Geeze, Larry Correia, leave some straw men for the rest of us. 29

So, Larry Correia wrote a fantastically dickish blog post about Alex Dally MacFarlane’s post on Tor.com in regards to the default gender binary represented in mainstream SF literature. The post in question involved Alex making the incredibly revolutionary1 observation that transwomen and transmen, you know, exist. As well as other people who do not conform to the strict, aggressively Leave It To Beaver-ish gender binary that’s still presented as the default. And it’s time to get away from that being the default. And hey, there have already been works written that touch on the issue, so let’s discuss those and then move forward. (Alex, if you ever happen to read this, I hope I have not misrepresented your position overmuch in my rather flippant summary.)

Jim Hines, bless him from his shiny head to his sofa-marrying heart2, possesses such intestinal fortitude and abundance of spare time that he’s done a point by point take down of Correia’s post.

My normal inclination here is to have the same response as I had to John C. Wright and his wall of misogy-text, namely: would you get a load of this fuckin’ guy. But there are a few things that are bothering me particularly, though. In short:

  1. Correia spends the whole time calling Alex “he” in his original post. (Alex isn’t a man. It takes exactly one google search or two clicks to double check that.[ETA] Her bio is literally at the bottom of her post. What kind of fucking laziness does this take?) I actually went and looked at Correia’s blog to see if he corrected himself, and he did… kinda? Somewhere in the word salad of this long response to Jim he corrects himself on Alex being “she,” airily dismisses it as a mistake and says he further doesn’t care anyway BECAUSE IDEAS NOT PEOPLE. Perhaps at this point misrepresenting someone’s gender feels like a drop in the ocean of douchery, and that’s the excuse for not taking two seconds to type out the word ‘sorry.’ But it’s a damn pathetic excuse.
  2. Seriously, what is with the dog whistle liberal versus conservative culture war bullshit framing? Perhaps this is bothering me more than normal because in my offline life, I just had a strong reminder that being conscious of gender identification isn’t a default liberal versus conservative issue, it’s a not being a douchebag issue.
  3. Correia’s thesis as written seems to be that (a) straw Alex wants all books to be nothing but non-standard characters and there will be checklists nothing but checklists forever, (b) this would make everything a preachy issue book (presumably because straw Alex does not care about story?), therefore (c) that would destroy the genre of science fiction.
  4. The “I don’t like thing X, therefore if you write thing X IT WILL DESTROY THE GENRE,” line has gotten so common that I believe it deserves its own name. It’s like an appeal to consequences and appeal to tradition got together and had an ugly, whiny baby. Any suggestions? The best I’ve got is Appeal to Destruction, and that’s admittedly tepid.
  5. Correia keeps coming back to story being the most important thing. I don’t think there’s any halfway decent writer who would argue the point that story is where it’s at. So where the fuck is this disconnect? How does what Alex actually said in any way preclude the primacy of story? How does even making a conscious effort to write non-default characters equal preachy issue book? Is there some kind of mathematical proof I’m missing out on here that shows the number of transgender or genderqueer characters is inversely proportional to the amount of story and/or fun?
  6. Geeze, dude, leave some straw men for the rest of us. Seriously. Worldwide shortage.
  7. Cisgender hetero guy with enormous biceps kills vampires and then must face their sire in a world-shattering showdown versus Transwoman with slightly less enormous biceps kills vampires then must face their sire in a world-shattering showdown would both be driven by the same basic story. Each would be distinct because, say, for option B you’d have to consider how the heroine’s status as trans would effect her interactions with other characters and all of their choices–yet in the end it’s still about some badass killing a shitload of vampires and saving the world.
  8. I do not tend to buy books that promise to preach at me. But you know what I will go out of my way to buy? Books with female protagonists. Books with explicitly bisexual protagonists. Because like all human beings, I’m an egocentric jerk and I enjoy being able to see people like me in stories, saving the world and doing other badass shit. [ETA: I would hope this goes without saying, but you never know. I want good and interesting books with the aforementioned and following. Books with excellent story, which very much do exist when combined with “non-default” main characters. Yeesh.] But you know what else I’ll go out of my way to buy? Books with genderqueer protagonists. Books with non-white protagonists. Books with protagonists from cultures other than my own. Why? Because I want to imagine things outside of myself as well. And imagining ye olde heterosexual white dude? We all basically know how to put those shoes on mentally before we can tie our literal shoelaces in the real world.

 

1 – Mmm, sarcasm italics. How I have missed you.

2 – Some of the comments on Jim’s post are gold.

29 thoughts on “Geeze, Larry Correia, leave some straw men for the rest of us.

  1. Reply Chris Upchurch Jan 29,2014 19:08

    “But you know what I will go out of my way to buy? Books with female protagonists.”

    In that case, might I suggest The Grimnoir Chronicles series by Larry Corriea? One of the two protagonists of the series is female and (spoilers) she, not the musclebound male, is the one who ends up defeating the biggest threat in each book.

    “Books with non-white protagonists. Books with protagonists from cultures other than my own.”

    Hmm, how about the Monster Hunter International series by Larry Corriea. The primary protagonist of the series is half-polynesian.

    • Reply Rachael Jan 29,2014 19:13

      I shall take a look at them. (And I’m not saying that in a dismissive way.)

      It certainly does make one wonder why such a brick was shat over Alex’s proposal.

      • Reply Chris Upchurch Jan 29,2014 19:19

        I think Corriea was pretty clear that his beef isn’t with including characters that aren’t straight, white, and/or male, it’s with “message fiction”.

        • Reply Rachael Jan 29,2014 19:30

          I’m certainly not a fan of message fiction myself. However, the fact that he’s gone on this wild tear at Alex, who in no way advocated message fiction in her piece, really doesn’t help his point at all. Because as it is now, this is how it looks:

          Alex: I want binary gender to stop being the *default* setting for scifi.
          Correia: Well message fiction is terrible therefore you are wrong.

          And frankly, when you add in all the blah blah liberals blah blah, I’m forced to wonder with whom and what his beef actually *is*.

  2. Reply Robert 'RevBob' Hood (@RevBobMIB) Jan 30,2014 00:04

    Y’know, I like the MHI and Grimnoir books. MHI is pretty fun stuff, if a bit too gun-p0rny for my tastes, and the Grimnoir setting has a really neat reason for magic.

    Unfortunately, it looks like I need to put Correia in the same penalty box to which I’ve consigned Orson Scott Card, because reading their books now only reminds me how crass they are to people who aren’t Just Like Them. I have no desire to support someone who rabidly insults and bullies people for beliefs the author simply assumes they hold, with or without evidence. I’ll read his books that are already in my TBR pile, but that’s it.

    That’s why I stopped buying the Ender books, and several other Baen authors are starting to affect me in the same way. I guess Larry’s too busy being a $u¢¢e$$fu£ Writ€r to realize that his rants can actually be counterproductive. Unless, of course, he’s pulling the old Limbaugh trick of throwing red meat to one part of the audience and hoping it brings in enough NEW jerks to replace the saner people who are leaving because they’ve gotten sick of his toxic crapfest.

    • Reply Rachael Jan 30,2014 00:25

      I certainly got a red meat vibe off of quite a bit in both those posts, just the whole making everything explicitly about politics/culture wars. (Though I guess since LGBT issues of all stripes, but particularly trans* person issues are inherently political while the community is actively fighting for basic civil rights, I shouldn’t be surprised.)

      Kind of funny, but I stopped reading OSC before I ever got exposed to his politics and could no longer in good conscience give him any of my money. I just read Shadow of the Hegemon and thought it was utter shit and decided I was entirely done with the series. Then I found out how off the deep end he was on issues that are very important to me.

    • Reply Ingvar Jan 30,2014 06:59

      You and me, both. It may even go as far as not being able to buy Baen monthly bundles if there’s Correia in them.

  3. Reply Grit Jan 30,2014 05:54

    I’m kind of with Robert on this one. I had Correia’s books on my TBR list but now I kicked them off because I don’t like supporting that kind of person with my hard-earned money.

    • Reply Rachael Jan 30,2014 07:17

      Yeah, the more I think about it, the more it bugs me. I won’t give OSC my money for a reason. Though I did say I would take a look at those books. Library, perhaps. Supporting local libraries is always good.

    • Reply Robert 'RevBob' Hood (@RevBobMIB) Jan 30,2014 10:18

      Oh, I’ll eventually get around to the three Correia books I’ve bought but not yet read. After all, he already got my money on those; I might as well get some enjoyment from ’em. However, when it comes to new stuff…well, I’ve got about eight years’ worth* of reading material already. There are much better options than to enrich a jerk.

      As for the Baen bundles, I usually buy those if it would cost more to get only the individual books I’d buy on their own. So, if they were to offer several gems one month, I wouldn’t pay more for them just to spite Correia.

      * Yeah, I read a LOT. At 150 books/year, I actually have enough unread stuff on hand that I could stop buying books for the rest of this decade and not run out. A good chunk of it’s self-published and smaller publishers, too; I finally caved on the “100 books for £100” deal at Angry Robot, despite already owning about a third of it.

      • Reply Grit Jan 30,2014 10:52

        makes sense. I’d read stuff too that I’ve already bought. I’ve always liked Baen for their free ebook downloads. Apparently, I’ve missed something there.

  4. Reply Bugsie Jan 30,2014 06:03

    Don’t forget his “wa wa wa poor conservative no Hugo for me” rant. The one where he asked his fans to vote for him to stick it to those liberal SWFA wannabes! Laughable really. I’ve not read his books but if they’re as oversimplified and one dimensional as his arguments then it’s likely not going to interest this ‘literati’ (whatever the hell that means, he seems to like throwing that out as an insult.). I hear his stories are full of subliminal messages making you want to own guns and grow a penis (or second one if you already have one.). What was it he said about message fiction again?

    • Reply Rachael Jan 30,2014 07:16

      The idea that there is some kind of massive liberal bias in conjunction with Worldcon and the Hugos is pretty damn laughable. If nothing else, we wouldn’t need to spend so much time bitching about the common lack of people of color/women/etc on panels and short lists.

      • Reply Grit Jan 30,2014 08:01

        yes, because the only way you cannot receive an award, let alone get nominated, is because there is a conspiracy behind it. it can’t be that your books simply aren’t that good. or that maybe, just maybe, someone else is a better writer (gasps in shock)…that’s the vibe I’m getting from his blog.

  5. Reply Bugsie Jan 30,2014 07:45

    I also like the fact that one of the commentators throws out that old chestnut ‘that it’s killing Sci Fi’, for who I wonder? Morons who can’t actually think or relate to characters who aren’t the default? Because that’s what’s you’re suggesting. Also the implication that left wing thinkers aren’t diverse and only right wing thinkers are able of independent thought is over simplified.

    • Reply Rachael Jan 30,2014 07:49

      I noticed a pattern in comments. “Liberal writers say…” followed by a statement that no liberal writer has probably ever said. At the very least no “liberal” writer involved in this shit show.

  6. Reply Bugsie Jan 30,2014 08:32

    I noticed a great deal of conformity in the comments section of his piece. Doesn’t he like dissenting voices? Oh wait, that’s only liberals who censor differing opinions.

    • Reply Robert 'RevBob' Hood (@RevBobMIB) Jan 30,2014 10:02

      I think it’s more a question of self-selection in his case. If he constantly preaches the same message, he’ll attract people who agree and run off the people he savages for disagreeing. Do that long enough, and you get conformity without needing to moderate comments. Factor in the cross-pollination from fellow like-minded writers (MZW, Kratman, Ringo) and their fan bases, and that only makes the echo chamber louder.

  7. Reply janiece65 Jan 30,2014 15:20

    Instead of “Appeal to Destruction,” may I suggest “Appeal to Being Forced to Sacrifice my Unearned Privilege so that we all Live in a More Egalitarian Community?”

    Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it.

  8. Reply Bugsie Jan 30,2014 15:38

    @Robert, I noticed the dog piling of those comments that did dissent, started by the author himself followed by minions!

  9. Reply Joel Salomon Feb 5,2014 19:38

    ”I don’t like thing X, therefore if you write thing X IT WILL DESTROY THE GENRE.”

    That seems a more apt description of the original post (”I never again want to read a book that doesn’t include a character from a particular tenth-percent fraction of humanity”); Correia seems to be saying, “Write whatever you like, so long as you write it well, but writing to a checklist is bad and insisting on it ‘WILL DESTROY THE GENRE’.”

    • Reply Rachael Feb 5,2014 20:03

      That statement is entirely unlike what Alex said, actually.

      • Reply Joel Salomon Feb 5,2014 20:44

        I was posting from memory, here’s the precise quote:

        I want to never again read entire anthologies of SF stories or large-cast novels where every character is binary-gendered.

        (Third paragraph from the end.)

        • Reply Rachael Feb 5,2014 20:53

          And? There is no mention of checklists, no demand that people adhere to her commandment or be cast into the fire, and no threat that THE GENRE WILL BE DESTROYED.

          You want to argue about checklists? That’s fine. But then you aren’t arguing with Alex. You’re arguing with a straw man Larry Correia made up. *shrug*

  10. Reply Jon Kanders Apr 21,2014 16:48

    I’m new to Correia’s work, and I started reading Grimnoir before I read his blog and found out he’s a frighteningly delusional right/libertarian (i.e. he believed the “unskewed polls” that “proved” Romney was winning despite, you know, actual polls showing the opposite). I frankly can’t square the author with the books, because the books, only 2 of which I’ve read so far, are really really good. Super-entertaining. Yet his blog reads like the comments section at RedState. I can only assume his editor is superwoman.

  11. Reply Sarah May 20,2015 09:42

    Holy shit this is annoying and stupid. Does everyone on every side have something wrong with them? Admittedly I come to this from the shitshow that is Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies, so I know how all this ends up. But seriously. No one will ever read this so let me break this down:

    Alex: Sci fi is the literature of ideas, why are we stuck doing the same stuff. Hyperbole: I never want to see a book with 20 characters and no trans!

    Correria: Holy shit! He wants quotas and message fiction everywhere, and… !!! all fiction must have at least one trans. That’s stupid, I sell so many books, message fiction doesn’t, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, if he’s even a guy, I bet they get riled up that I don’t care.

    Responses1: Holy shit! Where did she say any of that? He hates diversity and wants only manly white men being manly all over the place. See his commentators…

    Correria: Holy shit! Where did I write that? Many of my characters aren’t cisgendered straight white men in fact… boring details of his recent books. They’re all censorious moral preachers who demand that all characters are poly-gendered transsquid panromantic demikin! Alex is a woman, don’t care because I’m all about ideas of the mind.

    Responses2: Holy shit! Where did we write that? I guess *misgendering* isn’t bad in his eyes, the bigot! He is angry his privilege is being stolen from him because he’s a bigot.

    All Alex wants is more interesting adventurous science fiction exploring gender possibilities, all Correrria wants is fun action conservative nonsense, and that’s the real key, neither really believes the other has the power to censor all the stuff they’re wanting – but they’re divided on the political spectrum hate each other for it, so it’s more of this american ‘Culture War’ bullshit, that means all left wing people are anti-white anti-male anti-goodness anti-fun, censorious and bigoted moral prudes and all conservatives are bigoted anti-trans, anti-poc, anti-progress, unintellectual regressive populists who would get rid of us all if they could.

    Doesn’t help that a lot of pro-Alex people keep saying stupid shit that just fuels their paranoia that this anti-racism is a front for being bigoted against them while denying responsibility – like “white male” this and “white male” that, then “and you’re all racist too, you white cis-male…”

    And it definitely doesn’t help that a lot of pro-Corrrrreirira people keep saying Really stupid shit like “I want to write a book where every leftist has been killed”.

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