Sorry for the long absence, nothing I’ve thought of related to writing and publishing has arrived in my head lately that wasn’t fit to peel paint and melt the steel or concrete behind it. I’ll be delving into politics today, with the reminder that I am not a member of any political party.

One of the things that has always struck me as odd is the homogeneity found in the politics of certain fiction. It’s been written by writers who appear to me to be fairly well scattered across the political spectrum but it is nonetheless startling. Whole races where everyone follows one leader with little or no strife. Single language species. Even multiple intelligent races coexisting and cooperating can be a little sticky when you poke the idea. To use a few truisms of the genre; underground dwelling mining  and metal smith dwarves, tree or forest loving elves who are at one with the universe, gold loving ravenously carnivorous dragons and run of the mill dirty, smelly, short lived  and bellicose humans seem to thrive in near harmony in a lot of universes.

But why? That’s a question for another day honestly. The big question is not what we see from the outside of any given society or clash of multiple societies but how well those images match up with how they view themselves.

One of America’s best known political activists was Malcolm X. A quote that sums up what I’m thinking exquisitely is:

“They don’t stand for anything different in South Africa than America stands for. The only difference is over there they preach as well as practice apartheid. America preaches freedom and practices slavery.”

Pretty stark. Agree with it or disagree with it as it was said a couple decades back, it shows a social disconnect between the individual and the society. Malcom X wasn’t the most popular American during his time, but he represented a subset of the society working form within it to make changes. He exercised his free speech, was eventually killed for it, but among all but the looniest of his enemies most wouldn’t have at least appreciated the courage it took to be a dissenter in such a turbulent era.

Yesterday an athlete declined the invitation of the President to visit the White House. He’s not the first. Given the buckshot pattern of political views in America I doubt anyone will convince me he’ll be the last.  This is also free speech. It’s hardly even worthy of note since as a member of a team of more than twenty athletes the absence of anyone player (or in this case two, the other never issued a statement on why he wasn’t there)  is only noticeable if someone makes an issue of it. Given the sensationalism of the media (from one end of the spectrum wrapping all the way around to the starting point and a few places not on the map) it was inevitable that it would be noticed.

Yet members of the media, who are galloping to toss his public image on the gallows, are claiming it would make less of a scene if he went and declined attention while standing directly in front of the media. According to these same journalists, it is an act of cowardice to stay away from a place you would be uncomfortable at best or might cause a scene because of the strength of your beliefs. Call me a cynic if you must but I can’t help but shake my head at the idea that either of those media positions is anything but self serving. If Tim Thomas, who’s team won about 7 months ago had gone and done things there way it would have put his teammates in the position of having to answer more questions about his opinions than about the visit to the White House itself. That’s the way the media works.

Just as the media made more of Bill Clinton’s affair with his intern than his wife, or the average American it would have become the focus of the day. Having been denied a stationary target they then decided to peel the onion that is his statement looking for seeds. The statement issued through his Facebook page in its (unaltered) entirety  is:

I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.
This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.
Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.
This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT

Clearly the most bombastic attack on any seated president in the history of the United States of America. Well, leaving aside the fact that it doesn’t actually name the office of the president, either party, or Barak Obama by name. Of course this didn’t stop members of the media from implying he’s racist, or various wanks from making death threats. Various other opinions on this can be found: Here, here, here, also here, here, and here.

Now how much of what you’ve read (or likely skimmed which is fine) is completely congruous? Some of the writers (and others you can find on your own) contradict themselves a bit, the six linked spread across the spectrum pretty well. America is supposed to be a place of political freedom, and that’s just not apparent in some of those, which is ok, that’s their free speech. It is just fascinating how much one small segment of a population can generate so widely scattered opinions on something.

Media roles in various fictional societies vary greatly. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the difference between the media and government is murky, assuming it exists at all. In David Weber’s Honorverse, the Manticoran media is very much like the American media, just divided on more party lines. In Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, about the only competent media is the one least believed. Lois Bujold portrays the media on Barrayar as shifting from the third hand of the emperor to something slightly more independent across a 30 year span.

The main characters of these writers run the gamut from scapegoat to minor godling, and sometimes are standing on all these points at once depending on the media outlet. Much like how Fionn is viewed differently by various other dragons. Some of them want to dismiss him out of hand, even though he wants to destroy the world, others are amused by him. Some of the views of him do and don’t match his own self-assessment, which is pretty normal and rules are both odd and twisty in a world with multiple races in collusion to keep humans from gaining any sort of power.

So,  the questions of the day are:

  • How much congruity is your current or favorite work?
  • How much is in your least favorite?
  • Is it more fun to write a society that is or is not living up to the standards it claims to have?