I’m back. Yup, it’s me: Republibot 3.0, or rather The Artist Formerly Known As Republibot 3.0, but Currently Known As “Kevin Long.” Wake the kids, call the neighbors, cease the prayer vigil: I have returned from my year-long absence (Actually it’s an 18 month absence, but I doubt any of you noticed the first six months of it). If you had any friends that only visited this site because of the unfortunate “Me-cult” that grew up around it, you might wanna’ let ‘em know I’m back.
I should make it clear that I’m not back in my old capacity, however. I’m not the head writer anymore, I’m not the editor. I’m just a hired gun this time out. I’ll be providing blog entries on all the Mondays of this year, and we’ll see how it goes after that. Republibot 4.0 has my old job, and he’s doing a great job of it, and I want to make it very clear that *I* work for him. I’m back as a guest, and only as a part-timer at that.
Many of you are probably wondering why I left, and why I retired the “Republibot 3.0” handle. Well, I go by my real name now because I’m not a Republican, and I’d feel hypocritical continuing that pretense. Why? We’ll discuss that next week. As for leaving, I need to recap what Republibot was never supposed to be in the first place, which was, of course, what it ended up being: The Kevin Kult (TM, Pat. Pending). When R1, R2 and I started this site six years ago, or maybe seven, I forget, we each took on separate jobs. R1 was in charge of promotions, R2 was in charge of IT, and I was in charge of editing and content. Blogs are ravenous monsters, and we were all expected to produce roughly 1/3rd of the content that would run on the site. We recognized from the outset that there’d be a ‘getting up to speed’ phase, however, where the other guys would have to focus on their primary responsibilities, during which period I’d be generating more than my share of the content. This was to be a temporary thing, though, just for a few months. No more than six. During that period, I’d pick up the slack because, basically, I have no other useful skills beyond yammering, and I’m a fairly prolific yammerer at that.
As anyone who followed the site for a while can tell you, the 33/33/33 share of content never really happened. R1 and R2 simply weren’t very prolific. This isn’t a criticism or an insult; all of us were equally surprised to discover it. We’d all assumed we could do it equally well. We were all kind of shocked to discover the ability to talk endlessly about nothing in particular really was a gift, and not everyone has it, at least not to the same extent, nor to the same quality. So R1 removed himself from the ‘content providing’ thing fairly quickly, and R2 did what he could, but endless discussions of who’d win in a fight – George Reeves or Mighty Mouse – don’t come as easily to him as they do to me. And he was doing all the IT stuff, on top of that, so, basically, the lion’s share of the writing fell to me. On the one hand, I’m fairly good at it and fast and reasonably funny and charismatic. On the other hand, a website with only one writer becomes a website ABOUT that one writer, and Republibot was never meant to be that.
Our initial concept was this: There are many Conservatives who are interested in Science Fiction, but feel somewhat unwelcome and/or threatened by it. Sometimes this is due to it being a comparatively liberal genre, sometimes it’s because it deals with new and/or uncomfortable thoughts, and sometimes it’s because our preachers tell us that space aliens and rocket packs are the work of the devil. And sometimes it’s just because it’s a freakin’ huge sprawling subject, and we don’t know where to start. Who wants to look like an idiot by asking? So our purpose was to function as a kind of introduction to SF for conservatives who were curious, but uncomfortable.
We had discussions, we reviewed things, and we tried to point out whether the stuff we were reviewing was something your standard Conservative would feel comfortable with or not. One half school, one half Consumer Reports, if that makes sense. Yes, we were political, but not evangelically so. The idea was to make a safe place for conservatives to hang out, we had no interest in being adversarial, picking fights, insulting non-conservatives, attacking other websites, or whatever. Occasionally I took a few cheap shots at others, just as a joke, but that was pretty rare. The fact is that sites like Pink Raygun and IO9 do a good job, better than we can do with our resources, so why make fun of them? And given that they’re mostly appealing to a liberal fanbase, and we’re mostly appealing to a conservative one, why would there be any conflict anyway?
Curiously we attracted a lot of liberal readers, who were sort of confused by our refusal to get involved in namecalling and paranoia and stupidity. A lot of ‘em stayed on here, and some of occasionally contributed content. That was nice. When your theoretical adversaries decide you’re not a threat, and find you have enough common ground that they’re actually willing to help you out, you know you’re doing a good job.
It was a HELL of a big horse to ride, though, and honestly after half a decade I was getting burned out. I began to wonder, “If I’m doing everything myself, why the heck don’t I just start my own website?” But of course Republibot was NEVER supposed to be just about me. The idea was that we’d build a community, bringing in other contributors over time. That sorta’ happened, but it was hard to maintain.
Understandable. There’s no money in it. Then stuff changed. My dad died, some stuff happened on the site that broke my heart, two of my other friends died in very short order, one of them horribly, my special needs kid started highschool, and in my new role as patriarch of my extended family in the middle of a huge and horrible crisis, I just didn’t have time to talk about Robert Heinlein’s shitty novels which I pretty much hate anyway. I withdrew from all the websites and mailing lists I took part in, and I let the other Republibots know that I intended to resign. I gave ‘em six months worth of pre-programed content, up through the end of 2012, so they could find a replacement, and I disappeared.
I also started my own website here http://www.kevin-long.com which wasn’t just about SF, and which I updated far less frequently. Check it out, it’s my primary activity these days.
So I was quit, but nobody knew it because, of course, I still had prerecorded articles popping up every day. After several months, I asked the guys who was taking my place and the reply was basically “No one. The site is you, and once your content is done, the site is done.” Well, I was ABSOLUTELY INFURIATED because – say it with me – “The site was never supposed to be about me. It was supposed to be a community.” To have it shut down without even attempting to find a replacement for me? Disgusting!
R4 stepped in at the 11th hour, and volunteered to keep it going, for which I am eternally indebted, both because I loved this site even if I wasn’t a part of it anymore, and also because he’s done a really good job keeping it going. I respect him way too much to give any pretense of being in charge here. Republibot is his show now, and I’m just a hired gun. On Mondays.
Next week we’ll talk about why I’m not a Republican, and after that we’ll get back to my normal comfort zone of reviewing shitty Robert Heinlein novels that I can’t stand in the first place.
Kevin Long is a well-reviewed Science Fiction author, who has written three full-length anthologies, and is at work on several other projects. He used to blog under the name “Republibot 3.0,” but now that his stalker is dead, and he can afford to be less paranoid, he uses his real name. His personal website is here: http://www.kevin-long.com and his smashwords page is here https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/rthree He also sings with several bands, and plays guitar. Sort of.