Well, Yes, we said we’re shut down until after the first of the year, but I couldn’t find a better venue than this to make my response to a post made a couple days ago, and frankly it bugged me enough that I needed to get it off my chest. So:
“The kids aren’t reading, he says”
Well, actually what John Scalzi, in a recent blog says is; the kids of today aren’t reading what S/F&F calls “the classics”, to wit, “Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, etal”. Now let me start by saying that while I’ve never met Mr. Scalzi, I don’t like his writing, I don’t like his politics, and in point of fact, the ONLY thing I like about the man is that he was nice enough to say some really nasty things about a blog post I wrote some considerable time ago, thus increasing my readership, and doing nice things for my circulation etc (I never got around to thanking him…)
But I’m not here today to write about his writing (poor, derivative, and unentertaining as I find it to be) or his politics, (which reminds me of what the late great Sir Winston Churchill said about an opponent’s politics and mistress…) I’m here today to write about his concept of data and the scientific method. See Mr. Scalzi seems to think that he can draw a conclusion on the success or failure of writing based upon the anecdotal evidence of “what my daughter likes”. Oh and in fairness, based also on some tweets by some guy I’ve never heard of.
Now Mr. Scalzi also goes on to explain that we can’t expect the kids of today to buy and read the “classics” because they’re buying or being bought for from the “Young Adult” section of the bookstore (or assumedly the Y/A section of Amazon, which he doesn’t mention, because see Amazon is EEEVVVVVIL) and the classics didn’t write for the Y/A audience, so it’s not in the Y/A section. He goes on to explain that all of Heinlein’s stuff, and by implication the rest of his etal, are dated, and none of the futures of Heinlein’s stuff could start from today’s future, and lots of other things about how these authors are long dead, their stuff is all based on a future that doesn’t come from a modern perspective, etc. bla, bla, bla. Oh and his crowning argument seems to be that these old dead guys don’t need the money, so you should buy from authors that do.
Now, based on his comments, I’m forced to believe that he’s never read any of the RAH Juveniles, and is there for, unaware that those self-same Juveniles where the Young Adult section before there was a Y/A section! I’m also going to have to go with the belief that he’s never read Starship troopers (oh wait he stole from that massively, if only to argue against such concepts as Honor, Courage, Duty, etc) HUMMM, Not sure how you could come to the conclusion that S.T. can’t be gotten to from today. Ditto most of the RAH Juvies (with the obvious exception of a couple based on life on Mars) Oh, and let’s look at Clarke… Yeah no way you could get 2001 from today, ignoring the actual date, (cough bullshit cough) much less Rama… Asimov’s robots… sure those are so outdated they’re making movies from them, and those movies do well… OK so much for “they’re dated, and not written for the right audience.
I don’t have sales figures to quote from, but I know that Baen is rereleasing all of RAH’s stuff, and one of the many things about Baen is that they sell what sells. So based on the fact that their rerelease plans continue, I’m going to run with the assumption that they’re selling. I seriously doubt that the sales are all to the over 50 crowd as nostalgia items, (though I could be wrong, sure would like to see sales figures and demographics. You see Mr. Scalzi, that’s how you determine the truth or falsity of a theory, WITH DATA. It’s also frustrating that we can’t look at the secondary market, as most of the “classics” are out of print, and sold in used book stores.) Yes, new authors are selling… GREAT! Especially as I am a new author. But see this is the thing, the problem with Scalzi’s position, is the same thing as the problem with his political and economic mind set.
It’s not a zero sum game dude!
People buying Percy Jackson and … will not “not buy” RAH because they’re only buying one book, if they’re readers, they buy books, if they’re not readers, any book that will make them become readers, even if I think it sucks, like what some asshat did to the Fuzzy series, is a good thing. (Oh, wait, that was you, Mr. Scalzi) The only thing that is a bad thing, is books that turn a potential reader, into a non-reader, because boring, or preachy or….
Finally, Mr. Scalzi seems to think that readers should buy books based on whether or not the author needs the money. The money shot is “Which is as it should be. All love to Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, et al., but they’re dead now. They don’t need the money from readers; living authors do. Moreover, Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, et al have been dead on average two to three decades.”
Hell, is this the new litmus test I’ve got to pass? Let’s see, I’ve got to have LGBT (M.O.U.S.E.) heroes, (and I must have a heroine! Far better if she be LGBT) and they have to behave according to the demanded stereotype that the left sets (otherwise it’s cultural approbation or some such bullshit) and I must have “a meaningful message” (as determined by the above mentioned self-appointed arbiters of all things good) Oh and people of color, must have people of color and they must also behave according to the stereotype, or again Cultural approbation… it must condemn the military industrial complex or be generally opposed to the western culture… and now a new shibboleth, it must be by an author that needs the money.
Piss on that crap. How about we write stories that are fun, and that people want to read? Does that work for you’all?