I have been following the contest (and some of the people involved in its administration) since 1984 when I first worked the combined Battlefield Earth / Writers of the Future booth at the World Science Fiction convention in Anaheim.
All Scientology organizations are legally separate from one another. This is a manifestation of L. Ron Hubbard’s paranoia about Scientology being taken over (by your paranoid theory of choice). Nevertheless, all things are micromanaged from the top down.
- At the start, WotF was administered by Author Services, which is apparently completely controlled by the Church of Spiritual Technology, both of which are part of Scientology.
- Author Services is also the corporation David Miscavige (current leader of the church) came up through the ranks out of (his wikipedia page is a little bit out of order here; Author Services existed before L. Ron Hubbard died in 1986 and Miscavige overthrew the Broekers around 1987 and took over; before then, Miscavige was the head of Author Services). If there were no relationship between Scientology and Author Services, how could that possibly happen?
- There is very little money separate in Scientology. It’s always an upward pull week-by-week. I was on the financial planning committee of Tustin for several years. We’d send $5,000 up even when we couldn’t afford toilet paper. I’ve been science fiction convention staff at several conventions involving WotF and I see the same Scientology fingerprints all over: not having the budget to buy a dealer’s table until the end, pleading with the staff, and wanting programming to accommodate them at the last minute. There was a commitment to Westercon last year — and then, nothing. If their money was *really* separate, I’d think they’d be more consistent with their planning and not act like everything’s a last-minute emergency the way Scientology does every frakkin’ week. As for budget specifics, obviously none of us have seen them.
- When I went to the Athenaeum at CalTech in 2007 for the WotF event, they checked the column marked “Wog.” The other column was marked, “Scn.” I said, “Oh, I’m a Scientologist.” (partly to see what they’d do) They changed what box they checked. Why use a racist slur (also commonly used to mean non-Scn) if they were not affiliated? Why track Scientologists separately?
- The camera crew at the events are Gold Sea Org (Scn’s religious order) members. This means they normally reside and work at the same location where Debbie Cook was tortured and Marc Headley was run off the road trying to leave. I’ve actually point-blank asked a few of them, “Oh, are you from Gold base? I always thought that would be so cool!” (Because of my film background, people were pressuring me to go there when I was in, but now I’m super-glad I did not.)
- In 2008, the event was held at the Author Services building in Hollywood. Canapes were served by Sea Org staff.
- I’ve never met a WotF staffer who wasn’t a Scientologist (more specifically, a Sea Org member). Galaxy Press is a secular organization, so in theory they can’t discriminate on the basis of religion, disability, color, and (most especially in California) sexual orientation. So where are the people of color? The disabled? The queer? The people of other faiths? If the contest administration is truly separate, is it also a secular organization? If so, same question.
- I seem to recall Will Fry talking about some of the aspects of fiction publishing when WotF books were still published by Bridge Publications (where he was Sea Org), but I will need to look that up. He did talk specifically about gaming the NY Times bestseller list, though.
Regardless of the nitty-gritty details of any separation between WotF and the church, you’ve still got the problem of putting the name of a guy who put kids in chain lockers on the cover. This should not be forgotten about.