The death of satire

The Dyke and the Dybbuk, by Ellen Galford. “A fun, feisty, feminist romp through Jewish folklore as an ancient spirit returns to haunt a modern-day London lesbian.”

The OC remarks: “And they wonder why straight men have lost almost all interest in buying and reading fiction…”

This makes me suspect that the gatekeepers are unintentionally strangling the genre by ignoring population demographics. Do the math. It is nearly impossible to get published in SF/F as a Christian evangelical or anti-feminist these days. It is, by comparison, relatively easy to get published as a lesbian, feminist, or Jewish writer, because the lesbian, feminist and Jewish editors, (or in some cases, all three in one), understandably tend to be interested in publishing books that reflect their interests and perspective. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. Their job, their call.

But there is something mathematically wrong with it, since lesbians make up around one percent of the population and Jews are either 2.2 percent or 1.7 percent, depending upon which metric you use. So, by combining those two factors, as in the case of Ms Galford’s new “fun, feisty, feminist romp”, you have functionally decided to turn your back on at least 99.98 percent of your potential market. Of course, the transparent short-sightedness of this approach is unlikely to prevent the publishers from decrying their continually declining sales and blaming them on ebook piracy, video games, or that old standby, male readers being intimidated by strong, independent female characters.

I have to confess, though, that description kind of makes me want to read The Dyke and the Dibbuk. It appears to have the potential to be even hilariously awful than that were-seal book that presently serves as our standard for the literary depths of the SF/F genre.

Insty on Game

I agree with the sentiment, if not the specifics:

The “game” stuff pretty much is for douchebags, or at least the otherwise hopeless. It involves taking the sophisticated approach that someone with actual interpersonal skills might employ, and boiling it down to a set of simplified rules that produce a sort of cartoon version — much as you might boil down social interactions into rules for an autistic person; the result is better than nothing, but not the real thing. But although it’s a cartoon — and focused largely on picking up women in bars, a fairly limited and artificial environment to begin with — the simplification process does reveal things that might otherwise be obscured or ignored. And it’s interesting to see some of these insights going mainstream. (The other thing you learn from perusing some of these sites is just how much some men need the help. And I’m not sorry to see them get it.)

Glenn has it exactly right. As I describe it, it is the articulation and emulation of successful natural behavior for the benefit of those who do not possess it. So, there’s no reason that it should be limited to male-female relations, much less douchebags seeking to score with club sluts. And he’s right, most men badly need it today because they have no idea how the rules have changed since 1950.

Consider the following female strategy for obtaining free drinks:

6. Befriend an older man at the bar. Um, hello… old fashioned manners. He’ll have to offer. And you will graciously accept.

Notice that the entire strategy is designed around the female assumption that an older man will not view her as a predator out to use him for his financial resources. The mere articulation of this thought process demonstrates the need most men have for Game today. As it happens, I never offered to buy a woman a drink at a bar in any situation that I would not have done so for a man. Certainly not as an icebreaker, still less in response to a request from a stranger. And somehow, that didn’t prevent me from meeting Spacebunny. Given that many women are overt cheapskates attempting to cadge free alcohol from suckers and that not offering free drinks is no handicap to meeting beautiful women, I think it is safe to say that one should not ever buy drinks for women in the hopes of ingratiating oneself to them.

Keep in mind that as a general rule, female gratitude takes its philosophical cue from Charles de Gaulle.

Surviving the test of time

Bestselling Novels
# Title Author
1. The Broad Highway Jeffrey Farnol
2. The Prodigal Judge Vaughan Kester
3. The Winning of Barbara Worth Harold Bell Wright
4. Queed Henry Sydnor Harrison
5. The Harvester Gene Stratton Porter
6. The Iron Woman Margaret Deland
7. The Long Roll Mary Johnston
8. Molly Make-Believe Eleanor Abbott
9. The Rosary Florence L. Barclay
10. The Common Law Robert W. Chambers

How many of these writers or novels do you recognize? They are the 10 best-selling authors of exactly 100 years ago. I am a reasonably well-read individual, and I have to admit that I have never heard of any of these books or any of these authors except for Robert W. Chambers, who also wrote the ur-Lovecraftian collection of short stories entitled The King in Yellow. One of the things that became clear in last week’s discussion about the literary decline of the fantasy genre, (or, as I would argue, the literary decline of the SF/F genre), is that very few of those involved in the discussion appeared to fully realize just how unusual it is for literary works to survive 70 years, as the works of Robert E. Howard and J.R.R. Tolkien have, let alone 100. Nor, as should be readily apparent from the names and titles on this bestseller’s list from 1911, should one be inclined to confuse book sales with literary longevity, let alone immortality.

Read the entire post at the Black Gate. Then comment here, or there, as you prefer.