Someone unsubscribing from my newsletter took the time to write me a note today, to say: “I’m not interested in reading biased and left leaning ‘literature.'”
Well, I never called it ‘literature,’ as that would be a mite presumptuous of me. And there was no mention of politics, none, in my email announcing the arrival of Rasha’s Letter today. So I assume that the note he sent me actually means, “I’m not interested in reading stories about Muslim time travelers who are not terrorists.” Or maybe it actually means, “I am not interested in reading science fiction about refugees.” Or, if he got as far as reading the description of the novella on Amazon, maybe it means “I don’t want to read about people who are bi.” Who knows.
Ridiculous way to limit your reading, but whatever floats your boat, sir. Seriously, I’m not going to cater to readers’ bigotries. That’s both a recipe for boredom and fundamentally a lost cause. I could write a story about sentient chewing gum (and don’t tempt me), and I am certain someone would still take political offense and find it to be ‘biased and left-leaning literature.’ So I’m just going to write what I want to write, about characters who move my heart facing challenges that move my heart.
However: If, unlike my surly note-scribbler, the rest of you would be interested in reading Rasha’s Letter, it is live today! I am excited to give this story to you. It is one of the best and most moving I’ve written, according to some of the early readers. Part time-travel thriller, part love story: you can get it here.
P.S. Got another of those unkind notes in my inbox, from a different reader, almost the moment I posted this. The note read: “Unsubscribe me If you’re seriously peddling this Islamic Puke I Don’t want this crap.”
Seriously, I never got this when my first Ansible stories came out, but I’ve been getting this more frequently ever since 2015, though only from my U.S. readers. What the hell has Trump and his souped-up Islamophobia done to this country?
My response was:
“You are certainly welcome to unsubscribe, Charles; there is a link to do so at the bottom of the email. I have science fiction stories told by space travelers from many parts of the world, but predominantly Christians, Jews, and Muslims. I don’t know what it is you think I am ‘peddling,’ but if you either don’t enjoy science fiction about humans exploring the universe or you want to read stories that only include particular groups of people in space exploration and not others, you are unlikely to enjoy my fiction.
Having abundant time on his hands, ‘Charles’ actually wrote me back, explaining that his vision of the future is evidently more inherently genocidal than my own.
Says Charles: “I Already have a Full Library I need none of you’re drivel….Left Wingnut trying to enable Islamics…don’t the watch Star Trek or Star Wars the Islamics Don’t exist in the Future”
Says me: “What a boring future. I don’t have time to waste imagining your boring future; mine is a bit bigger in scope. I sincerely suggest you do unsubscribe, and enjoy your already full library, sir.
And the saga continues:
Charles: “Ahhh to hear the sweet Squeeling of the millenial Fascist and you have no Future Sonny you’re whole generation is screwed”
Stant: “I am not a millennial, and hardly a fascist, but if you are so bored with your current reading that you have time to flame science fiction authors over email, might I suggest you widen your reading horizons a bit?
Gen X’ers are easy to anger but difficult to insult, largely because we’ve already heard all the insults, about two decades ago. Charles is going to have to up his game a bit. (However, having met Charles, I can at least confirm that an encounter with sentient chewing gum is not as far-fetched as I had at first believed. — And yes, that is petty. But if you’re going to take the time to write me about how my work is “Puke” because it happens to include people you think shouldn’t exist, you will not find me in a pleasant mood.)
Anyway, I just found a note in a very different tone waiting for me, from a different reader: “I loved it. I loved the imagery, the prose, I loved the diversity, I loved the emotion behind each and every sentence. It was absolutely beautiful. It was such a wonderful read.”
I can’t write for everybody. So I write for readers like her (the reader who sent that last note), and I write for me.
Now, off to tell another story.
Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!