Hugo reading 2017: Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog

Jeffro Johnson apparently has a space gaming blog and is published by Castilian Huose. Puppy alert! On the bright side, his voter packet is a mere 27 pages. I can handle 27 pages of puppies. I think.

The first item he gives us is a retrospective on “Song in a minor key” by C.L. Moore, and he starts by summarising the pulp ethos as ‘There is always a woman’. I raise a suspicious eyebrow, but I’ve never really read any pulp fiction, so I’m not going to argue. Yet.

… ah, and here we go. He feels that the romantic elements that these mysterious or classy dames bring to a story have been cruelly torn from him by writers of ‘serious’ science fiction, and of course by feminists. But pulp fiction has the last laugh, because apparently it is still being read today, whereas all this dull, respectable science fiction doesn’t get read because it ‘made satisfying the critics a higher priority than serving the reader’. This is because without these ‘romantic elements’ we no longer have human beings with human motivations.

Evidently, the only possible motivation a hero can have in life is unravelling the mystery (and, one suspects, the clothing) of one of these exotic creatures known as women. (Evidently, such an exotic creature could never be a hero in her own right, because what possbile human motivation could she have? She’s not even a proper human, really.) (Sorry, I’m feeling astonishingly objectified by a mere three pages of text, and it’s making me cross. Which is an achievement of sorts.

The next retrospective is of “A spaceship for the king” by Jerry Pournelle. His thesis is that Pournelle created what would inspire the jump drive of the most popular and best developed science fiction role playing game, which is apparently ‘Traveller’. I have no idea about any of this, and don’t really care, but it’s nice that he takes the time to be randomly insulting about The Force Awakens.

Next, our esteemed friend is going to tell us why short stories are awesome. Oh dear – is he going to put me off writing short stories for life? No, he actually has a reasonable thesis this time, which is that short stories give you a chance to speed-date authors without making a big commitment. OK.

We we have an article on why Joanna Russ Feared Heroic Fantasy. I’m pretty sure the answer is ‘because she is a mean feminist who wants to take away all our toys’. Let’s see… Oh, not quite. He quotes her talking about how too much escapism is bad for you, and then quotes lots of important male authors saying that this attitude is wrong and deluded. And then he uses this to explain that the world really needs pulp fiction or there will be no astronauts.

I’m probably not being entirely fair, here, but I don’t think Johnson is, either. Rather than analyse the rest of his essays separately, let’s just say that his theme is very much one of ‘can’t we go back to the old days when things were fun, and there was D&D and lots of action and mysterious, yet hot, women, and manly male heroes?’ And I’m actually with him on escapism being a good thing. I like escapist fiction! But he wants to escape into a world of Ayn Rand and John Wright and Lovecraft and Larry Correia. Or, more wholesomely, perhaps, Lord Dunsany, and Tolkien and maybe Asimov, but Asimov doesn’t really have hot chicks and is a bit too respectable, so maybe not.

It’s a world I’m not welcome in, and that’s fine, really. But I wish he didn’t feel the need to be so obnoxious about the places where I would be welcome.

i have a feeling Johnson is not going to go high on my ballot.

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