Thursday, July 24, 2014


All authors want people to like their books, but any sensible author also knows that you can't please all the people all of the time. Actually, most of my favorite books have been offensive to lots of people (Huckleberry Finn, Lolita, and Elmer Gantry spring to mind), so my goal as a writer has never been to please everybody. But that doesn't mean I'm okay with my work being misunderstood.

For instance, I've noticed that there are some reviews of my book Xombies that accuse me of sexism. This pisses me off, because the book is ABOUT sexism; it is a critique of sexism (among other things); but it is no more sexist than Schindler's List is pro-Nazi because it is about Nazis.

In Xombies, most of the women on Earth are transformed by an artificial virus into rampaging, unkillable demons, who then spread the disease to men via a "kiss of death." To me, this was an interesting and funny idea, turning the tables so that suddenly men are the "weaker sex," quaking in their boots at the sight of a teenage girl. Even if that teenage girl happens to be immune and thus harmless, as is the case with the book's narrator, Lulu Pangloss.

A couple of the critics wonder why I had to make women the "bad guys," implying that a gender-based pandemic is an attack on women. This is absurd. I am only positing a fictional situation: a disease that strikes women first. Although fictional, it echoes a very real situation that occurred in my lifetime: the AIDS epidemic.

AIDS first appeared among a segment of the population already treated as second-class citizens, and who hardly needed to be stigmatized further by a "gay plague"--yet that's exactly what happened. If an author had made that up, I have no doubt some well-meaning person would have accused them of attacking gays. Likewise, just before the economic collapse of Weimar Germany, a liberal government was elected, with many Jews in key positions. These Jews bore no responsibility for the Depression, yet they took most of the blame, and the Nazi Party reaped the benefits at the next election. It was a case of very unfortunate timing.

My point is that real-world events are not always convenient. Not all tragedies are equal-opportunity, so why should fictional ones be? The moral of a story is not the same as the plot--the plot is just a hypothetical situation, which can be literally anything. The plot has only one purpose: to be interesting. NOT to be safe--I have no desire to read anything designed to flatter and protect my tender feelings. Fuck that shit.

The Nazis loved kitsch. They were suckers for sentimental hogwash and bogus nostalgia. Art should challenge assumptions; it should cut through that garbage to find the truth, and the true morality, that society often conspires to hide from us.


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