Join Prism Book Alliance® as Andrew Q Gordon goes Outside the Margins today.
In case anyone was worried, this is not going to be another post about my new years resolutions. It won’t be about the clusterfuck coming from Washington starting Friday the 20th. I’m referring to the subject matter of my OTM posts each month. Instead of searching for a topic each month, I’ve decided that in 2017 each post will have something to do about fantasy books. And not just LGBTQ fantasy either.
I’ve been reading speculative fiction since I was twelve – at least that is as far back as I remember reading fantasy novels. Some had LGBTQ themes, some added anti-LGBTQ elements, and most had none at all. To start this new ‘direction,’ I’ll start with two in the “I don’t recommend them” column.
When I was in junior high and high school, I wasn’t out. Hell, I didn’t even admit to myself I was interested in guys, despite knowing I was. I think that’s the definition of deep denial. (Or deep in the closet.) But I remember reading Robert Adams’s Horseclan novels. And to this day I haven’t forgotten what a homophobic prick Adams was. It wasn’t just that he was homophobic, he routinely portrayed gay men as child molesters.
Other than that (which is like saying other than dying, getting shot isn’t so bad) the books were interesting. These were post apocalypse books before that genre was popular. The weapons and military details were quite good, but often the plot veered off into the evil pervert who liked to defile young boys needed to be defeated direction. And when they died (and they always did) the ‘good’ guys cheered.
If I could go back in time, I’d make sure my younger self never gave him a nickel of my money, but embarrassingly enough, I bought all eighteen books in the series. (And the Castaways in Time series too.) Adams never finished the Horsclan or Castaways series before he died in 1990 and I can’t say I’m sad neither is complete.
The other author on my “do not read ever again list” is Orson Scott Card. When I heard he was a board member for the National Organization for Marriage, I was shocked. I’d read Songmaster as a teenager and based on that, had thought Card was at worst ambivalent to gay men and most probably supportive. Ansset, the main character, is written as an impossibly beautiful nine year old who is lusted after by other men. But unlike the Horseclan novels, the book makes clear that none of these other men even make advances on the boy. That decent people of all persuasions didn’t do that to kids. The powerful men cared for Ansset and loved him, but in a paternal or fraternal way. Never sexual.
As Ansset grew up, he realized he is attracted to other men. His attraction is portrayed matter of factly, not as a vile or scandalous thing. And while his first sexual encounter went terribly wrong, it was caused by drugs given to him as a child to enhance his voice and not because he was gay. This was a novel that showed gay men as just part of the way things were in this universe. And it was written in 1980.
In a later interview Card denied Songmaster was meant to be supportive of homosexuality saying, “it is hard to make a case for the naturalness of such an obviously counter-evolutionary trend as same-sex mating.” That is in keeping with his later stances as an opponent of gay rights, specifically marriage equality. But if you had read the book, without knowing his politics, you would swear it was written by a gay man; closeted perhaps, but still gay.
I stopped reading him after Songmaster. His books immediately after had a heavy sci-fi bent and I was more interested in high fantasy, but once I learned about his politics, I had no desire to read more.
I suppose in some ways it’s a bit like cutting your nose off to spite your face. Card is by all accounts (confirmed by the lone book of his I read) a gifted author. Not reading his books because of his politics probably has no effect on him. Although the boycott of the movie version of Enders Game, however, might have had an impact. Its take at the box office was significantly less than what it cost to make. Only DVD and On-Demand sales brought it into the black.
But with a library too large to read in a lifetime of great speculative fiction books, not reading anymore of his books is no loss to me either. Not giving him my money, however, makes me feel better. And giving that money to someone who is supportive, well that is best of all.
Know any other ‘popular’ authors who belong on my “do not read” list by virtue of their negative portrayal of or their attacks on LGBTQ people? Leave a comment below.
~Andrew Q Gordon
About Andrew Q Gordon
Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.
He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of twenty years, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day.
On his website: www.andrewqgordon.com,
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrewqugordon,
On Twitter: @andrewqgordon,
Or just email him: firstname.lastname@example.org
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