Reading this piece by Jon Del Arroz about alleged anti-male bias in SF&F made me think about two events of my life which bear on this issue. Jon’s point –and the numbers he presents seem to support his claim– is that there is an anti-male bias in some parts of the short story market (and probably also in others.) I think that’s plausible, and there are some obvious examples like Tor.com or Uncanny. However, the problem goes deeper than that, and the alleged anti-maleness may be just an unfortunate consequence of an even more indelible bias than merely avoiding stories by testosterone-poisoned individuals. Let me tell you about two things that happened when I was young, so you get an idea of what I’m talking about.
Watch this video (it’s short and you can skip some parts) and then read the excerpts from my book (Dangerous Gamers) that I will quote below.
My DRM-free ebook, “Dangerous Gamers: The Commentariat and its war against video games, imagination, and fun,” is available on Amazon. Currently, it’s only in ebook format, but I intend to upload a paperback version as soon as possible (Amazon is giving me problems with the formatting of the Table of Contents and a few footnotes, and I need a new and better cover.)
Edit: The book has been updated (grammar, typos, etc.,) be sure that your version (in the “copyright” page) is at least version
1.1. 1.2 If it isn’t, turn the autoupdates on.
This is the third editorial [first and second] of Asimov’s Science Fiction Adventure Magazine, a short-lived magazine with only four issues (from late 1978 to late 1979,) where the famous writer explained his understanding of adventure, science fiction, fantasy, and their place in the current scientific era.
His thesis is that there is an important abyss between the pre and post scientific understanding of the world, especially concerning the problem of how to manipulate the universe or to make it work for us. He isn’t wrong, though, but I’d really like to know what was his opinion about writers like Jack Vance, who were aware of that pre and post scientific chasm but consciously played around it to undermine it and mix the different worldviews. Unfortunately, I have never come across any suggestion that Asimov knew or cared about Vance.
That game we played during the war is one of the finalists for the Best Short Story category for this year Hugo Awards.
Recently after the war between the nations of Enith and Gaant ended —the Gaanthians being telepaths—, Calla, an Enithian nurse, goes to the nation of Gaant to see the wounded Major Vaark Lan, a Ganthian she had met during the war. Their relationship is slowly revealed, but the crux of it is that both had been each others’ prisoners during the war. Calla had been Lan’s nurse when he had been captured and, later, she had been a Gaantian prisoner under Lan’s supervision. During those two imprisonments, a peculiar bond between them was born, including the pastime of playing an odd version of chess.
Our talons can Crush Galaxies is one of the six finalists for the Best Short Story award of the 2017 Hugo Awards.
Gods, Godlings, Infernal Powers, and Outside Entities. There may be beings out there whose dancing can set entire planets on fire, and their talons crush galaxies. Well, good for them, because my Critic Rage also knows no bounds, and even the gods themselves —at least if they are as silly as the ones from this short story— must suffer my critical wrath.
“There are some who could have lain, chained in that noisome cell, and felt no fear-no dread of what the blackness might hold. I confess that I am not of these. I knew Nayland Smith and I stood in the path of the most stupendous genious who in the world’s history had devoted his intellect to crime. I knew that the enormous wealth of the political group backing Dr. Fu.Manchu rendered him a menace to Europe and America greater than that of the plague. He was scientist trained at a great university -an explorer of nature’s secrets, who had gone further into the unknown, I suppose, than any living man. His mission was to remove all obstacles -human obstacles- from the path of that secret movement which was progressing in the Far East. Smith and I were two such obstacles; and of all horrible devices at his command, I wondered, and my tortured brain refused to leave the subject, by which of them we were doomed to be departed.”
The Mysteries of Dr. Fu Manchu, chapter 14, by Sax Rohmer.