That SFWA petition

There’s something Wrong On The Internet again, and that something seems to be an awful incoherent reactionary petition aimed at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. I won’t link to the thing; you can always Google if you enjoy being outraged at entitled prejudiced drivel. While the author of the petition, someone I’d not previously heard of, appears to be a sexist dick, I’m rather disappointed that one of my all time favourite SF authors appears to have signed the thing.

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13 Responses to That SFWA petition

  1. Serdar says:

    I’m learning not to be surprised that many of the people I admire as artists have social views that range from the questionable to the OH GOD HELL NO.

  2. Tim Hall says:

    Which always begs the question about how much you should seperate the art from the artist.

  3. Serdar says:

    It’s easier to do that with someone who’s dead than with someone who’s alive (something I’ve noted before). With someone who’s alive, though, I take a sliding scale. If they’re just personally dissolute (drugs, alcohol, etc.), I can live with that, since I don’t have to live with them or marry them — although I may question whether or not I want to give them my money, since I’ll be indirectly funding their own dissolution by doing so. But if they’re saying manifestly batty things that I can’t support in any form — not polite disagreements, but put-’em-on-the-boat-and-send-’em-to-Madagascar-level insanity — then I’m not going to feel a loss if my lives are not enriched by their cultural products in any form.

  4. Tim Hall says:

    I can think of a few “problematic” musicians; Dave Mustaine of Megadeth being an obvious one. There are one or two others I know personally where the less I know about their politics the better.

    Ted Nugent is a more extreme example. I would guess that the vast bulk of his current audience are there because he’s a racist, sexist asshole. He’s never been particularly influential or groudbreaking as a musician, so his art is easy to live without.

  5. Serdar says:

    Nugent’s entire œuvre could vanish overnight and I think the only thing I’d miss would be the pun in the title for “Intensities In Ten Cities” and the name “Double Live Gonzo.” And that’s about it.

    Masami Akita, aka Merzbow, is prominently left-leaning and supports many environmental and ecological causes, but I’m loathe to buy any of his records where he mentions PETA on the sleeve because of the severe ethical reservations I have about that organization’s practices.

    And one of the reasons I grew increasingly dismayed with the recent crop of SF and fantasy authors was how many of them turned out to be such reactionary twerps.

  6. What I noticed when I looked at the signatories is that they’re on my shelves (books I’ve had a long time, read a while ago, and considered good enough to keep through at least one international move), but they’re not in my nightstand pile (current books to be read, either bought or requested based on recommendations).

    I think many of the authors on my shelves pushed boundaries and challenged assumptions when they were younger. The books on my shelves are the product of that phase in their lives. But once they had the Boundary-Pusher and Assumption-Challenger badges, they kind of…froze in place (at best; some clearly veered toward the batty). But the culture and the community have moved on past them now, to the next set of boundaries and assumptions. They don’t have the tenure they thought they did.

    (Mind you, some of them have been that…off the whole time. But those books aren’t on my shelves.)

    I’d hasten to add that their hardening of the intellectual arteries is not inevitable. They have contemporaries who have continued to grow and change as the culture has. It’s not an age thing, just a rigidity thing.

  7. Serdar says:

    @Abi I’ve experienced much the same thing in my own readings. There are authors in my library who always seemed to be trying something new, pushing themselves, playing that much more over their own heads. I decided a long time ago that my own writing needed to fulfill a similar function: if I ended up repeating myself, or settling for a worldview which would guarantee me a sycophantic audience but provide me with no real challenges, that was no good.

  8. Tim Hall says:

    I’ve always been struck by the irony of the way SF is supposed to be all about The Future, but older authors get blindsided by changes they didn’t’ see coming. Jerry Pournelle’s apparent inability to come to terms with the fact that the future won’t belong exclusively to those who are white and male, or Christopher Priest’s failure to understand the internet and social networks.

  9. I’m often intrigued by the various SF worlds that are basically futures of the past. (Babylon 5 comes to mind, but there are many). But Le Guin had it right when she said it’s not really about the future; it’s about what’s happening right here, right now, in our own heads and lives.

    Because if you think about it, there are a lot of stories that we could tell about the future. The ones we choose, and how we tell them, are the product of our present.

    I think we forget that at our peril.

    (And I got my daughter an Internet Puppy No Can Haz Noms T-shirt for her 10th birthday. She adores it. One generation’s deadly insult is the next generations adorabz meme.)

  10. Amadan says:

    I guess I am missing something. They are objecting to a “review board” that will basically exist to make sure no articles are published that might offend someone. I dislike spurious invocations of the First Amendment and “Political Correctness” as much as the next guy, but this really does seem like a ridiculous level of editorial micromanagement.

  11. Tim Hall says:

    @Amadan The SFWA president is demying such micro-management, but it might explain why some authors who should have known better had signed it.

  12. Tim Hall says:

    @Abi: I can understand why SF writers like to riff on history (Even Charlie Stross has done that), but why the love of feudalism? Is that primarily an American thing? I don’t see it so much in British authors.

  13. Tim Hall says:

    Not that it applies to all American writers, of course.

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