Art tends to draw fringe personalities. Be they left-wing or right-wing, sexually liberated or restrictive, bearing funny ideas on everything from drugs to health care to the wearing of funny hats on Sundays
, creative types usually have their ideas and stick to them. Usually, however, they manage to stay separate from the work, or if they're worked in, they're blended in a way that adds to the quality of the work or at least doesn't detract from the main thrill ride.
There are some cases, however, where a strange combination of the author's prestige, personal life, and political bent causes things to take a strong shift. Suddenly, you're cracking open the latest book in a rollicking fantasy series and there's a hundred page section on how people wearing funny hats on Sunday should be sentenced to death by firing squad
. Where once there was flirting, things have gotten hideously porny. Where once there was fun military action, there are now long sections on the moral failings of the Clinton Administration. Something has cracked, and the author has ended up firmly in filibuster freefall.
The phenomenon was first noted by author James Nicoll on the rec.arts.sf newsgroup (and we're actually citing him properly this time
) and dubbed "The Brain Eater" in relation to authors Poul Anderson and James P. Hogan. It is a certain form of Protection From Editors
which allows the author to freely enter Author Tract
territory or spout off on their views without fear of repercussion. For interest of clarification, it does not apply to authors such as China Mieville (whose works have always approached the matter from a socialist angle) or Ayn Rand
(who pretty much wrote as a means of demonstrating Objectivism). For Filibuster Freefall
to apply, the author has to have started off writing in a neutral, if slightly charged, manner before reaching a point where the messages are obviously being shouted in your ear to the exclusion of all else. As this is no doubt a charged topic
, poster discretion is advised.
For the other
type of Brain Eater, see Brain Food
- One of the most famous examples in all of comics-dom, Cerebus. Starting as a look at the life of an aardvark hero and his brushes against society as a whole, the comic took a noticeable change in direction after author Dave Sim underwent a nasty divorce. From that point on, there was a lot of Abrahamic fiddling and angry rants about how anything with a vagina drains the warmth and creativity from the world.
- Frank Miller seems to have finally gone around the bend with the Holy Terror comic.
- Then there was B.C.. It started as a gag strip about cavemen with a few Unfortunate Implications, then in Johnny Hart's later years, he stripped out most of the jokes in favour of anviltastic Christian themes. When he passed away in 2007, his grandchildren took a meat cleaver to the hardcore religious stuff and made it a gag strip again.
Stand Up Comedy
- Piers Anthony's works have always had some sexual content. Then he started writing books like Bio of a Space Tyrant, where pre-pubescent girls knowingly consent to sex with adults. No one was happy with this development, and if anybody was, they're not talking.
- Dean Koontz went from having characters that had a wide variety of different opinions and viewpoints, now in recent works all the protagonists will share Dean Koontz's opinions on things like bioethics, global warming, gun control, evolution, while his villains will stand for things that Dean Koontz hates.
- Orson Scott Card started tracking this way with essays about how gay marriage was a sham and homosexuals were the products of childhood abuse. Then came Empire, which was all about liberal terrorists attacking conservative military interests. Empire, as well as his essays, has somewhat colored Card's works, to the point that there was a fight over Shadow Complex because Card wrote Empire as a tie-in novel that ended up coming out before the game (the game itself was written by noted comic book writer Peter David.) Card actually did suggest the decidedly hyper-conservative ideology of the Restoration for the game... then proceeded to make them liberal in the novel anyway, because obviously only liberals can be bad people.
- Card's Mormonism has also gotten in the way of his fiction. The last book of the "Ender" quartet, Children of the Mind, spends lots of time describing "physics" that are taken straight out of Mormon theology.
- And now the thoughts on homosexuality are seeping into his work. Behold, Hamlet's Father, where all of Hamlet's issues can be traced back to getting bad-touched by his daddy, who turned half of the play's cast gay with his foul, corrupting penis.
- As noted above, James P. Hogan was one of the key examples of the Filibuster Freefall. His works started off with an anarcho-libertarian bend, but when it got to the point where he was writing entire stories supporting AIDS denialism...
- Combined with a one-hundred-eighty-degree reversal of many of his previously strongly held viewpoints, mostly on quack science such as Velikovskiyan catastrophe theory and the integrity of the scientific establishment.
- The Anita Blake series is another famous example of this. Unlike the Merry Gentry series (which pretty much started off as porn), the Blake series initially started as the adventures of a professional necromancer who alternatively hunted and enjoyed sexual tension with the creatures of the night. Then around book six, the sexy times got ramped up to the point where they devoured the book, leaving little space for the actual plot. Many consider the breaking point to be author Laurel K. Hamilton's divorce from her husband.
- Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series began as a fantasy epic about a heroic man trying to escape from the shadow of his tyrannical father. So far, so good. Then he slowly started ramping up the Objectivism, starting with thinly-veiled caricatures of the Clintons and a victory achieved through creation of a truly beautiful statue, and eventually reaching the apex with a climax that involves the character mowing down a mob of pacifists keeping him from the Big Bad and being in the right because of the pacifists' "hatred of moral clarity."
- John Norman's Gor novels were originally quite good Sword and Sorcery in the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs, but then his male-supremacist views came to the fore and took over the series.
- It looks like Dan Simmons might have finally entered this territory. First came Olympos, where a Global Caliphate releases a virus to kill all Jews on Earth. A bit suspect, but no doubt a look at things spiraled out of control. Then came a short story posted on his website, wherein a time traveler came back from the future to warn Simmons about the creation of "Eurabia." That was more suspect, but hadn't made its way into his works. And now there's Flashback, where among other dystopian themes (which seem to add up to "Everything outside of America is going to fuck us without lube"), Europe has been taken over by a global caliphate and Islamic terror is widespread in the US, with the "Ground Zero mosque" seen as an impetus and most Americans engaging in "surrender tactics."
- This article from Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger seems to indicate that Gallagher (yes, he of the watermelon smashing) has fallen hard into this, with one of his recent shows focused on ranting against the French, women's lib, tattoos, and homosexuality (a lot in the latter case), with the show ending with Gallagher smashing a pie tin of something and screaming, "This is the China people and the queers!"