Ok–apparently for years I was apparently the only SF/F fan in the world who didn’t know that Marion Zimmer Bradley was an enabler for her husband Walter Breen’s child rape activities.* I only found out recently when I was reading some of Jo Walton’s wonderful book reviews on Tor.Com (This review is only so-so. I highly recommend reading more or that new book collecting some of her best ones). Walton commented how interesting it was that Bradley was able to make a three dimensional character out of a kiddie-rapist (as opposed to a cardboard villain) and someone in the comments says “Yeah, well it’s not too surprising, given that she helped her real-life husband cover up his own child-raping for 20-30 years.” (paraphrased). Note-this isn’t speculation, the guy was convicted multiple times for pedophilia and eventually died in prison for it. (Yay. The system sometimes does work albeit slowly.)
Anyway, even MZB’s own testimony point-blank admits that she didn’t think it was any big deal because (direct, verbatim quote) “…my opinion at the moment was that 13-year-old young people were quite old enough to decide what they wanted to do.” Cite, excerpts of her own testimony. She also admits to lying about it regularly and defending him and covering for him. In addition she’s simply appalled that anyone would be gauche enough to expect her to…y’know…protect kids from her rapist-husband
(Note–victim X is 10 when this starts)
Q. Did you ever do anything to protect [Victim X] from any type of sexual contact with Walter Breen during the three years that he was a guest in your home following your marriage?
MZB. Oh, please. The idea of me protecting little [Victim X], good heavens.
Q. Did you ever do anything to protect [Victim X] from sexual contact with your husband during the three years following your marriage that you knew [Victim X] was around your home?
MZB. It never occurred to.
That’s bad enough…but apparently MZB’s daughter just came out earlier this month and said that while MZB was covering for Walter raping little boys, MZB was raping her from the time she was 3 to about 13
There’s always talk about separating the art from the artist, but in this case? I don’t think I can. This isn’t a huge deal for me–I read the Darkover stuff once in the mid-80s when it was starting to get really weird and (from my memories from 30-ish years ago) really anti-male and didn’t look back. But Mists of Avalon was a decent read and I really liked Hunters of the Red Moon.
I don’t think I can go back and reread them.
This woman finds a few creepy subtexts in MZB’s work in light of this new knowledge and this guy pretty much sums up my feelings
For me, it does, especially when it informs the work. If MZB was a kiddie rapist who (say) was a wonderful flute player, I’d probably be able to put aside what she did since I’m not going to be looking for defenses of her crimes in flute music. But in a novel? Especially hers, which are largely romance/adventure novels? I doubt that I can read them again without scrutinizing every word and wondering “Is she promoting this? Defending this?”
I know this thread is gonna go way off course (and I’m fine with that) but I’d appreciate it if you’d also state your feelings on whether MZB’s (or, really, any artist’s) actions affect your view of their work.
*The kids were in the 3-14 range, so let’s not degenerate into one of those nitpicky argumements so common here about “ephebophile” ( or “pedophile” or what-the-fuck-ever silly term is in vogue.