Susan R. Matthews is one of the great science fiction writers of our time. Don’t believe me? That’s you’re choice, but if you don’t at least give her work a try that’s also your loss.
Since her first novel, An Exchange of Hostages, came out in 1997 she’s been hitting science fiction in the face with her brutally hard dystopian galaxy “Under Jurisdiction”. It’s the story of one Andrei Koscuisko, medical doctor and torturer for the state. Ironically, these books became popular just as my country was deciding if the post 9/11 world required us to abandon our values and adopt torture as a weapon in the fight against terrorism. Matthews no-holds-bars approach to the subject is, I think, a cold slap in the face to anyone who considers torture a good idea.
In Crimes Against Humanity, her usual protagonist has walked away from the state and taken up his former role as doctor and healer. But times are still uncertain and moral lines remain unclear. When faced with an antagonist who really has it coming, will Koscisko revert to his old ways? I must say, this was one of the better books I’ve read this year, and I do recommend it…but it’s also not for the faint-hearted.
Clayton J. Callahan
So hear’s the thing… I am frequently running into fans of science fiction who are half my age and proport to be more knowledgeable about the genre than I, and what’s more, they can explain to me exactly why it’s all going straight to hell.
To cut to the chase of their rather lengthy arguments, they claim that social justice warriors (SJWs) are destroying all that’s good in science fiction. Now, whoever these SJW may, or may not, be the complaint is that science fiction will never recover from vandalism done in the name of diversity. Which leaves me with just one question, WHAT ARE THESE PUNKS SMOKING?
From my old-fart-fan point of view, science fiction has always been about diversity. Don’t believe me? Star Trek, of course, went out of its way to ensure the Enterprise had a diverse crew (don’t believe me? Watch a few other shows of that era). Or you could read Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War released in 1974 which takes place in a future where homosexuality is more acceptable than heterosexuality. Robert A. Heinline’s characters, of course, are often in polygamous marriages which are considered normal in his future. And even in old Flash Gordon, there was an occasional flash of feminism as Dr. Zarkov defends Dale Arden as a talented radio operator who must be included on the missions.
In short, science fiction has always been and always will be about pushing societies envelope. Today, I can recommend D. Wallace Peach’s Bonewall and highly recommend the Jurisdiction series by Susan R. Matthews. Both are carrying on the long and proud SF tradition of pushing our social envelopes and make for good reads.
So, no, I have no idea what are these fanboys complaining about when they moan about SJWs ruining science fiction. These still are the good old days and I for one intend to enjoy them.
By Clayton J. Callahan
I just finished my Thanksgiving turkey, but a thing that’s left an equally filling aftertaste was the weekend before at Orycon 39. This year was my eighth, or maybe ninth Orycon. To be frank they all kind of blend together in one great fanish haze from time to time.
Again, this year I was honored to be a panelist (and grateful they forgave/forgot the whole “blasted out of my head” incident of three years back). I sat before various audiences discussing things ranging from Star Wars to Wonder Woman, and man did I get some challenging questions.
But panels be damned! I also went partying with my wife, drank more than a bit too much, played some great science fiction card games, and met a lot of truly great authors (I’m talking about you Susan R. Matthews), and fans.
Honestly, I’ve been going to these science fiction conventions since 1985 (Milinecon Minus 15, Dayton Airport Hotell) and highly recommend you give one a whirl. Oh, you can start out with one of those huge, sprawling Comicons if you like. They can be fun too.
But personally, I recommend you seek out one of the smaller, cozier ones close to home. You get a real sense of community at the local conventions that can’t be found in a larger venue. Great conversations take place in hotel lobbies with like-minded geeks you only met an hour ago, and lifelong friendships get off to a great start.
In short, it’s always worth it to seek out new friends and new conversations. To boldly con where few have coned before.
See you there!