Small c Conservatism in Reading

This post was inspired by a Twitter conversation with Scott Lynch, and reading the reactions to K Tempest Bradford’s post, in comments, and in the Sad Puppies blogs. The vehemence in this has surprised me…but only in retrospect.

Small c conservatism in reading habits and expectations in what a writer is or should write works against authors oeuvres and reading lists.

The outrage to [Bradford]’s challenge to read women and POC for a year is a really telling piece of this pie and conversation.

I found it very interesting that a lot of the Sad Puppies claim “I don’t choose books based on gender and color,I just read the best”

And yet, I will bet money that for most people who claim that, and perhaps even believe it, their book habits in reading aren’t diverse.

It’s extremely easy to fall into the trap of “I’m reading diversely, I know I am” without examination, and wind up reading conservatively.

Now, how does this tie to what I was mentioning to [Scott Lynch] about? This applies to authors and I will drag [Elizabeth Bear] into this too.

Red Seas from Red Skies is the second Lamora book, and Scott got a lot negative feedback from readers for it? Why?

In my view: Simple. It’s simply not “Lies II: Electric Bugaloo”. It does different things. It tries new techniques.It reframes Locke & Jean.

For readers who just wanted more of the sea from Lies, this of course drove them crazy. And so the reception of it suffers.

I understand that Bear, jumping across series early in her career, had some pushback in terms of success. She didn’t write 10 Jenny Casey novels.

She wrote other stuff, tried new things, experimented, grew. This fought against the small c conservatism that readers have.

Look at George R R Martin and why people are so hot fired on when the next book comes. It’s not like there aren’t tons of more to read.

They want more Tyrion, Daenerys and the rest. Period. Small c conservatism. Its something we can all do to recognize and counter.

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