Related to my earlier post, I realized the Internet had an oops, and Stephen Goldin’s reference site of the Marion Zimmer Bradley and Elisabeth Waters depositions had poofed.
It is now back online, linked from my shiny new Marion Zimmer Bradley tl;dr page.
Note that I haven’t yet corrected the internal links because I needed something to correct them to first. Also, if anyone wants the archive site from Stephen Goldin’s site in its original form for archive purposes, let me know. (The robots.txt prohibited archiving.)
And now I need gluten-free brownies if anyone’s offering.
Catherine Schaff-Stump has a great post: she’s got a copy of Mists of Avalon, and would like to see people donate to RAINN because of the recent revelations about Marion Zimmer Bradley’s abuse of her children.
Here’s her post.
Note: topic is child sexual assault.
Another piece of Walter Breen/Marion Zimmer Bradley history came via snail mail today.
The events recounted weren’t given a time, but checking against the Breendoggle suggests that it’s of the same era as the Breendoggle (1964). I can’t tell if it’s before or after the Breendoggle was published, but very close in time.
I’m paraphrasing here, but the parents of one kid went to the Alameda County DA (which is the county Berkeley is in) and tried to press charges, but the specific case, penetration had not occurred, and thus the DA wasn’t able to prosecute the case. The parents of that same kid tried to get the Contra Costa DA involved, who was eager to take the case, but wanted other parents to also testify.
Because there were no rape shield laws at the time, the parents of other victims were rightly concerned that this would follow their children around in perpetuity and they thus refused to press charges.
This was 1964. I saw at least one note that Walter was arrested in 1964, perhaps this was what that was concerning.
There are also apparently earlier dox. More news when and if they become available.
I’m just very glad that rape shield laws started becoming the law in the 70s. Sadly, this was before laws protected rape victims, especially the children.
C.A. Starfire has an interview with Mark Greyland, the son of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen.
I thought everyone knew and that I was such a bad person no one would speak to me.
And, later, addressing the inheritance issue:
I was disinherited by language that sounded so unlike my mother that I knew she never wrote it, as was my sister and my half-brother who is now deceased.
The money went to the opera and to her lover.
In addition to the links C.A. Starfire provided, Mark previously permitted me to share two of his Zazzle links: Stringbreaker and Geofractal.
I bought the Space Kitten! t-shirt (partly from the proceeds of Scalzi t-shirts, so thank you for your support).
It doesn’t make up for the hurt I inadvertently caused Mark, but I really do love that piece.
New Post Category
In other news, given a significant number of my website hits are about Marion Zimmer Bradley and are likely to continue to be, I’ve added that as a category. Previously, it was just a tag. So I’m going back and re-categorizing older posts on this matter.
I’ve had a blog for 10 years, but I’ve been irregular for periods about posting to it before WordPress had a good spam solution. These days, an average day for me is between 100 and 250 page views and between 70 and 150 unique visitors. Obviously, this excludes people who turn off tracking.
For reasons related to upcoming projects, I’d moved deirdre.net to WP Engine. I’m so glad I did, because they were able to handle the massive sudden spike.
At the peak, in a 24-hour period from June 10-11, I had 28,000 page views, almost entirely unique visitors.
If you need a really great hosting platform for your self-hosted WordPress blog, I’ve been really impressed with WP Engine.
There have been some super-interesting conversations about Marion Zimmer Bradley’s work in the context of larger discussions on the artist vs. their art. I think we all know that all artists are flawed, but clearly some flaws are larger than others.
For those of you who don’t yet know, I broke the news about Marion Zimmer Bradley‘s child abuse of her daughter Moira last month.
I haven’t heard the artist vs. art argument said quite this succinctly, so I’m quoting Broomstick from The Straight Dope boards:
When evaluating a novel it doesn’t get better if the author is a saint, and it doesn’t get worse if the author is a sinner, it’s the same book either way.
Every art contains, to some extent, the artist’s worldview. How could it not? And yet it is a thing distinct and unto itself, though with a context. The meaning you read into it depends on the context you bring into it, too.
And the context you miss depends upon your own life context, too.
When I was 11, Jane Fonda’s movie Klute came out, and my parents took me with them. I can cheerfully say that most of the movie went “whoosh” right over my head. If I saw it today, I’d see a completely different film.
It’s that old Heraclitus quote:
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
And that may be one reason not to re-read a previously-loved book, like a Darkover book or Mists of Avalon, after finding out Marion Zimmer Bradley’s failings.
Because the context is different for you even though the book hasn’t changed.
And then there’s the other killer comment, from ShipperX on LJ:
With MZB it’s the sexual nature of her work combined with the sexual nature of her atrocities that has me backing away. ::shudder::
Alison Flood of The Guardian wrote this piece about Moira’s revelations about her mother Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Damien Walter has another piece, “How far can culture heroes’ work stand apart from their lives?”
From William H. Patterson’s book Robert A. Heinlein, Vol 2: In Dialogue with His Century Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better, p. 263.
At just that moment, in fact, science-fiction fandom was tearing itself apart over the preemptive cancellation of the membership of a suspected pedophile by PacifiCon, the most recent world science-fiction convention, in September 1964. This conflict might have passed the Heinleins by, except that the suspected pedophile was the husband of one of Heinlein’s more intimate correspondents, Marion Zimmer Bradley. Heinlein never commented on the “Breen Boondoggle” publicly, but to Bradley Heinlein wrote:
The fan nuisance we were subjected to was nothing like as nasty as the horrible things that were done to you two but it was bad enough that we could get nothing else done during the weeks it went on and utterly spoiled what should have been a pleasant, happy winter. But it resulted in a decision which has made our life much pleasanter already and which I expect to have increasingly good effects throughout all the years ahead. We have cut off all contact with organized fandom….I regret that we will miss meeting some worthwhile people in the future as a result of this decision. But the percentage of poisonous jerks in the ranks of fans makes the price too high; we’ll find our friends elsewhere.
Fortunately, not all their fan contacts were so unpleasant.
You know, I’ve never been a Heinlein fan either, but this takes my non-fandom to new depths. Guess they never cared how pleasant the winter of the kids would be. Patterson’s a piece of work, too.
For context, Mark D. Eddy adds:
For context, though, Heinlein had already had a series of negative experiences with fans and conventions (including a fan who was harassing friends and family to try to write an unauthorized biography for a publisher Heinlein wouldn’t write for), and was already distancing himself from the “poisonous jerks” — so all he apparently knew about the situation was filtered through MZB, who was hardly an uninterested party.
Which is a fair point. While it’s always good to get as much of both sides of the story as possible, there’s a real human failing believing the predator’s side of the story. (See also: STK’s comment on the deirdre.net version of this entry.)
Hat tip: RPG.net commenter The Scribbler.
Note: I’m also tagging all of the posts with the breendoggle tag to make it easier to find in the future.
Also: When asked, Can this be true? The MZB click thrus are upsetting., Deborah J. Ross, author of many books set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover universe, replied, Only half the story is being told. Please be careful about believing sensationalist rumors online.
Note: I’ve edited out a couple of paragraphs from the original post as Deborah has apologized for her ill-considered tweet.
In light of that apology, I’ve deleted my unnecessarily harsh snark but am leaving the context above intact.
Trigger Warning: child rape
Just when I thought I was done with this….
One thing that’s come out of shining light into dark corners is that the original “Breendoggle” from 1963 has now been posted online. If it was online before, Google couldn’t find it, only documented references to it.
Bill Donaho wrote the original piece in 1963.
What this gives is contemporary accounts, some second- and third-hand, of recent events as of that time.
You know, the year before Marion Zimmer Bradley married Walter Breen.
- Tor.com publishes their tribute piece on MZB’s birthday. (Now removed, see #3)
I write my response piece and post a link to it on the Tor.com piece’s comments.
When looking at my own comments, I notice a lot of hits coming from this File 770 piece that says Tor.com took down the MZB article.
I’m not proud of this, but here it is. I post a childish gloat. I’d rather the original piece at least mentioned the bad stuff. Even a cursory sentence and we probably wouldn’t be here right now.
A commenter on my original piece calls me out about my motivations, and, for the first time in 3 years, I re-read MZB’s depositions. Twice. Note that at this point, I haven’t yet read Lisa’s deposition. I thought I had three years ago, but no.
I respond to my commenter with items out of MZB’s deposition. No further comments from them. (Given the family history there? I truly hope they’re okay. My heart goes out to them.)
I write to both Moira and Stephen Goldin. I receive a response from Moira, which I asked for permission to post, and received that permission. I received no response from Stephen. (Update: he was offline at the time and has since commented.)
Only after I read the MeFi thread did I read Elisabeth Water’s deposition, unaware that I’d missed possibly even more significant content. Ugh.
I’ll promote a paragraph from one of my comments into this post:
Many of us have been through some really dark times, and we have the pieces that spoke to our hearts that got us through those times. It genuinely gives me no joy to know that, for those whom MZB’s works were those pieces, I’ve dislodged that for them.
And I’ll add:
In addition to the lives she harmed, MZB’s works saved the lives of other people by speaking to them when other works and other people would not and/or did not.
Rachel E. Holmen, who worked as an editor for Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine said about Marion:
When she visited cons, ten or twenty young women an hour would stop by with stories along the lines of “Your books saved my life.”
There are other writers being published now who may speak to those same hearts, but if MZB is still the author that would help them, then I think it’s important that her work be available to do so. This doesn’t diminish her very real (and very severe) failings.
Rachel’s quote points out why we need diverse books by diverse writers that speak to diverse audiences.
Additionally, MZB gave a start to a lot of women writers—a higher percentage than anyone else in the genre at the time. Those writers helped pave the way for even more female voices in the genre.
“A Sword Called Rhonda” was in fact a parody of Mercedes Lackey’s works (specifically, Rhonda was a parody of Need), and Lackey was first published by MZB.
I think the Carl Sagan quote about books is a great way to end this.
See also: Paul St John Mackintosh’s article, “More on Marion Zimmer Bradley and the ethics of artists”, which takes a more intellectual approach.
Janni Lee Simner discusses what she and her husband did with the royalties they’d earned from sales to Marion’s anthologies. Thoughtful.