Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Card on the Table

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  • Tim Michie,

    Fans and retailers aren't the only people upset that DC has hired very vocal gay rights denier Orson Scott Card to write the digital-first Adventures of Superman comic; artist Chris Sprouse, who was due to illustrate Card's take specifically, has just quit the book due to the controversy. Sprouse gave a statement earlier today:

    "It took a lot of thought to come to this conclusion, but I've decided to step back as the artist on this story. The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that's something I wasn't comfortable with. My relationship with DC Comics remains as strong as ever and I look forward to my next project with them."

    via io9

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    For all the talk about how Heinlein was a nutso libertarian and PKD was a flag-waving commie, it's worth noting that they were firm friends and Heinlein financially supported PKD when he was at his lowest ebb (which was pretty often).

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    I'm going to add to this list of "SF writers whose politics I know of and disagree with" Gene Wolfe, a conservative Catholic (not that there's anything wrong with that, Craig (: ). He remains one of my favourite writers in any genre, but I find myself often cringing at his ideas about duty, honour and women.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    While I'm here, has anyone else noticed the subgenre I'll call "SF writers who are also lefty bloggers who are probably better bloggers than SF writers"? I'm thinking of Charles Stross, David Brin and Cory Doctorow in particular.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Emma Hart,

    finding that an artist whose work you love has a life or politics you can admire

    How many copies of Serenity and Firefly do I have to buy to balance out my copy of Ender's Game?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington, in reply to James Butler,

    For all the talk about how Heinlein was a nutso libertarian and PKD was a flag-waving commie, it's worth noting that they were firm friends and Heinlein financially supported PKD when he was at his lowest ebb (which was pretty often).

    I never got the feeling PKD was a commie. He was into hippie spiritualism and freak politics (anti Vietnam War etc..) But not inherently left-wing.

    I'm going to add to this list of "SF writers whose politics I know of and disagree with" Gene Wolfe, a conservative Catholic

    Word. New Sun series was a big favourite back in the day.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I believe it's China Miéville you want for the "flag waving commie" spot in your pantheon

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Michael Moorcock is openly anarchist, in the Noam Chomsky mould if I'm not much mistaken.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Mieville lists a bunch of others here: 50 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Works Every Socialist Should Read.

    I couldn't get past the "Peter and Valentine change the world by arguing on the internet" subplot in the Ender books.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I believe it's China Miéville you want for the "flag waving commie" spot in your pantheon

    Or Ken Macleod who, if memory serves, was a card carrying trotskyite at one stage. Him and Iain Banks are drinking buddies and both fairly left wing, according to the Edinburgh Scifi club members I met down the pub in London.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I would consider all science fiction irretrievably bourgeois and decadent.

    Either you're part of the brave new future of socialism, in which case why read about alternative, incorrect, realities, or you're a reactionary dreamer, in which case you should be freezing your arse off in an antarctic salt mine*.

    * (The NZ revolution will inevitably feature antarctic salt mines. Even if there's no salt in the antarctic, reactionaries will be forced to keep digging till they find some. And provided with internet access, so they can blog about their miseries, pour encourager les autres) .

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I own Bender's Game on DVD. Is that okay?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Will de Cleene,

    Stranger in a Strange Land is the only Heinlein left in my library. That said, I found Friday's sexual politics about as offensive as the weird fixation Stephen Donaldson has in the Gap Cycle, a series which a fem-mate raved about. Haven't touched the literary genre since.

    Futurama has about the right level of kink for my sci-fi diet. More space sitcom, less space opera.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    The art exists on its own once created, so why would the prejudices of its creator matter?

    It's funny, when I read this I immediately thought "oh like that bastard orson scott card, I'll have to comment about how much of a tool he is" and then, well you went there for me.

    I haven't dug into any of this stuff lately, but a few years ago when I learned about the true depths of his dickbagitude, it put a whole lot of stuff from the books into a completely new light - as I recall at least a couple of the characters have memories perhaps even while in utero - I can't remember his name, the little one from Ender's Shadow (Bean? Flea?), in particular. This is now so obviously part of his anti-abortion/'life begins at conception' belief that it makes me sick how badly I misinterpreted it when I first read the book.

    I seem to recall people never had sex outside wedlock, either.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Morgan Nichol,

    I have "Ender's Game" & "Speaker for the Dead" in my sf library - but nothing else.
    I gave up on Gene Wolfe after the first 3 books of his torturer series- yuk. And - meh.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Tim Michie,

    Fans and retailers aren’t the only people upset that DC has hired very vocal gay rights denier Orson Scott Card to write the digital-first Adventures of Superman comic; artist Chris Sprouse, who was due to illustrate Card’s take specifically, has just quit the book due to the controversy.

    Interestingly precise and carefully worded PR from Sprouse, though. It’s not Card himself, or DC’s judgement in hiring him, that cause the bail but “the controversy.” I can understand why it’s professionally unwise to shit where you eat – the mainstream US comics industry is an effective duopoly after all but a stronger statement would have been nice.

    Still, this is another reason why companies should do proper due diligence on who they associate their brands with – and who their audiences really are. Like it or not, when you do business with a writer you’re not just leasing their “brand” but all the baggage that goes with it.

    Also, DC has been under sustained criticism in recent years for its lack of diversity not only on the page but in the creative, editorial and executive staffs. Yeah, it’s really choice that Batwoman’s going to propose to her girlfriend in costume no less, but that doesn’t mitigate that you still hired someone who IRL thinks she’s going to go to hell.

    Oh, and you also hired the homophobic white guy to write a high profile Superman story when you have precisely zero African-American or Hispanic writers and only three women. BTW, your most senior female editor, Vertigo head Karen Berger, is leaving at the end of the month.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to James Butler,

    Actually, that's kind of the converse situation to what Emma talks about, in terms of the "bonus" you get when you find a favourite writer has views that align with your own.

    That is, people whose views/perspective you find fascinating, and the work... not so much. China Mieville and Kim Stanley Robinson fall into that category for me. Haven't actually finished any of their works. Ursula Le Guin is 50/50 - I love about half the stuff she's written, and the other half, I really don't like. Charles Stross, awesome dude, writing leaves me dead. As for Joss Wheedon, love Firefly; Buffy, I simply don't get.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    As for the "geeks = super cool" in terms of their acceptance of queers, eh, I think maybe the "we are awesome liberals" type are - as in, they go beyond "tolerance" to acceptance.

    But there are huge pockets of Christian geeks, military-SF geeks, Randians (and despite their professed "libertarianism", the ones I've encountered have been bigots against queers), etc etc. Having worked with a fundie-type Christian for the past couple of years, I've learned there's a big tranche of them floating around, but who remain relatively stealth until you talk about personal stuff with them for more than 5 minutes. The right-wing military nuts, I've encountered on more than one SF-fan mailing list.

    So maybe in terms of population proportions, geeks have greater queer acceptance compared to the general population, but there are still plenty who have issues. I suppose in the general geek culture, it's less socially-acceptable to be openly bigoted, which is a very good thing. I have to say I do notice the entrenched sexism more.

    Speaking of literary genres and acceptance, I find romance readers are pretty accepting of queers - there is a whole swodge of "gay" romances written by women, and whose market is - at least partially - het women. Of course, there's a heap more Christian-orientated and "traditional" role-affirming stuff out there as well (although those subgenres are the minority compared to the more common staunch heroine these days - just look at Nora Roberts).

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to TracyMac,

    I have to say I do notice the entrenched sexism more.

    Gods Old and New, yes. Had way too many uber-squicky conversations with chaps who see precisely nothing even slightly problematic with the horrendous treatment of rape and violence against women in things like True Blood, Game of Thrones and American Horror Story. (Though to be fair, there's also plenty of nuanced and thoughtful discussions on the subject too -- you've just got to know where to look and it's usually in places where those kinds of chaps are subject to prompt Dalek-style extermination.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I always find it rather hard to decide how to act in this situation. I did read Ender's Game a lot and the sequels such as existed before the early 2000s and greatly enjoyed them. On the other hand the author is incredibly vocal in his personal political views.

    My view is that if the author or artist makes an effort to promote their views in that way and leverage's their fame to do so, then I am quite entitled to take that into account when reading their work, or not as it were

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to TracyMac,

    As for the "geeks = super cool" in terms of their acceptance of queers, eh, I think maybe the "we are awesome liberals" type are - as in, they go beyond "tolerance" to acceptance.

    I think it might be related to the Geek Social fallacies. Geeks fairly frequently have internalised the "excluding people is bad" idea, and thus they can be quite accepting of stuff like LGBT etc, but also tolerant of misogyny and other obnoxious social attitudes.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to TracyMac,

    love Firefly; Buffy, I simply don’t get

    I have friends who are insane Buffy fans. Maybe it's because I've never watched many episodes in sequence but I've never found the program anything other than mildly entertaining.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to TracyMac,

    As for the “geeks = super cool” in terms of their acceptance of queers, eh, I think maybe the “we are awesome liberals” type are – as in, they go beyond “tolerance” to acceptance.

    I think it is that a lot of geek culture causes people to have their preconceptions challenged. It doesn't mean entrenched homophobic geeks will change their minds but it does mean that someone who hasn't noticed casual homophobia around them might have that homophobia cast into stark relief by the books/comics/films they encounter.

    Geek culture can cause people to think about and question things.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    So I have a question. Would Ender's Game be more acceptable if OSC was dead and not activity spewing his bile?

    If he was dead we could dismiss his views as being a product of history, of course we can dismiss his views as being a product of his location now.

    Does it become easier to view the art as separate from the artist over time?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    So I have a question. Would Ender’s Game be more acceptable if OSC was dead and not activity spewing his bile?

    If you find Ender’s Game a difficult piece of work, I don’t think it signifies either way. Hell, C.S. Lewis died fifty years ago, and people are still arguing about the problem of Susan. Is The Lord of the Rings a deeply reactionary (and more than a bit racist and misogynistic) tract from someone who refused to grow-up let alone accommodate himself to the 20th century? Don't think anyone's ever going to settle that one.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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