Here’s a topic I haven’t really touched before, but it’s relevant to the way that culture has been systematically destroyed by a certain group over the last few decades. I’ve seen it discussed elsewhere as “the cult of the new” — where it’s driven by this near thoughtless consumerism of I NEED THE NEW THING NOW!, ignoring everything and anything that’s dated by even a few months, discarding as if it were irrelevant.
This topic struck me in a very personal way today, when I was personally attacked on Twitter by a group (which isn’t abnormal) for the crime of advocating for my forthcoming book, For Steam And Country. What was shocking about it and what got to me wasn’t the attacks, but a certain attack on one of the most revered authors in science fiction history, and one of the most prominent feminists ever to grace the field, one Anne McCaffrey.
It started because I was talking to a Tordotcom reviewer. A Hugo Nominated Fanzine writer chimed in to tell me how irrelevant I am by referencing my last novel, how she looked up “Rescue Run” and found that there was “nothing in sci-fi that returned on a google search”.
I corrected, of course, stating not only is there my extremely highly regarded, award nominated and well-reviewed book, but that I chose the title intentionally as an homage to the late great Anne McCaffrey, who wrote a book by the same name. This work was demeaned by her first as “it’s only a short story” (It’s a novella, actually) and this person who is nominated for the Hugo Award for fanzine work, retorted to that by calling Anne Mccaffrey “old and irrelevant.”
Let me stop right there.
As of my tracking, and I do track this, Anne McCaffrey has 63 published short stories in major SF magazines and a whopping 93 novels. I know this because i have all of them in their first print edition on a beautiful shelf in my living room on display. McCaffrey wrote on psionics, wrote on genetic manipulation of animals in terraforming, in transplanting human brains into ship computer systems, on strange alien species such as sentient blades of grass. She not only did that but transcended genre with a lot of fantasy and romance books as well. She was not only “a woman science fiction author” as Tor likes to complain as late as today that there’s not enough love for, but THE woman science fiction author for decades. She is looked up to and revered by millions for her work in the genre. I can scarce think of someone more inspiring or relevant for that matter.
And of Hugos? This fanzine writer who writes self-described “feminist” commentary on science fiction is attacking the first woman ever to win the award! For shame! It boggles my mind to see this kind of lack of reverence for her.
Then there’s the fanzine element of this person’s nominations. Fanzines were originally created as content for Star Trek — but Pern in the 70s-80s was one of the biggest concepts out there for fanzines. Fanzines arguably wouldn’t exist without Pern fandom, in homage to Anne McCaffrey. Everything that this hugo nominated commentator does is built on the backs of what she’s dismissing out of hand.
As I’m writing this she followed up by saying “I love Anne McCaffrey as much as the next person who grew up not knowing any better.” Knowing any better? It’s so sad to see this lack of regard for her– no OUR betters and elders that I’m truly heartbroken.
And it comes down to the Cult of the New. Because Anne is no longer with us (may God have mercy on her eternal soul!), there’s nothing “new” about Anne’s work. It’s from an age past, something to be forgotten by the current cultural elite that want to erase history. Older works are things to read “before we knew better” to them. To them, our elders are people to be put into old folks home and forgotten about so they don’t disturb us, rather than revered as they should be. As a consequence, there’s no respect for true greatness because the great works are discarded.
Tor wrote an article on space opera today for their space opera week wondering why no one talks about Leigh Brackett, CL Moore and Andre Norton. Is it because they’re anti-woman? the author posited. No, it’s because of this, the lack of care for anything that didn’t drop to stands this week.
It’s horrible. And this is why the Hugo Awards are in such a tarnished state in a nutshell. Who in Science Fiction would want to be associated with that? This is another reason why our fandom is dying. We need serious reform not just in the big publishing houses and markets — but in our souls.