I have lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to write about Ukraine.
I know nothing, personally, of war. I have friends who’ve served, whose spouses have served; both my grandfathers were career army, but they both retired when I was very small.
I know a bully when I see one. And I know decades of US history, and how we–and, in all fairness, a lot of other countries–treat bullies differently depending on how well armed they are. I was raised with this concept of “mutually assured destruction,” and I was taught it was sensible and sane and somehow made some kind of sense, because ultimately we were dealing with Leaders, who were always sensible and sane.
I believed it when I was little. Mostly. I also had nightmares about bombs dropping on our house, so maybe the absolute absurdity of a “safe” nuclear arsenal managed to get into my head.
This is all, beginning to end, awful. But I don’t see how capitulation is an option. I don’t see how telling any country it needs to give up its autonomy because Russia has nukes is a tenable ethical position.
Yes, I am aware Ukraine is not a perfect nation. I’m aware of the horrific treatment of non-white refugees, today, in the midst of all this. I’m aware the government’s track record on LGBTQ+ issues is spotty at best. But in the large, this isn’t about Ukraine, not really. It’s about Russia, and how little–and how much–Russia has changed since it was the USSR.
And I know it’s complicated. International politics are complicated, and emotional, and based far more on personality and culture than any kind of cold calculus. There’s a reason I majored in math and not poli sci: equations feel settled, in a world where absolutely nothing else is.
I don’t know where this is going. I know what the ethical choice is. I know what the moral choice is. I also know I’m sitting in my little house in the woods, far away from it all (for now, at least).
I am thinking of you, all of you, under fire and nearby. I am hoping humanity can step away from the worst of itself. Again.
That’s all I know. Tomorrow there will be more news, and all of this will be moot.
Texas and Florida are in the news as well, although largely drowned out by Ukraine. And they shouldn’t be, because what we’ve got there are non-shooting wars against LGBTQ+ people.
The ACLU has already filed at least one case against Abbott’s EO–after a family has already been terrorized. And that school districts are stating their intention to defy DeSantis’ hateful law. Fighting back is critical and necessary. But we let it get this bad and we need to own that. We The People let state legislators get to the point where officials are passing deeply personal and intrusive laws affecting people who are just hanging out, trying to live their lives. Why are our governments trying to make that more difficult? What is the goddamn problem with these people?
Cynical to say religion. Y’all know I’m not religious, but I’ve known a great many religious people in my life. Faith isn’t the problem here; I know some deeply devout people who find all this as revolting and unjust as I do. No, it’s not about anybody’s god, or even <pick your favorite religious text>. This is entirely about ginning up fear, and hoping fear will lead to money and votes. It’s cynically picking on people our society has already made vulnerable, because our aggregate tolerance for difference is pretty weak.
If religious beliefs magically vaporized one day, nothing would change. People use religion to excuse hateful behavior they’d engage in anyway. They’d find another reason.
This may not be a shooting war, but real people are being hurt. Real people will die because of this, while we philosophize and mumble “but Democrats are bad too” and do absolutely anything other than fight for legal assurances that people have civil rights regardless of their gender, sexuality, or genetic makeup.
And that’s it, isn’t it? The people who need to believe white men–for some definition of “white men” that’s both amorphous and weirdly specific–are inherently different, better, deserving of social superiority need to stomp on those of us who believe people are deserving of equal rights morally, socially, ethically, legally.
They’re afraid. And because they’re in power–have always been in power–they’re dangerous.
And we let it go this far. We–aggregate, again; many of us have fought large and small fights over this–ignored too many local elections, handwaved issues as happening in those other states, figured people were being kind of oversensitive about bigotry from authors, comedians, actors. “Cancel culture”–which has canceled pretty much nobody–is somehow a worse thing than actual people, our families and neighbors and ourselves, being directly injured. We’re open-minded, you see. We don’t want to overreact.
Well, hey. It’s long past time to “overreact.”
Human biology is marvelously complicated and variegated. There are so many amazing ways to be human. I believe we, as a society, owe every person the opportunity to be the best human they can be.
And we need to consistently vote that way, down to the school board level. Because as much as adults shouldn’t have to deal with this shit? Children absolutely should not have to deal with this shit. Shame on Abbott, shame on DeSantis, and shame on every other adult who’s aligned themselves with this evil, hateful bullshit.
There’s too much pain in the world today.
I suppose there always is.
I have a book coming out on March 8. It feels weird talking about it. I know zero authors who are comfortable talking about their work in the midst of a world that doesn’t stop.
I have a book coming out on March 8!
It’s a standalone SF book called Arkhangelsk. And yes, it’s political. Everything I write is political, because everything I write is personal.
I’ve written about Arkhangelsk before: it’s a lost colony thing, and a culture clash thing. But fundamentally it’s about two women, neither of whom has been given a lot of choices in life, figuring out how to do the right thing under very constrained circumstances.
Anya’s lived under a totalitarian regime her whole life. And it’s totalitarian for a good reason: it’s a small population in a fixed space with fixed resources, on a planet where they can’t breathe the atmosphere. Everything needs to be controlled, from the food supply to the rate of reproduction. Crime is a given, with the constraints of the place, and it’s tolerated, up to a point. It’s Anya’s job to make sure it never gets past that point, and she believes in her work. For her, it’s about giving her people contentment, joy, as much as she can, given the fixed world in which they live. And if sometimes she has to skirt the rules–or even lie–to make that work–well, it’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.
Maddie has lived under anarchy for half her life, but it’s not by choice. None of Maddie’s life has been by choice. Trafficked as a child, she ended up on a one-way mission on a tiny spaceship assigned to build a communications relay. Maddie’s the captain of her ship, but only by default: when an accident killed most of the crew, she was the first to stand up, get organized, figure out how they were going to survive. Theirs is an entirely egalitarian society, once again because there’s little choice: there are too few of them for dissent to work, so they tend to talk through even the smallest issues. And despite their ties to Earth, Maddie doesn’t much care about anybody back home. She won’t live long enough to return. Her crew is her family, and she loves them wholly.
Anya’s people think they’re the last. Maddie’s people don’t expect to find anyone at all. It’s a sea change in both their lives, and in the lives of everyone around them.
I call it a science fiction thriller on Netgalley. It kind of is, but mostly it’s a mystery. Most stories are mysteries of one sort or another. This is the mystery of a woman who’s disappeared in a place where there’s nowhere to hide, and of a people who’ve made decisions based on a history they won’t teach their children. It’s about finding meaning in narrow worlds, in deciding what matters, what’s worth dying for, what’s worth living for.
I think a lot about what’s worth living for.
It’s also a romance, although no one says the word. Love is immediate, obvious, inevitable; love finds the truth, love forgives, love heals.
There’s a lot of pain in this book. But it ends properly. It ends in a good place. On this you can trust me.