Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.
I may be showing a deplorable ignorance, but who is Mr. Maliszewski?
James Maliszewski was, until the tail end of last year, the guy responsible for Grognardia, a blog focused mainly on what became known as the "Old School Renaissance" in tabletop RPGs (mostly people rediscovering older versions of Dungeons & Dragons and promoting styles of play supported by those games which had become unfashionable in more recent games).
Unfortunately, he's now mostly known for seriously dropping the ball on a Kickstarter - a nasty emergency came up in his personal life, which I can sympathise with, and he ended up failing to communicate with his business partners on the venture for several months, which I am less able to sympathise with because they were sort of left high and dry with tens of thousands of customers' dollars resting in James' account and lacking the legal licensing necessary to complete the product without James. Eventually he signed over the rights to them so they could finish the product and he's re-emerged recently on Black Gate, though the words "I apologise to my Kickstarter backers for failing to deliver the product I promised" have never quite escaped his lips.
I raised an eyebrow at his involvement mainly because he's very religious and very political about it, though unlike Jaycee Dub he has the good taste not to loudly broadcast those opinions in every little thing he does. But he does seem to be part, alike with JCW, of this odd cluster of very culturally conservative guys who are worried about the notion that some modern fantasy fans might not particularly enjoy or care about old school pulp fantasy.
And while he is wrong on historical points, he would still be wrong even if it could be shown that no woman ever participated in armed conflict before WWI, since arguing that something should be or not be because of historical existence is wrong in any case. Explosives were a ridiculous idea at some point and a flying thing, besides the obvious culprits, was either a demon or a monster. Not to mention that whole thing called clinical medicine. And should we just reinstitute slavery and oligarchies everywhere(officially) simply because they have always been? While a hierarchical society with a severely limited education system would probably spare the world from the writings of Mr. Wright, it's probably a lesser price to pay in that sense.
Curiously, many people, at least the people of the ancient world actually believed in some cases in the existence of many fantastical beasts like the hippogriff. A giraffe was thought by some to be a mix of a camel and a leopard, for example. Pliny the Elder and Herodotus are wonderful as a source for that sort of stuff. And for sure, the amazons were believed to be real in some sense. So he is actually wrong in that way as well, since while the Greeks might have thought that warrior women were barbaric, they would not have believed them to be fantastical. Funnily enough Wright seems to think that barbaric in the Howardian sense is somehow a real concept, when the original Greek meaning was just an expression for foreign and included the amazonians in question. Its always funny to see someone so arrogantly use the term "every previous generation" and assume that they somehow would even know every possible opinion that that could include.
@Michal -- and well you should treasure such a thing! (You're a fantastic writer, by the way. I haven't kept up with your blog lately, the post was a nice reminder that I probably should.)
Having only skimmed Wright's article, I think what strikes me most is the historical inaccuracy of it. I know, I know, there are countless other things to jump on, but I can't quite make sense of this:
What we, who live in a day and age when women serve in the military, tend to forget is that for every previous generation the sight of a woman in armor was somewhere between cute and ridiculous, and that the Amazons were no more realistic that the Hydra, or Dame Brandomart than the hippogriff who flies to the moon.
All right, the Middle Ages were not, in fact, a sexless and egalitarian society (though my understanding is that they were markedly better than the Renaissance and the Enlightenment), but don't we enough examples of medieval women soldiers to show up that statement for the nonsense it is? We know of women who led men into battle: I don't recall that Matilda of Tuscany was viewed as cute or ridiculous, to pick one example.
Sorry, medieval history is a bit of a passion of mine. If someone is going to idealise the Middle Ages, could they at least start by trying to understand them on their own terms? Rather than just making things up and projecting their own social views backwards?
Oh god, my sides. And he even wears a fedora in all of his author photos. He's like a satirical cartoon of all that's wrong in fandom given blustery, hectoring life.
Either by the deliberate intent of the reviewer, or by the deliberate intention of the mentors, trendsetters, gurus, and thought-police to whom the unwitting reviewer has innocently entrusted the formation of his opinions, the reviewer who discusses the strength of female characters is fighting his solitary duel or small sortie in the limited battlefield of science fiction literature in the large and longstanding campaign of the Culture Wars.
He is on the side, by the way, fighting against culture.
Hence, he fights in favor of barbarism, hence against beauty in art and progress in science, and, hence the intersection of these two topics which means against science fiction.
Oh wow, this guy is a special boy.
"Saving Science Fiction from Strong Female Characters."
I take it that it isn't about these Strong Female Characters...
Oh, you play Echo Bazaar?
Well, played. In the long run the slow pace of unlocking new content (both at the player end in terms of the time it took to do stuff and at the developer end in terms of the time it took to unleash now things) took its toll and I lost interest. It has honestly been an age since I've even kept up with what's going on with it so I'm not aware of any of the changes.
I'm confident you weren't going to stalk me, I'm just managing the expectations of anyone else who might be reading. :)
I apparently already follow you on Twitter, actually. (My memory is terrible lately, because stress.) I wasn't looking to stalk you, though! Just to potentially communicate with you in some manner that wasn't going to irritate a bunch of other people.
That might be the case, but even so it's in poor taste considering that the games industry is notorious for suckering people in on the basis of fannish dreams, working them like dogs, and then discarding their burned-out husks when someone younger, cheaper, and even more exploitable comes along.
To be honest it reads more like an ad designed to put off anyone who isn't desperate for a job or who has sufficient self-esteem to want a life outside of work, which feels like a recipe for exploitation to me. Plus if your first interaction with an employer consists of lies, insincerity and mind games that doesn't actually bode well, you know?
My twitter name is awakeasaurusrex. It's not very interesting for stalking purposes though because it's mostly abandoned, and is only ever used for logging into stuff which uses Twitter as an account system (like Echo Bazaar) or for following/interacting with Slender Man ARGs. (I also purged it a while back because I see no utility in an archive of witty one-liners whose contexts have been lost in time like tears in rain.)
Negotiable, but you should know up front we're not a terribly money-motivated group.
Oh, wow. So, basically, "as little as we can talk you into--you're not some kind of capitalist pig that cares about that kind of thing, right?"
tl;dr version: "We would like a super genius IT person with an extensive list of qualifications and experience who can deliver the moon on a stick. We will pay you poorly and fuck up your work/life balance and you will never, ever be allowed to tune out and forget work".