I was at MileHiCon over the weekend, during which time I spoke with Paolo Bacigalupi (/shameless-name-drop). He related his legal difficulties with Night Shade Books (publisher of Windup Girl) and how glad he was that at the time he was drawing a good income from his YA series. Night Shade Books was holding his adult-SF-fiction career hostage, and he was in a much stronger position because he didn’t have to give a fuck – he had a YA career going as well.
Ted Chiang related similar (but less dramatic) circumstances. He makes a reasonable living doing freelance technical writing, which allows him to write what he wants (short stories & novelettes rather than novels), about things that interest him, and at the pace he wants, allowing him to put in the time to make his stories exactly the way he wants them. (I’ve mentioned before that Ted Chiang is the best short story writer of our times. This is one of the reasons why.)
Here’s a fascinating article – Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?
“I find some of my female friends attractive but I’ve learned to live without sex. Emotional entanglements are too complicated,” he says. “I can’t be bothered.”
This is exactly the problem with relationships. Once you get involved with other people, they complicated your life. You can’t help but be complicated by them when you do care, and caring is dangerous. In Japan they’ve managed to almost completely replace what you traditionally needed other humans for with technology and super-stimuli. I don’t blame anyone for making that trade, sometimes I wish I could make it myself.
It’s one of the reasons I find the concept of marriage so poisonous. People should stay together for exactly as long as they wish to be together. The bondage of marriage forces people to pretend to keep giving fucks about each other after they don’t actually want to anymore. It gathers up all those complications and strangles a couple with them, and adds in a few more just to rub it in. To be truly in love with someone is to be free to leave, and choose not to. A fuck given freely is priceless, one that is extorted means nothing.