Geoffrey Dow: Short-sighted fool

The following screed appeared on the Analog message board after someone there pointed out my review of David R. Palmer's Tracking.

Needless to say, being compared to Seymour Hersch (sic) as if it was a bad thing tickled my fancy to no end.

For the sake of posterity and in my own ego, then, I present FotsGreg in all of his considerable dudgeon. (Incidentally, David R. Palmer himself showed up a little later on that same board and was thoroughly polite and respectful. See below for the author's rebuttal. But first (and note, please that the typos for once are not mine; cut and paste can be a wonderful too) ...

This guy Geoffery (sic) Dow who wrote the review that Tom refers to above is a no-talent, "liberal-minded, cosmopolitan, self-conscious atheist" whose own review indicates that he 1) doesn't much care for science fiction at all, 2) doesn't much care for anyone who writes in a less "cosmopolitan" manner than he would like (to which I mean the likes of Seymour Hersch in The New Yorker), and 3) has little or no literary credentials that I could find other than those he cites himself.

First, he lays waste to Norman Spinrad, an acknowledged giant in the field of science fiction, referring to a work that Spinrad obviously wrote as a spoof of the beliefs of the KKK, white supremacists, neo-Nazi's, and skinheads using his on polemical style to criticize Spinrad's obvious polemic against the beliefs of the Nazi's and their ilk. He takes us on a tangent then, attempting to defend his own weakness for "adolescent power-fantasies" and his having read superhero comics into his 20's and "Star Wars-like shoot-em-ups" into his 30's, but now having "the type of 40 year old mind that has grown beyond such pleasures" (paraphrasing).

Second, he lays waste to David Palmer's story Tracking in the same polemic style, voicing hatred for the style of storytelling and not saying one word for the storytelling itself.

Finally, he lays out a long list of grievances against modern (and historical) science fiction and science fiction writers.

This is the type of review that gives reviewers and critics in general a bad name. Mr. Dow's commentary is, in itself, vile, vicious, hateful, and a polemic against everything that the fans find dear in science fiction. Yes, there are those who argue that science fiction should be more "literary" in the sense that it should at least begin to eliminate things such as sex, violence, class distinctions, race, science, magic, the sense of wonder, the ideas of space travel, the imagination, and a great many other things that science fiction is founded on and, instead, settle about writing science fiction set in the modern day, without the science, and without any hint of violence, sex, class, or race distinctions unless, of course, it has to do with environment and global warming and then, if you believe in anthropogenic global warming and are anti-progress, all bets are off and you can say or do anything you damned well please in the name of political correctness.

Mr. Dow is a fool, his review is short-sighted, foolish nonsense that can be readily ignored by any science fiction fan as the hateful diatribe against us that it truly is. It is drivel, tripe, the type of utterly ignorant nonsense that only one who is truly unfamiliar with science fiction itself, who actually hates and despises the genre, can spew and then feel proud of himself for having spewed it forth.
edited by fotsgreg on 7/25/2008

Mr. Palmer's own reply to me was as follows.

To Geoff:

For all I know, you're a decorated Seal with a personal body count equivalent to depopulating a small village, but who Never Talks About It either because you've had a post-one-too-many-massacres epiphany, or, like one of my favorite circuit judges, most of it's still classified. However, from reading your well-reasoned arguments, I suspect the reality is you haven't spent much time actually eye-to-eye with Evil Incarnate. I have. With my hat turned frontward, I'm a stenographic court reporter. Most of my waking hours since 1976 have been spent in felony court, making a verbatim record of proceedings in support of determining who's guilty and who isn't, and getting the bad guys off the streets.

I've done more first-degree murder trials, death penalty as well as life cases, than I can remember, in addition to more child sexual battery trials than I care to remember. The grand jury which indicted Danny Rolling, the so-called Gainesville Student Murderer, met for two solid weeks; I wrote the record of every minute. Rolling didn't just kill his victims; he traumatized first-responders and those who had to clean up thereafter, some beyond recovery: He set up his murder scenes as "jokes," posing victims' bodies and pieces of victims to be the first thing those who discovered the crimes saw when they opened the doors. Even crime-scene photos were the stuff of posttraumatic stress disorder, and they still pop up in my dreams occasionally, though I haven't had actual nightmares for some years.

After 35 years of listening to this stuff, in conjunction with at least a peripheral exposure to the workings of history, I've come to the reluctant but unshakable conclusion that, in the case of certain individuals, violence is the only appropriate solution. There is no place in the world for people like Hitler, Mengele, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, those behind the Darfur/Sudanese bloodbaths, Danny Rolling -- and Kazimirov, Fedka, Driutsk, and those who made conscious decisions to ally themselves with the Khraniteli, in full knowledge of what they planned.

Incidentally, am I the only one who noticed that just last week CNN announced that researchers have isolated three genes which appear to be present in all violent criminals? Heretofore, the only consistent physical marker in this population was elevated testosterone. (Yes, violence is chiefly the purview of males: Florida has 22 male prisons vs. two female; this proportion holds substantially nationwide.)

Candy's view of these matters reflects my own: Unredeemable monsters absolutely do exist in today’s world, and they need killing. When pitted against monsters, a social-working desire to "save" them, and/or pacifism, just make their work easier. When dealing with real monsters, the noblest of intentions will not replace a well-placed bullet. The difference between Candy and the monsters is that she doesn’t kill unless she has no other choice, and she second-guess-agonizes endlessly afterward.

Hmm. Yes, clearly that was a rant. But now that I've set the whole world straight on that issue, what shall I fix next...?

Talk to you all later.


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