Monday, April 10, 2006

In the Reticle: Dan Simmons

Instead of his normal message to fans, in April 2006, Dan Simmons wrote a short story calling for nothing short of the genocide of Islamic peoples. You know....before they do the same to us.

Now I have been known to poke fun at Simmons in the past for his inability to end a novel in a compelling fashion. (Illium, Olympos, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, Rise of Endymion, etc.) However, I've never uttered -- nor heard spoken -- a negative word about the man himself. If you, dear reader, find yourself in the same boat, prepare to abandon ship.

I submit that that not only is his logic flawed in this fear-mongering shite, but that it's ever-so-simple to talk about ruthlessness when one has not fired a weapon at an enemy of your country. It is easy to be a war-mongering chickenhawk now, when one avoided service to his country during Vietnam, and is now too old to ever need fear being shot at.

Lt General Greg Newbold USMC (ret) said it best in an article in the April 9th edition of Time Magazine. "...we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one..."

Dan Simmons was born the same year as my father. He has seen more, read more, and experienced much more than I ever have, and in many ways ever will. What he is incredibly ignorant of is the reality of war, something I have been cursed with experiencing first hand in the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia, and in numerous war ravaged nations in Africa.

I vehemently challenge his infantile notions that we must do unto others before they can do unto us. We are occupying a country that has never committed one single act of war or terrorism against the United States of America, for reasons of fear and ego and wealth.

Simmon's analogy comparing aviation to a religion is both preposterous and terrifying, because there are indeed people who can't see through such nonsense. A science does not represent hundeds of millions of people --the argument doesn't even deserve to be referenced as a straw man. Vitriol like this makes it impossible for people to find common ground; improbable that we will ever know peace.

A story such as this, where a cowardly Simmons hides his hate for millions in the guise of fiction, is no worse nor more detrimental to peace than the actions of organizations like Al Queda and the P.L.O. Beware any man who lusts for war, for he has no fucking clue what he is talking about.

Post Script:
Anyone want a free copy Hyperion? How about Song of Kali?

Comments on "In the Reticle: Dan Simmons"

 

Blogger Ran said ... (7:29 PM) : 

I think some things that needed to be said are present here. That said, I think perhaps a little strong to say that Simmons specifically advocate genocide. Instead, I think his allusion to the Melian genocide committed by the Athenians is something we must consider a real possible future course of action, and that we must be willing to do it if that's what it takes.

It's a very fine difference, I admit, and it doesn't do much to soften the rather stomach-turning implications of what the story says of Simmons's mindset.

 

Blogger AssParrot said ... (5:15 PM) : 

Excellent points, William. I've also been following the progression of the thread you started on Mr. Simmons' website forum.

I've never served, but I lived for eight years in Thailand, and can relate with your exasperation at ignorant peoples' mischaracterization of others' culture, when they haven't experienced it first hand. (Note to aspiring wingnuts: A taxi ride with an Afghani driver in Manhattan or a stopover in Dubai does not make you an expert on Muslim culture.)

For whatever his other work is worth (I have not read it), this latest story by Simmons deserves all the negative attention and ridicule it is getting ... as you say, for being "fear-mongering shite" to encourage some theoretical form of "ruthlessness" that is plotted in a drawing room ... and never considered by the theorist as it would be reflected horrifically in the human eyes of those who the armchair genocidist would have killed ... or even in the eyes of those that such a fraud would have do the killing for him.

As such, I offer my own take on the situation ... a parody of the original, because in some ways I think no amount of essays can tear Simmons' crappy story as well.

 

Blogger Scorpio said ... (11:39 PM) : 

I'm not certain "genocide" is the correct term for a mass murder that encompasses the folk of many races and many nations.

That said, is this conflict nation- based? It it another war that is to be waged by "the faithful."?

I have problems with crazy Christians as well as crazy Moslems, and I have no answers.

 

Anonymous Simon E said ... (12:00 AM) : 

I think that Dan Simmons has done the World a favour. Some things need to be thought and said.

I still remember post 9/11 the crowds of Palestinians celebrating, have you forgotten them Mr Lexner.

I was a mile away from the Ladbroke Grove Bombing in London. Second generation muslims immigarnts that had enjoyed a standard of living many times that of there native countries and how do they repay that debt. By blowing up innocent civilains.

As Dan Simmons points out the West has forgotten the most important lesson of World War 2, that to change the course of a society requires ruthless action.

Both Germany and Japan had xenophobic and militaristic philosphies that were shared by a large part of their populations. These were only change when the price of defeat was made so high in both military and civilian casualties that both societies became to all intents and purposes pacifists.

Only when faced with the ruins of their cities and hundreds of thousands of civilian dead did these nations change.

I agree that war should never be entered into lightly, in fact the reverse should be true. But when it is begun the only thing that matters is victory.

Only time will tell if Dan Simmons is wrong. I for one, would say that he is closer to the truth than any sane person would like.

Time will tell. But when the first WMD is used by an Islamic group or nation I will come back to this site and post.

It will be very short

We were warned !!!

 

Blogger William Lexner said ... (11:35 AM) : 

Simon,

A funny thing happenned to me between a war fighting to protect Moslems and a war fighting against them -- I kissed a man.

I was in port in Antalya, Turkey, and some of my Marine buddies and I were out having a good time at a restaurant. For some reason we were talking about baseball, and for some other even stranger reason, there was a group of moslem men at the next table who were also fans of the sport. We entered into a long discussion about the game, which turned into us inviting them to our table.

After a few hours of kinship, these guys invited us out to go to a club with them. A Turk only club, where foreigners are not normally welcome.

I got to know these men. I grew to like them -- one in particular. He was wise beyond his years and explained many things to me about Islam in practice and how his people view the rest of the world.

Sure, they had preconcieved notions about us Americans -- we're all murderers and millionaires -- because that's what they see on the news. We, of course, saw them all as terrorists and west haters, again, because that's all we saw on the news.

What I learned that day was that we are not so different. Being moslem does not mean you are an insane zealot -- such people are a pathetically small minority.

I became friends with that man, that night. When we went home, he kissed me on both cheeks and called me brother, and I kissed his cheeks as well.

Sure, it was strange. Americans don't do that. Americans Marines who are raised by John Wayne worshipping father's sure as hell don't do that.

But it barely felt strange to abserve this custom. This man was my friend.

It is just that easy. We as a people must understand that zealots -- on both sides -- are the true reason for wars between our cultures. We have a lot more in common than we have seperating us.

They are the minority -- they are the problem.

Now I am not against using ruthlessness to stomp out terrorism, exactly the opposite in fact, I support it.

But to call for a war of ruthlessness against hundreds of millions of people for the actions a few hundred is preosterous and horrific.

Dan Simmons and you, Simon, have no concept of what you're talking about. It's all about hate and fear and damn the morality.

You talk of Germany and Japan having progroms against minorities -- what are you espousing? The same fucking thing, you half-wit.

These are PEOPLE, not a video game. There's no reset, and no extra lives.

If terrorism ever touches our shores again it will be the TERRORISTS who are at fault, not Islam.

Christianity is responsible for a HELL of a lot more deaths than Islam ever was.

But that doesn't count, right? Because it's your side doing the butchering, it's a matter of self defense.

Hogwash.

 

Anonymous Jordan Stewart said ... (12:29 AM) : 

Simmon's analogy comparing aviation to a religion is neither preposterous nor terrifying, because he has drawn no such analogy.

He compared a war on aviation to a war on terror, not a war on Islam. If you had actually read the story—rather than getting steamed up and exploding all over your little corner of the web—then you might have noticed that.

Or maybe you wouldn't have.

 

Anonymous Jordan Stewart said ... (12:32 AM) : 

That's not to say that I agree with the viewpoint of the Time Traveler in the story, I'm just on my own little war against miscommunication.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:45 PM) : 

It's utterly transparent to me that you read the entire story with a foregone conclusion that you were going to make some kind of negative comment because of your dislike of Dan Simmons. I can't even take your thoughts seriously because of your incorrect reporting of what was actually said or implied by Simmons. I have no particular loyalty to Simmons, but I have to say jordan stewart was on the money referring to a "private little war on miscommunication".

In short, I'm sure it's clear to many of those who read your blog that you have a previous bias and it makes you look like a rebellious teenager.

You're were angry about something else first and this is just an extension.

 

Blogger William Lexner said ... (11:14 PM) : 

Actually, anonymous person, I was a fan of Simmons before that shit burp of his.

George R.R. Martin, a friend of mine, has spokenly highly of Simmons in the past, which I consider high praise indeed. I've never had a negative thought with regards to him as a person in my life.

But believe what you want.

P.S. I go by my actual name on the internet for a reason. It lends credibility to your utterances. Anonymous comments, even containing an excellent point, are quickly overlooked and discarded.

So think about that, and then work on the 'excellent point' thing.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:27 PM) : 

Well, this name was taken, that name was taken, etc., so I just posted without going through the registry rigamarole for expediency. I also expected the comment about being anonymous, so I'll go by the name "Ryan". Does that work, or does it not count since it is not listed at the top in blue? Since I've identified myself as Ryan, is that as good as all the other posters and do I now have as much credibility as all the other posters.

You are following the pattern of clouding issues with senseless rubbish about my identity on your blog thinking that it helps you prove your point.

You are classic.

 

Blogger William Lexner said ... (6:56 PM) : 

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 

Blogger William Lexner said ... (7:03 PM) : 

Mr. Comma!

Your next lesson will be Mr. Question Mark, Babble Monkey! (Ryan is played out)

Post Script:

(That's what P.S stands for! Learn something new every day, don'tcha? Tommorrow it might be how not to drool on yourself, or how to stick your finger in to catch those hard-to-reach boogers!)

You make no points. There is nothing of substance to debate. Hence, I am mocking your deplorable diction, your ignorance, and anything else that tickles my fancy.

(www.dictionary.com is a delightfully easy way in which you can look up any words I used that you may not understand.)

 

Anonymous bill said ... (8:31 PM) : 

More have died in the name of Christianity than Islam? What, like during the Crusades? Or some other far-gone moment in history? That is a useless, stupid argument.

And I'm glad you had a good time with your Muslim friend. I'm not calling for his death, and neither is Simmons. But there are far more than a few hundred (as you say) Muslims calling for ours.

 

Blogger wassertanzen13 said ... (12:29 AM) : 

I worked up my own satirical take on Simmons' message which is posted @ http://wassertanzen13.blogspot.com/2006/05/space-invaders.html

 

Anonymous Lurkmaester said ... (5:44 PM) : 

Mr Lexner,

I have enjoyed your book recommendations over at the ASOIAF boards (the old and the new one) immensely. You certainly come across as an intelligent and literate - if at times intolerant - person, with a vast knowledge of speculative fiction and a love for it. That makes your reaction to Simmons' story incomprehensible to me.

I found the story by happening upon the Westeros board thread about it, and I was curious to see what could have triggered such an explosion of wrath as was being exhibited in the posts. I found the story thought-provoking and engaging with uncomfortable issues - surely two of the characteristic traits of good fiction, speculative and otherwise. It baffles me that you, and other posters here and on Westeros, see it as advocating genocide, or the killing of innocents in any way. Perhaps there's another version somewhere else, but the one on Simmons' site certainly does not do so. I understand you might have issues with the whole idea of fanatical Islam as a serious threat (if so, I think you're probably wrong, but I also certainly hope I am wrong instead); however, the fact that Simmons has a different opinion does not warrant putting words into his mouth and then condemning them. It seems to me that participants in discussions such as these are a bit too keen to take their worst nightmares of what they think "the other side" is capable of advocating, or perpetrating, and attribute them to opponents regardless of whether there is an actual basis for the attribution or not. I would have liked this story to have triggered a response that was more an actual discussion and less a lynching.

 

Anonymous Lurkmaester said ... (5:45 PM) : 

Mr Lexner,

I have enjoyed your book recommendations over at the ASOIAF boards (the old and the new one) immensely. You certainly come across as an intelligent and literate - if at times intolerant - person, with a vast knowledge of speculative fiction and a love for it. That makes your reaction to Simmons' story incomprehensible to me.

I found the story by happening upon the Westeros board thread about it, and I was curious to see what could have triggered such an explosion of wrath as was being exhibited in the posts. I found the story thought-provoking and engaging with uncomfortable issues - surely two of the characteristic traits of good fiction, speculative and otherwise. It baffles me that you, and other posters here and on Westeros, see it as advocating genocide, or the killing of innocents in any way. Perhaps there's another version somewhere else, but the one on Simmons' site certainly does not do so. I understand you might have issues with the whole idea of fanatical Islam as a serious threat (if so, I think you're probably wrong, but I also certainly hope I am wrong instead); however, the fact that Simmons has a different opinion does not warrant putting words into his mouth and then condemning them. It seems to me that participants in discussions such as these are a bit too keen to take their worst nightmares of what they think "the other side" is capable of advocating, or perpetrating, and attribute them to opponents regardless of whether there is an actual basis for the attribution or not. I would have liked this story to have triggered a response that was more an actual discussion and less a lynching.

 

Blogger William Lexner said ... (12:50 PM) : 

Lurkmaester:

I appreciate your positive comments, and apologize for offending you with opinions on Simmon's story.

I completely understand that other people have read the story and gotten something completely different out of it, but I must stand by my opinion that it's garbage.

I agree that radical muslim sects are incredibly dangerous. I've spent time in Islamic nations and understand the threat first hand.

However, while Islamic terrorist groups are the vast minority, we are making more young terrorists every day with our actions in Iraq.

As a veteran of war, I am loathe to make war. I believe terroist groups are a problem for law enforcement as they are not soverign nations.

 

Blogger William Lexner said ... (3:06 AM) : 

It seems that Simmons has defended his position by quoting from a lot of recent fear-mongering 'non-fiction' tomes.

Seems the hope that this was just an April Fools message was just a hope. It's an awful loss when an incredible talent goes batfuck crazy.

 

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Blogger Roddy the Fool said ... (7:24 PM) : 

Well, that was unfortunate. I don't think I'll ever look at any of his books in the same flattering light.

 

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