Open Letter to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Conquest’s Second Law strikes again, leading John C. Wright to pen this open letter to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America:

Instead of enhancing the prestige of the genre, the leadership seems bent on holding us up to the jeers of all fair-minded men by behaving as gossips, whiners, and petty totalitarians, and by supporting a political agenda irrelevant to science fiction.

Instead of men who treat each other with professionalism and respect, I find a mob of perpetually outraged gray-haired juveniles.

Instead of receiving aid to my writing career, I find organized attempts to harass my readers and hurt my sales figures.

Instead of finding an organization for the mutual support of Science Fiction writers, I find an organization for the support of Political Correctness.

Instead of friends, I find ideologues bent on jihad against all who do not meekly conform to their Orwellian and hellish philosophy.


  1. Faze says:

    Conquest’s Second Law describes the tactic of “outflanking on the left”. Members of an organization are continually strategizing to improve their status relative to that of other members. The easiest dominance tactic is to take a position slightly to the ideological left of your target, and attack.
    It always works.

    Your target, who already thinks of himself as a politically virtuous person, now has to defend his virtue (because an attack from the left, unlike an attack from the right, is a serious moral challenge, and cannot be dismissed with a chuckle). The rules of the left make it very hard to oppose at attack from father left, because the attacker is not calling for better outcomes or utility, but greater virtue.

    Once other members see you’ve made a left-flanking attack, the weakest will rush to your side to pick up the cheap virtue points you’ve made available, and now you’re a group.

    Outflanking on the left does not call for you to take an extreme position at all. It can be a very gentle, civilized thing. But the accumulation of small flanking attacks by many status seekers over time gradually moves the organization left. Often, the only way to halt this process is to declare the farthest left or politically correct position on all controversial issues for the entire organization for all time, ritualistically defer to it, and move on.

    Sometimes it’s the only way to get something done.

  2. Marc Pisco says:

    I’d've liked it better if he didn’t write like a caricature.

  3. Rollory says:

    Yeah, I’m in agreement with all the points he is making — and in fact haven’t bought any new SF for years due to just not liking the stuff on offer — but he’s such a florid and wordy writer, I end up just skimming anything of his that I happen to read.

    (If I read it at all. Ever since reading something of his and thinking “hm, that’s an interesting idea, I wonder how he came to that conclusion”, asking him about it directly, and being repeatedly accused of being a liar, I’ve not had any particular enthusiasm for the man.)

    Vox Day seems to approve of this sort of writing style. I just can’t deal with it. But then, VD’s writing reminds me of my writing, and I know how bad I am.

    (VD’s fiction writing, I mean. His blog posts are entirely a different style)

  4. William Newman says:

    Conquest’s Second Law also involves ideological enthusiasm for firing or silencing non-leftists. That can be a very effective tactic in the medium term in an organization which previously valued openness in a society which previously valued openness, and as our laws get rejiggered to protect it (directly and indirectly, as by making it hard for organizations be displaced by rivals as their performance deteriorates) it is making a fair shot at remaining effective in the long term. But anything which interferes with promoting performance can bite the organization in the ass hard if it ever needs to perform, and it can also become a noticeable drag on motivation (and indirectly a further drag on performance) as organization members lose their ability to use their status within the organization to signal anything but political accomplishment.

    Also, as an ideological test bites harder and harder, it predictably makes people choose sides. The testers anticipate this, usually fondly, but things don’t always break the way the testers fondly anticipate. E.g., in Macaulay’s account of the runup to the Glorious Revolution, he gives a very conspicuous place to the hardening of a religious test for advancement in the government of James II. (“Who indeed could hope to stand where the Hydes had fallen?”) The fallout was complicated, but in particular though Macaulay loathes Marlborough with an intensity which has to be read to be believed, Macaulay also can’t help but be impressed with Marlborough’s abilities, and does not slight the significance of Marlborough getting serious about leaving James II in the lurch.

Leave a Reply