Feb 092016
 

00003422Here’s a silly post by a guy trying to sell books by stirring up outrage.

In short: he wanted to think of some really original reason for an AI to decide to wipe out humanity, a reason that readers can really empathize with. He went with the old AIs-realize-that-humanity-attacks-things-they-view-as-a-threat, and-thinks-humanity-will-see-AI-as-a-threat. This is kinda the opposite of originality. It’s pretty much the stock reason given in every popcorn AI-wipes-out-humanity flick or novel. I’m not saying it’s a bad trope. After all, it is a darn good reason, and one we can empathize with. But Cole seems really impressed with himself for thinking of it. /shrug

Anyway, according to the author, his moment-of-clarity for the AI is when the AI learns about abortion. He says this isn’t a pro-life/pro-choice debate, but duh, obviously it is, we’re not stupid. For an AI to be more concerned with terminating an unwanted pregnancy than our species-long history of genocide and violence, is a very clear message that an objective, non-emotionally-invested third party would view abortion as a stronger indicator of humanity’s dangerousness than genocide is.

That’s blatantly a pro-life message. That’s fine, I personally like message fic, as long as it’s actually about the message and engages it. From the sounds of it (again, based only on the author’s post), this was just kinda stuck in at the beginning of what is otherwise a popcorn action book. It’s basically just a big middle finger to the hated Other Side, a simultaneous rallying cry for the like-minded, before moving on to good shoot-‘em-up fun. That’s not really message fic, it’s just being divisive. I will be the first to say that there isn’t anything wrong with this, if that’s what you’re going for. But it will turn off all the readers on the Other Side, while gaining you some fans on the Correct Side. That’s what it’s designed to do.

HarperCollins didn’t think this would gain him enough readers to offset those lost, and refused to publish unless he changed that. He refused, they parted ways, and that’s that.

Hahahaha, no of course it’s not.

Nick Cole is now making some pretty good hay out of the fact that his publisher wouldn’t accept the book. I can see this from HarperCollins’s point of view. The contract would have included an advance, plus they would be out the cost of production & printing & promotion (if any). If they were confident that the book wouldn’t make back its cost, not publishing it is the logical choice.

On the other hand, identity politics is crazy profitable right now! Every few months one side or the other gets outraged over something and dumps a lot of money into “supporting their side of the cultural war” or whatever. Chick-fil-A, that one pizza store, Sad Puppies 3, etc.

The real problem is getting some controversy going. It’s not hard to find bad message fiction out there, the internet is awash in it. We’re drowning in bad message fic. How’s a guy to differentiate himself, and get some attention? What you need is some sort of Great Injustice to occur that people can really get behind.

And thus the post entitled “Banned by the Publisher”. Where not only does Nick claim that he was censored and silenced by elitist liberal publishers, but he paints himself as a courageous oppressed minority fighting against the powers of Hitler. No, really. Here’s some direct quotes:

 

“I had no right to have such a thought”

“That is censorship, and a violation of everyone’s right to free speech.”

“I am a writer.
No. One. Will Ever. Bully. Me.
Ever.”

“A writer is often the last defense in a society collapsing into a one-mind totalitarian state where the rights of people are trodden upon by the ruling elite”

“artists disappear either by blacklisting or “disappearing” ”

“It is my job to stand up and say what cannot be said”

“Many dead writers have paid for the freedom of others with the truth, and their lives. Writers are often the last flame of freedom on the flickering candle of civilization in the darkness of a world going mad.”

“Thinking like that made the concentration camps possible”

 

At this point, he has a shot of getting the big Counter-Oppression dollars, so kudos to him! It’s unlikely he would have gotten anywhere without HarperCollins turning down his novel, so I suspect this is “banned” in the same way that SuperBowl commercials are “banned” – ie: intentionally designed to be refused.

I guess that’s a viable business strategy right now, but I really dislike how it relies on hatred to be effective. This is the same reason the Sad Puppies 3 campaign was bad. The externality this ignores is that the publicity isn’t free. It comes at the cost of manipulating one group of people into feeling extreme anger and hostility at a different group of people undeservedly. Hatred of actual evil is good. It’s a motivating force. But it’s a dangerous tool, and extremely toxic. Exploiting it for book sales is like dumping radioactive waste in a community’s ground water.

Ultimately, I would have shrugged and supported Nick Cole in going self-pub with this book, if he just put it out as a self-pub because his publisher wouldn’t print it. By turning it into another toxic rage-fest to boost sales, I consider him vile. :/ Way to take “freedom of expression” and ruin it for all of us, dillweed.

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