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Amelie Zhao Learns To Love Big Brother

I keep talking about how in the West, we are swiftly moving into a culture that resembles communist totalitarianism — this, based on what people who grew up under communism tell me. It’s not about gulags or secret police; it’s about building a post-liberal culture defined by militant progressive ideology, and enforcing it by destroying, personally and professionally, those who dissent. Part of this is inculcating fear and self-loathing within the minds of people living in those cultures. You don’t need the secret police when you have taught people to police themselves according to your totalitarian principles.

Today the New Totalitarianism took a new scalp, in a way that ought to scare the hell out of all of us, on both the left and the right, who value free speech and inquiry. And it happened to someone born in a communist country.

Amelie Wen Zhao is a Young Adult author whose debut sci-fi/fantasy novel, Blood Heir [1], was set for a June release from a major publisher, as part of a three-book deal. When the deal was announced a year ago, Zhao, who is just starting her career, made her excitement public [2]:

Three-book deals. Manuscripts going to auction. Offers from the Big 5 Publishers.

These had all seemed like dreams to me. Literally, dreams towards which I could reach yet never even hope to achieve, to cross that yawning abyss in-between. Wishes from the highest star in the skyat which I could only gaze and gaze and gaze.

Until last month.

I don’t think it’s sunk in until this very moment, when I sat down to write this post — that I am going to be a published author.


She continued:

On a recent Skype session with my parents, my mother told me in tears that, when I was around 8 years old, I said to her one day: “Mama, I want to be an author!” And she gently sat me down and told me the reality. That so few authors make it — and fewer, still, make it big. That many still struggle on in pursuit of their dream. That I have to decide whether I want a life of comfort — one that my parents have gifted me — or a life of uncertainty, potential financial duress, and, very possibly, never having my books see the day of light.

I chose. For my entire life, I’ve prepared myself for a career in finance, telling myself it was the more realistic choice, that success stories for authors came true once in a blue moon and that dreams were something only Cinderella’s fairy godmother could grant with a wave of her wand.

The past two months could not have proven me more wrong. From my success with #DVpit to getting my dream agent [3] to my submissions process … I hardly ever cry, but I’m tearing up as I write, because it has been three months in which, every single day, I have literally seen myself and my book take one step and another, closer, towards catching that bright, bright star of my dream.


I’ve kept my writing dream a secret my entire life — less than ten people knew I was working towards finishing a book for most of 2017 (until I joined Twitter!). Most of my friends are in finance, or in the non-book-world — so they respected my

Amelie Wen Zhao

dream, but it was quickly put to the back of their minds, just because it was such a far-off, distant, and unthinkable dream that was completely, galactically, out of my life. Even my boyfriend, the love of my life, had his moments where he forgot that my lifelong dream was to publish a book.

Despite all that — despite the fact that probably three people had read my work, ever — I kept going.

And now, I’ve reached the stars.

So you — yes, you — if you’re reading this and you have a lifelong dream, a passion that burns a fire within you, remember this story. Just one year ago, I was questioning everything I had ever dreamed; I was wondering what if everything I’d been working towards and reaching towards was hopeless after all? But I had this passion blazing within me, brighter than the fire of stars, and I knew I could not live a life without trying to reach those stars.

For now, I’m allowing myself some peace of mind. After countless years of honing my craft and quietly smithing my words with no recognition, I have reached my stars.

Don’t give up.

Well, guess what? The book, which had positive buzz (Barnes & Noble called it one of the most anticipate YA releases of the year [4]), has been the subject of a massive Social Justice Warrior pile-on on social media, as Jesse Singal discussed in a tweetstorm. [5] Very few people have even read the novel, but the mob attacked it as racist for a variety of reasons, one of them being that Zhao created a fantasy world where “oppression is blind to skin color” (this, from the press release). It’s a fantasy world, and people haven’t even read the book, but the mob was certain that Blood Heir is racist, and that its author — a young woman raised in Beijing, but now living in New York City — ought to be shut down.

Today, they got their wish:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [8]

They shamed this woman into surrendering her dream! This immigrant from communist China has submitted to the verdict of an online struggle session [9], straight out of Mao’s Cultural Revolution! As one Twitter commenter said:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [8]

These monsters have to be stopped. We cannot let them win. I am so sorry that Amelie Wen Zhao surrendered to them, and their cruelty. If you read her blog post from January 2018 announcing the deal, you can see her Achilles heel:

I write fantasy, but my story draws inspiration from themes I see in the real world today. As a foreigner in Trump’s America, I’ve been called names and faced unpleasant remarks — and as a non-citizen, I’ve felt like I have no voice — which is why I’ve channeled my anger, my frustration, and my need for action into the most powerful weapon I have: my words.

BLOOD HEIR is an examination of what makes us different from those around us — be it the horrific ability to manipulate blood or the many reasons why my characters are a band of outcasts — and how we internalize others’ fears of the things that make us stand out. It is a journey of self-acceptance, and a realization that we cannot change who we are or what we are born with, but we can choose what we do with what we are given. It is a story of friendship and love that extend beyond prejudices. And above all, it is a call to action: a message to young readers that it is our choices, not our birthright or race or title, that ultimately define us. Each of us has the choice — and more than that, the responsibility — to stand up and fight for what we believe is right.

We live in a world where I see so many others hurting, like me; where I see fear used as a weapon by those who choose to hate; where I see the age-old monster of prejudice drawing lines between those who are different. My pen is my sword, my words are my voice, and I hope BLOOD HEIR will be a guiding light to those who need it most.

Donald Trump didn’t destroy Amelie Wen Zhao’s dreams. People wearing #MAGA hats didn’t shame her into withdrawing her debut novel. Progressives on social media did. These people are the enemy. They colonized her mind, and caused her — a Chinese immigrant! — to hate herself. I hope that they haven’t broken her spirit. Orwell, in these final lines from 1984, understands what they’ve done to her:

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

Amelie Wen Zhao has learned to love Big Brother.

The rest of us had better learn to hate him, and fight him at every turn. Now.

I am going to finish my book proposal tonight about learning from dissidents how to resist this. It’s time. These SOBs are not going to intimidate me.


UPDATE: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, from “Live Not By Lies” [11] (1974):

No, it will not be the same for everybody at first. Some, at first, will lose their jobs. For young people who want to live with truth, this will, in the beginning, complicate their young lives very much, because the required recitations are stuffed with lies, and it is necessary to make a choice.

But there are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest. On any given day any one of us will be confronted with at least one of the above-mentioned choices even in the most secure of the technical sciences. Either truth or falsehood: Toward spiritual independence or toward spiritual servitude.

And he who is not sufficiently courageous even to defend his soul—don’t let him be proud of his “progressive” views, don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, a merited figure, or a general—let him say to himself: I am in the herd, and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and warm.

UPDATE.2: Good grief, check out some of these negative reviews on Goodreads! [12]Here’s one:

Jan 28, 2019 Sarah rated it did not like it

115 reviews and how is nobody mentioning the anti-blackness and blatant bigotry in this book?
This book is about slavery, a false oppression narrative that equates having legitimately dangerous magical powers that kill people with being an oppressed minority, like a person of color. This whole story is absolutely repulsive.

There is a slave auction in which the black slave girl dies for Ana and she sings her a lullaby as she dies.

The Russian rep is fundamentally awful, the author didn’t even get the gendering of basic words right.

The only disabled character is a villain who walks with a cane.

What book did you guys read? Do you think that’s okay or why is nobody saying a word? Look critically at what you read. This book is intended for teens. I wouldn’t want my kid to read something like that, a book that uses marginalized people as pawns.

And no, that the author is Chinese doesn’t make her exempt from criticism or fundamentally anti-black narratives. There are plenty of other not happily racist Chinese YA authors you can support instead. F.C. Yee, Malinda Lo, Emily X.R. Pan, Cindy Pon, Stacey Lee, Marie Lu, Karen Bao for example.

I’d love it if somebody who looks critically at what they read would write a detailed review that proves all the bigotry in this book so white people and Asians finally start listening because I’ve seen a lot of systematic shutting down of any brown person who brings up concerns with this book.

And by the way, there are dozens of lines that are straight up copied from LOTR, Harry Potter, The Young Elites and Six of Crows, if you happen to not give a damn about bigotry. This shouldn’t be legal. The love interest Ramson Quicktongue is literally Kaz Brekker. It also has a carbon copy of Inej, a character named Linnet whose nickname is windwraith and who was sold into slavery.

Plagiarism isn’t cute. For shame, Delacorte

119 Comments (Open | Close)

119 Comments To "Amelie Zhao Learns To Love Big Brother"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 1, 2019 @ 3:58 am

“social justice progressives are the new fundamentalist Christians”

Yeah, if you take Jesus’ example and teaching too seriously, pretty soon you’ll be destroying lives and livelihoods with lies through mob action.


#2 Comment By CF On February 1, 2019 @ 6:45 am

I pre-ordered her book on Amazon. It’s probably not my cup of tea, but it was the only effective way I could show support. Maybe if enough people do that it will still be published.

#3 Comment By JonF On February 1, 2019 @ 8:34 am

It sounds like there were just a small number of these negative reviews (correct me if I’m wrong). I wonder if some of them were the work of the same person or persons posting under different names on different devices to avoid detection. The reverse certainly happens: multiple rave reviews by a friend or family member of an author. Maybe this young lady has a couple of people who really dislike her and they set out to tear her down?

[NFR: It was Twitter. — RD]

#4 Comment By James On February 1, 2019 @ 8:39 am

Or perhaps it is a clever marketing scheme on the part of the author and publisher.

#5 Comment By Turmarion On February 1, 2019 @ 10:28 am

Raskolnik: Well, maybe your actual problem is that reality itself is increasingly heading in an apocalyptic, Force of Good vs. Forces of Evil direction.

I suspect your issue is fundamentally with Revelation 3:16.

People have said that “reality itself is increasingly heading in an apocalyptic direction”, that the forces of Good and Evil were lined up and ready to go, that the End is Near, and that the Apocalypse was on the verge of being unleashed many, many times throughout Christian history, and even before (remember the Essenes?). Hell, I remember the popularity of Hal Lindsey forty-plus years ago. Maybe we’re on the verge of Apocalypse; maybe we’ve got another ten thousand years. Neither you nor I nor anyone else knows.

My sins are as scarlet and I’d never claim otherwise; but the opposite of “lukewarm” is not “hysterically ready to pop over everything that comes down the road, no matter how trivial in the big picture it may be”. Having read Revelation several times, I’m quite sure that “authors getting bullied on social media” is not associated with any of the seals being broken. In any case, let us all also keep in mind Matthew 24:36, which should encourage all of us to calm down just a bit.

#6 Comment By Pat On February 1, 2019 @ 11:17 am

Someone in a book group pointed out that the book is still on Amazon, and you can pre-order it. That seems like a more productive way of counteracting the twitter mob than wishing the author would pick a fight with her support group.

After all, I haven’t been offering her any alternative for chatting, venting, etc. I haven’t even known she exists, so why should she care about my opinion on how she negotiates the group that *did* care for her? Is she supposed to burn bridges with them on the spec that if her book is published, she will suddenly have new friends? As someone who has published three novels, I can report that I got two (2) new casual acquaintances from doing so.

I’ve thought a lot lately about how I can use my resources to support people without backing those people into a corner they didn’t want to be backed into. It’s rather new to me and I don’t have it all worked out yet. Anyway, here’s the book link.


#7 Comment By IowaGreg On February 1, 2019 @ 3:45 pm

It’s also interesting the Young Adult fiction reviewers don’t even pretend to judge by “this is a great books that excite juvenile readers” a la or Harry Potter, but just based on a checklist of marginalized groups,, their characterization, and proper fictional representation of the “good” propaganda. It is just like the Christian movie guides that count the swear words and b00bs and butts.

#8 Comment By M_Young On February 1, 2019 @ 5:38 pm

” And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, might be the most monstrous of them all. ”

Why is this Chinese person allowed to appropriate white (Russian subdivision) culture?

#9 Comment By PubliusII On February 1, 2019 @ 6:25 pm

My hunch is she’ll find a publisher — maybe Encounter Books?

Hey, Mr. Kimball — how about a YA novel for the Fall lineup?

Betcha it’ll sell. There are millions of us sick and tired of the online mobs.

#10 Comment By Noyo On February 2, 2019 @ 8:34 am

My wife points out that the first thing she noticed was that Zhao is PRETTY, which may have as much to do with why she was chosen for destruction as anything in her book. She has light skin and she’s attractive. Two things SJW women are usually not. All that privilege was not what they meant when they said they wanted WOC authors. They meant fat tattooed non-white screechbeasts like themselves. It would be really interesting to see the faces of the people who destroyed her…I’ll be we’d see only females. Have any SJW “men” jumped in on the lynch mob? Seems like it’s all wymyn who couldn’t get laid at 2am in a New Jersey dive bar.

#11 Comment By JonF On February 2, 2019 @ 3:27 pm

Re: My sins are as scarlet and I’d never claim otherwise;

Yes, this. The line between good and evil runs through all of our souls There is (among humans) no Team Good and Team Evil. Anyone who things they are playing on Team Good has not been listening to their better angels, but rather to the original Liar who loves it when evil is done in the name of good.

#12 Comment By Ella On February 2, 2019 @ 7:28 pm

The word on the whisper network is that the whole thing was orchestrated by another debut YA author who also writes a Russian inspired fantasy. Her book didn’t sell for as much as this one, and didn’t generate so much buzz.

#13 Comment By Paul Clayton On February 4, 2019 @ 2:31 am

Read Van Ripplewink: You Can’t Go Home Again. I call out the rising commie tide in America in that novel. This woman should have fought back, sued her publisher if they wavered. The only way we’ll win is to fight back every time.

#14 Comment By Howard Maher On February 4, 2019 @ 10:36 am

Good to see you here, Rod. Some folks from Baton Rouge say “Hi”. We may be liberal, but we can see that you’re not nuts.

[NFR: Are you sure that you’re looking hard enough? 😉 — RD]

#15 Comment By Annette On February 6, 2019 @ 11:39 am

In our self-righteousness, we have become a nation of bullies who hurt more than we help.

#16 Comment By FiscalCon On February 10, 2019 @ 8:44 am

Please don’t cede the language. They call themselves “progressives”. Authoritarianism is not progress. How about something like left-wing despicable progs?

#17 Comment By moon On February 11, 2019 @ 4:11 am

thing was orchestrated by another debut YA author who also writes a Russian inspired fantasy. Her book didn’t sell for as much as this one, and didn’t generate so much buzz.

#18 Comment By Jhericles Katz-Nelson On February 15, 2019 @ 4:24 pm

I don’t think she deserves our sympathy. It’s clear, from her own remarks quoted here, that she’s fully on board with the left’s agenda. This incident was just a small course correction to keep her in full compliance.

Just like the left to imagine that any mention anywhere anytime of slavery is necessarily about Africans.

#19 Comment By Ernest On March 5, 2019 @ 7:01 pm

Yeah, I tried to be upset or something, but if she buys into it she’s just an idiot so who cares? Either she’s an idiot, or weakling. If it was a guy we wouldn’t even be trying to help him out. Next.