Fiction by Paolo Bacigalupi

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Posted on Sep 29, 2008 in Blog, Writing | 5 comments

McCain plus Palin equals…

No. Just no.

If her “story” had been real, fine. If she showed a quick intellect and a history of engagement with complexities outside the boundaries of Alaska, then fine. If she could string a sentence together, or had a healthy curiosity for the mechanisms of our nation, then fine. If she showed enough wisdom to know that when you’re asked to run a country, that you should at least pause… even if you don’t blink.

But no.

I like to think that we live in reality-based society, but Governor Palin still hasn’t been sent packing back to her energy colony, so the only thing I can conclude is that my dystopic worldview isn’t nearly dystopic enough.


  1. Serious question, Paolo: Do you think authors blogging about their views on the election can undercut their fiction?

    It is very difficult to experience the fiction of Orson Scott Card or John Scalzi the same way after reading their political posts. Catherynne Valente is a brilliant writer, and I am trying so hard to forget the rant on her blog where she fervently wished that a falling tree would crush John McCain’s skull.

    No political commentary I have ever read has caused me to question my worldview as much as reading “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula LeGuin. But I wonder if that story would have lost some of its effectiveness if I had read it alongside a blogpost by LeGuin listing reasons to vote for Jimmy Carter.

  2. Good question. I remember reading a Barbara Kingsolver essay about Afghanistan that made it harder for me to take her seriously.

    In some ways, I wonder if an author blogging about almost anything can undercut their fiction. As soon as you start posting, you start undercutting whatever brand you may have constructed with your carefully designed fiction. If you say nothing, you enjoy the same advantages as the pretty girl/guy across the room. Anyone can project almost anything into you. Once you open your trap, you end up being just another regular voter, sitting in front of the tube and ranting…

    For myself, there are certain kinds of polemic that I want to avoid, but the Palin pick cuts so closely to things I worry about, I basically can’t resist. Ultimately, I’ll always come down on the elitest side of things, I want intelligent, and intellectually curious individuals in charge of my country. I wouldn’t go after Palin’s Christianity, her abortion stance, her kid’s lives, etc. even though I might have opinions about those things as well. But I’m pretty comfortable going after the cynicism of her pick and her increasingly apparent lack of not only qualifications but also lack of a restless mind that I would look for in a vp pick.

    Interestingly, I actually find that Scalzi’s political writing actually makes me like his fiction more. I sort of have the sense that I’m sitting in the chair reading and chuckling along with him, so in that case, my sense of his personality and values informs my interpretation of the fiction in a positive way.

  3. Have you seen her latest “interview” with Katie Couric? I mean the second one. Where she actually brought John McCain with her to protect her.

    Yes, that’s right. She brought a “lifeline”. She apparently can’t handle Couric on her own anymore.

  4. Well, I think it depends on both author and reader.

    For instance, I love the Ender series, though Card’s political views – which are far right of mine – have since caused me to shy away.

    And not to put to fine a point on it, but your own fiction carries quite a bit of weight. Knowing about your background (i.e., writing for the High Country News) can actually strengthen those narratives. Just as LeGuin’s essays about gender and sexuality brought a whole new dimension to my reading of “The Left Hand of Darkness.”

    James Gunn often points out that valid SF will carry some of that social weight with it – in many ways, writers openly discussing politics can be as simple as them restating a theme from a fictional work in the mainstream with plain words.

    There are cases where it might undercut their work, though. Sean Penn has likely alienated many would-be right-wing fans with his political activism. While other watchers may ignore that and continue to appreciate his acting ability.

    I suppose you do lose that “pretty girl across the room” phenomenon – but not with me. Or the majority of your readers, I’d imagine.


  1. windupstories.com - fiction by paolo bacigalupi » Blog Archive » Should Fiction Writers Write About Politics? - [...] just posted some of my problems with the Sarah Palin vp pick and Aaron posed this interesting question:…
  2. David J. Williams » Blog Archive » Message to all writers who won’t write about the election - [...] “undercut their fiction by talking about the election” on their blogs. He gave a good answer that’s worth reading…