First, congratulations to all the winners!
Wow, what a rush.
None of my four outlier recommendations made the ballot. Except one of them won in a different category, and I could just do jumping jacks about that.
Sarah Webb is someone I should have known would win eventually.
The first of my recommendations, Randall Munroe, came in 9th.
SF Signal. Which I should totally listen to more often. Interesting quirk: No Award had the highest number of first-place votes in this category.
Julie Dillon becomes the first woman to win the Hugo for Best Professional Artist as a solo artist. (Diane Dillon co-won with her husband in 1971.)
Ace’s retiring editor Ginjer Buchanan won, though she didn’t have the largest number of first-place votes. Baen’s Toni Weisskopf did, but she also had less support in other places, and also had more people rank No Award higher.
I was really hoping for Orphan Black, but Game of Thrones won for “The Rains of Castamere.” I’m peeved that Sharknado wasn’t on either the long list for either the long or short form ballot. It was robbed!
Gravity. So, so, so happy about this.
Randall Munroe, XKCD, Time.
In 2011, I first suggested Randall Munroe for Best Fan Artist. As a result of my lobbying, he got on the ballot that year (and the next), but he didn’t win.
Randall’s acceptance speech.
And Cory Doctorow accepting, dressed as an XKCD character (also a later XKCD):
My work here is done.
Congratulations, Randall! ## Best Related Work
“We Have Always Fought”: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative by Kameron Hurley on A Dribble of Ink. Very much worth reading. In a related note, here’s how the lemming myth was perpetuated.
I also have a soft spot in my heart for Writing Excuses as I’ll be on an upcoming episode.
“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu published by Tor.com.
“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal also published by Tor.com. I loved the audio version last year, and love the text version as well.
This was the category that Vox Day was also in, so I note that he lost fifth place (of five) to “No Award.”
“Equoid” by Charles Stross also published by Tor.com. I love Stross’s work. Though I preferred his Best Novel entry to this one, I’m glad he won in a category.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. This book won the Hugo, the Nebula, the Clarke Award, and the Locus Award, as well as tying for the BSFA Award. That is a very rare combo, especially for a debut novel.
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson came in 4th, and, Warbound by Larry Correia (of the voting slate) came in last, somewhat above “No Award.”
Wow, a lot of women won! (Dramatic sigh re: Orphan Black not being among them.)
The two nominations I was most excited by won. w00t!
Tor.com really did a great job.
Amazon invokes World War II. (Do Not Linkified because why should they get all the Google juice?)
— andrea vuleta (@alv65) August 9, 2014
Except, of course, they said “World War II” rather than 1939 because that carries so much more emotional weight. It’s Godwin’s Law by proxy.
Also, as a technical point, this was an innovation in the US, and the US wasn’t involved in WWII in 1939 (not until Pearl Harbor in December, 1941). Not only that, as Andrew’s article points out, the paperback started in June, 1939, and World War II is generally considered to have started with the Invasion of Poland on 1 September, 1939.
So not only did they invoke WWII for all the emotional baggage it carries, their email opening is factually incorrect.
@alv65 When you google “paperback history” or “paperback revolution,” my story is the first hit. So it’s possible they just crammed it.
— Andrew Shaffer (@andrewtshaffer) August 9, 2014
— Andrew Shaffer (@andrewtshaffer) August 9, 2014
— Andrew Shaffer (@andrewtshaffer) August 9, 2014
— Andrew Shaffer (@andrewtshaffer) August 9, 2014
@GlennF I still don’t think he was literally suggesting publishers collude, though, which is what Amazon’s letter seems to suggest.
— Andrew Shaffer (@andrewtshaffer) August 9, 2014
Then Amazon gives the email address of Hachette’s CEO, but not their own.
Because Amazon wants to play fair, right?
Edited to add Cora Buhlert’s fabulous tweets:
— Cora Buhlert (@CoraBuhlert) August 9, 2014
— Cora Buhlert (@CoraBuhlert) August 9, 2014
— Cora Buhlert (@CoraBuhlert) August 9, 2014
Catherine Schaff-Stump has a great post: she’s got a copy of Mists of Avalon, and would like to see people donate to RAINN because of the recent revelations about Marion Zimmer Bradley’s abuse of her children.
Here’s her post.
C.A. Starfire has an interview with Mark Greyland, the son of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen.
I thought everyone knew and that I was such a bad person no one would speak to me.
And, later, addressing the inheritance issue:
I was disinherited by language that sounded so unlike my mother that I knew she never wrote it, as was my sister and my half-brother who is now deceased.
The money went to the opera and to her lover.
In addition to the links C.A. Starfire provided, Mark previously permitted me to share two of his Zazzle links: Stringbreaker and Geofractal.
I bought the Space Kitten! t-shirt (partly from the proceeds of Scalzi t-shirts, so thank you for your support).
It doesn’t make up for the hurt I inadvertently caused Mark, but I really do love that piece.
In other news, given a significant number of my website hits are about Marion Zimmer Bradley and are likely to continue to be, I’ve added that as a category. Previously, it was just a tag. So I’m going back and re-categorizing older posts on this matter.
There have been some super-interesting conversations about Marion Zimmer Bradley’s work in the context of larger discussions on the artist vs. their art. I think we all know that all artists are flawed, but clearly some flaws are larger than others.
For those of you who don’t yet know, I broke the news about Marion Zimmer Bradley‘s child abuse of her daughter Moira last month.
I haven’t heard the artist vs. art argument said quite this succinctly, so I’m quoting Broomstick from The Straight Dope boards:
When evaluating a novel it doesn’t get better if the author is a saint, and it doesn’t get worse if the author is a sinner, it’s the same book either way.
Every art contains, to some extent, the artist’s worldview. How could it not? And yet it is a thing distinct and unto itself, though with a context. The meaning you read into it depends on the context you bring into it, too.
And the context you miss depends upon your own life context, too.
When I was 11, Jane Fonda’s movie Klute came out, and my parents took me with them. I can cheerfully say that most of the movie went “whoosh” right over my head. If I saw it today, I’d see a completely different film.
It’s that old Heraclitus quote:
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
And that may be one reason not to re-read a previously-loved book, like a Darkover book or Mists of Avalon, after finding out Marion Zimmer Bradley’s failings.
Because the context is different for you even though the book hasn’t changed.
And then there’s the other killer comment, from ShipperX on LJ:
With MZB it’s the sexual nature of her work combined with the sexual nature of her atrocities that has me backing away. ::shudder::
Alison Flood of The Guardian wrote this piece about Moira’s revelations about her mother Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Damien Walter has another piece, “How far can culture heroes’ work stand apart from their lives?”
From William H. Patterson’s book Robert A. Heinlein, Vol 2: In Dialogue with His Century Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better, p. 263.
At just that moment, in fact, science-fiction fandom was tearing itself apart over the preemptive cancellation of the membership of a suspected pedophile by PacifiCon, the most recent world science-fiction convention, in September 1964. This conflict might have passed the Heinleins by, except that the suspected pedophile was the husband of one of Heinlein’s more intimate correspondents, Marion Zimmer Bradley. Heinlein never commented on the “Breen Boondoggle” publicly, but to Bradley Heinlein wrote:
The fan nuisance we were subjected to was nothing like as nasty as the horrible things that were done to you two but it was bad enough that we could get nothing else done during the weeks it went on and utterly spoiled what should have been a pleasant, happy winter. But it resulted in a decision which has made our life much pleasanter already and which I expect to have increasingly good effects throughout all the years ahead. We have cut off all contact with organized fandom….I regret that we will miss meeting some worthwhile people in the future as a result of this decision. But the percentage of poisonous jerks in the ranks of fans makes the price too high; we’ll find our friends elsewhere.
Fortunately, not all their fan contacts were so unpleasant.
You know, I’ve never been a Heinlein fan either, but this takes my non-fandom to new depths. Guess they never cared how pleasant the winter of the kids would be. Patterson’s a piece of work, too.
For context, Mark D. Eddy adds:
For context, though, Heinlein had already had a series of negative experiences with fans and conventions (including a fan who was harassing friends and family to try to write an unauthorized biography for a publisher Heinlein wouldn’t write for), and was already distancing himself from the “poisonous jerks” — so all he apparently knew about the situation was filtered through MZB, who was hardly an uninterested party.
Which is a fair point. While it’s always good to get as much of both sides of the story as possible, there’s a real human failing believing the predator’s side of the story. (See also: STK’s comment on the deirdre.net version of this entry.)
Hat tip: RPG.net commenter The Scribbler.
Note: I’m also tagging all of the posts with the breendoggle tag to make it easier to find in the future.
Also: When asked, Can this be true? The MZB click thrus are upsetting., Deborah J. Ross, author of many books set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover universe, replied, Only half the story is being told. Please be careful about believing sensationalist rumors online.
Note: I’ve edited out a couple of paragraphs from the original post as Deborah has apologized for her ill-considered tweet.
In light of that apology, I’ve deleted my unnecessarily harsh snark but am leaving the context above intact.
Trigger Warning: child rape
Just when I thought I was done with this….
One thing that’s come out of shining light into dark corners is that the original “Breendoggle” from 1963 has now been posted online. If it was online before, Google couldn’t find it, only documented references to it.
Bill Donaho wrote the original piece in 1963.
What this gives is contemporary accounts, some second- and third-hand, of recent events as of that time.
You know, the year before Marion Zimmer Bradley married Walter Breen.
So I really want you to think that she married him the year after this report about what happened between Breen and a three-year-old in public view of others.
The second cause was Walter’s sex play with 3-year old P———– —————-. He had her trained up to the point where she would take off her clothes the minute she saw him. He would then “rub her down” and all that. I recall one occasion — a fairly large gathering at the Nelsons — in which he also used a pencil, rubbing the eraser back and forth in the general area of the vagina, not quite masturbating her. (Walter is incredible.) Many people were somewhat displeased by this — most particularly her parents. No one thought he was actually psychologically damaging P——— (she being so young) — obviously —– and —- would have interfered if they thought he had been — but the spectacle was not thought to be aesthetically pleasing. Years later Walter found out about the reaction and said, “But why didn’t somebody say something! I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing it if I’d thought someone objected.”
I seriously wonder what I’d say to proposal of marriage from someone who’d been thusly accused, because “Are you fucking kidding me?” fails the adequacy test.
I do want to say that there are some changes in understanding about psychological harm that have come since then. The survivor stories weren’t being widely told back then.
Also, given what’s in the Breendoggle, if that’s true, I think 150 is probably a low victim count for Breen.
Related link: The Adverse Child Experiences Study
Dr. Vincent Felitti is talking about people who defied his predictions about how people became obese:
The turning point in Felitti’s quest came by accident. The physician was running through yet another series of questions with yet another obesity program patient: How much did you weigh when you were born? How much did you weigh when you started first grade? How much did you weigh when you entered high school? How old were you when you became sexually active? How old were you when you married?
“I misspoke,” he recalls, probably out of discomfort in asking about when she became sexually active – although physicians are given plenty of training in examining body parts without hesitation, they’re given little support in talking about what patients do with some of those body parts. “Instead of asking, “How old were you when you were first sexually active,” I asked, “How much did you weigh when you were first sexually active?’ The patient, a woman, answered, ‘Forty pounds.’”
He didn’t understand what he was hearing. He misspoke the question again. She gave the same answer, burst into tears and added, “It was when I was four years old, with my father.”
He suddenly realized what he had asked.
“I remembered thinking, ‘This is only the second incest case I’ve had in 23 years of practice’,” Felitti recalls. “I didn’t know what to do with the information. About 10 days later, I ran into the same thing. It was very disturbing. Every other person was providing information about childhood sexual abuse. I thought, ‘This can’t be true. People would know if that were true. Someone would have told me in medical school.’ ”
Of the 286 people whom Felitti and his colleagues interviewed, most had been sexually abused as children. As startling as this was, it turned out to be less significant than another piece of the puzzle that dropped into place during an interview with a woman who had been raped when she was 23 years old. In the year after the attack, she told Felitti that she’d gained 105 pounds.
“As she was thanking me for asking the question,” says Felitti, “she looks down at the carpet, and mutters, ‘Overweight is overlooked, and that’s the way I need to be.’”
The other way it helped was that, for many people, just being obese solved a problem. In the case of the woman who’d been raped, she felt as if she were invisible to men. In the case of a man who’d been beaten up when he was a skinny kid, being fat kept him safe, because when he gained a lot of weight, nobody bothered him.
That last? I very much relate to. I stopped being harassed on the street when I gained weight.
Next time you see someone morbidly obese, consider what the hell kind of problem is that big. Then look at the obesity problem in a new way and prepare to be stunned.
Side note: The MZB Literary Works Trust, in its bio of Ms. Bradley, has expunged Walter Breen.
Side note: Corey Feldman video: Pedophilia is Hollywood’s biggest problem. Hat tip: Matt Wallace.
I’ll promote a paragraph from one of my comments into this post:
Many of us have been through some really dark times, and we have the pieces that spoke to our hearts that got us through those times. It genuinely gives me no joy to know that, for those whom MZB’s works were those pieces, I’ve dislodged that for them.
And I’ll add:
In addition to the lives she harmed, MZB’s works saved the lives of other people by speaking to them when other works and other people would not and/or did not.
Rachel E. Holmen, who worked as an editor for Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine said about Marion:
When she visited cons, ten or twenty young women an hour would stop by with stories along the lines of “Your books saved my life.”
There are other writers being published now who may speak to those same hearts, but if MZB is still the author that would help them, then I think it’s important that her work be available to do so. This doesn’t diminish her very real (and very severe) failings.
Rachel’s quote points out why we need diverse books by diverse writers that speak to diverse audiences.
Additionally, MZB gave a start to a lot of women writers—a higher percentage than anyone else in the genre at the time. Those writers helped pave the way for even more female voices in the genre.
“A Sword Called Rhonda” was in fact a parody of Mercedes Lackey’s works (specifically, Rhonda was a parody of Need), and Lackey was first published by MZB.
I think the Carl Sagan quote about books is a great way to end this.
See also: Paul St John Mackintosh’s article, “More on Marion Zimmer Bradley and the ethics of artists”, which takes a more intellectual approach.
Janni Lee Simner discusses what she and her husband did with the royalties they’d earned from sales to Marion’s anthologies. Thoughtful.
Moira Greyland (Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen’s daughter) has agreed to let me share her email.
This is really hard stuff to read, and I’ve just thrown up my lunch. I knew about none of this part of things until a few minutes ago.
It is a lot worse than that.
The first time she molested me, I was three. The last time, I was twelve, and able to walk away.
I put Walter in jail for molesting one boy. I had tried to intervene when I was 13 by telling Mother and Lisa, and they just moved him into his own apartment.
I had been living partially on couches since I was ten years old because of the out of control drugs, orgies, and constant flow of people in and out of our family “home.”
None of this should be news. Walter was a serial rapist with many, many, many victims (I named 22 to the cops) but Marion was far, far worse. She was cruel and violent, as well as completely out of her mind sexually. I am not her only victim, nor were her only victims girls.
I wish I had better news.
Followed up with:
It should also be noted that Walter was convicted on 13 counts of PC 288 A, B, C, and D.
Oral sex was the least of anyone’s worries.
I’ve updated this post to add two pieces by Moira Greyland with her permission. This is the first.
Reprinted with permission.
© 2000 Moira Stern (Moira Greyland) in “honor” of my mother, Marion Zimmer Bradley
I lost my mother late last year
Her epitaph I’m writing here
Of all the things I should hold dear
Remember Mother’s hands
Hands to strangle, hands to crush
Hands to make her children blush
Hands to batter, hands to choke
Make me scared of other folk
But ashes for me, and dust to dust
If I can’t even trust
They sent me sprawling across a room
The bathtub nearly spelled my doom
Explaining my persistent gloom
Remember Mother’s hands.
And hands that touched me way down there
I still pretend that I don’t care
Hands that ripped my soul apart
My healing goes in stop and start
Never a mark did she leave on me
No concrete proof of cruelty
But a cross-shaped scar I can barely see
The knife in Mother’s hands.
So Mother’s day it comes and goes
No Hallmark pretense, deep red rose
Except blood-red with her actions goes
It drips off Mother’s hands.
The worst of all my mother did
Was evil to a little kid
The mother cat she stoned to death
She told to me with even breath
And no remorse was ever seen
Reality was in between
Her books, her world, that was her life
The rest of us a source of strife.
She told me that I was not real
So how could she think I would feel
But how could she look in my eyes
And not feel anguish at my cries?
And so I give you Mother’s hands
Two evil, base, corrupted hands
And lest her memory forget
I’m still afraid of getting wet.
The bathtub scene makes me see red
With water closing over my head
No little girl should fear to die
Her mother’s fury in her eye!
But both her hands were choking me
And underwater again I’d be
I think she liked her little game
But I will never be the same
I’m still the girl who quakes within
And tries to rip off all her skin
I’m scared of water, scared of the dark
My mother’s vicious, brutal mark.
In self-admiring tones she told
Of self restraint in a story old.
For twice near death she’d beaten me,
And now she wants my sympathy.
I’ve gone along for quite awhile,
Never meant to make you smile
But here and now I make my stand
I really hate my mother’s hands.
By Moira Greyland
The cry of our day is to smile as we say
Something pat that sounds like understanding
And those of us left who still cry when bereft
Risk guilt trips upon our heads landing
Something pat that sounds like understanding
So the ones of us left Who still cry when bereft
Risk guilt trips upon our heads landing
For the party line now Is to claim that somehow
Everybody somehow did their best
So the ones who did wrong Goes the new New Age song
Aren’t to blame, we should lay this to rest.
But it’s lies, there are villains who are still out there killing
Or else for our courts there’s no need
Our jails are not filled With innocents willed
By a system corrupted with greed.
My mother did her best, yes she really did her best
To drown me for not being her willing lover
My daddy did his best, oh he really did his best
And forced his preteen boyfriends to bend over.
Some people are sick, like to make people suffer
Some people just turn a blind eye
But pretending a monster is ribbons and lace
May condemn a small child to die.
My husband was a cop and much child abuse had stopped
Like the mom who put her baby on the stove
She threw him out of sight but the smell she couldn’t hide
And she didn’t come out smelling like a rose.
Did that mommy do her best? Would you tell that little one
“Forgive her dear, she must have been insane”
Would you tell that to those burns, To that lie will you return
And hurt those shining eyes so full of pain?
A victim does his best, a victim does her best
To love and live and give up grief and malice
But when we had no love, but what came down from Above
It’s surprising we have not become more callous.
And how to learn to cope And not give up all my hope
Is painful far enough without your lies
But if you had seen me then With blood pouring off my skin
Would you have turned a deaf ear to my cries??
And told me “Mommy did her best, yes, she really did her best
So stop crying and stop bleeding and forgive her
To cut you she’s the right, and to throw you out of sight
And not love you till you sexually deliver!!
Thanks to Mike Glyer at File 770 for the heads up.
Before the post was yanked it drew a blistering response by Deirdre Saoirse Moen[…].
Leah Schnelbach wrote a piece on Tor.com for Marion Zimmer Bradley’s birthday. I’m not going to link to it.
In this case, I feel that what’s most important about Marion Zimmer Bradley isn’t that she wrote a bunch of stuff.
I feel that what’s important to remember about MZB is what she enabled that was unconscionable.
Let’s pull some tidbits of MZB in her own words out of her sworn testimony at two of her three depositions on the matter. Docs are up at my mirror of Stephen Goldin’s site.
Q. And to your knowledge, how old was [Victim X] when your husband was having a sexual relationship with him?
A. I think he was about 14 or possibly 15. I’m not certain.
Q. Were you aware that your husband had a sexual relationship with [Victim X] when he was below the age of 18?
A. Yes, I was.
Q. Can you tell me why you would publicly state that Walter was not a pedophile when you knew that he had been having sex with a minor child?
A. Because, as I said, [Victim X] did not impress me as a minor child. He was late in his teens, and I considered him — I think he would have been old enough to be married in this state legally, so I figured what he did sexually was his own business.
[Editor’s note: In point of fact, the boy was 10 and 11 at the time in question.]
And about Elisabeth Waters, two quotes from her own diary:
Q. Elisabeth Waters in her 10-8-89 diary, which was given to the police, indicates the following: Quote, “And I feel like a total idiot for not having said anything back when I thought Walter was molesting [Johnnt Doe 3] ten years ago. I guess it was just another case of,” quote, “‘Don’t trust your own perceptions when the adults are telling you you’re wrong.’
Q. I’m going to read to you from the 10-9-89 entry of Elisabeth Waters.
“Marion always said she’d divorce Walter if he did this again. She seems to think that he molested both [Victim X] and [Johnny Doe 4], but she was rather startled when I told her about the letter to Dr. Morin about [Johnny Doe 3]. She said that she thought Walter thought of [Johnny Doe 3] as a son.”
For me, the following is the real kicker.
Q. Where did you have this discussion with David where he thought he was too old for Walter?
A. When he was 15 or so.
Q. So at the time that David was 15, David informed you that he believed that your then husband was not propositioning him because at that point David was too old for Walter’s tastes?
A. I think that’s what he said. To the best of my memory, that’s what he said.
Q. So you were curious enough to ask your own son whether your husband had made a sexual proposition to him?
A. I wouldn’t say I was concerned enough. I would simply say the matter came up in conversation.
Now, I have to say that I didn’t know about this until three years ago, because people don’t talk about it. Stephen Goldin asked to be a panelist at Westercon, and I looked at his site.
(edited to add the following 2 paragraphs before the end)
I have pretty strong feelings about this in part because I had a roommate (and a friend) who had molested his own child in the past and who had been on the relative straight and narrow after a good deal of therapy. But part of why he’d come around is that no one was enabling him and he felt that he needed to change. I don’t know that he never relapsed, but I know how much of a struggle he had with it.
So he had the perspective of someone who knew what he was doing was wrong. I don’t see that MZB had that attitude. At. All.
Why do we give MZB more of a pass than we gave Ed Kramer? She defended her husband when he was (rightfully) thrown out of a con for being a child sexual predator. [Note: I conflated two events significantly far apart in time in this sentence. As many people have read it, I’m keeping it as written and adding a note. See this comment. At the time of the Breendoggle, most people did not know of Breen’s 1954 conviction, and thus many felt it was libel.]
(excerpted from a longer piece)
Ken said there was a science fiction convention coming up over Easter weekend. There would be gaming, which I was looking forward to. He was volunteering and said I should too. So I did, claiming that I was in fact over 18—required for volunteers at that con at that time—when I was still 17. Ken vouched for me, so I was trusted with tasks not ordinarily trusted a newbie.
It was 1977. Science fiction and fantasy films had been so awful since 2001 that I was severely underwhelmed. At that point, there had been only one Star Trek series. Star Wars wasn’t out yet. There hadn’t been a truly great science fiction film since 2001.
I hadn’t seen many fantasy films that hadn’t embarrassed the hell out of me to even have been in the theatre with them. Well, except for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was a movie that I actually disliked the first few times I was dragged to it by friends. Eventually, I grew to love it. There were well-intended box office successes like The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, but I remember it being cringeworthy, even apart from the Ray Harryhausen animation I never warmed to. The Rankin-Bass version of The Hobbit and the Bakshi film Wizards weren’t out yet. Nothing had touched what I felt was possible in books.
If you’d asked me in Easter 1977 what my favorite science fiction or fantasy film of the seventies had been thus far, I’d probably have answered Woody Allen’s Sleeper. For science fiction films, we’d had Silent Running, which at least was interesting despite being too slow. Then there was Zardoz, which regularly makes worst-of lists. Some of the choices were differently compelling, like Rollerball. I didn’t like it at the time, but came to appreciate it many years later. One could argue that The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a science fiction film in that it involved aliens. There was a bunch of crap like At the Earth’s Core and Journey to the Center of the Earth and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.
What there weren’t, however, were good space-based science fiction films. It just hadn’t been done since 2001.
When I arrived at my first science fiction convention, I wasn’t at all drawn by the media-related opportunities, of which there were many, including airings of some relatively recent science fiction and fantasy films.
So naturally, being young, personable and female, I was assigned to escort media guests around, to manage the situation if they were overwhelmed by fans, and to help them get anything they needed. Most of them got a few polite expressions of fannishness, but nothing that actually needed a escort. Still, it made them feel valuable, and it was interesting enough.
Many of the convention’s VIPs were guest actors from Star Trek episodes, and many of those actors were truly great people. Some were from even older shows, like Kirk Alyn, the first actor to play Superman. Over the times I volunteered at the con, I enjoyed being Kirk’s VIP guide the most. I remember him being charming and generous with his time.
This first time, though, I was assigned to accompany an actor whose big film was coming out later that year. He was quite the comic fan (where I was not), and I just remember that he was completely unremarkable to me as a person. I spent a lot of time standing next to him as he geeked out with various comic vendors about things coming out and favorite issues in common. Even though I read comics at the time, I genuinely didn’t understand his deep interest in the subject, and we had no favorite comics in common. Back then, I read Spiderman and Nova mostly, occasionally dipping into other books.
The next morning, I sat alone in the hotel restaurant eating breakfast while I listened to people describe said actor as dreamy. Oh, he was decent enough looking, blond and somewhat geeky, which normally was my thing. Just—not this time. Thus, I found the interest in him fascinating.
It wasn’t until the fifth time I saw Star Wars that it hit me that I’d spent my day accompanying Mark Hamill around the con. You know. Luke Skywalker.
Hamill is now older than Alec Guinness was when the filming of Star Wars began.
But still, you’d have much better odds at the craps table in Vegas than you would betting me to show up at WorldCon in 2014. Jay Lake, 2009
I found that while I was looking for a post I remembered, probably from 2009, about the depth of his fear that he’d have to go through a second round of chemo (he wound up going through several more than that—five?). I couldn’t find it, nor could I stand to look through the archives any longer just now.
I’ve never been able to say before, on the day someone died, “I had a great time at his wake last year.” That’s the kind of person Jay was.
I can’t remember exactly when I met Jay, but I think it was in 2002. It was definitely at a con, and I remember being in a low-density party room with Jay and Cassie Alexander, the only two people in that room at that time where I knew who they were.
Though I felt invisible, I became something of a fan. Later, when BayCon had invited Frank Wu (or, actually, I extended the invitation in person at Worldcon) for BayCon’s guest of honor, I started lobbying for Jay for Writer Guest of Honor. Kathryn Daugherty, who’d gotten to know Jay through the Worldcon circuit, thought that was a good idea, though generally BayCon was looking for higher-profile writers than Jay was at the time. (Specifically, they looked for a Hugo award or NY Times Bestseller. At that time, he’d had a bunch of short stories published, but no novels, though he’d won the Campbell award for Best New Writer.)
The singularly awesome moment, from my perspective, at that BayCon was Jay’s participation in “A Shot Rang Out.”
I invited my long-time friend Martin Young to speak. I knew he’d be fabulous at ASRO, but I also knew that I couldn’t tell Martin in advance what the concept was because he’d overthink it. So, a few minutes prior to the start of the panel, I stood in front of him and told him what it was all about.
“I hate you,” Martin said, not meaning it.
From a 2005 BayCon report.
Easily the highlight of Sunday (being one of two panels I got to sit in the audience for) was BayCon’s traditional “A Shot Rang Out” panel. It’s a simple concept and it depends so much on the people involved. This year, we had Hilary Ayer, Jane Mailander, Martin Young, Writer Guest of Honor Jay Lake, and Lee Martindale.
The concept: The story begins with “A shot rang out.” Each panelist must draw a slip out of a box and end their turn with that line. Anything in the middle goes. Jay Lake, when pulling one of his slips, asked, “Does this have to make any sense at all? The other panelists assured him not.
A few moments were especially worth noting.
Once, Martin ended his turn so spectacularly that Jay Lake, master of improv writing, couldn’t find a way to follow him. Jay ran across the stage and kissed Martin on the head, saying, “I have come to pledge my love for you, for no man has ever left me in such a hard place.”
Later, Martin pulled a slip and said, “Oh, f*, that’s a long one!”
Jay quipped, “Are you sure you said those words in the right order?”
For a few moments, no one could continue on, they were laughing so hard. Perfect retort.
He went on to publish Mainspring (which is an example of the kind of book I love but could never have written) and other novels.
Kathryn Daugherty and Jay Lake were diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer about the same time. Kathryn and I had never been best friends, but she was very influential in my life.
We’d recently been through a couple of rounds of cancer at the house: my mother had had endometrial cancer in 2006 and our cat Scruffy had a leg amputated after the reappearance of cancer.
It’s unusual for anyone with stage IV colorectal cancer to survive as long as Jay did; Kathryn died in 2012. He wanted to be there as long as possible for his daughter and went through hell to try to make that happen. He expressed so so many of his fears and doubts on his blog. If you ever need to know the pains and trials of being a cancer patient, so much of it is laid out in black and white on his blog. I think many of us had no idea what was involved in being a long-time cancer patient, and he blogged it in excruciating (and yet obviously incomplete) detail.
A little over a year ago, he was given his life walking papers in the form of a terminal diagnosis. For the first time, Rick and I made it up to the annual JayCon, then to JayWake.
In his wrapup, Jay said: “I have become medically interesting in two different ways, which is not really something you should aspire to.”
Because I believe OSC was right in telling the entire truth about a person after they pass:
K. Tempest Bradford makes a point.
Jay has asked for anyone wishing to make a contribution to do so to the Clayton Memorial Medical Fund.
Mary Robinette Kowal talks about having been helped by the fund.
One thing I’ve noticed, especially after I was widowed myself, is that people talk a lot about the deceased, but tend to forget about the people still living.
Lisa Costello is an amazing person, and she has been blogging about her own life.
Bronwyn, of course, will miss her daddy.
And Jay left a widow, Susan Lake, whom he sometimes referred to as “The Mother of The Child.”
Jay’s parents are still alive.
And there are many other family members and friends.
His obituary can be found here.
For those of you not tuned into the romance world, you may have missed the big kerfluffle over the RT Booklovers convention signing.
Like some of the smaller pro-heavy cons in SF/F that are open to all, namely World Fantasy and the SFWA Nebula Weekend, there’s a huge signing called the Giant Book Fair. At 1200 people, RT isn’t that much larger than a typical World Fantasy, but it does cost about three times as much and is far more program heavy.
I’ll tell you something: on the whole, no one buys books like romance readers. No one.
Furthermore, most of their favorite authors go, and most of them want to buy and get books autographed there at the con. A lot of the writers have giveaways (like samples of a new book or glossy cover cards for indie authors), so it pays to visit all the writers you care about.
I’ll tell you that, as an author, I’ve loved these kinds of signings. They can be awesome fun. Worst case, you wind up sitting next to an interesting writer you didn’t know before, give a couple of autographs, and talk to some people.
The problem: with there being more and more romance writers, and not enough space to set them all up in. So how did they divide them up?
By whether or not the books purchased were returnable, as Courtney Milan explains.
Now, if you were looking for a book in the computer section, would you think to look in an entirely different room because O’Reilly books aren’t (or at least weren’t, back when I worked in a bookstore) returnable?
Multiply that times 1200. Now add the fact that a significant fraction of the people who are writers and signing for people publish for both kinds of presses and therefore it’s not going to be clear to the average reader who is going to wind up where.
Worse, authors had to pick whether they were going to sign one kind of book or the other. So, if like Courtney Milan, you happened to have a number of books published traditionally, you had to decide if you wanted to be in that room or the other. The one where you might be perceived as not playing for the team with your traditional publisher, or where you’re not playing for yourself or your small press for your other works. It’s a horrible situation to put authors in, let alone trying to have readers find them.
Also, to give you an idea of the size of the rooms, one writer I follow on Twitter tweeted that her signing was in row 38.
There are no easy solutions on this one. I get that.
Note: I later changed the rule below due to the Amazon/Hachette tiff, putting Orbit books first.
Essentially, my policy is one Rick uses for other things: make it easy for me to help you. Orbit isn’t.
John Scalzi discusses Orbit’s decision to only include previews of their three nominees here.
This year’s kind of rare—I spent my year reading out of genre and have read exactly zero of the nominated novels.
My usual rule for book-length works is:
If it’s not in the Hugo Voter’s Packet, I don’t vote for it.
This year, I need to modify that:
If it’s not in the Hugo Voter’s Packet in complete form, I don’t vote for it.
Why? Because not providing a nominated book says to me that the Hugo Awards aren’t perceived as valuable by the publisher. Why should I reward that?
Meanwhile, this weekend attendees at RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans are getting a thumb drive with 349 books. Self-published books, granted, but who has more to lose (or gain) than they do? (I have one of those, fwiw, Felt Tips: Office Supply Erotica, edited by Tiffany Reisz.)
There are a few modifiers to my rules:
If I read a book in a Hugo packet and I love the book, I will buy it if I hadn’t already. So, in that sense, being nominated already means I’m more likely to a) read the book and b) buy the book than any other random book published last year.
I no longer read print books, and not being a Kindle person, I don’t do ebook library loans.
In general, there are 1-2 Hugo-shortlisted novels per year that I’d buy. Stross wrote my favorite book, and the nominated book is the third in a series (and I haven’t read the first two in that series). Ann Leckie’s been getting a lot of buzz, I just hadn’t gotten around to buying and reading her book yet. And I’m so far behind on Mira Grant books that it’s not funny (though this one’s in a new series, so there’s that). All three are affected by Orbit’s decision not to put entire books in the packet. Here’s the joint post by the three affected Orbit authors.
I’ve already established that I’ll be putting Larry dead last. (Edit: to clarify, I mean in reading order. Since I haven’t yet read his book, I’m not sure where I’d rank it on the ballot, but I can say it’s unlikely I’ll get to it during the voting period.) Why? I don’t mind hearing people say, “I liked this, it’s eligible, I think you could check it out,” but I think that putting together a slate crosses the line. (This is aside from any issues of what he did or didn’t recommend.) So he goes after the whole Orbit crowd.
(cue dramatic music)
I guess I’ll go about finally reading The Wheel of Time then. (Those books on the shelf? Rick’s. I almost never read incomplete series.)
Tentative reading order, possibly to be modified later:
If Orbit provided full books, my reading order would likely be:
I was asked on LJ what the problems were with PDF:
Total pain in the ass.
I honestly can’t get into a book that takes that much attention just to read. I’ve tried before, and not voted before. The last time I tried was a Cat Valente nominee (Palimpsest).
“Tool of the Matriarchy” is an expression mentioned in the series of John Scalzi’s tweets that led to the “Traitor to the Mens” t-shirts.
I’ve been working on getting the right look to try to communicate the intended tone with something that’d print well. I just haven’t been feeling really well (yay fibro), so I’m going to take the weekend off and have it ready Monday morning.
I’m really enjoying this t-shirt thing. Back in the day, I used to do abstract screen prints in like 5-10 layers and print my own shirts, doing all the photo separations myself. I’ve always enjoyed screen printing, though I haven’t done any in ages.
Then, once upon a time, there was a very limited series of Deirdre’s Pet Geek t-shirts.
I’ve designed other t-shirts, including a convention t-shirt for BayCon one year, and a couple of commissions over the years.
Available now: dark background t-shirt, light background t-shirt, and prints, stickers, posters, and cards.
If you need a size bigger than 3x or don’t like American Apparel shirts, then I also put them on Zazzle, which is slightly more expensive than Redbubble. dark background t-shirt, light background t-shirt.
John Scalzi said: I think I’m going to make a t-shirt that says “TRAITOR TO THE MENS” on it.
I offered to do the design.
He replied: DO EEEET
So here we are. Here’s John Scalzi’s background story for the phrase.
I offered in part because the very night before I was on a graphics site and had skipped over a free mustache graphic element because, and I quote, “I’ll never use that.”
When Scalzi mentioned the t-shirt idea, of course, it was the first thing that came to mind. As it turns out, I didn’t use that one I’d seen, I used one in a font I had.
Plus, thanks to Design Cuts and their awesome graphics bundles, I had—no joke—twelve gigabytes of new graphics toys chomping at the bit waiting to be used. I really wasn’t kidding about collecting grunge textures.
I want to give credit to the designers for the elements I’ve used, top to bottom.
Bottom type layer: Veneer, color white.
Middle type layer: Veneer 2, color yellow.
Top type layer: Veneer 3, color red.
Cool effect, huh? That’s just three of the six variations. That said, I didn’t think multiple colors worked as well for the t-shirt. Usually, you’d use colors closer together, too, but I was illustrating the concept rather than using it in a larger design.
Russell Miller’s amazing book about L. Ron Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah, sued into oblivion in the United States, is finally going to be re-published. Tony Ortega article.
About the private investigator Scientology frequently uses for harassment:
Eugene Ingram was certainly the major figure, because later on they then tracked down virtually everybody I knew in the United States and Europe. I mean, it was amazing to me. They found every single person I knew in the United States, and I knew a lot of people there because I worked there frequently. So they were in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington, and it always seemed to be Eugene Ingram turning up.
What you may not know: after I left Scientology, and again in 1995, Eugene Ingram went around to all my friends, exes, and known ties telling them crap about me.
Even more amazing about Russell Miller’s re-publication is Marty Rathbun’s apology for his part in the dirty tricks. For those who don’t know, Marty has not historically been big on apologizing for this kind of stuff. Good on him.
As he says:
I encourage people to purchase his book once available and read it. Not just because it will make me feel a bit better about my own efforts to suppress it, but because I believe it is essential reading for anyone involved with Scientology.
We don’t know each other, but we have something in common: a former relationship with Scientology. Only I didn’t grow up at its centre, then in East Grinstead, Sussex, the way you did. I got in when I was 18.
I read your piece Storms and how they start, and I get that Jonathan Ross is your friend. That isn’t a problem for me. What is a problem? Is failure to understand that your friend was always a problematic choice for hosting the Hugos, which I will get to.
One of the problems of the culture of Scientology is that you’re not supposed to talk about things that other people do to upset you, lest you yourself get told to get to Ethics and write up everything you’ve done. Or, worse, have to pay for a bunch of sessions to “handle” the whole thing. It takes the stiff upper lip thing to the next level, so it’s hard to hear a bunch of complaints and realize there is legitimacy to them.
Your dad was one of the most problematic people in Scientology. He ordered false information put in US security agency computers. He was involved, though not to the point of being an unindicted co-conspirator, in Operation Snow White, the largest civilian intrusion into US government systems to date. He took over for Jane Kember after she was convicted. Your dad, as Public Relations official for the Scientology’s Guardian’s Office Worldwide, was involved in cleaning up L. Ron Hubbard’s PR disasters, such as the chain locker abuses on the ships, particularly the incidents involving children. One disaster was throwing Mary Sue Hubbard under the bus after she was convicted in Operation Snow White. (She arguably got the best treatment by Hubbard of any of his wives.)
But still—David Gaiman was your dad.
Before we go further, I’d like to say: thank you for being a better person than he was, speaking as someone who was harassed by techniques your dad took a hand in developing.
However, better is relative here. I think the statement you made about your affiliation with Scientology (“As a child, I suppose I was as much a Scientologist as I was Jewish, which is to say it was the family religion. Am I now? No.”) was disingenuous given that a) you married a Scientologist before (not Amanda, obviously) and b) non-Scientologists don’t fork over $35,000 for obscure religious level contributions of benefit only to long-standing Scientologists. Sure, I believe you’re not a Scientologist now.
Still, that conditioning is hard to break. Hubbard and David Gaiman, among others, developed strategies specifically for silencing critics. So I can’t help but wonder if there’s a part of you still stuck in the “what are your crimes?” victim-blaming of critics that your father perfected.
Given that kind of a background, I can understand why you might have overlooked why Jonathan Ross was a problematic choice.
The best explanation I’ve read is Patton Oswalt’s post about rape jokes:
In fact, every viewpoint I’ve read on this, especially from feminists, is simply asking to kick upward, to think twice about who is the target of the punchline, and make sure it isn’t the victim.
Now, with that in mind, let’s look at these ten moments of Jonathan Ross’s. I’ll pick three.
What the people tweeting didn’t like? They didn’t want a Hugo announcer to kick downward. They had a reasonable fear that he would.
Look, I get that comedians tend to go too far. It’s how they find out where the edges are. But as a culture, SF/F fandom is still trying to cope with how to stop kicking downward. For that reason, Ross was simply the wrong choice. Oswalt again:
We bomb all the time. We go too far all the time. It’s in our nature. […]
I’m a man. I get to be wrong. And I get to change.
What I’d like, Neil, is for you to consider one thing: maybe the people who objected to Ross had a valid point. And maybe you just didn’t see that point while reeling at the backlash.
It’s not too late to look again in a new unit of time.
In 2010, with a steadily growing backlist and fan base, my income turned us from sweating over every dollar to being able to go out to a nice dinner (not terribly expensive, just not “fries with that”), and in 2011, the royalties roughly equaled what I’d been making at my previous day job. In 2012, it doubled. In 2013, it doubled again. It’s entirely possible the pattern will continue in 2014.
Another pull quote:
As of right now, Aleks has 32 books on Amazon. Between my two pen names, I have 66. It’s not just novels, either. We both have short stories and novellas, which frequently don’t make it into print except in collections or magazines. Those collections and magazines tend to pay token amounts if at all — contributor’s copies are common — whereas I’ve made over $8,000 from a novella published in 2011. Aleks and I co-wrote a short story that was released last year and has made each of us just under $2,000.
In 2008 I sold a book-in-progress for $200,000 ($170,000 after commission, to be paid in four installments), which still seems to me like a lot of money. At the time, though, it seemed infinite. The resulting book—a “paperback original,” as they’re called—has sold around 8,000 copies, which is about a fifth of what it needed to sell not to be considered a flop. This essentially guarantees that no one will ever pay me that kind of money to write a book again.
Having only one book and having its marketing be at the mercy of a big house’s ad budget is having no Plan B. Lori’s plan B was to write more words. That has been really successful for her—she’s made most of her living writing gay romance and is now making four times her old day job doing it. Granted, it took her a while to wind up, but go look at the titles on her site and count up how many, many words she published.
Note that these two women are talking about publishing in approximately the same timespan, and both are talking different forms of traditional publishing. Most of Lori’s titles are digital first, and many are digital only. She’s self-published a couple of items off her backlist.
As a random geeky aside, I love the fact that the number 8,000 figures in both stories in very different ways. I believe the novella that Lori refers to is this one, which is science fiction (despite the use of the word “vampire” in the description).
Best related work: Fic by Anne Jamison, a history of fanfiction.
Best fan artist: Randall Munroe. Last cartoon of the year is 1311 and first of 2013 was 1155 (thank you @xkcdfeed). Three of note: 1158 (it’s all about physics), 1167 (Star Trek Into Darkness), 1177 (Time Robot). For those who feel he isn’t eligible, he was ruled eligible in 2011 and the rules have not changed. Further discussion here.
Best dramatic presentation, short form: Flying Tiare by Matthieu Courtois and Ludovic Allain. Made as a fan film for the airline’s 15th birthday, it’s a real look at the technology and work of commercial flying. The really cool part, though, is seeing someone go up into the jet engine and get to see the (running) engine from the inside.
I’d already posted a recommendation for: Short story: “The Slow Winter” by James Mickens, so just a reminder.
The 2014 Cambellian Anthology is out! It features 860,000 words (eight-ish novels in size) from 111 different writers who are eligible for the Campbell award this year. Totally, completely free.
I want to offer my immense gratitude to Stupefying Stories for this. More than any other single award, I try to be well-read for the Campbell, and it used to be a real chore before Writertopia started keeping the eligibility list. Stupefying Stories took it to the next level with the clever idea to have an annual anthology.
Also, immense gratitude (and props) to the authors and publishers who’ve permitted their work to be included.
Special shout-out for Brooke Bolander, who is one of the eligible.
Best dramatic presentation, long form: Sharknado. As billed. Loved it, and I’m not normally up for this kind of thing. Definitely smarter than it had to be.
I want to apologize to Mary for doing that. Mary, if you are reading this, I really am very sorry for my inconsiderate and insensitive response to the question, and my later posts. Our estrangement (admittedly by my own choice) has been painful to me, and I should not have done this to you, nor should I do such a thing to anyone. I don’t expect us to become friends again, but I hope for the sake of our earlier friendship, and what you did know of me, that you will believe the sincerity of my apology. In any event, I fully intend to leave you in peace, Mary, and I wish you continued success.
Update: Mary accepts. (My bad on the initial wording of this; I was chatting online at the time about the wording of Sean’s apology and made an unfortunate gaffe. I have not actually seen Mary’s post, but others have linked to it and hope it comes back online soon.)
Note: as of this update, the site with the linked-to posts is down. Screencaps on Pretty Terrible post here.
Here are my core values:
I also want to say that there’s a very real “tone argument” problem with the way one of the sff.net posts was treated (linked above). Yes, the content is problematic, but there is an underlying point.
Let me translate it without the tone problem:
Now, given the current blow-up, you might think that’s a good thing. I don’t know about that, I’ve known him for quite a few years and have always thought, as Scalzi says, that he is generally a decent and good person. People hit their breaking points in strange ways. He apparently hit his.
Partial aside: I think Susan’s post about communities is important, and I agree. And yeah, I can relate to the hurt/comfort narrative she alludes to (and, full disclosure, also guilty of posting comfort in the thread she mentions). It’s one of the reasons I don’t read LJ or FB much.
There’s a very real difference in how “usenet” people and “web forum” people interact and how they like to receive their information. The usenet approach has always been less controlled and more decentralized. Posts can be canceled, but not edited. There are managers, but they’re very hands off. The forum approach is far more about active management, including editing of posts. Or deleting them wholesale.
Like this one, riffing off this post on my site and its followup:
This was exactly my point. Stop creating more legal and moral debt. Even a non-exclusive right diverts the authors’ sales into what are essentially Vera’s pockets at present.
Oh, and, in a related note: stop trying to show that they are loyal to you, and instead show that you are loyal to them (and their bottom lines) — by reverting all rights. That’s the only statement that’s unambiguous and clear.
Now, I could have rephrased and posted something milder after the above two paragraphs were censored, but I’m going to point something out right now: that someone is still a member of SFWA. So, if you read that thread on sfwa.org forums (sans my bit o’ content), you might not realize that you’d actually get more real information if you’d just saved your SFWA membership $ and read the Absolute Write thread instead.
So back to the thing I said I’d talk about. Many of us who were active on sff.net found that we couldn’t get sfwa.org logins that stuck. It’d work for a day or two, then not work. Then we’d ask for a reset, none would come, then we’d whine again. Everyone complained in the sff.net SFWA Lounge.
Honestly, it never occurred to me that we were being deliberately kept out, but that seems to be the narrative now. Also, I volunteered more than once, do web development for a living and not once was I even contacted to help.
I very nearly quit SFWA over it.
So I can understand why Member the First would have been upset. I understand why he quit. And I can understand why he might still be angry about it, even having experienced only what I have. The rest? I don’t understand that.
There were and are very real problems, and there’s a lot of pent-up anger from people who’d been SFWA members for a long time who have felt shut out for years.
This takes us back to core value #1, doesn’t it?
Speaking of: there’s a reason that while my name is on this timeline, I’m one of the very few who never got a letter from a lawyer, raided, sued, or stuff like that. When sides are disagreeing loudly, you’ll generally find me in the buffer zone.
Edit to respond to a couple of points raised in private conversations:
1. This was about persistent trouble getting onto the SFWA.org site, not the sff.net one.
2. I was asked if I knew of other incidents involving Member the First. I had never heard of any until this recent incident.
I’ll say this, just so it’s clear: if there were people who “should be” blacklisted for any reason other than people who had previously behaved badly on panels at at a convention I’m working on (which, frankly, was only a very few people and as many women as men), I’ve never been privy to any list of people guilty of bad behavior. I have been on the programming staff of a Worldcon and programming head for a Westercon and several regional conventions.
The kind of bad behavior I’ve heard of (these are real things that happened): monopolizing conversation on a panel so hard that con ops had to be called to shut the panel down before it erupted into violence; blowing off a panel with the other panelists and taking the Guest of Honor offsite so they missed an important event, then gaslighting the programming staff. Then there’s the episode with Harlan Ellison, the Klingons, and the speakers playing loud dance music…. (Harlan won.)
Footnote to add link to later apology.
“Premature optimization is the root of all evil.” — Donald Knuth
Case in point.
People have lost their jobs over about as much. Case in point.
And—to what purpose? Really?
I get that, as science fiction and fantasy writers, “if this goes on” is one of our primary memes. It’s the launching point for many book ideas. We’ve all got more than a little Philip K. Dick in us. Institutional paranoia isn’t a bad thing to have, up to a point.
I understand the very real sexism of aiming that fear at the highest woman on the SFWA board at one point—and not at her male peers. Mary’s post is worth reading. As is Scalzi’s. I get the sexism, especially after as long as I’ve spent in the computer industry.
No one is obligated to like anyone, but Mary is a colleague of ours, and I expect Mary to be treated with the same professional courtesy that (most of) you would treat your favorite of the genre’s masters if they were suddenly to walk into your living room.
I can’t help but think, though, that if premature optimization weren’t such a human tendency, none of this would have happened.
Knuth’s point about premature optimization is about wasted effort. Many engineering projects fail because a lot of effort is spent optimizing in area A when area B is a substantially more significant problem in the actual use case. It’s just that area A’s problems were seen earlier.
In the current SFWA thing, the premature petition put a drag on all of our time and energy due to the very real problems that surfaced as a result of the initial premature optimization. I’m being kind here: the petition itself was ill-conceived, and quite a few people spent time working on it that they undoubtedly could have better spent doing other things.
Look, I know it’s a Myers-Briggs J vs. P approach to problems thing. Truly I do. Even as someone who is very, very P, I sometimes have to tell myself “Wait.” Still.
When it comes to events here in reality, respond to reality.
You can spend a lot of effort heading off potential problems that would never become actual problems.
There is a long tradition of lobbying against laws being passed, and that’s arguably not premature optimization when we have the text of the proposed bill. But there’s also the fact that every single progressive mailing list I’m on has asked me to rail against certain proposed bills that had no chance of passing. Unfortunately, some bills we thought had no chance of passing occasionally do anyway.
It’s a different thing when a law passes than when a relatively small organization makes a structural change, though. I’m not going to say that SFWA is agile, but it’s at least arguably more agile than a government.
Worth reading: Mark Tiedemann, “On The Extraction of Feet From Mouths”. I’m glad something good came out of all this. (Note: post is from last June, so is about the issue that the current controversy is responding to, not the current controversy per se).
Popehat writer Ken White gives an awesome legal analysis of the defamation lawsuit threat.
New word? There are no Google hits for it.
So last year, SFWA Bulletin put out a set of dialogues by Michael Resnick and Barry Malzberg that contained some wanksplaining about the history of women in professional science fiction circles, to wit:
She was competent, unpretentious, and beauty pageant gorgeous … as photographs make quite clear…[S]he was a knockout as a young woman. …
According to Margaret, during its first few years of existence CFG was populated exclusively by men. Then Bea joined. Then the members’ wives got a look at Bea in her swimsuit at the 1950 Midwestcon. Then the club’s makeup changed to the 50% men and 50% women that has existed ever since.
(I really don’t understand the causality link between the last two sentences. Were the women in question all bi?)
Anyhow, Scalzi posted about that, and, rather than having the task of any Bulletin issues fall on the President, it was decided that a review board would be a good idea. You know, like most professional associations have.
Scalzi didn’t re-rerun, and Steven Gould became SFWA president (which was already in place when the Bulletin issue occurred). Steven’s probably best known as the author of Jumper (later turned into a movie), but he’s currently collaborating with James Cameron on forthcoming Avatar universe things.
You know, he’s a working writer. Working.
The whole thread of the current uproar, if you can call it that, over the review board is linked here.
What wasn’t linked from that page, but was forwarded to me, was the body of an email from Silverberg that included this gem:
A bunch of us, including Messrs Ellison, Spinrad, Gene Wolfe, Resnick, Malzberg, Benford, RS, etc., plus Nancy Kress, CJ Cherryh, Mercedes Lackey, and others, thought that a writers’ organization should not be repealing the First Amendment and have put together a petition objecting to this review board.
That would be Harlan “I did not grab Connie Willis’s breast” Ellison. Video here. Note that he’s being disingenuous about verbs. (I was in the audience.)
Look, I was head of programming for a convention and we had Harlan for a Special Guest. He groped one of my staff during that con. I heard he groped other people, too, though I didn’t speak to them about it. I heard nothing about it until after the con, though.
If Harlan’s the first person you put on a list saying you don’t want a review board because y’all are fuckwits?
Y’all are fuckwits squared.
I don’t care what gets you all off. I don’t care about your male gaze. Sure, I like attractive (for my definitions of same) people on covers of things, on posters, in movies, in books, all that kind of thing. But what I consider attractive isn’t just about looks. It’s about actions, and y’all are being fugly.
So stop your wanksplaning and try being a tiny bit professional for a change. Steven Gould sure has been. If I’d gotten the first email from Truesdale that he’d gotten, I’d probably have just written a reply that said, “Smeg off” and put him in my filters so his name would never darken my internet doorway again. After all, Truesdale isn’t a SFWA member.
All SFWA wants is an editorial board, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to have. As C. C. Finlay rightly points out, editing is not censorship.
On the cover specifically….
Last year, I posted a picture with 25 (note: fixed this; it did originally say 30) erotic romance covers. This was in response to Resnick’s claim about beefcake on romance covers. Out of those 26, there are men (in any representation) on only 13 of those 25. (There are women on the cover of 19, and 2 have no people on the cover.)
Of the 13, 5 feature only fully-clothed men. One man has bare shoulders, but you can’t see further than that. Absolutely zero of them feature bare male thighs (though five have some depiction of bare female thighs). So let’s not pretend that the sexualization of men and women is the same because it’s not, not even when books are marketed to women and explicitly about sex. Cover I think is the hottest? This one, because men in suits leaning on things are hot.
But — none of the twenty-five covers — none — out of this selection of erotic romances I’d recently read have a woman in as sexualized a pose (or as scantily clad) as the cover of SFWA Bulletin 200.
When I went to a writer’s conference last fall, the most valuable single line I heard was this one: “A one-star review means that the wrong reader has found your book.”
It’s actually quite a profound statement if you think about it.
What a book cover (or magazine cover) is supposed to do is to give you an expectation of what’s inside. It’s to set the mood for what’s within. So how does that cover of SFWA Bulletin 200 work for you now?
See also: You only hate boobs because you hate freedom.
Dear Twelve Rabid Weasels of SFWA, please shut the fuck up. and My very complicated reaction to issue 202 of the Bulletin which has some great commentary in particular. Bennett North on Objectifying Women Is Not a Constitutional Right.
I also love this comment: “The irony about complaining about editing by committee before publication in order to complain about editing by committee before publication seems lost on him.” (source)
I had missed this piece from March 2012, even though it quotes me.
Because I’ve never posted this on my own blog and I think it’s important, I’m going to quote what I posted over on John Brown’s.
If you haven’t seen documentation about Scientology’s systemic abuses, you really have been avoiding looking, frankly. I’ve got some links on my WotF-tagged posts.
How can Galaxy Press afford to keep the anthologies in print, you might ask? Because I assure you, they benefit from the church’s own internal human trafficking to do so.
You may not know that Scn owns their own presses, operated by Bridge Publications. There’s frankly no way, despite their claims of massive sales, they could afford to keep the anthologies in print using commercial printers, especially the older anthologies where the sales have tapered off.
Here’s a lawsuit from a former Bridge staffer who, as a minor, severed a finger in a guillotine that had no safety guards. Minors are prohibited by federal law from operating such equipment, and Montalvo was offered no compensation.
Meanwhile, workers at Bridge Publications? Are Sea Org, and Sea Org women are prohibited from having children and coerced into abortions. I have a post about that here.
The camera crew for the event come from Gold Base, where the security is insane. Look at the inward-facing motion detectors, razor wire, spikes — all designed to keep people in (granted, as well as out).
These are the working conditions for the people who actually make the bright shiny anthologies so that people can say there’s no connection. It’s not just about the surface details, that’s just gloss.
Here’s the California penal code for human trafficking.
d1: Scn does this with Sea Org staff. Don’t believe me? Look at the spikes in the link above.
d2: Scn controls passports and IDs of its Sea Org staff.
e: Scn does this with Sea Org.
Watch the testimonies from the Human Trafficking Conference. Of these, Will Fry’s is most relevant as he was actually Sea Org at Bridge Publications.
Look deeper. I will be.
Until then, ponder: what social costs are you willing to pay to get a check for a few hundred or a few grand and have your story perpetually in print?
As Nick Mamatas has pointed out, you have been recruited. Your post is proof that you are indeed doing PR for them with this post.
I remember talking with Tony before this story went to print. One of the things he said was that he couldn’t use Montalvo as a source because the case had settled. However, I’m not bound by the same rules of a journalist. The lawsuit is a matter of public record.
Sometime when I wasn’t looking, Crystal updated our itinerary for Pitcairn with the following: “No organized shore excursions are planned on Pitcairn Island, as guests will not proceed ashore.”
Well, that sucks.
It’s one of the remotest settlements on earth, remnants of the Mutiny on the Bounty crew. I was wondering how 900+ guests (plus all the crew) would manage to go ashore on an island that has no harbour (or airport or, for that matter, cars) and only 50 inhabitants.
On the other hand, they will bring their longboats out and do some trade, so it’s still possible that something cool will come of it all.
However, as this affects one of the perks of my So You Want to Travel the World Indiegogo campaign, I’ve unfortunately had to remove the Virtual Pitcairn offering. It’s possible I’ll be able to add some modified version of the offering given that we will be there.