I could make a cottage industry out of posting snarky rebuttals to the piffle Jo Walton spits out on the Tor blog. It's like she was specifically crafted in a lab to drive me insane. Last time, it was because she whinged about how she doesn't like to read the SF output of *superior* writers (ie: those not in the SF/F ghetto) because they don't understand the tropes. This time?
"Rosa sat so Martin could march, Martin marched so Barack could run, Barack ran so our children can fly."The comment I left:
Everybody seems to be quoting this without attribution, and I’d love to know who wrote it. The thing that struck me about it was how very science-fictional it felt. It’s got the ring to it of something from a future history book, or one of those oracular poems with deep special meanings you sometimes run across in fantasy. I hope everyone’s children can fly, but we’d better get working on the spaceships.
I don't want to be really rude, but I can't remember a post of yours that didn't make me shake my head at least a little. This one's pretty severe.N.B. I corrected a typo I had in my comment. Not trying to hide anything, but I see no reason to quote myself and leave it uncorrected.
The quote is not "science-fictional," neither does it have "the ring to it of something from a future history book, or one of those oracular poems with deep special meanings you sometimes run across in fantasy." It's a standard rhetorical trope, familiar to anyone who reads broadly and outside of the SF and Fantasy worlds.
It builds power and tension through repetition, similar to this quote from MLK:
Press on and keep pressing. If you can't fly, run; if you can't run, walk; if you can't walk-CRAWL.
If you've seen similar in SF and Fantasy, that's because it is a very old form with which you should be familiar. For example, if you thought the line I quoted above was *original* in Firefly, you really need to get out more.
Who knows: maybe y'all'll disagree with me and think she's really hit that thar nail on the head. Though I suspect my few readers are a bit more well-rounded than Jo, so it seems unlikely.