Friday, 3 April 2015

My God, It's Full Of Vile

I've recently found a link to a collection of incoherent hate-filled spewings editorials by John W. Campbell, the bigoted grandfather of modern science fiction (Here if you want it ) and I have just finished the first ignorant frothing rant essay and oh my God it is awful. No matter how bad you think you remember that horrific old man as being, he was worse. The first piece in that collection was an angry rant about thalidomide - Specifically that a few thousand disfigured babies were a small price to pay for Progress, and how dare some mere woman have blocked that miraculous wonder-drug from distribution in the US just because it hadn’t been proven safe.

No, really.

Next up is an essay on the glories of segregation. I’m taking a break before I go anywhere near that one.

Just as a reminder, John W.Campbell was one of the founders of modern science fiction. He controlled access to the largest short-story market of his day - And he ruthlessly inforced a No Blacks, No Asians, No Non-Whites vision of the future. His bluntly misogynistic and white nationalist attitudes are still found in much of mainstream science fiction, and are still accepted by a lot of people as ‘just the way the genre is’. So if you’re wondering why anyone should care about the vicious spewings of a man long dead, just remember that he helped build the genre you see today - The genre where far too many people are happy to accept a Straight White Males Only vision of the future as The Future. Campbell was a bigot even by the standards of his era, and yet over a century after his birth we still have people happy to accept his ideas as the status quo. Campbell matters today because he went out his way to teach bigotry to his readers, and far too many modern science fiction fans are happy to absorb his lessons.

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