Mailvox: the sterile wasteland

A foreign author observes the pinkshirts running amok in other literary genres than SF/F:

I found your blog yesterday and I just wanted to thank you for what you have done there. I’m a published author in an Anglosphere country, who has really been struggling with the prevailing SJW culture in my local literary community. What is going on here is actually horrifying, to the point where I have indulged in self-exile and given up ever publishing in this market again.

The entire literary community here has been transformed into a horde of politically correct zombies hellbent on sniffing out and crushing the merest hint of intellectual insurgency.

The types of writers arising from this mess are increasingly foisting upon the local and international public derivative works of insipid speculative fiction which amount to remixes of ideas from other better authors.

However, they all seem to be geniuses at networking amongst our small, left leaning liberal elites, and a small, well-networked coterie of these people occupies positions in the mainstream reviewing press, publishing journals and publishers. The result is that unanimous praise is heaped upon everything that is published by anyone attached to this network, and prepared to turn their novels into conduits for speaking power to truth.

One of these authors recently won a major international literary prize for a second novel which was so bad that I actually blushed when I read the first chapter. I have been completely unable to make sense of this, or the way that some big names in fiction have put their weight behind this person, while crowd-sourced reviewing sites have largely given the work the stick it deserves.

Reading through some of your blogs I now have a sense of the behind-the-scenes political maneuvering that must accompany literary awards, and it has helped to develop a sense of what really goes on. I have always suspected that some rather dark Machiavellian maneuvering happens in the backrooms of Big Lit.

At any rate, this whole process is gradually turning our locally literary landscape into a sterile wasteland. Literary forums where writers used to interact have turned into barren wastelands because of the vigour with which any dissent is persecuted.

The people in the community seem oblivious to this fact, and now seem to interact mainly on Twitter where they retweet each others’ blind observations and compete to come up with interpretations of the world that are as thoroughly inverse to observable reality as possible.

I stopped engaging with these people over two years ago and now just observe them, as they make for an interesting study of the decay of Western civilization and values. I find myself coming up with theories in an attempt to make sense of and accept what I see.

One thing I have considered is that many not terribly bright people hold the art of novel writing in incredibly high esteem and consider it the ultimate status position in society.

This gives these people a very strong motivation to write books, and if these books are bereft of quality, those who possess suitable social skills have a strong motivation to use these skills to bring their work to prominence by hook or by crook. The result is that we’re seeing the survival of the cynical, while actual writing ability is coming uncoupled from literary success and renown.

It was a huge relief to find your blog, and to see that not every writer fits this mold. I’ve subscribed to your blog and look forward to participating in discussions on it. Thanks, you’re doing God’s work and beaming a light into the darkness.

It increasingly appears that we are the monks of the Grimdark Age. It is vital that we continue to read, continue to write, and continue to support those who are keeping the traditional literary forms alive, despite the mainstream’s descent into the literary equivalent of Ow! My Balls! and Ass.

Let’s face it, Redshirts, “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” and “All That Fairy Tale Crap” are considerably closer to Ow! My Balls! than to Dune, Foundation, or The Lord of the Rings.

I’m clearly not the only one who has picked up a book that has won awards or been given a quantity of rave reviews, then wondered what on Earth the readers were dropping to reach such obviously absurd conclusions. It only takes a few times experiencing this to realize that most reviewers these days are actually worse than useless. Which is why precisely we are in the process of turning the CH blog into the leading site for the review of independently published books.