Shock Treatment

I’m trying to calm down. I just did something that makes me nervous, and I need to let it go or it’s going to be with me all day.

I just wrote something dangerous.

Oh, I’m glad I did it. Well, maybe not glad. I’ve just done something I’ve never done to one of my characters before. I’ve killed plenty, driven a few mad, subjected a couple to utter despair. But not this. It took a tall glass of Guinness, but I did it.

Now I know how Anthony Burgess and William Peter Blatty felt. Burgess relived the murder of his wife to write A Clockwork Orange. Writing The Exorcist, Blatty had to do something to sweet little Regan so horrible that even he thought it was too much. I frown on the idea of an artist needing to chemically mood-alter to accomplish anything, but creation is just as much a grey area as it is green. You survive however you can.

The story I wrote is a script outline for my Afterhell audio project. I wanted something disturbing, but above all, thought-provoking. No answers, just a lot of disturbing questions. The working title is “Damning Praise.” The story is a blatant indictment of SF fandom, relentlessly so. And in it, a couple of fanboys…assault…an elven princess.

It happens in real life, with real people, sometimes at conventions. I remind myself of that. It happens. But nobody talks about it.

It can be taken as symbolic of fandom’s treatment of their flesh-and-blood heroes, the writers and the actors, but it’s more than just a metaphor for me. I deliberately slapped fandom in the face. They say they protect their own, but they don’t. Women get hurt, harassed, abused. Nobody protects them at the cons. Con security can only do so much. For all the flames, fanboys look out for each other. They rarely speak out unless they have a stake in what happens, an axe they’d like to grind…preferably on their rival’s skull. They hide each other’s dirty laundry when it suits them. They air it when it doesn’t. Good people suffered because of it. And I hate them for it.

Maybe it’s naivete on my part. I never bought the party line that fans were intrinsically better than mundanes. But I wanted the proof. I wanted to see us make some of our dreams come true. Instead I saw a lot of dreams getting held back. A lot of “don’t rock the boat.” A lot of head games and sexual harassment.

So I did something to a character that they’ve been doing to themselves for God knows how long. Part of me is defiant, proud to push the envelope, even if it’s only my own. Part of me feels sick inside. Elven princesses aren’t real, but this one is real enough to me.

And I know that I’ll have to go back into that dark place again. Not because it’s fun. Because it’s true. Because I’m angry, aching to lash out at the human race and its apparent lack of humanity. At the fanboy ubermensch wannabes who failed to be worthy of their passions.

This story is bound to tick people off. Even I think I’ve gone too far.

Someone might accuse me of only trying to shock people, resorting to cheap tactics. Duh. Of course I did! And I want this to hurt.

Well, it hurts me. Disturbs me. I can only assume that means I did my job well…and hope it does more good than harm.

Meanwhile I wait for my friend Neil to give it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Is he going to be too shocked, too outraged to sanction this?

He takes forever to answer mail these days. This is gonna be a long wait.

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