A Lesson from David Mack

Writers tend to take a lot of flack from readers – or so I’ve noticed. Whether it’s a novel, television show, etc, I often hear about writers receiving angry messages from dissatisfied readers. “Why did you kill _________?” or “That story made no sense” or “I can’t believe she decided ___________ should happen”, usually followed by a terse, “And I’ll never read anything of yours ever again.” In most cases I think writers tend to ignore these comments; for example, I did it when some readers criticized a story of mine that appeared on CommuterLit earlier this year. Sometimes, though, a reader comment just demands a response – as recently happened to sci fi writer David Mack.

I caught an article about this on Zite this morning, discussing how Mack received an email from a reader who was angry with the homosexual relationship that was included in Mack’s most recent Star Trek novel, Harbinger. The crux of this reader’s unhappiness was the fact that homosexuality is “not universally accepted,” meaning that he shouldn’t have to read about it – at all. Mack’s response is, in a single word, awesome:

“If he thinks the fear of alienating a few closed-minded readers is going to stop me from writing stories that feature and promote characters of diverse backgrounds—including LGBTQ characters, persons of color, and people who belong to ideological or philosophical minorities—he must be out of his mind. I’m a fucking Star Trek writer.”

You can read Mack’s complete blog post here, but I also particularly like this passage: “…those of us who write the licensed Trek fiction continue to do our best to depict a more progressive, enlightened, open, and harmonious future, not just for humanity but for all sentient beings … I will never be made to feel shame for doing this. I am proud that we’ve been able to do this. I know we’ve still got more work to do, and we can do better at integrating more diverse viewpoints and characters into the ever-expanding universe of Star Trek.”

Kudos to you, Mr. Mack, for standing up for diversity in writing. If anything, this reader’s asinine comments justify the need for integration of diverse characters into science fiction, especially in a world like Star Trek. If we continue to do that, prejudiced viewpoints like this might actually become a thing of the past.

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