This weekend, N.K. Jemisin and Ann Leckie had a panel at New York Comic Con, one of the very few the book publishing industry can muster at these events. The topic seemed innocuous enough – “What Makes A Science Fiction Classic?” Something several friends could debate around a table, and is also something very hard to pin down, as you can almost not call something a classic while an author is still alive with very few exceptions.
It’s interesting to see the psychology of the elites as this breaks down. They truly believe they’re in a class of their own, and that’s why they had to “save” the Hugo Awards from the unwashed masses. She began with a statement: “literary commons are not open to everybody just yet” which I’d have to get a little more context for. Still, the way it’s phrased does communicate an elitist mentality that, despite their constant use of the word inclusive, is very exclusive.
This attitude ripped through the Hugos to a definition of new classics — one where men are apparently not invited for such honors any longer. It’s no wonder, given the extreme biases against men in publishing, as I exposed a month ago on this blog. It’s nebulous as to what they perceive as “quality” and interestingly as it gets explained later, it becomes more who the person is, than whether t he work is deserving or not. Just as many of her critics have been saying for years. She took about the most offensive tack with it, demeaning one of the most popular and influential works of not only the last 40 years, but in all of science fiction and perhaps all of fiction.. She did so by taking a show of hands as to “who believes Ender’s Game is a classic” — among an audience stacked for her and Leckie.
I don’t have footage of what those hands look like, but Jemisin proudly proclaims many more would have considered it a classic before recent times. It has nothing to do with how good the work is, how much it influenced a genre, it has to do with politics and how she wants to cast Mr. Card out as an apostate and unbeliever because he doesn’t share her extreme views. She goes on to say just that: “Knowing about authors’ beliefs helps you understand how those beliefs influence their writing, and things you thought meant one thing, once you’ve got enough information about that writer, you suddenly realize mean an entirely different thing. That makes a difference. … And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
So because she doesn’t like Card’s politics, one of what most would call one of the greatest books ever is no longer a classic. And she’s the one to dictate that. Because her current event, hyper-in-the-moment politics dictate he is something to be scorned?
Classics and what defines them are quite the opposite. This definition is incredibly offensive, stupid, and shows a complete lack of concern for quality of work, and what stands the test of time. Despite a massive smear campaign on Mr. Card over the last decade by the elitists, one that resulted in the original #ComicsGate of him being blackballed from writing comics (of which he did a very good job on Ultimate Iron Man — if only Marvel could have works like that anymore!), Ender’s Game rereleased with the film. It became a #1 NYT Bestseller again, forty years after its release. After Card’s politics were known. Why? Because it’s a great work. It Is a classic. NK Jemisin and Ann Leckie cannot take that away from us.
As always, it has nothing to do with quality, but everything to do with identity politics. Jemisin concluded: “the people who know full well that whiteness and maleness and straightness have meaning—the people who like that is has meaning—the people who like that its meaning is centrality and, in their mind, superiority, and who like the privilege that come with those things,”
It’s about shutting white males out of the industry when it drills down to it. The problem . for her is– very few will ever accept her definitions of classic. Why? Because very few read the . works she promotes compared to books like Ender’s Game, which has sold millions upon millions, and will continue to do so.
Science Fiction has a huge political problem, politics of the moment, by people who hate history, hate the genre, and even hate the audience of the regular reader. They are bitter people who want everyone to suffer because they feel bad in their own culture war. But the people have had enough. This is another example of why more and more people are turning to independent fiction for their fix. We don’t need to be lectured, talked down to, or to receive these incredibly bigoted remarks from authors. We just want to enjoy a fun story.
Fun like Ender’s Game.