Friday, 3 April 2015

We Didn't Get Here By Accident (Part the Second)

So what's the point to these posts about the history of science fiction? Why bring up the crankery, anger, and general bigotry of John Campbell? The man has been dead for decades, so surely it can't do any good to talk about his very public failings as a decent human being?

Well, right now the SF community is going through a bit of an explosion. Google "Sad Puppies" and the Hugo awards if you really want the details, but what it boils down to is that the field is changing, and some people aren't comfortable with that change. They say the science fiction field has become politicized, and that the Hugo Awards are dominated by secret groups that only allow politically correct work to win. The problem with their claims is that they assume a past that was apolitical, where science fiction was purely about merit without regard for politics or social issues. And this view of the past is utter bullshit.

The editor of what was for decades the largest market for SF had a strict Non-Whites Need Not Apply policy for his magazine. He promoted pseudoscientific racial theories, publicized anti-scientific medical theories, and espoused political opinions that could politely be called Fascist. And many of his readers ate that material up. Some because they were young an impressionable and didn't know better, and some because they agreed with what he was saying and were happy to see it in print. And many of those readers went on to become writers, who continued to write stories that would fit quite nicely under Campbell's editorial policies.

The so-called apolitical stories of the past had a very specific political viewpoint baked into them. Claiming that the field has been recently overrun by people with a political agenda is dishonest. Science fiction was always deeply political. Pretending otherwise is either just ignorance, or malice.

So sometimes I'll write posts about the history of this genre, and how we got to where we are today. This needs to be looked at. Other days I'll post music videos, or reviews of books I love, because everyone needs to have fun sometimes. And other days I'll post pictures of cats, because internet.

But for now, it's meanderings on the history of the genre.

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