Dear Lois McMaster Bujold

Dear Lois McMaster Bujold

I have a lot of respect for you as a writer and as a person. Though we have only met a few times, we have many acquaintance in common, and those acquaintance value you as a friend and as a critical thinker. That all being said, perhaps it’s time for you to step back from the current conversation and just not say anything for a while. Listening would be good, but really just stop talking for a bit, because you are not helping anyone at this point in time.

Just some friendly advice.

Best,
Tempest

Comments

  1. Josh Jasper says

    Oh look, it’s Yet Another Community for Will Shetterly to wave his Fail Flag in by telling people what is or isn’t racist. Because he’s such a great authority on that.

  2. Aitchellsee says

    Well yeah, Josh, but in all fairness it’s Yet Another Community Where People Are, um, Harshing On A Member Of Will Shetterly’s Long-time Writers’ Group (in this case, Pat Wrede) so it’s not as if he’s simply making a gratuitous appearance in some sort of “Racism? Did Somebody Mention Racism? You Called Me From Afar” thing. It’s that old Stand By Your Friends issue, again.

  3. says

    Ack. As long time fans of Pat Wrede and Lois Bujold, I’m disappointed. (In Bujold’s case, I understand the need to make redress, but I felt it was particularly inept and looked more like the ladies from the church dropping off the casserole at the house when you’d just had a big argument with them. Look! I made you casserole! Are we friends again? Even though the original issues haven’t been really addressed and won’t be made better with casserole.)

    Basically I wish she had considered the critiques instead of saying, “Look, you don’t get what she was doing.” I’m not arguing the megafauna on an unpeopled frontier isn’t a cool concept, or that you can’t have a major historical event not take place…..but we are still reading this in a real-world context. What DID happen to those groups? Why didn’t that migration happen?

    And from the Tor thread, I’m particular disappointed in the Wrede reference where she got rid of Native Americans altogether because she didn’t want to address the two tropes about them that bothered her. (Comment 196, I think, had the text.)

    Finally, I’m disappointed by the number of people who keep pointing out that it is a slim YA novel, and ergo, couldn’t possibly cover these issues. (I love YA, and I think it, as a genre, is perfectly capable of addressing tricky topics.) I’m not saying we needed a treatise on landbridges and Jared-Diamond-distilled-for-the-kiddies, but surely an author and their defenders don’t need to play off the problematic choices made by the author by blaming it on the genre.

  4. Aitchellsee says

    Part of what makes it so painful to watch as Bujold digs herself deeper through the course of that discussion is that, all throughout RaceFail First Quarter ’09 , as I read the words of POCs and allies explaining how and why they are hurt or injured by other writers’ unthinking exercise of white privilege, I’ve had Lois McMaster Bujold’s own words ringing in my ears.

    It seems the epitome of what we previously oblivious white folk ought to be taking away from the discussion: the words of Miles Vorkosigan as he is made to realize how his unthinking behavior has devastating effects on Ekaterin:

    I did that to her? [snip]I did that to her.”

  5. says

    First time I comment, here, si I’ll try to keep it simple and not too long. Forgive me if I’m not 100% clear, English is not my 1st language.

    It’s been very interesting (but sometimes uncomfortable) to read these mammoth threads, especially as I’m both a huge LMB fan and someone pretty attuned to the subjects of race, cultural imperialism, etc. So, it was very, very cringe inducing to read some of Lois’s comments, especially in that beginning. where she blindly went on about stuff she should have known better… And if I’m feeling that as a white person, I can’t even begin to imagine what Native American readers and other people of color could have felt in that discussion.

    But in regard to “listening”, I think Pixelfish is right: some of LMB’s later comments do show someone who is reading what other people are saying, here, and who is thinking about it, even if slowly and coming from a long way away.

    So, I guess it’s a good thing that she didn’t refrain from engaging in that discussion, in the end.

    The curious thing is that she went into this in defense of a friend, Wrede, whose particular book doesn’t sound, frankly, able to compare with even the weaker stuff Lois had written…

    Another kind of selective blindness at work, apparently. Standing up for friends and all that.

  6. says

    Coming into the discussion awfully late, but wanting to get this comment out somewhere….

    The really sad part, here, I think, is that LMB’s Sharing Knife is a version of settling the frontier that puts “Indians” front and center without falling into either the Indians-as-savages or Indians-as-gentle ecologists trope that Wrede wanted to avoid. It is explicitly NOT an alternative history (and thus does erase many sets of people, Irish as well as blacks), but just as explicitly inspired by American frontier history, and in my view (basics here), it captures the structural workings of race very well. To be so cognizant in her books, and so unseeing in her defense of a close friend…depressing.

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