FeatherPenClipArtLast year I went to Atlanta for Dragon Con. This is not normally my thing, as I’m mostly an introverted recluse. However, I had a good time. There were–I dunno–maybe 50,000 – 60,000 SF&F fans there, all dressed up in fun costumes. As THE big fan-run conference of the year, I figure this has to be a cross section of current SF&F fandom.

It looked like a lot of cons these days. There was about equal representation of genders. I wasn’t really counting heads, but there seemed to be a fair representation from racial minorities and people with disabilities. There was a lot of nudity, and a certain amount of cross-dressing, which may or may not have been significant.

I poked around in the art exhibit and some other offerings, but mostly I stuck with the writer’s track. I attended several interesting panels, which included publishers, authors and critics. There were a few minorities represented, and some featured mostly men or mostly women, depending on the subject. I have to say that there was some clear discrimination against LGBTQ topics. These panels were rescheduled to increasingly later times, eventually ending up about midnight. Hm.

So, on to the topic. One of the papers actually sounded like an apology for Robert Heinlein. It was presented by Jennifer Hudgens, currently a philosophy academic who teaches courses on science fiction at the University of Kentucky. Ms. Hudgens appears to be about thirtyish, which makes her a Millennial. The subject of her paper was misogyny and racism in Heinlein’s work, and why he’s an important writer anyway. This is an interesting take on science fiction that won several Hugo Awards in the 1950s.

I have to admit I’ve not read anything by Robert Heinlein in a long time. I consider it period science fiction, something to be read with the period in mind, like H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. Because of the attitudes identified by Ms. Hudgens, I suspect it would most likely be un-publishable by a new writer submitting it today.

Ms. Hudgens’ opinion is a bad sign for writers or publishers of traditional, right leaning science fiction like Sad or Rabid Puppies Vox Day, Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen. The Census Bureau predicts that in 2015 Millennials will surpass the Baby Boom generation in size, making them the largest available fan group for SF&F. These kids have grown up in a time when they expect to be respected for who they are, regardless of gender, race, disability, LGBTQ status, religion or national origin. Unless you’re writing period SF&F, then you need to be aware of that.

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