De omnibus dubitandum
22 Jul 2010
I enjoy reading books. I buy new books nearly every week, and at any given moment I have anywhere up to five different books on my bedside locker in various stages of reading.
I have a preference for certain types of books. Science fiction, specifically. One of my favourite SF authors has always been Dan Simmons. His 4-part Hyperion saga is one of the finest works of SF to date.
Recently I picked up a copy of the 20th anniversary edition of Carrion Comfort, Dan Simmons’ horror masterpiece about mind vampires. Yet after reading the new introduction Simmons wrote for it, I’m loathe to continue reading it.
You see, the introduction reminded me of the fact that Mr Simmons is actually not a particularly nice man. For starters in the introduction Simmons is guilty of a certain type of barely veiled chest-thumping that doesn’t sit well with me. I’m no fan of false modesty, but some of the phrasings in that introduction felt a little too much like arrogance and conceit.
Additionally, it reminded me of why I stopped visiting his official website years ago. One glance at the forum’s “Hot Button” category quickly reveals a certain type of right-wing nutcasery usually associated with the worst excesses of Fox News, ranging from revisionist Iraq-invasion apologetics to climate change denialism and raving anti-socialised healthcare madness.
Mr Simmons himself is an eager participant in this orgy of Glenn Beck-style paranoia and douchebaggery, especially when it comes to the topic of Islam. He’s the exact opposite of anti-Semitic – he’s plainly Islamophobic.
Now I have my own issues with Islam, primarily on civil liberties, women’s rights, and freedom of speech. But the vileness of the particular brand of Islamophobia rampant on those dansimmons.com forums is nauseating to behold, as it’s rooted purely in ignorance and hatred.
So my challenge now lies in separating the books from the author. So far I’ve received great satisfaction from reading Dan Simmons’ books, but I can’t deny that his political opinions are what I’d consider horrendously hateful and misinformed. I’m afraid my continued enjoyment of his works relies on my ability to forget about the author when I’m reading the book.