Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why Hillary Lost

Dear Liberal Friends,

This is an open letter regarding why I believe Hillary Clinton lost the election.  First off, I know some of you are going to dismiss this as mansplaining, or whitesplaining, or some other splaining, and that's why you lost.  You have consistently dismissed what I and others like me have to say based on my gender and skin color, and yet you refuse to understand how bigoted that is.  You can't dismiss a sizable chunk of the population and expect them to just take it.

Hillary lost because she exemplified that dismissive condescension.  Her "basket of deplorables" comment is a glaring example of it, but she and her followers did it on a smaller scale a million times over.  Microaggressions, you'd call them if people like me did it.  You lost because you decry every perceived microaggression against you and yet you scream megaaggressions in our faces at every opportunity.  You demand safe spaces where you don't have to hear our somehow terrifying words and yet you insist that we listen to everything you say with no respite.  Your thoughts and feelings are important, and so are mine.  You can't dismiss people's feelings and not expect a backlash.

Your side lost because you throw around accusations of racism, sexism, and homophobia at a whim.  Is Donald Trump a racist, sexist, homophobe?  I don't know, because you've called so many decent people those things simply because they disagreed with you that the terms have lost their sting.  You cried wolf a thousand times and now I don't believe you when you make the accusation.  If Trump really is all those things, then you've done us all a great disservice by allowing him to hide among all the decent people who you have unjustly accused.  So people went into the voting booth and remembered your charges of racism and sexism and homophobia against Trump.  And then they remembered the same charges aimed at their friends and neighbors and figured it was just more over-the-top rhetoric.  You can't throw around wild accusations and get mad when people learn to ignore them.

Consider this: if I had begun this letter by saying, "Listen up, you arrogant libtard assholes," would you have read anything past that?  Well that's what your side does to us all the time.  The average working class voter didn't like being dismissed and condescended to like that and so they voted against everything you stand for.  According to the data I've seen, a lot of people who voted for Obama last time around switched to Trump this time, especially in key rust-belt counties.  The key word from both Obama's and Trump's campaign is "change."  Those people don't like the way the political elitists treat them and they voted for it to change.  They don't want a corrupt political insider, they want someone who they believe is going to shake Washington up.  That's why Bernie Sanders was so popular; if the DNC hadn't undermined his campaign we'd probably be talking about president-elect Sanders right now.  You can't be rude, arrogant, and condescending to people and expect them to vote for you.

Please note that I opened this letter by referring to you as my liberal friends.  You are my friends, whether in person, online, or in spirit.  I'm a conservative, but I don't believe the country is best served by my side (or yours) dominating all branches of the government.  I'd prefer robust but respectful debate, I'd prefer the two parties to have enough representation in DC to enforce reasonable compromise.  Please consider my advice seriously; I want you as my partners in this country, friendly rivals but not bitter enemies.  Yes, I know you're disappointed in the outcome of the election.  We were disappointed the last two times around, but life goes on.  Please stop the over-the-top screeching, the wild accusations, the talk of Trump concentration camps and other nonsense.  You sound just as ridiculous as the "Obama is coming to take our guns" crowd sounded.  By acting like that, you're doubling down on the behavior that lost you the election.

So...Trump is our president, like it or not.  I've made it perfectly clear that he wasn't my first choice, not by a long shot, but here we are.  We can whine and complain, throw the country into four more years of vicious accusations, bitter divide, and angry bickering.  Or we can come together, work together, and give him a chance to lead the nation.  It's what you would have expected us to do if Hillary had won.  It's the right thing to do.  I'm not talking about kneeling to your new overlords; debate and disagreement are an important part of American politics.  But you do have a responsibility to listen to what he has to say, to give him a chance to lead.  I've said time and again that I don't think he will be a good president, but I'm hoping very much that I am wrong.  I want him to succeed, for the sake of my country.  And yes, I would have felt the exact same way about Hillary if she had won.  If you're already talking about filibustering every single thing Trump tries to do, if you're already burning flags and rioting, if you're already digging in your heels and tuning out everything the winning side has to say, then you're the one who's the problem, not Trump.  Okay, yes, if you hear about him breaking ground on a LGBT reeducation camp or forced fertilization clinic or immigrant concentration camp, let me know and we'll oppose him together.  Until then, stop crying wolf unless you actually see a wolf.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Throwing My Vote Away

I'm voting third party in this year's presidential election.  Right now I'm leaning heavily toward Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.  That could change, but it definitely won't change to Trump or Clinton.  There's a meme that says that Trump is the worst of American culture and Clinton is the worst of American politics, and that pretty much sums up how I feel.  Trump is hedonistic, bombastic, and tends to say whatever he thinks will get attention without thinking about the consequences.  Clinton embodies political corruption, cronyism, and hypocrisy.  I cannot in good conscience vote for either one.

My conservative friends say that a third party vote is a vote for Hillary.  My liberal friends say that a third party vote is a vote for Trump.  The left is much more in-your-face with this, going as far as to say that they will hold people personally responsible (whatever that means) for the consequences of a Trump presidency.  My response to that: if you're so worried about a Trump presidency, you should have given us a better alternative.  I would have voted for any other candidate, even one I disagreed with politically, over Trump or Clinton.  You really terrified of Trump winning, you should have given us Sanders.  You really hate the idea of a Clinton presidency, you should have given us Cruz.  It's too late now to blame those of us who find your candidates distasteful.

I know a third party candidate has virtually no chance to win.  I don't care.  Does that mean I'm wasting my vote?  Well, if you live in a red state and vote for Clinton, your vote makes no difference to the outcome.  Same for Trump in a blue state.  Are you wasting your vote?  Should you just vote for the other candidate because yours has no chance to win your state?  Of course not, because it's worthwhile to vote the way you believe.  Why is it so hard to accept the same thing for people who vote third party?

My vote will make a difference.  I dislike the corruption of the major parties, and so I'm taking my business elsewhere.  I'm hopeful that a lot of people will do that.  And so when the political party bosses look at the numbers after the election, they'll see a large percentage that they could have had in their column if only they had given us a decent candidate.  Will that change the way the do business?  I don't know, but I know that swallowing my revulsion and voting for Trump or Clinton will definitely no change things.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


A while back, Dave Creek asked me to submit a story for a space exploration anthology he was putting together.  Dave is a friend and a good guy, so I didn't hesitate.  I didn't know that I'd be sharing the table of contents with the likes of Marianne Dyson, Mary Turzillo, Arlan Andrews, and more.  I should have written a better story!

The anthology is called Trajectories, and it's published by Hydra Publications.  Dave has just revealed the beautiful cover art for it.

The ebook should be out by the end of the week and the print version sometime next week.  It's packed full of stories of space exploration and danger and includes some big names.  Check it out!  And look for more of my stories due out in Analog in the coming months.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mission: Tomorrow

This week marks the official launch of Mission: Tomorrow, an anthology from Baen Books that contains a story of mine called Around the NEO in 80 Days.  Editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt is a rising star in the SF world and a good friend, so when he invited me to submit a story for the anthology I jumped at the chance.  I built the story around JP Aerospace's "Airship to Orbit" program.  John Powell, the founder and CEO of JP Aerospace, was kind enough to send me some technical details on the program, which helped me to keep the story closely grounded in fact.  If you're looking to support a small aerospace company with big ideas, check them out.

The Anthology features awesome cover art (my image here doesn't do it justice) and a lot of really good stories from some big name authors and some lesser known types like me.  It's available on Amazon and elsewhere, so check it out!  Even better, Bryan is doing a giveaway on Goodreads where you can win a copy signed by the editor and a few of the authors.

I'm really proud of this one.  Around the NEO in 80 Days is one of my favorite stories that I've written.  Even better, it's appearing in an anthology from a big name publisher and edited by a guy who is most definitely going places.

As always, I have more fiction in the works, including a new one due out in Analog very soon.  Keep your eyes open for it!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Far orbit Apogee Cover Reveal

My story "Contamination," which first appeared in Analog, will be included in the upcoming Far Orbit Apogee anthology from World Weaver Press.  Editor Bascomb James has revealed the gorgeous cover:

The anthology is due to be released on October 13 of this year in ebook and trade paperback formats.  Check out the links below and perhaps pre-order a copy.

Official page: 


(US ebook)


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"Usher" on StarShipSofa

Okay, so I admit I've been neglecting this blog.  Like six months of neglect.  Since I last posted, I've had several stories appear in Analog.  I have more due out in Analog and appearances coming up in some cool anthologies.  One of the Analog stories, "Usher," caught the attention of Jeremy Szal at StarShipSofa, and he contacted me to ask if they could podcast the story.  I was thrilled, of course, and the story went into their queue.  The story is now up on the site, in episode 397 with Jordan Suchow's fun flash fiction "NPG's Policy on Authorship," which first appeared in Nature.  You can listen on StarShipSofa or download the episode and listen on your favorite mobile thingy.

Here's the link to the StarShipSofa episode.  While you're there, check out more of the awesome fiction on the site!  Enjoy!

Oh...and more cool news is coming up soon.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Unfriend Me Now

Over the past few years, I have noticed a trend where people will post on Facebook a status to the effect of, "If you believe X, unfriend me now."  If you're going to vote for this candidate, if you hold this political position, if you don't agree with me on this issue.  These posts seem to peak in the run-up to national elections, so thankfully I haven't seen any recently.  That's why I'm bringing it up now, where I'm purposefully not calling out one particular individual.

When I see one of those posts, my (unspoken and untyped) response is, "Why would you want to live in an echo chamber, where you never hear people express diverse opinions?"  Wouldn't it be better to hear what other people have to say, even if you disagree with it?  Even if it infuriates you?  Especially if it infuriates you?  How else will you ever find flaws in your own positions if you don't listen to others trying to poke holes in them?  At the very least, coming up with counterarguments to their statements, even if you leave them unsaid, can strengthen your own position.  And who knows, you may actually learn why they believe something so alien to you, and you may learn to understand their position better.  You may still not agree with them, you probably never will, but isn't it better to understand them?  Segregation, ostracism, banishment, and isolation all lead to insular subcultures that grow increasingly hostile to any opinions that stray even slightly from their increasingly narrow doctrines.  And if you do want to live in an echo chamber, with no opposing voices, don't ask me to do your dirty work.  Do your own purge.

I bring this up in the context of the latest "Sad Puppies" Hugo controversy.  For those who are not immersed in SF culture, the Hugo is an award given to the best SF & F novel, novella, short story, etc., each year.  Anyone with a Worldcon membership can nominate and vote in all categories.  (I know, there's more to it than that, but this is the abridged version.)  Lately SF fandom, at least the literary part of it that frequents Worldcons, has been dominated by liberal voices, and so many of the awards have been going to stories with explicitly leftist themes.  Whether people are voting for these stories because they truly believe they are the best stories or because of their politics is a matter of much debate.  I'm sure there are some who vote based on merit, independent of the author's political views, and others who cast their vote politically, and I have no idea how the percents break down.  A group of right-wing writers has taken it upon themselves to propose a slate of stories that they consider to be award worthy and encourage like-minded individuals to vote for these stories.  The idea is to create a voting block to counter the left.

Are the Sad Puppies people right?  I don't know.  I do know that their confrontational approach can easily alienate the very people they seek to convert.  It's important to understand that, whether or not you or I think they're right about the Hugos, they believe that they have a legitimate grievance.  Why not let them air it in their own way?  I know it's considered bad form to actively campaign for nominations, but I also know that unofficial campaigning has been happening on the DL since long before I've been a part of the SF community.  Yeah, I know, this is different in that it's a coordinated effort, but nothing is stopping other groups from proposing their own slates if they want to play the same game.  All I ask is that it be done respectfully.  It's one thing to say, "I prefer these stories because reason X," it's quite another to say, "Those stories are trash and not worth reading."  I've seen message threads on both sides berating the opposition, ridiculing their views, and disrespecting them as individuals.  I've seen members of one side butt into threads on the other in order to troll.  I've seen respectful dissent shouted down.

If you're going to do that, if you're incapable of controlling your outrage at someone who doesn't share your views, I guess maybe you could unfriend anyone who is different and live in ignorant isolation.  But I would humbly suggest a better approach.  Read what the other guys have to say.  Listen to them.  Disagree with them, but do it with respect and acknowledge that they have a right to their beliefs.  And please understand that they are under no obligation to change their minds just because you disagree with them.  Before throwing around words like stubborn, obstinate, and closed-minded, think about what it would take for you to change your views to agree with theirs.  Would a few snide Facebook posts be enough to change your core values?  Would a condescending diatribe packed with cherry-picked statistics do it?  Why would you expect it to work on someone else?

I've seen people suggest that the Sad Puppies list be taken as a list of works not to read.  I've seen the same suggested for the list of Hugo winners.  These attitudes strike me as narrow-minded at best, and purposeful intimidation at worst.  Both sides have aggrieved and have been aggrieved.  We can keep bickering forever, or we can embrace each other's differences and learn from them.  You know where I stand.  If you disagree with me, don't unfriend me.  Rather, to paraphrase Niven's Law, use it as an opportunity to learn about a mind that thinks as well as yours but differently.  Return the favor and tell me your opinion.  I will thank you for sharing your views and be glad that I live in a world where a wide variety of opinions are tolerated.