Talk with me about being a fan of science fiction and fantasy
For my regular readers, I’m about to talk about the controversy around the Hugo awards, and I’d like you to keep reading even if this is something that you normally aren’t involved in. (If you want backstory, here’s a really quick recap at Strange Horizons (just the second paragraph), or for more details here is a summary at 109 and one at The Slate.)
I’m going to start by defining some terms, because I suspect that this blog post will also get some traffic beyond my usual readers. These are not all dictionary definitions, but how I am using them in this post. Since many of the terms have mutable meanings, I thought it would help if you know what I mean.
Definition of Terms (You can tell that I was on the debate team in high school, yes?)
- Fandom – The community of fans who regularly attend fan run conventions.
- fans – Anybody who enjoys a particular thing with great passion, be that SFF, anime, or the Cubs.
- SFF community – fans, fandom, writers, editors, and anyone who is connected with science fiction and fantasy in any media.
- Sad Puppies – A group of fans, inspired by Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen, who feel that conservative writers are excluded from fandom.
- diversity – The inclusion of the full range of humanity in fiction.
- supporting membership to WorldCon – This is $40 and entitles you to vote on the Hugo awards, receive the voter packet, but doesn’t cover attendance.
Watching the debate about the Hugo awards, I’ve noticed that both sides are saying that the wrong fans are making decisions. To this I cry bullshit. I suspect that the majority of fans in the SFF community have experienced some form of shunning or shaming from people outside the community who look down on SFF as juvenile. That climate is changing, but for many of us, that was a reality.
Are we really going to do that to each other now?
The next thing I’ve become aware of — and I want to thank everyone who has already come by to share their experience — is that people who identify as Sad Puppies are frequently coming from outside of fandom, while being firmly part of the SFF community. This means that they haven’t been part of the conversations that fandom has been having within itself.
I think it becomes easy for fandom to think that it represents all of the SFF community because it’s a pretty diverse group. It doesn’t. The reason that this is important to remember is that when we are having conversations about diversity in SFF, we’ve begun using short hand. We’ve got a whole bunch of folks who are taking part in fandom for the first time, and we are not inviting them into the conversation AND we’re being angry because they don’t know all of the back story. I know that when I first joined the conversation about diversity in fiction, that I tripped over a lot of assumptions simply because I’d never been asked to examine them before. I didn’t even know that these assumptions of mine were there. If not for very patient friends, I would probably have run from the anger (justifiable anger) and not become part of fandom.
Again, are we really going to do that?
Now — not everyone has the time and energy to dedicate to educating people. I am fully aware of that. I’m not asking that all of fandom goes on a mission of education. But I am asking that those of you who do have the energy to take some time to invite people to ask you questions.
And finally… Vox Day. I have seen a number of people referring to his post in which he has declared war on the Hugo awards. Specifically, he has said that in 2016 he’ll rally his fans to make sure that No Award wins every category. “We are the reavers and the renegades and the revolutionaries, and we don’t give a quantum of a damn about pieces of plastic or the insider approval they represent.”
Which means that in 2016 no Hugos would be awarded.
To which I say… why is anyone afraid that this will happen?
My dear fandom, people from the larger SFF community, fans of my work, fans of Larry Correia’s work… there are more of us.
So this is my call to action for all of you — Become more inclusive. Invite your friends and family to participate. Buy a supporting membership for someone who can’t afford it. Welcome people who like different work than you do. Ask them to recommend a book. Read it. Recommend something to them. Talk about why you like it.
But please, please let’s stop trying to make fandom a special little enclave. It has always been the place where people could come, regardless of what they were fans of, and be welcome. It’s where we can wear Regency attire next to a Transformers cosplay. This isn’t to say that we should tolerate bad behavior, but liking something different isn’t bad behaviour.
And to my readers — If you can afford it, I encourage you to buy a membership to WorldCon and become part of fandom. If you cannot afford it… I will buy a supporting membership to WorldCon for ten people, chosen at random, who cannot afford it. I am in no way constraining how that member nominates or votes. All I ask is that you read the nominations and join the conversation.
FURTHER EDITED TO ADD:
One More of the nominees (and some other fans) have reached out to me and asked if they can match my pledge. They want to do it anonymously to avoid swaying anyone’s vote. In addition, Ellen Klages has also donated ten memberships* SO that means there are TWENTY THIRTY FORTY-FIVE FIFTY-FIVE SIXTY-FIVE SEVENTY-FIVE EIGHTY-ONE ONE HUNDRED supporting memberships available. I encourage others to reach out to your own communities as well.
This form is for requesting a supporting membership. The comment form is allllll the way at the bottom of the page.)
Application closed at midnight central on April 17th.
For everyone else, I’m going
to keep this thread open to answer questions and try to facilitate conversation. Anything that I think is rude, goes into the trash. And my definition of rude? Come on… If you need that to be defined, then just walk away from the keyboard. The key is be nice. Don’t be awful. Treat others with respect.
Any questions? (Oo! And recommend your favorite bit of SFF)
Edited to add:
- Shimmer Magazine is also offering ten Hugo supporting memberships.
- Jamie Todd Rubin is offering five Hugo supporting memberships.
- And I also want to remind people about Con or Bust, which helps fans of color attend conventions.
- *Regarding Ellen Klages donation. I’d prefer it if people make the offer to their own communities so that we get diverse representation among the supporting members. I agreed to do Ellen’s because the timing is bad for her to handle the administration.
FURTHER EDITED TO ADD: After a lot of thought, my plan is to decline any potential Hugo nominations next year, since it’s been pointed out to me that people who benefit from this will also be eligible to nominate next year. When it was only ten nominations, that didn’t seem like it would sway anything. Seventy-five? It feels unethical to take advantage of any partiality that might create.
13 April 9pm – I want to thank everyone who participated. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten zero writing done the past three days and really need to, so for my own health, I’m going to close comments tonight when I go to bed and leave them closed. Again, thank you.
The application will remain open until midnight Central time on April 17th.