This may be unwise, and it certainly feels awkward, but I also feel compelled to make abundantly clear where I stand, politically.
I am an unapologetic bleeding-heart progressive liberal.
How progressive? Here be some of my foundational beliefs: abortion is health care, black lives matter, the earth is a sphere, evolution is real, love is love, my body is my business, no human is illegal, silence is violence, trans lives matter, trans men are men, trans women are women, and women’s rights are human rights.
(that’s alphabetical order, for those keeping track) Don’t get me started on my opinions about the role and reach of government, the importance of collective action, or the proper distribution of wealth within my ideal society.
It feels weird to declare those things in a public forum, small though this audience is. I’m from one of the generations that was taught “polite people don’t talk about politics, religion, or sex.” It’s hard to fight that ingrained, internalized pressure to make nice, keep my opinions to myself, agree to disagree, move on, and so forth.
Two things have brought me to this point.
First, the whole, “silence is violence” part has been poking me harder and harder with every passing year. In meatspace I’m far from quiet about my political leanings, but I’ve been more circumspect about my virtual aka “professional” presentation–and that needs to change.
Believing in equity & social justice isn’t the same as championing it. Recognizing my many social & inherited privileges isn’t the same as aiding others who lack of those privileges..
Taking this step across the line into openly declaring my position, however belated and small, is the only way to keep my conscience from beating me bloody.
Is it much? No. I’m not saying it’s something amazing, to just be blunt and open. Silence has always been the cautious path, the safe path, and I’m fragile. I admit that. Emotionally & physically, I’m lace, not denim twill. So even this small step is a scary one.
The second reason is colder and more pragmatic. My writing is personal, the personal is political, and I worry that I might be accidentally appealing to a market I am in no way pursuing.
My novels share a lot of elements with stories celebrating Traditional American Values beloved of people who find my foundational beliefs offensive (at best.)
Yes, one of my series has a corporate billionaire entrepreneur hero, and the other series centers on a scrappy team of rogue military veterans fighting oppressive US government overreach. (Their little startup company is named Camp Liberty, ffs.) There are lone heroes taking on the corrupt welfare state, manly men defending their womenfolk, and extrajudicial action galore.
It sounds like socially conservative libertarian catnip, right? But. Um.
Things like exceptionalism, classism, racism, gender rigidity, and wealth privilege aren’t being celebrated. They’re held up to criticism and subverted into pretzels, and characters who engage in what I would call Problematic Behaviors either change and grow, get schooled, or crash hard.
Also, there are gay characters. Pan characters. Ace characters. Non-binary characters. The plots I’ve written so far don’t revolve around those facets of their lives–with the exception of Novices and Flight Plan, those issues aren’t much discussed, and none of my characters have chosen nonbinary pronouns or been outed as trans (yet)–but if you ask to see my character spreadsheet, I can confirm that when that information does become plot relevant and gets revealed, I’m not retconning anyone’s identity.
There are frank discussions of social justice (and the lack thereof). The heroes are as unapologetically progressive, inclusive, flawed & sometimes problematic as I am.
So let me state for the record that if you’re looking for “Good Old Fashioned Science Fiction,” my books are going to disappoint you.
Whew. It feels good to get that unequivocally out in the open.
That’s all for now. Oh. OH! No, wait. One more thing. This post was originally published on my Patreon, where there’s a lot more good stuff available for the unlocking. patreon.com/kmherkes
Now I’m done. Until next time!