Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

“…to the exclusion of all emotional experience”

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

This morning, a post from last summer on women and hard SF got resurrected in my twitter stream. The title: Being male is not a prerequisite for hard SF.” Well, duh?

Written by Damien Walter, and published in The Guardian, the piece begins:

Despite protestations to the contrary, hard SF is a boys’ club that is undermining its own potential by resisting the contributions of women writers.

It goes on to say:

Women writers are more than welcome in hard SF, assuming they have a background in the hard sciences and value hard logic to the exclusion of all emotional experience.

Wait…what? All my hard SF novels have just been insulted! By this definition, we must conclude that there is no emotion in my work. Shame on me. And there seems to be an implied corollary that men wouldn’t read my books if there were any emotion to be found in them — which is not remotely my experience.

Update: Comments here and on twitter have made me realize that these quotes I’ve picked are leading to a misunderstanding. There is a tired old meme that says hard SF is emotionless writing. Damien is taking this meme as truth. He’s not advocating emotionless writing; he’s railing against it. So my first objection to the piece is that I simply don’t agree that hard SF is emotionless writing. But Damien says that it is, and goes on to say that the work of women is accepted by hard SF readers if it values “hard logic to the exclusion of all emotional experience.” I feel my work has been accepted as hard SF, but I don’t feel it’s devoid of emotion — so I find the argument quite insulting on multiple levels.

The tone of the piece seems intended to provoke a reaction — “hard SF” is redefined as “chauvinist SF” and on we go from there — so it’s successful in that.

I’ve been working on my own post on hard SF. I guess I should finish that up and publish.