I recently read a revival of Jerry Pournelle’s 1980s series There Will Be War from a small and rather controversial publisher. It’s an anthology and not bad, with the exception of one weak story toward the end.
As to the controversy: If you’ve heard of the Mad and Sad Puppies and the recent Hugo issues you can probably figure out why the publisher is controversial. My take on the controversy: I read interesting and well-written stuff and don’t want to know the author’s position on the Republican vs Democrat stupidity or the culture wars. I read fiction partly to get away from that crap. There aren’t too many places to get away from those wars anymore and what’s left seems to be under siege.
There has been a liberal/conservative split in science fiction as long as I can remember, but it has mostly been trumped by the solidarity of all being outcasts of a sort, which tends toward a live and let live attitude from most fans. We’re mostly so happy to find people who share our obsession that we’re willing to overlook the fact that they’re Trotskyites (Eric Flint) or Conservatives (Pournelle) or extreme Libertarians (Hogan) or believe really bizarre conspiracy theories about US politics (Stross).
That tolerance has gradually declined over the last at least a decade. People get more and more obsessed with politics or the culture wars and insist on pushing their views in everybody’s face, where it about as welcome as Jehovah’s Witnesses at your door, telemarketing calls during your nap or penis enlargement spam in your e-mail.
I watched a once tight-knit astronomy group of people who had been friends for twenty to thirty years argue itself apart because some members stopped being willing to accept that sometimes you have to agree to disagree. What advantage is there to ending friendships over politics? It isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.
I suspect that organized science fiction fandom will tear itself apart the same way, dividing into non-viable subsets along political/cultural lines and disappearing. I hope not, because I’ve come to love organized fandom of all political stripes and I love attending cons.
It’s important to have friends who disagree with you on significant issues, even if it is sometimes uncomfortable. Otherwise you end up harboring what I call “Bubble Boy” beliefs—beliefs that can’t hold up under even cursory contact with informed opposing views and have little to do with reality.
I’ve seen very bright, very analytical people advocating stuff that is easily disprovable. Put a “D” or an “R” behind someone’s name or a set of arguments and people won’t bother to read or think before gleefully spreading nasty stuff around Facebook or Twitter.