The historical Pink SF/Blue SF divide

At Castalia House, Morgan demonstrates that the divide has been around a lot longer than most of us realized, it’s just that the relative positions have been reversed thanks to the post-1980s gatekeepers:

A backlash against Conan began in the October 1933 issue. Sylvia Bennett of Detroit wrote in to say,

    “Will Robert E. Howard ever cease writing his infernal stories of ‘red battles’ and ‘fierce warfare’? I am becoming weary of his continuous butchery and slaughter. After I finish reading one of his gory stories I feel as if I am soaked with blood.”

Weird Tales contributor Jack Williamson, who would survive as one of the most long-lived writers from the pulp era, wrote to “The Eyrie” for the December 1933 issue defending “Black Colossus”:

    “I was rather surprised at the brickbat aimed by Miss Sylvia Bennett at Howard’s Black Colossus, which struck me as a splendid thing, darkly vivid, with a living primitive power.”

Sylvia Bennett would return to “The Eyrie” in the June 1934 issue:

    “Northwest Smith has become my idol in WEIRD TALES. Believe it or not, I’ve fallen passionately in love with him. There is a character for you! Warm, human, lovable and incredibly realistic. No barbarian baboon hot-head, this one, who slices off human and unhuman heads on the slightest pretext; nor snarls and growls at his girl-friends; nor socks his dames with such manly toughness as would make Clark Gable and Jimmy Cagney look like sissies in comparison. It is certain C. L. Moore is destined to become a popular Weird Tales author. Although Black Thirst did not reach the high standard of Shambleau, still it was an excellent job, weirdly and thrillingly beautiful.”

In other words, women have been trying to turn SF/F into romance novels long before Catherine Asaro or Stephanie Meyers were even born. The difference, of course, is that people didn’t pretend that what is essentially an SF/F-Romance hybrid was the True and Proper SF/F, much less give it awards claiming it to be best of breed.

However, notice the proto-SJW declaration of the inevitability of C.L. Moore’s success. Some things simply do not change.