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SF/F genre drama, May 2014 edition

So there have been a couple more rounds of SF/F genre drama going around, which I’ve mostly missed due to the recent round of medical annoyance that I have, at this point, mostly fought off. I am therefore coming in late to this round, but will note in passing nonetheless that:

One, the drama surrounding this year’s slate of Hugo nominations, and how certain infamous personages got into the list of nominations. I’ve basically seen two overall camps of response to this: 1) OHNOEZ THEY MUST HAVE RIGGED THE NOMINATIONS (mostly from the left-leaning SF/F genre crowd), and 2) HOW DARE PEOPLE SAY THEY WILL VOTE ‘NO AWARD’ RATHER THAN GIVE THE WORKS A FAIR SHAKE (mostly from the right-leaning SF/F genre crowd).

Two, a particular individual has recently flounced his way out of SFWA, with attendant cane-shakery about the “lunatic left” and “thoughtpolice”. And, apparently, a lot of attempt at revisionism about prior rounds of drama, thoroughly debunked over on Radish Reviews and also by Foz Meadows.

Three, as a corollary to these two particular rounds of drama, I’ve seen a resurgence in people insisting that if you don’t adore the works of Robert Heinlein, you cannot possibly be a true science fiction fan.

I’ve been too wearied by the aforementioned medical annoyance to give more than a token facepalm to either of these rounds of drama. But I think it’s worth saying yet again that:

One, if it bothers you when people call you a bigot, there’s an easy solution to this problem. Which is, don’t be a bigot. I.e., don’t spew bigoted bullshit, and don’t do screamingly bigoted things. This is not rocket science, but it is apparently difficult for some folks who love them some rocket science in their fiction.

Two, you are not being censored or oppressed if you spew bigoted bullshit and other people then call you a bigot. If you insist you are being censored or oppressed, and you cannot in fact provide proof that your civil rights are being impinged upon, you’re not only being a bigot, you’re also being an asshole.

Three, if you’re going around claiming that “only people who like the same exact stuff I like are true science fiction fans” or “only people who write a narrow and specific set of stories that happen to line up exactly with my personal political and/or religious beliefs are true science fiction writers”–really, in general, if you’re yelling about how “these other people over here are DOING THEIR FANDOM WRONG”–you know what you’re being? If you said “an asshole”, then DING DING DING WINNAH.

There’s been way too much divisiveness like this in SF/Fdom lately, and I’m really, really sick of it. The whole Fake Geek Girl thing, for example. Or “my subgenre is better than your subgenre”. Or the ongoing LALALALALA WE CAN’T HEAR YOU every time women, or people of color, or queer people of any stripe, or people of non-Christian religions or lack thereof, etc., etc., etc.,–every time anyone in those groups tries to say “Hey! We’d like to join in, too!” And they keep getting shut down.

And then as a bonus, now we get told that if you don’t adore one specific Dead White Male Author you’re not a real SF/F fan? Seriously?

Nope. Sorry. You don’t get to tell me which authors I get to adore and which ones I don’t. You don’t get to appoint yourselves the gatekeepers of my SF/F fandom, and you don’t get to judge the validity of my affection for the genre.

Though I’m tellin’ ya, Internets, with how this kind of drama keeps going around and around and around and around ad infinitum, it makes me want to go read a good mystery novel instead.


SFWA Petitiongate link roundup, 2/19/2014

And now, a link roundup on further posts on SFWA: Petitiongate. Because quite a few writers are speaking up about this, and while the furor appears to be dying down a bit, conversation is still happening. This is a good thing. Because this is a conversation that needs to keep happening.

I spotted all of these last night via Twitter. I follow Diana Pharaoh Francis there, and saw her post. From her, I found the other two.

Why It’s a Good Thing the SFWA Meltdown Is as Ugly at The Alternative Typewriter

Why the SFWA Shoutback Matters by Juliet E. McKenna

Gender, Writing, SFWA, by Diana Pharaoh Francis

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–I may not actually be a member of SFWA and not likely to be eligible at least in the immediate future (Carina doesn’t qualify me for membership). But I care about what’s going on with them for a variety of reasons.

One, I read a lot of these people. They’re writing my native genre when it comes to what I want on my bookshelves.

Two, they’re my fellow spec fic writers, part of the extended community of people who write what I want to write. And what happens with SFWA, while indeed focused on the American branch of speculative fiction, does echo across the worldwide community of SF/F writers. See the post by Juliet McKenna, above. Writers across the world are watching.

ETA: Catherine Schaff-Stump speaks out on SFWA: Privilege and Institutionalized Everythingism

Other People's Books, Publishing

How much popcorn can we pop with this fire?

The fire from yesterday’s Daily Dot explosion continues to rage across the Internet this morning, folks.

Scalzi, not content to have issued yesterday’s A Note to Sean Fodera, has followed that up with a scathing critique of the attacks on Mary Robinette Kowal.

Money quote:

How many more award nominations and wins does she have to have before she is somebody, I wonder? How many more books does she have to publish? How many more television shows does she have to work on? How many more years of unpaid, volunteer service to the trade organizations in her field does she have to offer? How many more years of abject, unambiguous and wholly undeserved contempt does she have to endure before she is allowed to be someone “you should have heard of”?

Kowal herself, more soft-spoken but no less pointed, has offered herself up as a representative example of the sexism women face in the genre.

Silvia Morena-Garcia shows some of the pics of Kowal that have gotten lambasted–which, I point out, are exactly the sorts of dresses that you’d see in the A&E production of Pride & Prejudice, a fashion sensibility which is hardly daring, at least if you live in a mindset later than 1805–and describes how she’s had to evaluate her own clothing choices for fear of the same kind of attack, the fear that she’d get labeled a “cheap tart” if she wears the wrong thing.

James Nicoll is breaking out the popcorn over here. I think he’s going to need more popcorn.

There’s not much I can add to a lot of this, except to say that I have read Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey, as well as her shorter works “First Flight” and “Lady Astronaut of Mars”. I quite enjoyed all three, and I will very much enjoy going through the rest of the novels in her series, including Book Four, Valour and Vanity, due to be released in the US in April. Her speaking out in support of the good that SFWA can do and has done is in fact a contributing factor to why I keep paying attention to what goes on with the organization–because if she can speak in favor of it even given the shit that’s been hurled at her head, I respect that a lot.

And I for one feel that her words accomplish the very best of what any writer hopes for: to make her, indeed, someone you should have heard of.

P.S. Yoiks, I got linked to by Ansible! If you’re coming over from there, greetings to you!


No wait, not done yet after all

Dara pointed me at this tumblr that has a brand spanking new helping of excerpts off the forums, with snark directed at “the Young” in general and at Mary Robinette Kowal in particular. I particularly note the parts dismissing “the Young” as “incapable of independent thought” and asserting how we’re probably all pirating C.J. Cherryh’s books anyway. And the parts accusing Ms. Kowal of being a hypocrite due to her wardrobe choices in pictures on her site and when she attends science fiction conventions–because, of course, a woman couldn’t possibly be really interested in feminism if she dresses in any manner whatsoever that might approach making her conventionally attractive, right?

Now, I could point out that if you are of the mind that people who aren’t in your organization shouldn’t be commenting on the Internet about your organization’s activities, you might want to avoid posting things on publicly-readable forums. Or on Facebook. Which, last I checked, is part of the Internet.

And I could point out that criticizing a feminist for her wardrobe choices is yet another belittling, demeaning tactic, similar to attacking her for inflammatory language, meant to distract from her actual points.

I could even point out that dismissing an entire segment of people who disagree with you as “the Young” is perhaps not the wisest of strategies, because it’ll inevitably lead to our deploying this and this and this.

But mostly I’m just looking at the bit on that tumblr that snarks on Jim Hines’ cover parodies as making SFWA look “silly”, and all I can think is, um, actually, no folks, you’re doing that all by yourselves.

But what do I know? I’m just “the Young”.

P.S. Yikes, the Daily Dot linked to me in their post about this SFWA flap. Hi, people coming over from the Daily Dot! For those of you who may have missed it, their earlier writeup about all this is over here.

ETA: BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! I saw John Scalzi put this post up tonight, and really, there’s nothing I can add to that, because it pretty much speaks for itself.

I’ll also point out Cora Buhlert’s commentary here, noting other commentary I hadn’t found yet, and expressing her general bemusement over the whole thing.

Also, this post over here called “Sci-Fi and Sexism”, by blogger and reviewer Mandaray, addresses exactly why this kind of thing needs to keep getting discussed–because the sexism in SF/F as she was growing up kept putting her off the genre.

ETA #2: Dara has her own next post up now, addressing how, hilarity aside, there’s more being lost here.


Last round of SFWA commentary–this time

Stick a fork in it, looks like this one’s pretty much done.

Following the SFWA presidential bulletin that the petition that caused a tempest in the SFnal teapot was over a thing that isn’t even going to actually happen, I saw three links of interest on the matter that basically appear to be wrapping it up.

Jim Hines has a nice thoughtful post up trying to understand what motivated a lot of people to sign the thing in the first place. It’s worth looking at, just on that basis alone.

John Scalzi has cogent commentary on things to keep in mind regarding petitions and free speech. He also points out that he personally knows a LOT of the signers on the petition and wasn’t going to cotton to picking on them. Fair enough.

And Victoria Strauss points out that SFWA is a force for good in a lot of ways–pointing out quite correctly that Writer Beware itself is a critical resource for all writers, not just the ones writing SF/F. She’s optimistic that these upheavals the organization is going through are a sign of it improving.

I’d like to hope she’s right, if nothing else because it just saddens me to think of an organization dedicated to the betterment of the careers of writers of SF/F–the genre that should be looking forward, not back–can get embroiled in crap like this over and over. I mean, I still don’t qualify to join so it’s not like I have any real horse in this race, but still. I’d like to see them move on from this to the betterment of everyone in the organization, and everyone who might like to join it in the future.

We’ll see what happens next and how the rest of the year proceeds for all involved.

ETA: Dara’s wrap-up post on the matter is over here.


SFWA Facepalm, the 2014 Edition: Further updates

I stuck this on the tail end of my last post, but just to call it out again here, the president of SFWA has announced that the petitions going around are a lot of sound and fury, signifying ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I.e., all the brouhaha that crowd has tried to start is over something that SFWA isn’t even going to do.

Meanwhile, here, have another roundup of commentary! I particularly like these links because they’re saying something I’ve said before myself, which is to say, SF/F as a genre really needs to stop snarking on romance.

H/t to Cheryl on Google+ for alerting me to Mr. Hines’ post.


I was wrong, I DO have more to say about the current SFWA-related brouhaha

First, let me say that a couple of people have pointed out to me, quite correctly, that this particular brouhaha is not actually on the shoulders of the people currently in charge of SFWA–but rather, on those of the signatories of the petition going around. So this is me acknowledging that. Everything I’ve seen so far indicates that SFWA themselves are trying to do the right thing here, as a direct result of last year’s mess, and now they’re getting called out on it because apparently certain persons think last year’s mess is what they actually want? Or something? I DON’T EVEN KNOW.

But what I do know is this. It’s come out that the originator of this petition, back in 2007, took it upon himself to try to be satirical about someone else’s post complaining about the male-heavy Hugo ballot. And by “try”, I mean FAIL MISERABLY. He threw out those inflammatory first few paragraphs, and then goes into “HA HA I WAS ONLY KIDDING if I really meant that the feminists would get all angry at me! Also, if you thought I really meant that you’re crazy!” mode. And then proceeds to castigate the poster of the complaint about the Hugo ballots, taking the tactic of “why is it okay for her to use that language about a male-heavy ballot, and it’s not okay for me to do the same about a female-heavy one?”

In other words: BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ?

Y’know what, Chuckles? You were right. Feminists will get angry at you, but not for the reasons you think.

Because here’s the thing. We see this BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ? thing all the damn time. It’s a diversionary tactic to try to silence a woman speaking out. Because OHNOEZ HER LANGUAGE IS INFLAMMATORY, and that’s way, way more important than the actual point she was trying to make. I got news, Chuckles. This diversionary tactic is still bullshit. It’s the tactic of a group in power to make the group NOT in power keep their place.

Now okay, yeah, that post was back in 2007, so you could argue it’s old news. But you’d be wrong, given that now, seven years later, we’re still having these arguments.

And I for one am deeply saddened at seeing the list of people who think this chucklehead is worthy of their support.

Dara has her thoughts on the matter here.

ETA: It has just been brought to my attention that as per this statement from Mr. Gould, president of SFWA, the petitioners’ uproar is over something that isn’t even happening.