of the power they worship, or suffer the consequences. How can a person who does not believe in gods draw on the power of gods when she will not form a relationship with something she does not believe in, much less embody the values of that greater power? Being raised in a flying squid cult is not enough; by being an atheist she repudiates the squid, severing her relationship with it. By drawing on the power of the squid, or any other divinity, she necessarily forms a relationship with a divine being, which means she must confront her atheism. And the divine power, in turn, will pay more attention to her and her behaviour — and wonder why she still will not believe in it. At the very least, she must resolve the question of whether she can have a relationship with something she does not believe in. You do not get to be fashionably atheist and still be blessed with the power of a god without having to reconcile the two.

Berry sums up the Rat Queens as such:

A team of hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, fun-loving, totally asskicking female mercenaries.

‘Hard-drinking’ and ‘foul-mouthed’ are masculine characteristics. They are the traits of men and male soldiers I have been around. The female soldiers I have served with tend to be less hard-drinking and foul-mouthed than the men, and indeed, in an interview with Pioneer magazine, male sailors recounted reminding each other to watch their language after female sailors were assigned to the ship. The presence of women make men gentlemen; they should not make the world even more masculine.

The most damning flaw with Rat Queens is that I don’t see women. I see men with breasts. They act like men, talk like men, drink like men and fight like men. Nothing in their described behaviour sets them apart from the male soldiers and adventurers I have known. There is nothing about, say, compassion, diplomacy, morality, relationship-building, solidarity or any other traits that women tend to employ more than men.

At the same time, the Rat Queens get away with things men will not, because they are women.

Due to their wild partying, they’re on the mayor’s naughty list in their current home base of Palisade and have frequent brushes with the law (good thing Hannah can usually seduce the Captain of the Guard and get them all off “on good behavior”).

Real mercenaries and operators know that you cannot afford to alienate your home community, especially the movers and shakers.Men who do what the Rat Queens do will quickly find themselves arrested, imprisoned and exiled. Or executed. At the very least, they will have to deal with the wrath and resentment of the businesses they bust up, and the constant attention of local law enforcement. But the Rat Queens get to get away with destructive behaviour because of Hannah’s feminine wiles, and the mayor’s inability to have the Captain of the Guard replaced.

Berry’s write-up on the Rat Queens tells me that this comic is typical feminist fantasy fare. The comic portrays unbelievable women who enjoy the traits of men and the privilege of women without having to deal with the consequences of their behaviour.

I don’t care whether a fantasy story has minority representation, diversity or women or whatever. I care whether the story is believable. Fantasy stories, especially good stories by J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and John C. Wright, are stories about timeless truths. Fantasy stories that do not reflect the truth are failed stories.

Why Polygon is DOOMed

On the 12th of May, gaming review website Polygon released a 30-minute gameplay video of DOOM. To call it horrible is an understatement.

The player’s performance is embarrassingly abysmal, quite literally on par with someone who has never played a first person shooter on a console before. It’s as though the concept of aiming, moving and shooting are alien to the player, as is reading environmental cues, processing enemy movements and attacks, and in-game navigation.

It’s not wrong to be bad at games. Every gamer has to start from somewhere. But this is Polygon, one of the world’s largest gaming websites. One would expect, and demand, a reasonable degree of skill from someone tapped to showcase the first 30 minutes of an eagerly-anticipated AAA title  — itself the spiritual successor of a title that defined the game industry.

A gameplay preview is supposed to showcase the best of the game: the mechanics, the controls, the story, the enemies, the objectives. Viewers want to know what to expect if they buy the game. Instead, this video showcases the worst gameplay ever recorded on YouTube — it says more about the player and the company than the game itself. If a gaming ‘journalist’ cannot even play a game he is assigned to cover without making himself look like a noob, how did his content even pass the editor’s desk? If a gaming journalism site can’t assign a competent player to play one of the most eagerly-anticipated games of the year, what kind of gaming journalism site is it?

The icing on the cake, though, is what Polygon did after the video was posted.

Or rather, didn’t.

Polygon disabled comments on the video, and took away visibility of the like/dislike bar. On the main website, Polygon said nothing about the fiasco, never mind that parody videosTweets and critique posts are floating about the Internet. Instead of addressing the issue, it seems Polygon is intent on sweeping the disaster right under the carpet, never mind that the Internet is forever. In doing so, Polygon has doomed its credibility.

During the GamerGate saga, Polygon spread the usual social justice drivel about harassment, showing that they were against ethics in gaming journalism. Polygon banned users for disagreeing with a review and with Anita Sarkeesian. Polygon cried racism when reviewing The Witcher 3, a game set in a universe based on Slavic mythology, for not featuring non-white characters (because Azer Javed doesn’t count), and misogyny, when the most powerful beings in the game series are all women. Now Polygon can’t even hire staff that can play a game, and won’t make amends to the gamers it has disappointed over the years. Polygon has been fully converged by Social Justice Warriors, and now it can’t or won’t even uphold standards of competency.

Polygon is doomed. It just doesn’t know it yet.

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.