John C. Wright is an author I'd never heard of until I opened Songs of the Dying Earth last month. His story in the collection is entertaining and vaguely amusing, and when I heard some good things about his Golden Age trilogy of novels I resolved to pick them up at some future point.
After this blog post was brought to my attention (by a rather horrified SF editor), I decided to drop that resolution.
The post starts off with Wright complaining about the problems of tokenism in fiction, the politically-correct demand that every book or TV show has a gay character or some other minority in it. He was skirting around something beginning to be a point there, although it's a dangerous game to be getting into as based on that logic, why bother having any black or Asian characters or smokers? Therefore, QED, having an all-white, all-straight cast should be totally believable, even in a futuristic setting (when demographic logic tells us the overwhelming majority of the world's population will be non-Caucasian). The only problem with that is that reading an SF work set in the future where the entire cast is white would be pretty ludicrous and send up the bullshit flag pretty quickly unless there was some overtly convincing reason why this was so.
Where the blog posts enters a more disturbing arena is where Wright basically outlines his views on homosexuality. In effect, he equates it with bestiality, necrophilia and pederasty and as being considerably worse than incest. He states that it is a sexual-psychological malfunction and is contributing to the 'moral decay' of society. It's nonsensical hate-speak, plain and simple, particularly unwise when espoused by a new author who is trying to build a career and fanbase in a genre which has a lot of LGBT readers.
This does potentially lead down the road of, well, do an author's personal views matter when all you're really concerned about is if their books are any good? And I would say yes, since the buying reader is contributing to their lifestyle and enabling them to go on doing the things they want to do. As such, I am not inclined to give money or publicity to someone who indulges in hate-speak and takes such an obsessive interest in what goes on behind the closed doors of his neighbours (seriously, what is up with that?). In addition, there is way too much good stuff out there to read, so removing his books from my 'to read' list does reduce the pile somewhat as well, which is an acceptable situation.
Wright's mistake here was that the more profitable career-path is to establish yourself as a huge, best-selling author first and then make the crazy ultra-con statements that alienate most of your fans but simultaneously bring in the extremists who'll keep your sales ticking over later on. He went down the bile-rising route way too early (the Internet's current reaction to the controversy: "Who the fuck is John C. Wright?"). Maybe it'll blow over and people will forget about it and he can go on to have a huge successful career, but this is going to be one of those things that's going to keep coming up in the future.
Interesting rebuttal of the original post by Hal Duncan, for those who have an afternoon free to read the whole thing ;-)
And another from Catherynne Valente.