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Eric: Heinlein, Card and Webcomics: fans, art, and disappointment

20050402b.gif(From The Queen of Wand Director's Cut Commentaries Thingy. Click on the thumbnail for full sized rerun with director's commentary below and special popup easter eggs that don't actually exist but I actually just had no idea what to type here.)

One of the most interesting things in Aeire's commentary-laden reruns of Queen of Wands is getting some idea of her mindset. I mean, that's why we do commentaries like this in the first place, right? Sometimes she goes into the strips, and sometimes into her philosophy of humor, and sometimes into embarrassing stories about her and her sister teaching cousins about hearses only to have them chanting "body body body body body" in loud monotone in Mall parking lots.

And then we have today's entry, which addresses the strip seen in the corner. A strip that covers Orson Scott Card, and makes reference to him in a positive way. An essay that goes into Aeire's feelings about Orson Scott Card, and about what he meant to her growing up, and how his expressed views on the subject of gay marriage came as a shock, a horror... and a betrayal.

Quoting from her essay briefly:

Beyond that and as a result of this, I grew up reading books. A lot of them. And I gleaned what I could from them - books were my parents, my mother and my father, and I learned what I could, keeping the good information close to my heart and making a note of the concepts I didnĚt like - because even though I didnĚt like them, it was in my best interests to try and understand them, or at least understand why someone would feel that way. This is part of what I gathered from Orson Scott CardĚs various works.

I can understand this feeling. I grew up reading voraciously -- several books a week, and rereading over and over again. I didn't read Card's stuff until I was older -- but then, I have about ten years on Aeire, so there's that. I could name dozens of authors, but the one who I kept rereading... my go-to guy... was Heinlein.

I loved Heinlein's novels. I loved his juveniles. I loved his adult books. I read Starship Troopers and Time Enough For Love so many times the books fell apart. I've bought new copies of Heinlein books over the years often enough that I sometimes wonder just how much money I've sent his estate.

It wasn't until I was older, and began to mature in my own feelings, that I saw places I disagreed with Heinlein. Sometimes desperately. That this man who taught me honor and pride and generosity -- always generosity -- was also firmly convinced that TANSTAAFL meant leaving the poor in the ghetto. The superior man would haul himself up by his bootstraps and make something of himself, whereas parasites would just as soon vote themselves bread and circuses and be given to until the country was broke and the Communists had swept in. There were long sections of The Cat Who Walked Through Walls and To Sail Beyond The Sunset that made me just want to cry. This wasn't what I expected from the Lieutenant. I knew he was (at that point in his life) fiscally conservative, but Jesus Christ....

It hurt. A lot. Because even though I had read the precursor essays that led to that, I also read book after book that spoke of casting bread upon the waters, of giving out and getting back tenfold, of paying it forward. And I couldn't reconcile those two thoughts in my head.

And then he died.

My parents remember where they were when Kennedy was shot. I remember where I was when I heard Heinlein had died. I was in a cockroach infested apartment on Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton, sitting in front of a drawing table that belonged to my roommate and listening to NPR playing over the community access channel on our local cable company. All Things Considered was on, and they told me Lieutenant Robert A. Heinlein, U.S.N. (ret.), the Dean of Science Fiction, the original (and at that time the only) Grand Master of Science Fiction as selected by the SFWA, author of Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Time Enough For Love and dozens more, had died.

I would never get to meet him.

I would never get to thank him.

I would never get to read another new book of his.

And I had spent years pissed off at him because I felt like one set of opinions held at one point in his life had invalidated everything he had taught me, done for me, and created at so many other times of his life.

And I cried. I'm not ashamed of it. A friend of mine recently asked me if I ever wept, as opposed to just plain old tears. Well, I wept for Robert Heinlein. And over time I reconciled the fact that I didn't agree with everything he said or did. I'm a Liberal. He was... unique. (Fiercely Liberal on some issues, fiercely Conservative on others, unapologetic in both cases.)

Orson Scott Card has a loud voice and he's not afraid to use it. And he says things I hate with it, now. As pissed as I was at the idea that Heinlein wanted to kill off the safety net, I'm a thousand times angrier at Card's sheer, unmitigated bigotry. But then, Card never meant that much to me. I was older when I started reading him. I liked Seventh Son. I liked Hart's Hope. I adored Ender's Game and Speaker For The Dead, felt nonplussed about Xenocide, and generally disliked the rest of that series. I read his book on writing science fiction and fantasy. I respected him. I was a fan. But I wasn't dogmatic. When his views came out, I was perfectly willing to decide "well, he won't get more of my money" and forget about it.

thisisthesuck.gifBut for many people in the world, he's just as significant -- or moreso -- as Heinlein was for me. And those people saw an unreserved message of tolerance in his work that seems to have been wholly shafted now. And they don't know how to deal with it. They don't know how to cope with it.

From Aeire's essay, once more:

The point here is this - I grew up reading his books. I grew up loving them, and learning from them, and listening to what they had to say. Then I read this essay - itĚs hard to come up with words to describe what that felt like. It was as if that kind, gentle and understanding father figure had casually mentioned over breakfast that today he was going to skin a couple dozen squirrels alive and watch them twitch helplessly on the ground. There isnĚt really any proper way to describe the feeling. I cried, because this person that taught me that understanding was everything, this person that taught me to accept people, to embrace life, to understand - this person was not a person who understood, or accepted, or embraced anything wholeheartedly and without judgement. This was a person who openly mocked tolerance and understanding outside of the realm of a fictional novel. [...] To this day, it horrifies me that an author would write of something and glorify concepts that he doesnĚt hold in his heart to be true. I still have most of his books, and I still go back and read them occasionally, but the magic is gone. The words are empty, hollow, and meaningless now.

I get where Aeire's coming from. Like I said, I've been there.

But I also remember May 8, 1988. I remember being in that squalid apartment. I remember hearing that Heinlein was dead.

It is hard as Hell to be disappointed. It is hard as Hell to learn that the giants of our youth are actually just the same height we are. It is hard as Hell to realize that just because someone said something we absolutely agree with doesn't mean we're going to always agree with them. But we have to take the whole into account, too. Card is still the man who wrote Ender's Game, Speaker For The Dead, Seventh Son, Hart's Hope and all the rest. He's still the one who gave the insights in the first place.

And someday, when he dies, it's going to hurt for thousands of fans who dearly loved his words. And some of those fans are going to be shocked that they hated him for failing in their eyes, and now it's too late.

I don't think Aeire should change how she feels. I don't think anyone should. But I think Randy Milholland's vaguely disguised sequence covering these same events should inform us. In his series, Mike -- who is gradually regenerating his soul and becoming a decent person (there's a reason he's such a good poster child for Dead Inside) -- is excited because "Morgan Adam McKenzie" is coming to town. Only he learns that "McKenzie" has written some vicious anti-gay-marriage screeds, and his friends are strongly divided on what that should mean. In the end, Mike goes to meet him, and is glad he did, even though he still elementally disagrees with his stance.

Sometimes, you need to accept that someone can hold a view you find reprehensible... and still tell you truths you find utterly valuable. This too is a part of growing up.

Not that I'm saying Aeire has to grow up, mind. And not that I'm saying she'll ever "get over this." I fully understand her feelings, and I don't think they need to change.

Still, sometimes you have to let your heroes turn human, which is a stage of maturation, and then you have to find a way to forgive them for it.

For the record? I'm a Heinlein fan. A proud one. A dedicated one. I pay dues to the Heinlein Society. I bought every "lost manuscript" that came out since his death. I own his travel book. I own his Libertarian essay on grassroots campaigning. Grassroots campaigning.

And yet, I still believe in universal health care, a decent welfare and medicare safety net and paying taxes to ensure the best public schools and public infrastructure possible. There's no free lunch, but I'm willing to share my lunch with those who need it.

But that doesn't mean I'm not a Heinlein fan. And maybe someday Aeire and those thousands of disappointed folks can one day be Card fans too.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at April 2, 2005 11:23 PM


Comment from: AndrewWade posted at April 3, 2005 12:36 AM

Well put.

I always get miffed at those who refuse to believe anything a person says because that person has been deemed 'a hypocrite', which most of the time simply means that they're not perfect. That they're conflicted at times. Just because someone can seem moral at times, and immoral at others, doesn't make those moral times any less worthy of understanding and embracing in one's own life.

My own qualms with the argument stem mainly from discussions of all Christians being hypocrites because they say sin is bad, and then go out and sin. Yes. Christians are hypocrites. But they can still have moral values such as 'love thy neighbour' that are worth listening to.

Comment from: Kristofer Straub posted at April 3, 2005 12:53 AM

Lovecraft is my favorite writer, but his occasional lines about minorities (description of black boxer Buck Robinson, "The Harlem Smoke," in Herbert West: Reanimator and the Mexican maid's ridiculous accent in Cool Air, for example) make me cringe.

But I guess I can at least take comfort (comfort??) in the fact that he was a product of his era. I hate to read that stuff, but it isn't at all a key part of anything he wrote. It's just disappointing when it turns up.

Comment from: Alexander Danner posted at April 3, 2005 1:01 AM

I completely understand where Aerie is coming from on this one. Card was hugely important to me as a kid. Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead are probably the most fondly remembered books from my childhood -- these are books that not only shaped my ideas of what good writing can acheive, but contributed to my desire to be a writer. I loved his books then, and I love his books now. So yeah, I was crushed to learn that he supported such unbridled bigotry. I mean, if he had a drinking problem, or was unfaithful to his wife, that would be humanizing. But what he's done is downright vile. I probably will read his books again -- but they're tainted now, and I don't know if I'll be able to get past that.

Tangetial to that, I have to say -- reading a S*P story where I was so thoroughly relating to Mike of all people was a strange experience.

Comment from: thok posted at April 3, 2005 1:01 AM

Good essay. In my opinion, your viewpoint (and Davan's) is the right one; you don't have to agree with everything a writer believes in.

It's somewhat ironic that Mormonism is both the reason Aerie liked Card's books and the reason she stopped believing in him. Card views many of his writings as Mormon parables. As a consequence of this, many of Card's books have a similar structure, in that the protagonist is a prodigy who is destined to fight evil, and the point of the story is to study the psychic and emotional damage caused by that fight. So in some sense, Aerie's conflict is partially with Card, but really with the doctrines of the Mormon Church.

As a reader, it's my responsibility to decide which parts of his parables I should consider universal. I certainly don't have to accept Card's rather ludicrous take on technology and physics to enjoy his stories; why should his views on gay marriage, which aren't even in his stories, affect my opinion of his stories?

As a side note, the "Heterosexual-Brain eating Zombie" gag in the relevant Something Positive storyline really deserves a tasty biscuit.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at April 3, 2005 1:06 AM

I believe Kurt Vonnegut once said that it was a dreadful thing to lose faith that you once had. He was talking about religion at the time, but it seems to me to apply to how people value their heroes, too.

To be honest, I wouldn't know. I've never had a hero. Not one, ever. Even when I read something like this, I envy it a bit. Because while you lost some of the esteem you held for Heinlein, and while Aerie lost some of what she felt about Card, at least you had that once and can fall back on that. Even if you can't feel it actively anymore, appreciate that you know it, at least.

Comment from: Jennifer H. posted at April 3, 2005 1:14 AM

There is this human instinct to idealize a person. For some, it's the founding fathers, for others it's their author. I know that I have authors I love, that their work changes how I see the world, teaches me so much. For this reason, after a few times when I got upset learning about their opinions, Card being one of them, I try not to read their opinions on things.

I think the reason I feel like this is because you're reading something that a person wrote. Just from reading it, you get the sense that you're learning about the person, starting to know how their mind works. When you see their opinion is different, you wonder how someone could write something so beautiful can think so differently.

Comment from: Brandon E. posted at April 3, 2005 1:19 AM

Nicely said. I enjoyed Enders game as well as the following trilogy, but I never saw him as a Sci. Fi. great. I went into his books knowing that Card was a devote Mormon and expecting that I wasn't going to agree with everything he said but that isn't something that has ever stopped me from enjoying a book. When he made his statements on gay marriage, I wasn't hurt becaue partly, it wasn't surprising, and partly, I never saw him as anything more then a mediocre author.

Although I was too young to remember Heinlen's death, or care at the time (I was 4, hardly a fan yet) I feel he is the far more talented writer but once again, his writings contain many things I don't agree with. That doesn't make them any less enjoyable or his ideas any less intriquing. There are many authors like that. I love Atlas Shrugged even though I think Ayn Rand was mildly insane. I enjoyed The Jungle despite racist views, and ideas of religious socialism.

Comment from: Arachnid posted at April 3, 2005 1:59 AM

The s*p strip more or less exactly sums up my view. I was floored to read that essay and discover Card's view on homosexual marriage, but as alien and unreconcilable I find his view, it won't stop me reading his books.

Admittedly, I've never been heavily into Card - I only started reading him relatively recently. I'll probably have this essay in mind next time I read one of his, so it still won't be the same, really.

Comment from: Scarybug posted at April 3, 2005 3:43 AM

I felt a little bit this way when I heard about Michael J. Nelson's political leanings. Or more specifically that there can no morality without belief in God. (Though that makes sense if you're a moral objectivist, I guess)

I also know people who were sad when they read Douglas Adams' essays about being an Athiest. So I guess it swings both ways.

I feel about Card the way I've felt about almost all the Mormon's I've been friends with. (coincedence? I don't know) I deeply respect, and even marvel at, his intellect and eloquence, but there are certain aspects of that meme I find morally repugnant.

Comment from: Scarybug posted at April 3, 2005 3:44 AM

I felt a little bit this way when I heard about Michael J. Nelson's political leanings. Or more specifically that there can no morality without belief in God. (Though that makes sense if you're a moral objectivist, I guess)

I also know people who were sad when they read Douglas Adams' essays about being an Athiest. So I guess it swings both ways.

I feel about Card the way I've felt about almost all the Mormon's I've been friends with. (coincedence? I don't know) I deeply respect, and even marvel at, his intellect and eloquence, but there are certain aspects of that meme I find morally repugnant.

Comment from: Tangent posted at April 3, 2005 3:46 AM

I feel for Aeire. I really do. I love Card's works. He is a talented writer, and has taken time out of his schedule to answer questions of other new unpublished writers. But some of his views are most un-Christian in my eyes (though as I'm not Christian, I'm unsure if I'm "allowed" to comment on what is "un-Christian").

The truth is... he is entitled to his beliefs. It does not matter that his stories often suggest embracing tolerance and acceptance... our writers are *human* and are entitled to their own beliefs, even if these beliefs are not always expressed in their writings.

So... I will continue to read Orson Scott Card. I may not agree with his beliefs about homosexuality, but I also do not share his beliefs about religion. He is entitled to his beliefs. As am I.

I hope Aeire someday returns to reading Card's works. She should not let his personal beliefs keep her from enjoying his fiction.

Robert A. Howard

Comment from: Alun Clewe posted at April 3, 2005 3:49 AM

So in some sense, Aerie's conflict is partially with Card, but really with the doctrines of the Mormon Church.

I disagree with that, actually. It's one thing to come out against gay marriage. It's quite another to stridently insist that the "dark secret" of homosexuality is that it is tightly linked with child molestation, and so forth. The latter is quite decidedly not an official doctrine of the Mormon Church, or anything that has ever been suggested by the church leadership, and I suspect it's the things like that that Card has said that have affected Aeire the most. Obviously, I can't read Aeire's mind, and I could very well be totally wrong here, but I think if Card had spoken out against gay marriage, but without trying to tie it in with child molestation and use such similarly extreme arguments, while Aeire would probably still have been bothered by it I don't think she would have been as thoroughly repulsed as she was by what he actually said. I think it's the way he argues his point that's more disturbing than what he argues--and all the stuff about homosexuality being connected with child molestation is not Mormon doctrine; it's just Orson Scott Card doctrine.

Comment from: RKMilholland posted at April 3, 2005 4:17 AM

In fairness, the only reason my comic arc ended the way it did was the character involved. For Mike, there's not as much vested interest in the author's opinions because he doesn't really know any gay people - not an any level more than aquaintance. Had it been Jhim, T-Bob or evn Monette in the story, the ending would have changed drastically. Even if it were PeeJee or Aubrey, they probably would have chosen to not meet him or meet him and point out their feelings.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at April 3, 2005 4:38 AM

I read a Card short story and thought he was a brillaint writer - I picked up one of his books, got three chapters into it and tossed it aside. I never finished any of his books, his views were just too strong in the writing and alienated me.

I own all the pre-Stroke Heinlein and most of the post, I don't agree with his views of sexuality, but am able to look beyond and enjoy his unique view of humanity and his characters. Card must have really honked me off at 12 in some grand manner since Heinlein's "polygomy is the only way!" didn't manage it at 14. ^_^

Comment from: JackSlack posted at April 3, 2005 10:05 AM

If I may ask, Randy, why did you choose Mike for the story, though? I mean, I see why he's a natural for it, but Aubrey, Peejee, Davan or Jason could also have fit in there without a raised eyebrow.

Comment from: Snowspinner posted at April 3, 2005 10:53 AM

Presumably because Aubrey, Peejee, Davan, and Jason are not generally associated with self-doubt and with uncertainty about what to do on matters like that.

Comment from: Sempiternity posted at April 3, 2005 11:25 AM

I want to agree with Aerie, i really do, but i cannot see it as betrayal. Card is one of my favourite authors - i grew up reading him, along with Heinlein, Niven, & Foster - but learning that he is "anti-gay" (or a more appropriate noun) doesn't touch me so deeply. I also grew up in the birthplace of LDS, and have known Mormons my whole life. They're great, often amazing, people. But still, they're people.

In *The Diamond Age*, Stephenson makes the observation that, essentially, hypocracy is what happens when idealistic people fail to live up to their own ideals.

Card's shocking stance doesn't make his works and words hollow, not to me, but it does make him flawed - like any human. It is sad - especially so in this age that seems poised to sweep in a new sexual revolution of gay-rights, polyamory, and maybe even widespread tolerance...

This is only what i feel - we're all different - but for me tolerance means tolerance, even when we are hurt, betrayed, and saddened, and especially in the face of someone else's breach of tolerance.

It is right to speak out, it is right to be hurt, but it isn't right to discard everything someone has taught you because they failed you once.

Comment from: Sempiternity posted at April 3, 2005 11:26 AM

I want to agree with Aerie, i really do, but i cannot see it as betrayal. Card is one of my favourite authors - i grew up reading him, along with Heinlein, Niven, & Foster - but learning that he is "anti-gay" (or a more appropriate noun) doesn't touch me so deeply. I also grew up in the birthplace of LDS, and have known Mormons my whole life. They're great, often amazing, people. But still, they're people.

In *The Diamond Age*, Stephenson makes the observation that, essentially, hypocracy is what happens when idealistic people fail to live up to their own ideals.

Card's shocking stance doesn't make his works and words hollow, not to me, but it does make him flawed - like any human. It is sad - especially so in this age that seems poised to sweep in a new sexual revolution of gay-rights, polyamory, and maybe even widespread tolerance...

This is only what i feel - we're all different - but for me tolerance means tolerance, even when we are hurt, betrayed, and saddened, and especially in the face of someone else's breach of tolerance.

It is right to speak out, it is right to be hurt, but it isn't right to discard everything someone has taught you because they failed you once.

Comment from: Nick Simmonds posted at April 3, 2005 11:28 AM

I'd imagine all of William Gibson's technoconservative fans feel similarly once they find out his actual views.

For myself, these revelations came on finding out that Lewis and Tolkien were devout Christians, and that at least one of them had intended their books to proselytize their faith. No, the divide between myself and Christianity is not nearly as deep as the divide between all right-thinking people and homophobic bigotry, but it was a profound shock to find that these authors followed that religion. For a long time while I was growing up, all of the Christians I knew despised fantasy literature as the demonic influence of Satan. At least, all of the Christians I thought I knew did; as a kid, I wasn't relly aware of just how prevalent Christianity is.

Anyway, in my case I'm lucky that the real problem was in the heads of these pseudo-Xians, and not either of the authors I loved or myself. It certainly helpded me come to terms with Christianity itself and realize that there's nothing wrong with the religion, just many of its adherents.

Comment from: kirabug posted at April 3, 2005 11:29 AM

I was four in Philadelphia when the Phillies won the world series in 1980. I grew up thinking that Pete Rose was the be-all and end-all to what a baseball player should be. Then, he got his stupid ass kicked out for being stupid-ass enough to bet on baseball. (Yes, I think he did it, and yes, I think he deserves to sit ont he sidelines for eternity for doing it.) Since then, I've had a few other heroes fall - usually by proving they're humans. I wish I could say it hurt less the second or third or fourth time (though I do maintain a special kind of pissed off for Pete Rose, since he was the first).

Eventually, I had to learn to separate the creation from the person - musically, artistically, or accomplishment-wise, or there's a lot in the world to miss out on.

That being said, Card's personal views are more than disappointing, they're horrifying. There are so many other things I want to read that perhaps I'll just shift to some other authors for a while.... someone whose writing hasn't suddenly lost all its flavor.

Comment from: UrsulaV posted at April 3, 2005 11:42 AM

I was never that big a Card fan--Hart's Hope was interesting and sort of got into my brain, and I quite liked his book on writing, but had no real interest in any of the other books. But I really, REALLY liked his "secular humanist revival" tape that a buddy loaned me, and laughed my ass off, and found it a very eloquent argument about the need for the seperation of church and state and why prayer in schools was a horrible idea. And there our political views had dovetailed well, so I was still rather appalled by his really vile anti-homosexual tract. But fortunately I missed the intense disillusionment that comes from loving something at a formative age and then getting the rug pulled out from under you.

I'm used to authors having very different views from mine--I think China Mieville's up-the-proletariat communism is hopelessly at odds with human nature, for example, but I can respect that he holds it (and also, quite honestly, that he probably knows a helluva lot more about the political doctrine in question than I do) and while I got fairly bored with the dogmatic hammering of the point in "Iron Council" it's not so...anthithetical...to my own beliefs. But I don't think I've ever had anybody who's work I really loved, intensely and deeply, for years, that was a big influence on me, turn around and come out with something really hateful like that. The closest I can come up with was my sense of outrage at eight or nine when I realized that C.S. Lewis was trying to put one over on me and Aslan was really Jesus. "Hey! This guy doesn't really like talking animals! He has an AGENDA!" I was pretty pissed. (I was nominally a Christian at the time, too--I think my outrage was mostly that writers could HAVE an agenda, and could lie to you like that, and didn't have to, like, disclose that on the book jacket or something.) Of course, C.S. Lewis died long before I had a chance to be sad about it one way or the other. So I dunno.

Comment from: Kris@WLP posted at April 3, 2005 12:38 PM

Caveat: I hate Rand. I hate Heinlein. _Cat Who Walks Through Walls_ was the book that turned me off Heinlein for good. I'm a Libertarian in spite of Heinlein and Rand, whose works I regard as strong arguments -against- Libertarianism.

That said... Heinlein's social-Dawinist views are not in conflict with Heinlein's personal-generosity views. From what I've read, Heinlein has no trouble whatever with individuals helping individuals in need. What Heinlein has trouble with is people -forcing- other people to help others- i. e. the standard liberal position. Heinlein felt that, once you force people to help the poor, you essentially give the poor the ability to take whatever they want without working or paying for it.

At least, that's how I read it.

Also, Heinlein could at least write dialog and situations which were believable about 50% of the time. Rand's characters exist -only- to further her philosophical arguments; Heinlein at least tried to write stories for the sake of stories (most of the time), rather than stories for the sake of politics.

As for Card... the only message I carried away from _Ender's Game_ is that every single human is a wicked, contemptible, degenerate creature deserving of hatred. I wasn't able to even finish _Speaker_ or _Xenocide_.

As for hero worship, I find the best way to cure that is to go to work for someone you idolize. A few years of working for Ben Dunn more or less cured me of being a respecter of persons, no matter how skilled they are.

Comment from: Kris@WLP posted at April 3, 2005 12:44 PM

Ursula- During his lifetime, C. S. Lewis made no secret whatever that -everything- he wrote was intended as allegory for Christian lessons.

(I've tried reading _Out of the Silent Planet_, and I can't figure out what aspects of Anglicanism he's portraying there... but from what I've read, he claimed it was his most Christian work of all, even more so than the Narnia series. The man was -disturbed-...)

Tolkien, on the other hand, had an outspoken hatred and contempt for allegory in all its forms... although it's possible that the proffy did protest too much...

Comment from: Tangent posted at April 3, 2005 12:50 PM

Oh, I would like to compliment Eric Burns for his journalistic effort to research and provide links concerning Orson Scott Card's comments on this topic. While I've not read through the entire article (at least nothing jumped out at me saying "gay hater!" or the like, but I'm tired and will likely read it thoroughly later), it is always a good thing to see both sides of the argument.

I know some people have been disdainful of Eric after the little fiasco concerning a certain incident with Keenspot and Eric's misunderstanding (btw, I also am giving Eric a nod for admitting he was mistaken, and not only submitting a retraction but LEAVING THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE UP so that people could see that Eric did make a mistake (unlike certain /other/ ranters who shall remain anonymous).

Eric has shown journalistic integrity (no, I don't think that phrase is an oxymoron *grin*) and significant skill in finding the original article that Card had posted that resulted in Aeire's loss of faith in Card. While this research no doubt was responsible for the snark appearing a day after Aeire's commentary... I thought it was well worth it.

Eric? You get a tasty tasty biscuit for journalistic skill and integrity. :) Enjoy. :)

Robert A. Howard, Tangenting across the Internet

Comment from: RKMilholland posted at April 3, 2005 1:24 PM

"If I may ask, Randy, why did you choose Mike for the story, though? I mean, I see why he's a natural for it, but Aubrey, Peejee, Davan or Jason could also have fit in there without a raised eyebrow."

It wouldn't have raised an eyebrow - it just would have been a different story, with a different outcome. As another poster also mentioned, Mike's the one (normally tolerated) character I have with self-doubt. I wanted to do a doubt story and progress Mike. And I didn't know how the story would end until it ended.

I think it would have been just as viable a decision for Mike to have not met the guy because he felt he just disagreed with him to much, or met the author and said, "Thanks for all the years of reading. Here's your books back."

To me, Aeire's essay was more about feeling disappointment - and there's nothing wrong with that. If I learned Lloyd Alexander had those beliefs, I'd be dismayed as well.

Comment from: Eric Christian Berg posted at April 3, 2005 1:43 PM

Oddly, part of the reason I dug Heinlein was the opinions that dismayed Eric. :)

I just wanted to add another perspective to this discussion since Ayn Rand's been brought up. Back in high school and college I really agreed with most of what she wrote. I read her fiction and her non-fiction and found it very much agreed with my experience of how the world worked.

Over time, I've diverged significantly from her perspective, though, and I owe a lot of that to her. It was by applying the standards she espoused that I was able to see where her philosophy failed them. In particular, the idea that the dichotomy of idealism versus realism was a false one led me to question and often abandon tenets of Objectivism where the ideals didn't jibe with reality.

Similarly, I was never a 'Randroid' because I took her seriously when she said that only the ideas count, not the person relating them, so I saw no problem in questioning her conclusions or discarding aspects of her philosophy where I thought she was wrong.

Thus, I've never really felt the sort of betrayel or disappointment that's been expressed here.

(I'd really prefer not to spawn a discussion of objectivism itself, btw, because it isn't really germane to the topic at hand.)

Comment from: Coff posted at April 3, 2005 2:00 PM

I'd never read any OSC until I read that essay. I'm certain I just lost some geek street cred, but what the hell? Anyhow, I do have to say that, while I disagree with...pretty much everything he says, it was very well written. I wonder if that's part of the problem.... we are used to people writing things we disagree with. Happens all the time. but often, when an essay is written condemning homosexuality and same-sex marriage, it is inarticulate, and seems poorly reasoned. The same is, of course, true of alot of pro-gay writings. Either side can, as such, easily and quickly dismiss alot of what their opponents say. But in this case, the essay, while in my opinion fallicious, is well written, and comparatively well reasoned. I DISAGREE with all of the reasoning, but there you have it. That is unnerving. Now, coupled with the fact that OSC is an author who many people on the pro-gay marriage side seem to like and respect, we have something of a situation.

Another example of the same basic problem: Wagner was anti-semetic. Does that make his music any less beautiful? Granted, I am not a particular fan of opera, but I can appreciate it sometimes.

I'm certain I've just repeated something that has been said many times before, but I'm posting it anyhow. Because it is MY take on the situation as well as theirs.

Comment from: Brandon E. posted at April 3, 2005 3:54 PM

Actually I've heard that there is some debate about Wagner's alleged anti-semitism. I've heard that he was painted as anti-semetic during Hitler's reign to make his already important charecter also an advocate of government policy. This was done partly as a propoganda device and partly because Hitler was a huge Wagner fan.

But I'm not familiar with the actual translation of his operas so it is possible that the preach some sort of obvious anti-semetic message. I'm merealy repeating what I have heard.

Comment from: Coff posted at April 3, 2005 4:37 PM

Well, you see, that's just the thing. So far as I know, his operas had no anti-semetic message. But I do believe he himself was at least somewhat anti-semetic. It was, at the time, hardly an uncommon thing (regretably). Of course, it likely didn't help that Hitler was a friend of Wagner's daughter....Uncle Wolf to her children, apparently.

Comment from: Reinder Dijkhuis posted at April 3, 2005 5:14 PM

on Wagner's antisemitism. Read the newspaper article linked there as well.

Comment from: miyaa posted at April 3, 2005 5:30 PM

Well, I think its far better to have loved once than to never to love at all, even if it means to be disappointed at someone's beliefs. As fun as it is at times, cynicism isn't something I'd want to find myself doing.

Comment from: Centurion013 posted at April 3, 2005 6:45 PM

I think Mr. Card was actually quite restrained and careful with his essay on homosexuality and marriage. It did not shock or horrify me. But then again, I am rarely shocked and horrified by much that is written. Heinlein's adolescent attitudes towards casual sex got me irked, I will admit. But I save the strong emotions for important events.

I find I do not care for much that Mr. Card wrote (that I read), outside of the Worthing Chronicles, which was a really good read, and one of the few science ficton books I keep on the shelf (Have Spacesuit:Will Travel is one, the Gaea Titan trilogy by Varley is another). Nonetheless, he has said something that is a widespread belief, based on common sense and a earnest desire not to see our society go down the toilet. I find I agree with most of it, the exception being a few details which I believe he took more liberty with than was wise.

Right. Well, from the previous 31 posts, I see my opinion is in the minority. Will I be oppressed? Goodness only knows...


Comment from: Eric Burns posted at April 3, 2005 6:52 PM

Right. Well, from the previous 31 posts, I see my opinion is in the minority. Will I be oppressed? Goodness only knows...

In a way, it's not really the point, either of Aeire's essay or of mine. Card's views on Gay Marriage and the like aren't the point.

The point is having the rug jerked out from under you. The point is disillusionment. This could just as easily have been written by someone who loved Heinlein and then saw that Heinlein was pro-homosexual (which he was, particularly in his later books).

The people whose opinions shape ours in our youth come to occupy a certain place in our soul. When we see opinions of theirs we disagree with, there is an inevitable shock. Sometimes a very, very bitter one.

Aeire's feelings are utterly valid. As were mine. As are yours. What's eternal is that moment when the universe wobbles. When our preconceptions get shaken and our foundation cracks a little.

Which, I guess, is the point.

Comment from: Centurion013 posted at April 3, 2005 7:07 PM

I see what you mean. I think I fail to appreciate the depth of yours (and her) disillusionment because the man had not said anything that I really disagreed with. And much (not all) of the comments so far, have been whether the man holds a valid point or not.

That said, I think I read his essay and essentially said "What's the problem?". I have known for years that writers don't always embody their own beliefs in their work. That, even if they do, they grow older and their beliefs can change. And finally, that the image of an author I glean from his works is, more often than not, false. I can no more ascertain the true character of my favorite author from his popular writing than he could discern my private passion for Asian girls from the miniatures I paint.

I suppose in my case, at least, ignorance is bliss. I have no idea what to expect from Heinlein or Varley or Card as people, and don't consider that a lack in my life. So when they express an opinion outside of the popular media, it's pretty much the same as anybody else's. I never considered any of Heinlein's works that appealed to me, to be any kind of insight into the man himself - and could have cared less. I wasn't interested in Heinlein, I was into the adventures of Kip Russell.


Comment from: Tangent posted at April 3, 2005 7:30 PM

My favorite writer in the world is Madeleine L'Engle. She's a dear old lass who's written a number of excellent stories. She is also devotely Christian and I suspect my beliefs and hers diverge greatly. That does not lessen my enjoyment of her works or indeed the esteem I hold her in.

Likewise, I enjoy Orson Scott Card's works. Hell, I enjoyed "Children of the Mind" or whatever that last novel was called and half wonder if a sequel to THAT ever would come about (as I've grown most fond of several of the secondary characters, especially the Artificial Sentience). Knowing his views on gay marriage do not change what I think of him.

We are, all of us, entitled to our own beliefs.

As for hero worship... *wry smile* I remember the day my heart broke when I realized my maternal grandparents were prejudiced against blacks (among others). I /knew/ about my paternal grandfather's dislike of Japanese, but he was in WWII and I only /heard/ of the dislike from him, I never saw him out and out discriminate against them or badmouth them. But my maternal grandparents... one day I realized that they *were* prejudiced. It broke my heart, even though I was in my 20s and I knew they weren't perfect... I thought higher of them than that.

It didn't change who they were. And really, it didn't change the love I have for them. But yes, I understand the shock of realizing someone you hold to high esteem not being perfect.

Robert A. Howard, who's so laid back he must be gelling ;)

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at April 3, 2005 10:33 PM

Bear with me, I've been sitting on this for a bit.

Ah, that S*P sequence... to me, that was really the more complete exposition of what I had seen in a single line of the infamous Feb. 24th comic.

Yes, it featured "some readhead" getting plowed over by a car, and a tribute to the "lightning path" style favored by Aerie. But I thought the most important part was in the first panel, when Davan said "... if Mike would have listened to me instead of apologizing for twenty minutes and running out..."

Flip back to Mike's first appearance, when he tried to make PeeJee's stint filling in for Davan in a gaming group into a 3-6 hour slice of agony. Or the Mike that existed up until around when he found out Kyle was (at the time) PeeJee's boyfriend. Would that Mike have apologized for anything? Of course not.

But here, it was quickly revealed that Mike has progressed so far as to apologize profusely for letting a potentially painful truth come out at a bad time. Don't know how many other people saw it, but Mike actually has been listening to Davan and PeeJee, and he's already a vastly better person than he once was.

I'm of the belief that there are two types of misanthropes - ones who hate humanity because they find nothing to redeem the masses, and ones who are just frustrated because so many people waste their potential to be good and intelligent human beings. I'm not afraid to admit to being of the latter camp myself. I felt like I was reading from a kindred spirit when Milholland posted that comic - even though it took one character a long time, he was finally starting to live up to that potential. Even if he was still consistently fouling up. (Monette also followed this arc, although she wasn't as extreme.)

Now, to wrap this back around, the McKanzie storyline is the maturation of this idea. Mike was an emotional two-year old for much of his life, and he's still building up to be the kind of person he wants to be. It's implicit that he's basing some of his personal goals on McKanzie's writings. As others pointed out, Mike was the natural choice for this kind of storyline - for many, part of the maturation process is realizing that your heroes aren't gods but humans and with all the foibles and faults that entails.

Of course, as I've said, I never had any heroes. Does this mean that I'm still stuck as a child since I've never had that realization (you need a hero before you can realize they're mortal)? Or did I just never have much of a childhood because I always saw other people as being on my level?

Comment from: Shaenon posted at April 3, 2005 10:35 PM

The point of Aeire's essay is that she admired Card's fiction specifically for a quality--empathy for those whom society has deemed different, weird, or "messed up"--which the man himself has turned out not to possess. It's hardly an uncommon phenomenon, but it can certainly be heartbreaking. How many of us still remember the days when Dave Sim's "Cerebus" was beloved by comic-book fangirls because of its wonderful female characters? No, seriously.

Myself, I gave up on Card years ago, not for noble ideological reasons, but just because his work started to suck so hard. I don't even want to think about how many damn Alvin Maker novels I plowed through before I was forced to give up and admit that this just wasn't working anymore. (I think my last was the one with an introduction explaining that most of the new characters were based on characters roleplayed by people on Card's online fan board, which should have my cue to shut the book.) It's too bad, because I really love some of his fiction, and I believe "Ender's Game" is one of the great sci-fi novels.

Comment from: UrsulaV posted at April 3, 2005 11:03 PM

Ursula- During his lifetime, C. S. Lewis made no secret whatever that -everything- he wrote was intended as allegory for Christian lessons.

Oh, almost certainly C.S. Lewis was pretty honest about it--having come back as an adult, despite the fact that I am sort of hostile about Christianity, you can't help but like that greatest of all Christian apologists. But at the time--well, I was EIGHT. He'd been dead for ages. And my copies of books didn't exactly have "Yo! Christian Allegory Ahead!" emblazoned on the covers. So I went into it in all innocence, thinking that it was just pure fantasy, and when there turned out to be all this subtext! Dude! it felt like the author had been trying to pull a con job on me. And when you're eight, and an alternate universe full of Talking Beasts is like, the coolest thing you can possibly imagine, that's a big deal. I think--maybe I expected better. Maybe I figured fantasy was too important to waste on mundane things like church. Which is kind of a weird thing to say, but it's as close as I can get to explaining it--I'm about two decades removed from my own head, and you really can't ever go back.

It's not Lewis's fault, though--as you said, he was unabashed about it--and hey, as Card and Sim and the rest have shown, it could've been a helluva lot worse.

Comment from: Tangent posted at April 4, 2005 12:47 AM

Okay, I'm about to do what I do best: tangent. *grin*

UrsulaV, your comments attract me because I've seen and heard this over and over and over again, back on Pagan-Home before that e-mail list was ended, and then more blatantly on Pagan-Life (of which I don't know it's condition, I quit before the Presidential Elections due to their blatant Kerry worship, and I saw Kerry as the Equal of Two Evils and likely to stab the pagans in the back once he got into power, but that's tangenting on my tangent... damn, I'm good! *grin*).

I've always found this curious. I mean, I do it myself at times and then chide myself about it... because Christianity itself is not bad. The Catholic Church isn't bad, the Protestants aren't bad, the Mormons aren't bad, NONE of the Christian sects are actually *bad*.

What we have are CHRISTIANS who abuse their faith, using it as an excuse to persecute others. However, we have police officers who abuse their power over others - do we thus hate all police officers? Some lawyers abuse their power (well, more than some, but not /all/ lawyers) and this is reason to hate all lawyers? There are good and decent Muslims out there. After 9/11, President Bush called upon our country NOT to turn on the Muslim population, because it was the actions of a few hatemongers that was responsible for the tragedy, not the entirety of Islam.

So why then are so many people hostile toward Christianity? The message of Christianity is in fact a fairly noble and uplifting one: boiled down it's "be nice to each other." To me this is a fairly considerate and uplifting ideal.

Heh. I kinda consider it a mission of mine to try and reduce hatred/dislike toward Christianity. It's not the religion's fault for what has happened in the world. The Christian God is not the bad guy. And Christians are quite entitled to their beliefs, just as much as pagans, Buddhists, Islamics, and all other non-Christian sects are.

Hatred grows with hatred. Discrimination grows with discrimination. Only by putting our own prejudices aside and treating ALL people, no matter what their religion, race, creed, beliefs (political or otherwise), or whatever with respect and politeness... and indeed, friendship... can we hope for others to grow as well.

Well, I've tangented enough for now. Toodles!


Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at April 4, 2005 12:58 AM

    This could just as easily have been written by someone who loved Heinlein and then saw that Heinlein was pro-homosexual (which he was, particularly in his later books).

I always felt he was more pro-sex with anyone or anything that moves, perferrably in a group, exchanging partners at random, and never consider love, respect or anything to do with emotion in the mutual-masturbation sexfest. (Er, sorry for dripping my cynicism on your carpet.)

But run-on sentances aside, the only author I was ever disillusion by was Mercedes Lackey. She made up a lot of stories about conventions that were obviously false to anyone who's attended more than one fanrun con. Caused me wonder what other "real life" stories she made up.

Previous to that I'd bought her every book without even looking at the back, but after I started to find flaws in her writing and found some of her "worlds" tedious and predictable. (She's either very very good or blah to me.)

But I think the "disillusionment" just means that what makes us admire the authors in the first place is their ability to write a fictional world seperate from themselves.

Comment from: daveMill posted at April 4, 2005 1:06 AM

I felt a very similar reaction when I first read some of Card's anti-gay screeds. I really did feel diappointed. I felt the same when I saw Ray Bradbury once on Political Incorrect defending some congressman who was in trouble for treating his female staff like sex objects. "What's wrong with a little pinch on the butt every now and then?" he said. Ugh.

But after getting over the emotional blow that my writerly idols were flawed human beings, this is what I came away with: That it is possible for a writer to write a story that is better than himself. And that is a most encouraging thought.

Comment from: Tangent posted at April 4, 2005 1:12 AM

Hey Shadowydreamer, I'd recommend the latest few Valdemar novels by Lackey - Brightly Burning, Take a Thief, and Exile's Honor. The latest Exile novel seems to be edging toward the "predictable path" again that I've noticed, but BB and TaT did an excellent job of breaking Lackey out of her mold of "Introduce Hero(ine) in novel 1, Introduce Love Interest in novel 2, and Save the Day/Country/World in novel 3"


Comment from: Centurion013 posted at April 4, 2005 1:17 AM

Having said my piece on the earlier...thing... about OSC's 'shocking' support of traditional marriage structure, I my own self am going to take a dip on a teensy tangent of my own...since Heinlein was in the air...

I absolutely love Have Spacesuit:Will Travel. What a yarn. I have it on my shelf as one of my perennials, something for my son to read one day. Then I picked up The Cat Who Walked Through Walls a few weeks ago. Having never read it (or even seen it before), I settled in for a delightfest. What I got up with, a few days later, was an overwhelming feeling of puzzlement.

Here was the main protagonist, surrounded by people who very obviously had sex often and with as many varieties of partner as possible. This guy was propositioned possibly every fifth page, at length; by women he'd met only minutes before, underage lolitas (12?! Crikey!) and even a guy or two. And yet....and yet... he never boinked anyone but the woman he married.

And what puts the cherry on the fluff? These supposedly liberated folk actually regarded his monogamistic behavior as 'noble'. As if to admit that it was behavior to be admired and respected. Of course there was no question of actually emulating it. But it says a lot about the writer...I think....that in a book supposedly full of casual sex, the majority is either innuendo and teasing, or takes place safely off screen, or is safely within the confines of a marriage.

I think I like the old Heinlein better.


Comment from: W. I. Shane M. posted at April 4, 2005 4:17 AM

Mr. Burns- I totally, completely utterly agree with everything you just said.

"If you tell a lie long enough and loud enough people will begin to believe it."

There's a term for condemning an argument because of where it came from. That's called a genetic fallacy. The above quote is paraphrased from Adolf Hitler, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. Stupid people can say smart things and smart people can say stupid things. Sometimes people tell the truth without even meaning it and some things are better expressed through fiction than straight talk. The underlying truths in OSC's books (and there are a few) call out to the audience in ways I don't think he intended. This does not make them any less true.

Also, I cannot condemn OSC for his views. I disagree with what he expressed but at the same time I understand everything he is saying. We disagree on a few fundamental issues, like the foundation of society and human nature. However, his voice as the author of his books says something different than this new voice. People aren't necessarily internally consistent, and that's okay.

I think there is a beauty in the humanity and vulnerability of an author who doesn't truly know the answers, or even themselves. More then that, I feel nothing but admiration and envy for those who have such strong faith in their convictions, even if those convictions might ultimately prove to be misguided.

You can condemn somebody for being wrong, but it doesn't teach them anything.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at April 4, 2005 7:26 AM

Without C. S. Lewis, it would never have been possible for one gay guy I know to describe himself as being "...so far in the closet that I can see the lamppost and feel the snow." So there's that.

Comment from: UrsulaV posted at April 4, 2005 11:45 AM

Ah, Tangent...we may be getting far too far afield for this forum, but what the heck.

I appreciate your effort. I really do, and you're not particularly wrong. But--well, it doesn't matter.

I don't like Christianity. Period. This is not a rational, considered, carefully thought out opinion along the lines of "Due to reason X, X, Y, Z, and Q, I feel that Christianity is more trouble than it's worth," which one could then carefully reason me out of. I could make it sound like one if I try, mind you--I have a broad store of nasty anecdotes about Christians That Done Me Wrong, and a big vocabulary, and I'm not afraid to use 'em!--but at a fundamental, intrinsic level, it's not about logic, or reasons.I don't like Christianity. It would be a waste of both our times to pretend that the reasons matter--sure, it preaches all kinds of noble happy bits, yes, wonderful, hallelujah, don't care. I don't like it.

I also don't like pecans. Or Scientology. Or that nasty institutional green color on walls. Or the tomato, vilest of veggies (although I'm fine with it in sauce.) I have never been particularly fond of baseball. NASCAR bores me. Russian folk art aesthetics leave me cold. Painted ceramics have never appealled to me. These are not logical positions, they're just the way I am. This doesn't mean that people who like a tomato on their burger must automatically earn my ire--I don't give a rat's ass what you have on YOUR burger as long as you don't try to make me eat it. You wanna watch NASCAR, not my problem. You want those little stacking Russian dolls as integral bits of your home decor, it's no skin off my back. The world is not constructed in order to present me with things that I like, and just because I dislike things doesn't mean they're neccessarily bad.

Funny, though, nobody's ever once harangued me for disliking the tomato, and I get the anti-anti-Christian screed 'bout once a month from SOMEWHERE...*grin* So yeah, Christianity has some great bits. And they just doesn't matter to me at all. It's not an enlightened position, for the most part, but eh, at least I'm honest.

Comment from: Phil Kahn posted at April 4, 2005 1:57 PM

There's nothing really that I can add here, other than stating my agreement with Burns and Aerie in their situations.

Well done.

Comment from: jpcardier posted at April 4, 2005 2:32 PM

"And then he died.

My parents remember where they were when Kennedy was shot. I remember where I was when I heard Heinlein had died. I was in a cockroach infested apartment on Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton, sitting in front of a drawing table that belonged to my roommate and listening to NPR playing over the community access channel on our local cable company. All Things Considered was on, and they told me Lieutenant Robert A. Heinlein, U.S.N. (ret.), the Dean of Science Fiction, the original (and at that time the only) Grand Master of Science Fiction as selected by the SFWA, author of Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Time Enough For Love and dozens more, had died."

Funny story: There was sci fi book I read called the "Secret Ascension" by Michael Bishop. It's a weird book about Phillip Dick ascending to a higher plane and functioning as a type of heavenly messenger.

In it the main character learns that Dick is dead when taking out the used newspapers on the bottom of the birdcages at the pet shop he works at. Tears well up as he realises that one of his heroes has been dead for *months* and he didn't know.

About 6 months - a year later I am burning newspapers in my fireplace and I catch the months old obituary for Robert Heinlein. Tears well up as I feel not only the loss but the irony as well.

I loved Heinlein. Oh, I loved him. I started with Job: A Comedy of Justice (which was weird Heinlein), then Number of the Beast (post "I have no idea how to end this" Heinlein). I then read Lazurus Long, and started to move backwards. Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Glory Road. Have Spacesuit Will Travel, Stranger in a Strange Land. Waldo, Magic Inc. Podkayne of Mars. Friday. I ate it up like candy on Easter.

At this point I have read almost all of his novels, the Grumbles Essays, many short stories and I still love him. I love the Spider Robinson essay about him. Politically the man was all over the map. Probably religously as well, though I haven't seen an essay by him that truly sums him up.

Do I agree with him all the time? Hell no. He was more than a little wonky sometimes (Jeanne Kirkpatrick?) Do I think all of his writing is gold? Also not. He had problems later in life ending his books. But damn I love his work. And I too, never got to say it to him. Which is a shame.

Comment from: Zaltys posted at April 4, 2005 3:34 PM

What I find comforting is that good fiction outlives its author. I suspect the messages that Card puts out in his books will continue to have influence long after the man's true opinions.

Comment from: larksilver posted at April 4, 2005 5:46 PM

Growing up "the quiet one" in a house of loud, pushy, somewhat heedless people, I too made friends with my books. That's what they were, for me. Not so much the authors, as the characters, the stories... I would read and re-read the books I loved the most over and again.

I didn't know much about the authors, to be honest, not at the time. I lived in my own happy little shell, totally engrossed with their works and the worlds they created, unaware that there was a person out there who wrote this stuff as "what ought to be" and not "this is who I am."

When I discovered, as Aeire did with OSC, that the creators of my "friends" were just people, mixed up and screwed up and full of baloney just like the rest of it, I took it hard. It wasn't so much any particular author, but boy I can relate.

At the ripe ol' age of 11, searching for a personal worldview in a houseful of Baptists, I read Stranger in a Strange Land, and I think we can safely say it rocked my universe. There were others, far too many to list here, that affected my worldview, that became a part of me, but this is definitely The Book I remember the most from this period of my life. That, and the Mists of Avalon, which I carried around with me for months. But I digress.

While I always knew that Narnia was always "fiction," that there really wasn't some guy raised on Mars running a Church the next county over, that I was unlikely to see an Elf or a Hobbit in the flesh anytime soon.. but somehow, there was a Truth in these books that touched me. Not a religious truth, mind you.. just a series of concepts and a sense of integrity that you don't find in the "real world." Even as a child, I had an ingrained sense of .. well, Honor, I suppose. Doing what needs to be done not for glory or esteem, but because someone is in pain, is hungry, simply because it is what you consider right (even if I disagreed with what that Right WAS, it was the faith and integrity that was the thing, you see?)... and the heroes in these books embodied that.

To discover that the authors who "created" these characters were often jaded, often the living antipathy to these examples of an ethic I strive to live by hurt... a LOT. It took years before I came to realize that the method by which one encounters a personal Truth is not important. If you find it on the back of a menu, so be it... and who cares who wrote than menu? I hope that Aeire, like me, can rediscover her joy in those old favorites, for the books themselves are still special. They still hold the same magic they once did... once you remove the filter of associating it with "that Card guy who disappointed me so." I finally decided that, if nothing else, it helps to look at the flawed artist/author was simply the vessel by which the message came through, and is unimportant.

Besides, do you agree with your friends & family on everything? I don't, goodness knows... but they're still my friends. So why can't this guy be an old friend who drifted away, one to remember fondly, but not necessarily invite over for dinner. heh.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at April 4, 2005 5:53 PM

Rather than kidnap Eric's blog for Mercedes Lackey bookclub ^_- .. Tangent, if you wanna drop me an email, click on my name ^_^

Comment from: Pooga posted at April 4, 2005 6:02 PM

I find myself somewhat following the trail of 32_footsteps on this. I don't know whether I've picked things up from such a variety of sources, or if my early role models just weren't the type that ignited a burning adoration in me, but I really haven't had writers I looked to as role models, that I can recall. My life is a somewhat even-keel, boring place. Sometimes I envy my friends who can get so caught up in the emotional highs of [insert aspect of modern social life here], but the almost inevitable coresponding lows often make me glad I'm in a more detatched place.

Is it better to have loved and lost...? Could be. I'm sure a good deal of my life-long role as an observer rather than creator/participant is due to my lack of passion for any one thing. Oh, I've focused with monomaniacal obsession on any number of things for periods of time: Asimov's robot stories, The Wheel of Time, Discworld, the Prisoner, Urusei Yatsura, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the Ultima series of CRPGs to name a few of the more time consuming ones (Xanth, Kim Possible, Pokemon and Text Twist to name a few of the more embarrassing). Eventually it wears off and I'm on to something else. Sometimes I'll come back to one (this is about my third run with webcomics fandom since 1999), sometimes not. I can get caught up in the moment, and I'll take experiences from it, but when it's over I have a distressingly good ability to forget what had me so interested in it at the time.

Maybe it's the people I've looked up to. Asimov was probably the first writer I really got into. I can never remember how many books he wrote, but I remember that he wrote fiction and non-fiction on a really broad range of topics. Plus, his stories were always more analytical than emotional. The closest thing to musical idol I had growing up was "Weird Al" Yankovic. Probably the author I respect most these days is Terry Pratchett...

While this will take a minute to read, I've been writing and revising it on and off for half and hour, and have lost the thread of where it was going. This is both why only about a tenth of what I mean to post gets posted and another reason why I'm a software engineer instead of a writer. I know I wanted to mention that the closest I've gotten to this OSC thing was learning what P.G. Wodehouse did during WWII. Being entirely a historical point for me, while I can feel embarassed that one of my (for lack of a better term) idols broadcast essentially pro-Nazi propoganda, I also feel that like many of his protagonist, Wodehouse was more than a little out-of-touch with current events and really didn't realize what he was going on. Plus, this was, like, 30 or so before I was born. In the right setting, there are some aspects about WWII that can work me into an emotional state, but a doddering old author nattering about how nice it was living in France under German occupation really isn't one of those (I'm simplifying, but you get the gist).

I'm sure I haven't come to my original point yet, but having forgotten what it was (and pushing 45 minutes on this thing), I'll stop typing now.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at April 4, 2005 8:46 PM

There's a difference between appreciating and looking up to a writer and being a maniac fan..

Comment from: Montykins posted at April 5, 2005 12:33 AM

To relate this to webcomics, I wish I'd never thought of following the Daily Grind forums. Because although I enjoy both PVP and Yirmumah, it has been made pretty clear that Scott Kurtz and DJ Coffman are incredible jerks.

But I just try not to think about that when reading the strips.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at April 5, 2005 2:13 AM

I've thought Scott Kurtz is an egotistical sod since I first read a blog by him (he thinks similar of me ^_^ ), but that said, I do enjoy his comic. (less now that originally, but I still care) And that's not to say I ALWAYS disagree with Scott, just most of the time. But I'll treat anyone who treats me with respect the same way and Scott has never treated me with anything but.

Sometimes I think his enthusiasm overtakes his commonsense. Probably one of the few things we have in common. ^_^ But I do admire how he doesn't make his issues issues in his comic. He does quickie comics that have "real life Scott" and sometimes "real life Scott's dad" and they're typically funny. I can't remember a rant, peeve or cause appearing in PvP. And that's an admirable thing. (Something I have certainly never managed.)

Or.. in short form; even when you lose faith in someone, typically you can still find things to admire and wish to emulate.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at April 5, 2005 4:15 AM

While it's far from universal, the general consensus, I think, is that Wodehouse felt that his radio bits during WWII were nothing more than minor comic interludes, designed to perk up the spirits of his listeners, rather than any sort of propaganda. It's hard to imagine that something like Wodehouse Playhouse would have been produced so (relatively) soon (thirty years, but still) after the war if people had felt otherwise. And of course there was also Ezra Pound to provide a reasonably stark point of comparison.

Comment from: Pooga posted at April 5, 2005 1:35 PM

Like I said, I was simplifying. Everything I've read on the subject tends to back up the view that Wodehouse really wasn't aware either of how bad things were in Britain or how it would be perceived for a British author of his stature to have his essentially trivial broadcasts coming from German radio at that time.

I guess my point was sort of that I've never looked up to a public figure to the point where I felt something they did was a betrayal, or radically affected how I view their works. I've been disappointed sometimes, yes, but never to the extent of changing my feelings about what they've done artistically (or athletically or whatever), that I recall.

That sort of goes both ways, now that I think about it. There are actors/writers/creators whose world viewpoints so closely mirror my own that I want to like their output, but I don't. I like Mark Evanier's News From ME blog, and I love Groo the Wanderer, but most of his writing work (that I've heard of) is... not so great. Welcome Back Kotter. Late 70s & early 80s Hanna Barberra cartoon shows. Garfield and Friends. Still seems like the kind of guy I'd love to know, and maybe he's ghost written a lot of stuff I really like, but the stuff of his he seems to talk about most isn't (for the most part) my cup of tea.

And of course, there are those whose works I enjoy who have yet to make an ass of themselves by weighing in on unrelated subjects in ways I find objectionable. And, for completeness sake, those who spout vileness whose work I never cared for to begin with. :)

Comment from: freemind posted at August 17, 2005 10:30 AM

I would say that Heinlein approved of "casual sex", however I do not recall any of his characters indulging in it. Any intercourse that I recall occurring was between people that cared for each other, even if they had only met that day. This holds especially for "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "I Will Fear No Evil" which I suspect were the novels that most dealt with sexual relations. By my recollections his protagonists never coupled with anyone that they would not - and often had - put their lives on the line for.

My personal opinion is that while Heinlein had no prejudice against casual intercourse, he regarded committed (if not monogamous) relationships as far superior to casual relationships. Of course I am judging from his fiction and he warned us of judging an authors personal belief from his fiction. Still I cannot say that I have found any inconsistency in his stories albeit that various stories appear to emphasize various aspects of a consitant philosophy.

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