Everybody Wants To Change The World

I’m a little worried about a development at Mad Genius Club yesterday.

It brought to mind when I was a little writer, knee high to a grasshopper — all of 14 or so — and started a fantasy short story.  I was about a bunch of kids who find a magical key that takes them to a parallel world where they can start a colony and do things their way.

One of my more… ah… indoctrinated friends (look, it was a socialist regime.  We were all indoctrinated, but she drank the koolaid.) told me that the story should end after chapter three, because the young people should realize they should come back to the real world and try to change it.

I didn’t say anything and felt vaguely guilty.  Some of the indoctrination must have taken. I abandoned the novel unfinished.

If I were answer it now, my answer would be “These are my middle fingers, Grace, baby.  You’re just p*ssed off you can’t write any fiction.  That change the world b*llsh*t?  F*ck off.  It’s what your side does to encourage the poor prols to fall in line.”

Because here’s the thing: EVERY communist I knew in the seventies told me that about everything, from the school association, to the communist party itself.  “If you don’t like it, you should join and change it from within.”

There is a reason they do that.  As the current administration is finding out (they probably thought the press was the nation, so they thought it would be easier) it’s almost impossible to change an organization “from within.”  The only way to do it is over a long time (as they’ve been trying to do to this country — 100 years and counting) gradually.  Hence “the long march through the institutions.”

One person going in and trying to change it will meet one of three fates: get expelled and then told they have no status to complain (in countries this can mean being dead, of course); get co-opted and given all sorts of busy work so they can do nothing; get disgusted and quit again.

Now, this might be worth it when the institution is the by G-d United States of America.  But … SFWA?  SFWA???????

SFWA’s trouble started with being an organization in search of a mission.  It was supposed to advocate for writers, but the only way to do that is to have the organization run by lawyers, not writers.  In an Oligopoly system, writers didn’t dare oppose their employers who could effectively blacklist them for life.  Yes, some of the early, idealistic ones tried.  And yep, when science fiction was a cash cow they had SOME standing.  Now that it’s the rump end of most publishers who are owned by international concerns?  What are you gonna do, strike?  Before or after they blacklist you?

Other missions have been proposed, including getting us some form of health insurance, succor in times of need, etc.

Some wonderful people still believe in what SFWA was meant to be — a haven and protection for SF/F writers — and I’m thinking specifically of Jerry Pournelle, Esther Friesner, Dave Truesdale, all of whom very nicely said, “but we need you in SFWA” but didn’t add “you can change it from within,” because they’re not smarmy, and certainly didn’t add “you should join and pay them money so you can change them.”

As much as I like some of the wonderful people still in SFWA I think they’re not just in a leaky boat.  No, they’re trying to drain the ocean with a thimble.  Idealistic, yes, and they’re better men and women than I.  But reasonable… no.

Part of the problem is that people of liberty (to coin a phrase) don’t join up well.  SFWA and other organizations eventually collapse under the weight of “people who really like to fill forms and hector others about how to be.”

Which I guess is what the commentor at MGC is, of course, consciously or not.

Thank heavens I’m not fourteen and I’m VERY well past being told “you have to become part of the system to change it.”

I mean, I understand them right?  If the Founding Fathers hadn’t become courtiers of George III and changed the British monarchy, we woul….  Oh, wait.  THEY DIDN’T.

They changed it from outside which is much easier than changing it from the inside.  Also, more effective.  For the results of the other theory all you have to see are all the upstanding citizens who are sent to DC and who become … whatever people become in DC.

Meanwhile, for us, the non-joiners, I think the only benefit of SFWA is to be able to say “I really am a pro, look.”

So I propose the Liberty Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  You join.  We send you a certificate, a hat and a pin.  For $40 a year, we’ll endeavor to also provide some sort of suite at major cons.

This leaves no room for what associations usually devolve into: a vehicle for the social justice crowd.

Hat, pin, certificate, party.  That’s all we can promise.

What else do you need that is realistically obtainable?

Take the pin.  Go write a book.  I don’t know if everybody wants to change the world (I only really care about MY world) but I do know that there are better things to do with your time.

Like write.

311 responses to “Everybody Wants To Change The World

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I noticed that the person didn’t comment again. I guess the person didn’t want to “try to change Mad Genius Club from within”. [Sad Smile]

  2. adventuresfantastic

    “So I propose the Liberty Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.”

    So would this be like the Junior Evil League of Evil, sort like the minors in pro sports, from which we could be recruited to join the big guys*?

    *The word “guys” is used here in a gender neutral, nonsexist kind of way.

    • Is it wrong that I so love the idea of an Evil Minor League of Evil?
      And, of course, the hat.

      Where do we sign up?

      • Should we be the Evil Minor League of Professional Evil? Gotta make sure everyone knows we’re professionals.

        • Well, they shall know that we are professionals by the way we carry ourselves. (and by the obviously used character of our implements of evil – tetsubos, katanas, maces, baka-hammers, what have you…) If we have to TELL them that we’re professional, that seems a bit gauche and slightly less evil.

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            I already have a katana. Okay, it’s a replica, but it looks cool.

            • Going to buy a sword, going to buy a sword, going to… what the hell, who am I kidding, I will probably buy SWORDS, not ONE sword. Ten or so might be nice. (I do have one, meant for stage plays so at least it will not fall apart if you swing it, but otherwise not all that respectable. And of course blunt). Or maybe one every second year. Or… I’ll figure out a nice schedule, buying lots in a short time would feel a bit, er, excess sorta?

              Maybe even a replica katana. More into European swordmanship, but yep, they look pretty nice. 🙂

              How well will the hat go with a longsword?

              (I am assuming ‘America’ here refers to the idea, not just citizenship… please?)

              • Shouldn’t the hat be a Stetson, or what other cowboy hats are there…?

              • America is an idea, documented on a Declaration of Independence, then cemented in a Constitution and Bill of Rights, that lives in the hearts and minds of its citizens. If you love the idea, you’re American. The rest is just paperwork, and being a Geographically Displaced Person.

              • “The great Pohjalainen needs *two* swords to face me?”


              • I don’t know if the Angus Trim that comments here is that Angus Trim, but if so, we have a resident authority on swords. I own one of that Angus Trim’s blades, and it’s awesome.

                • Mostly I want a replica of a certain Finnish Viking age one, after I found a company in Scotland seems to make them. Plus two longswords, one which can be used for practice (hoping my shoulder will heal to the point where I can actually start doing that again) and one battle ready. Just because.

                  • A company called Albion used to do a nice version of the Finnish sword. They still might {I’m a bit out of date and touch with the sword community}.

                    Sometimes there are great deals on the second hand market.

                    • The Albion one was a limited edition, and seems to be sold out. There seem to be a couple of other versions made of the same sword (Suontaka sword. Damn that looks funny in English, to me it’s Suontaan miekka – Suontaa means behind the swamp). Macdonald Armouries is selling theirs for about 800 euros, and that seems to be the cheapest one. I have no idea of the quality, but since that one would end up as a decorative one I guess it doesn’t matter that much (okay, I don’t LIKE the idea of just decorative, I’d prefer something that is an actual weapon of good quality, but money, and it would be just decorative, so…). If my shoulder heals I will start to practice again, but for that I’d need a longsword. The local school teaches techniques taken mostly from Fiore dei Liberi’s Flos Duellatorum. They have wooden practice swords for loan, but it would be nice to have a steel one of my own like most of the longer time students do.

                      But I will keep looking for a while. Including the second hand market. 🙂

                    • MadMike deals in swords and other “sharp pointy things” on his website. (That name, minus the spaces.) He may have a line on how to get/find what you need. Tell him I sent you (I get a nice “no referral fee”). H offered to make me a sword about 1-18 years ago, but I turned him down. I’m too old to learn to accept having a sword rammed up my a–, by my attacker, if I tried to use it.

                • Eamon J. Cole

                  I think it is that Angus Trim

                  • Pretty sure it is.

                    • It is. Old, worn out, but still have a few medieval swords around. If this new thingie becomes reality, I might have to make a sword for the leader of the gang {meaning Sarah I suppose} to wave around during get togethers and look mean.

                      The meanest looking swords I make have flame blued blades. Yeah, they lose a little rockwell {they’re still 48 or so}, but the blue and red color gives them a bit of an air……..

                    • Professor Badness

                      *Brain pauses momentarily at the sheer awesomeness.*

                • He is.
                  And yes, hats go quite well with swords. In the west there’s quite a tradition of such things.

              • FYI, Cold Steel makes machetes patterned after the katana, gladius, and cutlass. All perfectly useful tools and a fraction of what a true sword will run.

                • Thanks. I can afford at least one decent quality sword in the lower price ranges, though. Maybe all those three I do want. Depends a bit on how much my dentist will rob, and a few other things.

                • Have never dealt with Cold Steel, but I wasn’t impressed with images and reviews of their boar spear. I prefer a regular long machete, sort of a cross between a cutlass and a sabre. Great for cutting vines off fence rows.

                  • Actually know someone that took a boar with a Cold Steel boar spear. He swears by them. I personally carry a 4 inch CS folder ALL the time, and have several other CS blades that I absolutely love. Their True Flight Thrower is probably the easiest blade to learn to throw I’ve ever used – and is superb for gutting deer, even cutting through the sternum like it was butter. Best set of kitchen knives I’ve ever purchased too.

              • Need to find a decent blacksmith who can make… if not a SWORD, a decent, serious knife. Ooooh, or maybe a saber. And perhaps your choice of hats. Something dark, with a wide brim. (Okay, a trucker hat for entering, and members can replace that with their own hat.) Something like this:

                As for ‘America’, HECK YES, the idea. I think we’d accept Americans no matter where they were born.

                • Anyone going to Liberty Con should check out RMJ Tactical. He’s supplied a number of tomahawks for soldiers who served in the Middle East (and elsewhere).

                • Think Michael Williamson, AKA Mad Mike, still makes knives.

                • Given how many Americans are born elsewhere and take a while to get here (our esteemed hostess being but a recent example of these Americans.) It would be silly not to accept Americans who just haven’t gotten here yet.

            • Katanas for business purposes are authentic if they fit the description regardless of when they’re made

              • Is the temper authentic? I.e., is the blade straight before hardening?

                • William O. B'Livion

                  If you think that 14th century Japanese metallurgy is the epitome of such things I guess it matters.

                  Me, I’d rather take something like this http://www.chenessinc.com/9260.htm and replace the tsuka with something made from kraton and the mekugi with steel or brass rivets.

                  Replace the saya with one made out of delrin so it can be used for blunt force trauma.

                  Cheap, sturdy and sharp.

                  • Not so much authenticity, as the pre-stress on the edge that makes it tough. The steel along the edge is squeezed by the expansion of the back as it is tempered, while the edge remains hard. That’s what causes the blade to bend backwards. Angus could probably explain it better.

          • Ooh, I can come up with really evil implements of evil. (rubs hands together in sinister fashion)

      • I’m holding out for a decoder ring. Hats rarely fit my head, and we’ll need a secure means of communication when we go into hiding.

      • Patrick Chester

        Can the Toledo Mud Hens be part of this League?

  3. SFWA is irrelevant. After 6 years of membership, I let mine lapse and have noticed no loss of anything. Even their Bulletin section on markets was largely devoted to small, fringe pubs paying minimum amounts that wouldn’t even recoup the combination of your membership cost and the time involved.

    Insufficient numbers of members vote on anything. People who haven’t published in decades are still voting members, with no clue how the modern market works. The votes have no real power when they do take place. They merely express the consensus of the bare quorum who actually vote.

    Save your money. It’s better spent buying research books.

  4. Ah, the Capitalist model. If you don’t like the way things are done at SFWA, start a new one and put the sons of bitches out of business.

    Sign me up! I’ll wear the pin and inflict my scribblings on the indie market. Beware what you have unleashed, another candidate for the slush pile. It’ll still be better than Alex Whats’erface’s genderbent wereseals or trans-dinosaurs or whatever the hell boring crap she’s writing this week.

    I will also note at this time that “associations”, otherwise known as unions, only work when thuggery and mobbing are tactically useful. Otherwise they just soak up money and annoy you.

    • My brother was a union leader for years. I KNOW.

      • I worked in a union shop once. Westinghouse. For months. Seemed like years. Every day lasted a week. Like a frickin’ time warp, really.

        The building is now a ruin. The new owners rent it out to movie companies sometimes when they need to film in a ruin with water dripping down. Thank a union thug.

        • Which branch of the Circlebarw Ranch did you work for? I work for the nuke division (10 years now). BTW….we’re owned by Toshiba now…..

  5. If the SFWA was *it,* the end-all, be-all of SFF writerdom, then maybe. If it were the only choice. But the thing about “only choices” is they come in only a very few flavors: some bits of math and science and totalitarian systems. Since we’re dealing with people, we can dispose of the former, because let’s face it, we’re not going to be modeling human behavior *that* well anytime soon.

    Since we live in the U.S. and our founding fathers had the wisdom and foresight to give us all these wonderful freedoms, there’s damn few “only choices” we’ve got to deal with. We’ve got this lovely free market economy: let’s use that. So, competition for the SFWA, not “change from within.”

    The SFWA has the advantage of tradition at the moment. Not so much *recent* tradition mind you, but the stories that got most of the writers today hooked. Spaceships and alien cultures. Artificial intelligences and FTL travel. New worlds to explore, ripe with fascinating things. That’s what got us all interested in science fiction, not so much the Social Studies Fiction that’s been going around recently.

    The choices are enter a system that is de facto set against you from the beginning and try to change it from within, or set out on your own and make your own rules. Both have challenges. But who *doesn’t* want the freedom to do as they please? Even those who want to change *our* behavior don’t want someone else setting rules on theirs (mostly).

    We’re science fiction fans. And writers, some of us. We’ve got imagination to spare. Who says we can’t give out Pointless Prizes (with little mini-statues and plaques, even) for Best Use of An Exploding Sandwich, or Most Awesome Use of Hard Science In Sci-Fi? Who says our traditions *can’t* be the Sad Puppies, Libertycon, and whatever else we choose to claim as our own?

    Maybe one day there will be little girls and boys and tentacled monsters that want to grow up and be Liberty Writers- just like the ones they read and loved all their lives. May there always be that curiosity of what’s beyond the next star, and a thirst for the adventure that comes from seeking out the unknown.

    • I propose an award known as The Golden Noun. The year’s noun will be announced at the previous year’s award ceremony for fiction making best and most wonderful use of the Noun. Thus we can have Noun={Exploding Sandwich, Tax Form, Personal Lubricant, Duct Tape, Stinky Cheese}. In honor of Larry Correia’s Christmas Noun stories, the genesis of the award, manatees are automatically considered a valid Noun in any year.

    • William O. B'Livion

      We’ve got this lovely free market economy: let’s use that. So, competition for the SFWA, not “change from within.”

      In the Free And Open Source software world there is this thing called a Fork. It is when one takes a project that is being (from your perspective) abused, mis-used, neglected etc. by it’s current maintainers, and you start fixin’ on it yourself.

      This occasionally has dramatic impact on the original project (e.g. they clean up their act and things get unforked). Other times it becomes apparent why the project was morbound or broke–the code base is unmaintainable or inherently broken.

      Sometimes the userbase migrates en masse to the new project, sometimes not.

      So basically Fork Them and see what happens.

    • Who says we can’t give out Pointless Prizes (with little mini-statues and plaques, even) for Best Use of An Exploding Sandwich, or Most Awesome Use of Hard Science In Sci-Fi? Who says our traditions *can’t* be the Sad Puppies, Libertycon, and whatever else we choose to claim as our own?

      Ooh, have the awards be set by whoever donates the Pointless Prize and then members can nominate and vote on it; would it be best to announce the categories and awards the year prior, or would the hassle of holding on to the prize be too much?
      The person who donated the award is always an automatic nominee, in case the “award” they donated is so obviously nasty that it should be returned.

    • 1: Social Studies Fiction. I am SO… erm… borrowing that.

      2: Best action sequence? Larry Correia vs. John Ringo vs. David Weber? lol

      • Yes, but then we have apples and oranges and peaches. Because Weber’s best action sequences are IN SPACE, while Correia does IN THE SCRUM and Ringo does MASSIVE GROUND BATTLES.

        • Ringo does it in the scrum in Black Tide Rising novels. His zombies are much different than Larry’s.Honor has fought two sword duels. One of them was in a legislative assembly (The place where the Keys meet on Grayson).

          • Yes, I know. But they are each at their best, IMO, when writing what I mentioned. Weber does space battles really well, and while he’s no slouch at scrum or large-and-small-scale ground combat–I love the War God series, Safehold is epic–that’s not what he’s best at. I would also contend that the Keys Assembly sword duel is more a psychological sequence than an action one.
            Correia does scrum really well, but I’ve never seen space combat or large-scale ground combat from him.
            Ringo’s space and scrum are both good, but he’s got a knack for large ground battles.
            I may be misremembering, though.

            • RealityObserver

              A nit – David Weber does *naval* battles well – which is why Safehold is just as awesome as Honorverse.

              OTOH, I don’t think we’ll ever be talking about the “Weber” unit of cannonballs…

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Honor did two sword duels? I only remember the one sword duel.

            Now, she did do two pistol duels on Manticore.

            • The Bahzell series has a lot of sword fighting– including the only battle where I could actually tell what the bleep was going on, tactically, without magical zoom-out vision. (Small group holding a gully.)

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Then there’s the time that a person called Merlin took on almost twenty swordmen. [Wink]

          • Actually, Honor has fought two duels, the first with pistol and the second one with sword. In addition, she’s fought one close range gunfight.

  6. You need a sign up web page.

  7. Just call it the ELoE and make a nice pin design and you’ve got my 40 bux Murkan.

  8. It would be fantastic if we could have our own awards, though I guess the response is that it would become politicized too easily.

    • It depends. General is easily politicized, specific is not.
      “Best chase scene” doesn’t have the potential for abuse that “best new writer” does.

      • It loses some fun if we can’t pick things like “best novel”, though perhaps we can differentiate that a bit more as well (best high fantasy, military sci-fi, urban fantasy, etc.)

        • I think that if you include the specific ones, then the general ones will be less likely to be corrupted as well, because the ones who care enough about picking the “Best use of sails in space” to actually nominate and vote will notice changes in Best Novel nominations, and head it off.

  9. William O. B'Livion

    Oh, and it’s not *change* the world, it’s *rule* the world:

  10. It brought to mind when I was a little writer, knee high to a grasshopper all of 14 or so — and started a fantasy short story. I was about a bunch of kids who find a magical key that takes them to a parallel world where they can start a colony and do things their way.

    *Jim tries his best to look like a cat while holding his debit card*

    I can haz moar?

    *Jim looks at the camera in such a way as to make it obvious that no, he can’t write this, as he can’t write kids to save his life.*

    • You know, Andre Norton’s usual story outline starts out with that.

      A character, usually young, is in a place where he does not fit in. Under some pressure, he is precipitated out of it into another place, though usually he has some choice in the matter. There is also a problem in this new place, which may or may not send him onto another — which can even lead to a chain of places he goes through. But it ends when he helps solve a place’s problem and settles there. (On occasion, if the character is old enough, he doesn’t settle there but goes on with the Love Interest to look for a new place, not for himself, but for them both.)

    • I remember NOTHING except that there was a comfy chair and an orange cat 😛

  11. Fedora please… I’ve got baseball caps enough… Then again I need to quite reading (temporarily) and write so I can be a writer

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Dude, haven’t you heard? Fedoras are evil. And male. But I repeat myself. 😉

      • The Junior League of Evil, wearing fedoras that are evil. What did I miss?

      • Um, doesn’t that automatically qualify them as a potential ELoE hat, then?

      • “Fedoras are evil. And male.”

        I suppose that our clueless and historically illiterate enemy thinks so, however;

        “The word fedora comes from the title of an 1882 play by dramatist Victorien Sardou, Fédora, written for Sarah Bernhardt.[4] The play was first performed in the United States in 1889. Bernhardt played Princess Fédora, the heroine of the play. During the play, Bernhardt wore a center-creased, soft brimmed hat. The hat was fashionable for women and the women’s rights movement adopted it as a symbol.[5][2] After Prince Edward of Britain started wearing them in 1924, it became popular among men for its stylishness and its ability to protect the wearer’s head from the wind and weather.[2][5] Since the early part of the 20th century, many Haredi and other Orthodox Jews have made black fedoras normative to their daily wear.[6]”

        From the Wikipedia entry on the Hat, although I remembered most of the details.

      • Of course. That’s why it’s my favorite distro of Linux. Oh, wait…

      • Professor Badness

        That’s why I where them!

    • or


      • And.

        We’re so evil that we even allow people to choose their Evil Hat! which confuse those trying to determine League members.

        Plus some of us would wear more than one at once.

        • Fashion advice? Does a do-rag go with a fedora?

        • And hat pins. Mustn’t forget the pins. 6″ long sharply pointed hat pins.

          Anyway, if any ladies need to borrow a hat, I’m sure I can help you out, but I expect them returned in good condition. I have . . . I’ve lost count. Double digits, not triple, yet.

          *If I ever get to meet up with Huns anywhere I will be recognizable by hat, skirt and attending horde of Hunlings.*

          • Thank you for the offer. I do, however, own a 50’s grey Borsalino (my father’s). 🙂

          • “6″ long sharply pointed hat pins.”

            If you ever find a source for strong 12″ hat pins, let me know; I have a friend who does period costume plays and it’s impossible to find hat pins of the necessary (authentic) length.

            • Might I suggest music wire and craft store beads? A few minutes with a Dremel will give a nice point.

            • Try re-creationists of the Mountain Man variety. I have a 10″ or so that I bought from a gal at a Rendezvous, and she had longer pins than that. And no, I did not have the sense to get a card from her booth if she had any. She also sold sword canes, cameos, and other things one would need to put together a costume.
              My shorter pins came from Church ladies of a certain generation, and they are mostly of the “This was my mother’s/aunt’s/good friend’s and if you’ll wear it you may have it.” sort of gift.

  12. At this point I would have to go for an honorary position in the League of Evil… maybe later when I am not so worried about every penny.

  13. I vote, fork ’em!

  14. I admire people like MCA Hogarth who are really trying to change the SFWA from within . . . but not enough for me to send in my funds. Especially since I’m in the process of riffing my other professional memberships because the organization[s] are tearing themselves apart over PC foolishness and attempts to redefine what had been a very wide open field into the “socially justicely correct version of history only.”

    What membership level comes with the pen from the movies, where you twist the cap a little, push it down, and something explodes in the background?

  15. Of course, everything you said about reforming SFWA applies equally to the idea of the Tea Party reforming the Republican Party from within.

    • Or the EU or the UN or …

      Actually I think the Tea Party has a better chance because there are already a number of members of the republican party in leadership positions that sympathise. In other words that one is possible because the rot hasn’t set in so deep. Now it does need Tea PArty people to lobby, schmoose, politick and so on as a near full time job, but there seem to be enough TPers that have the time/resources to do that so it is doable. For the SFWA this is rather harder because the people we want to drive the reform don’t have the time if they are also to write us entertaining books

    • Hence why the Tea Party has not been the… resounding I think is the best word, success that folks were hoping for.

      • Everybody freaking expects the counter-revolution against the LIRP twits to happen in four years. Why? It took them most of the 20th Century to get where they are now, if not longer. Pushing them back is going to take as long. Why would it not? That doesn’t mean we won’t have lesser milestones to celebrate. In my adult lifetime I have watched Gun Control, one of the LIRPs core issues, go from inevitable to hanging on by a thread. We are seeing all kinds of Federal buttinskiism challenged by the States (as well as individuals). Things ARE changing. They just aren’t changing all at once in one election cycle.

        I will admit I would like to see the U.N. invited to get the hell off of American soil. Shouldn’t be too hard; based on the organization’s history I bet they haven’t kept that building even remotely up to code.

    • Completely different situation. Any external attack by the Tea Party as a third party guarantees the elections of DemocRats. See Clinton, Bill, Second Term for elucidation.

      However because of the way the USA does primaries, the Tea Party can launch a coup and take the Republicans over from the inside. Its the same thing that happened to the DemocRats in 1968 except backwards. In this case it would be Americans taking a party away from Communists.

      • TEA party is also not the best example because it’s not taking over the Republican party– it’s part of the existing party organizing in response to another aspect organizing (in part due to people who drifted over because of fairly recent changes in the opposing party; they like some aspects, but not others, so they worked to change that) and it’s only strange because grownups don’t do big protests like the TEA Party did.

        If the libertarian aspects of the TEA Party went over to take over the Democrats, that would be closer…..

      • However because of the way the USA does primaries, the Tea Party can launch a coup and take the Republicans over from the inside.

        Well, actually, no. You see, the Republicans in many states have what are called “Open Primaries”, which means that there’s no real check on whether someone voting in them is actually a Republican. This leads to lovely spectacles like Mississippi in 2014, where the Establican candidate basically put out radio ads and distributed fliers to black churches accusing the Tea Party candidate of being a racist and inviting Democrats into the Republican primary to vote against him, since it was obviously going to be a Republican year and only the “right” sort of Republican should win.

        Repeating that strategy is where Jeb Bush got the idea he put forth in interview last year that he could run as a centrist in the primaries and still win the nomination…. and he may well be right.

  16. Well, of course this means that we need a pin design committee …

  17. “Join and effect change from within the system.” That’s exactly what I’ve often been told by people who disapprove of homeschooling. I should send my kids to school, volunteer my time as a mom, and try to improve the school and steer it in the direction I want it to go. Because that’s the kind of power room moms have.

    This post is not about homeschooling, so I won’t bore you with my very long answer to that suggestion, but…yep, I think it must happen to just about anyone who tries to go in a different direction on their own.

    • You notice that what they are insisting on is being an unpaid school inspector.

    • It’s one of the reasons I left the PTA after attending two meetings, even though it was For The Children! I couldn’t help but notice that the parents’ job was to clean, volunteer, and raise money …but never to suggest that the school or teachers do anything different. That would Not Be In the Children’s Best Interest, you know.

    • Why a long answer? All they deserve is the instruction to go piss up a rope and stand under it while it dries.

      • If I got asked it every day, I’d probably do that. I have found, though, that if I explain, at least some of the askers do realize the silliness of the question. I’ve had pretty good luck with that, really.

        • I guess if I yad a child of school,age, and they we asking me that, my answer would probably be “Because the Teachers’ Union is a criminal enterprise for bilking the taxpayer, and it’s never a good idea to,get mixed up in a Mob connected business if you can avoid it.”

          But I’m a Crank.

          (Verty toothy, very evil grin)

    • I think ALL home schoolers get that. I like to look at them and say “And in the mean time my kids’ lives would be ruined by not getting educated. I’m thinking about running for school board in a few years.”
      The school board part usually shuts them up. That’s scary, for some reason. Probably because the school board actually has some power to effect changes and the room mom does not, and they know I know. I highly recommend using that line.

    • Speaking as a public school teacher, anyone who thinks that you can change the school system from within is completely wrong. The system is so entrenched, so bureaucratic, so obsessed with test scores and data that there’s no saving it.

  18. A couple of random pseudo-thoughts…

    1. Should the SFWA replace the F with a J?
    2. In this new competing organization, sell Supporting Memberships for non-writers. $10/ year gets you a certificate, limited access to the con suite, and an ebook collection of a few short stories.

    • I like the idea of a supporting membership. In fact I have an idea. We call it the patron and you can pay what you want (minimum $10). Once the costs of patron membership are met (hat, cert whatever) the rest of the cash goes into a fund that is split 2 ways.
      1) party funds.
      2) dividend to all Writing members split equally. Dividend can be used to offset next years dues for writing members or (if large enough) paid to the writing members.

      Alternatively we could use the dividend portion to set up some kind of catastrophic insurance for writing members. Need a lawyer for this though but I think it would be extremely doable.

      • Beautiful. For $10 I could append “Official Sponsor of the Evil League of Evil” to my name. I already sponsor, of course, but now it would be official…

        Ah, heck, I’ll do it anyway.

        Dawn Dreams
        Official Sponsor of the Evil League of Evil

      • Such a thing as your patron membership suggestion should have a scale of rewards based on levels of donation, to encourage higher amounts.

        Sadly, I’m poor at thinking up good rewards, or I would propose some.

    • Geesh. I propose the organization. I don’t WANT to run it. I have books to write. Do we have volunteers?

    • 1) Making them the Science Jackass Writers of America?

    • 1. No… They should just admit the truth and rename themselves the People’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Soviet.
      We should instead insist on referring to them as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

      2. Sound’s like a deal to me. I’d buy one even if I didn’t get the hatpin.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Maybe what we really need is the Science Fiction READERS association.

  19. Join and change from within? Do I LOOK like I’d be a good IRS employee?

  20. The Catch-22 Speculative Fiction Guild has a membership form. Anyone who turns it in is barred for life and beyond.

    • Thanks for the warning. I was going to apply after I finally get around to joining the Procrastinator’s Society.

  21. I would steal a phrase from the good indoctrinated and cry “burn this b!7ch down,” but it’s no fun committing arson on the local derelict house that will crumble in a stiff breeze.

    But that could just be me.

  22. OK, I give up. It was meant as a JOKE dagnabit!
    When I heard that SFWA was allowing indie writers into the fold it struck me as amusing to propose that they all enroll and then elect Sarah or Larry as the “fearless leader” of the organization. Purpose being to watch all the pointy headed SJWs brain matter spewing forth. So them some doofus apparently thought I was serious.
    Well, lesson learned. This is twice in recent memory that my subtle form of sarcasm has been taken at face value. At least anyone reading my “cowardly Chris Kyle” piece to the end realized it was an attempt to channel SJW group think and mock it.
    Here’s a valid alternative. I already belong to a group known as the Baen Bar Flies. We have a challenge coin, con parties, and for a modest $18 per month they send me a bunchaton of e-books. And I only have to pay on months I want the books on the list.

    • There’s a challenge coin? How the heck did I miss that?

      • Yep, one of the Bar Flies made a bunch up a while back.
        1.75 inch metal disk with enamel artwork. Exploding space ship on one side of course, house fly hanging from a bar on the obverse. Several of the more familiar Bar sayings written around the rim on both sides.
        I grabbed three, carry one with me at all times, mostly use it as a card protector when playing poker.

    • I’m pretty sure she means the guy who opened it up with “you know me,” and my first reaction was “…um… actually, no, I don’t recognize you, do you mean the author knows you?”

      I didn’t WRITE that, but it was my reaction.

      • Nah, wasn’t poking Sarah, at least no more than usual. Mostly snarking at the commenter who took my proposal seriously.
        Though, with all Sarah’s experience both with herding cats and Huns she might just make SFWA work if anyone could. Bad idea though. Would seriously cut into that writing gig she’s working on.

      • He’s one of the Bar Flies. I expect a lot of us here recognized him.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Nod, I know him but that’s all I’m going to say.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool


          I’m not sure if ‘journalist focused on control systems’ is an adequate description or not.

          I imagine professional organizations in his neck of the woods are more as he describes. The industries he works around seem less of a steaming mess than the impression one gets of fiction publishing.

          On the other hand, the evidence I would’ve advanced for that, the speed and scope of Indy’s penetration into the market, seems pretty close to stuff I’m sure has happened a lot in various electronics industries.

  23. As the current administration is finding out (they probably thought the press was the nation, so they thought it would be easier) it’s almost impossible to change an organization “from within.” The only way to do it is over a long time (as they’ve been trying to do to this country — 100 years and counting) gradually.

    And even then, it doesn’t work unless it’s not opposed– either because the idea is already growing, or because it’s exploiting the system to avoid being opposed. Sort of like how 60s protesters exploited basic manners— they always start saying political junk first, and then if you disagree they say you’re “creating conflict.”

  24. Needs a better name…. maybe “Publicus Scientia Scriptor”? http://www.latinwordlist.com/ says that means “open to all, skill or knowledge, writer.”
    No, I haven’t started that latin course yet, so I don’t know how mangled that is– and the middle word needs work, it doesn’t flow. “Publicus Cogitatio Scriptor” “Open to all/Imagination/Writer”?

    Membership qualification: publish a book or story which is scifi or fantasy. Anywhere. Even if it’s for free.

    I’d finally finish something, just for the hat.

    • Motto:
      We Are The World Makers.

      Um…. crḗmus mundi? (we are makers/creators) (world)

    • Some googling turns up “Laeti vescimur nos subacturis”.

      It’s a better Latin rendition of the Addams family motto.

    • I just searched that list for “caffeine” and didn’t find anything. Which leads me to two separate conclusions:

      1. Latin won’t work for a motto.
      2. We at last know the true reason for the fall of the Roman Empire.

      • Any Latin student has known that for a while:

        Latin is a dead language,
        As dead as dead could be.
        It killed the mighty Romans,
        And now it’s killing me.”

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      A given spelling codes for a set of specific meanings as far as grammar goes.

      ‘Publicus cogitatio scriptor’ might also be ‘public thinking writer’ or ‘official plan writer’. Of course, cogitatio is feminine, where the other two are masculine.

      ‘Scientia’ is feminine, and as a noun means knowledge or skill. It has related meanings as a verb or adjective. In ‘publicus cogitatio scriptor’, I read scriptor as the noun, and the other two as adjectives.

      creamus mundi= we are making the worlds

  25. Do you actually have to be published or publishable? ‘Cause if not, shut up and take my money!

  26. What would be good for writers? Could such a theoretical organization, if large enough, have an attorney on retainer to vet contracts? I can see a lot of indies potentially coming up against publishers/producers/whatever-the-hecks wanting a piece of the pie after they hit it big, as well as scam artists pretending to be whatever-the-hecks.
    Could it copy the religious (mostly Christian, AFAIK) medical subscription plans that got exempted from the ACA, and handle medical bill payment? Maybe not, there are lifestyle rules for the existing plans that I think most people would be hard-pressed to obey–non-drinking, for one, and I figure they have good reasons.
    And while writers are probably mostly capable of figuring out retirement savings, how many don’t want to bother to the point where they don’t? Could a retirement subscription plan be on offer–buy in at $$, after x years receive $ annually for the rest of your life/spouse’s life? Something really simple like that, anyway, where one could buy in or not on a yearly basis . . . I can see how it would work, if you had a person to manage it, but don’t know if the details would be legal.
    Not a job for our hostess, as putting it together would be a full-time job. But possibly a job for someone.

    • SFWA tried to do insurance. The problem is that writers are widely disbursed and most get it through their day jobs.

      • Yeah, I was thinking something more like talked about in this article: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100935430

        I read Sharon Lee’s blog and she’s talked about the paperwork nightmare that is the ACA even though apparently she’s able to make the system work, it sounds like it takes a fair chunk of time. I’d rather have writers put that time into writing.

        • One hard part for starting a writers ministry is that “The exemption requires qualifying health-sharing ministries to have been in operation before Dec. 31,1999”. I think health sharing is a great idea for relatively cohesive groups, though.

      • It might be cheaper and easier to buy a congressman to slip an amendment into a big omnibus bill giving science fiction writers free healthcare at any federal funds accepting veterinary college or some such.

    • We’ve had this discussion a couple of times here in the last few years. I started to put together a plan at one point, even picking Our Beloved Hostess’s brain on several things, then lost my day job and spent the last couple of years scrambling to make ends meet. I still think it would be a great thing, I just have to clear the deck of other projects, first. Or someone else could do it. Maybe? *puppy dog eyes*

      • Bottom line here:

        If we’re going to start what effectively be a non-profit corporation we’d probably need to find a full-time person and compensate them. We’d also need some legal representation. Also, for legal reasons, a board of directors that would be part-time and probably unpaid. THEN we could apply for non-profit status (with the help of said lawyer) and THEN we could make a good run at this thing.

        We’d probably have to find a way to fun all of that first if we were serious.

        (DISCLAIMER: IANAL I just play one on the internets.)

  27. SFWA’s website writes that the purpose of SFWA is this: “Our mission is to inform, support, promote, defend and advocate for our member writers.”
    It’s a bit disingenous of course–some “member writers” don’t seem to be getting much support, promotion, defense, or advocacy, because they Badthink. This happened over a few decades…how does this new organization propose to counter similar mission creep?

    I think that putting “Liberty” in front of the name of this proposed organization (dis-organization? re-organization?) lacks something–it’s not just about liberty, after all.
    And why not go International instead of merely American?
    IASFFW, or International Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers might be a better term. (It kind of looks like Ya-SAHF-wa to me, and I want to reply “Gesundheit” after it.)

    • Possibly because of laws. Copywrite*, contract, tax, you name it, everybody’s got ’em slightly different.
      Not that it would be a bad thing to have an international organization, but very complex.

      *yeah, I know, it’s copyright, but I typed it that way and figured y’all’d be amused, too.

    • If you’re going to try and broaden a science fiction writer’s organization, don’t limit yourself to something small like “international”. Go for “Interplanetary” at least. Lord knows what the Fantasy writers would consider a broad and inclusionary adjective… ‘Interreality’ ‘Existence-wide’?

  28. You want a slogan: “We Also Walk Dogs”!

    And can I politely suggest we change the name to FREE Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers, would that make me a bloody splitter?

  29. Everyone can join the Goodreads group and influence the poll for our March theme:

  30. If you’re serious about starting an organization that’s an alternative to SFWA, I’ve been involved with several writers’ organizations that came about that way. The most successful is probably Western Fictioneers, which got off the ground five years ago because a number of authors who write traditional Westerns felt that Western Writers of America had come to be dominated by academics and literary authors who had little or no interest in the sort of Westerns we wrote. Five years down the road, WF has a thriving email group, a Facebook page where anyone with an interest in Westerns can join and participate, not just members of the organization, a publishing program that has published dozens of reprints and original novels for our members, and the Peacemaker Awards, with the sixth annual competition going on now. The hat, the pin, the con suites . . . all these things are very do-able and don’t even require an overabundance of time and commitment.

    40 years ago when I was breaking in as a writer, I would have loved to join SFWA. That was, in fact, one of my goals. I probably could have qualified but along the way I didn’t exactly lose interest in it, but it just never really seemed worth the trouble. Put together this new organization, whatever you call it, and my dues money will be winging its way to the proper person as soon as the announcement is made. I think it’s a great idea.

    • There are a number of beginner writers associations, the most important being SASS. I think of this more as writers’ disorganization.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I visit Rough Edges every morning to go through your links. Imagine my surprise last year when you added my favorite blogs! Welcome to According to Hoyt. 🙂

      • I’m very glad to be here. I’m one of those people who read very little current SF for many years, until I discovered the books by Sarah, Larry, and Brad. Now I’m always on the lookout for more new stuff I’ll like. Just wish I had more time to read.

    • At one time (I was young and stupid), I wanted to be able to join SFWA. Over time, I stopped thinking I could make it as a writer. By the time I got convinced I could be good enough to _be_ a writer, I had “woken up.” If My first book would qualify me, maybe this summer I could choke up enough to join what Sarah proposes. Sales of “The Man Who Was A Santa Claus,” are not skyrocketing off the “shelves of Amazon.” If it’s sufficiently “Fantasy” that I would qualify, I’d like to belong. I have two others, one another “Children’s” book, and an adult book I’m working on, besides a rant on being handicapped, and three cookbooks.

      • When I was starting out, I wanted to join Mystery Writers of America, Western Writers of America, and SFWA. I wound up being a member of the first two for a good number of years but wound up letting my membership lapse when I realized neither organization had much interest in the sort of fiction I wrote and offered almost nothing in return for my dues. I suspect it would have been the same thing if I had joined SFWA.

        On the other hand, maybe I just can’t get along with organizations.

      • Neat! What kind of cookbooks? Do you write under Walter Daniels or another name? There are so many books at Amazon that it’s hard to find a book unless you have word of mouth.

  31. Speaking of swords, Here: http://www.museumreplicas.com/

    For hats, I like the big, broad-brimmed hats with the long feather attached (maybe 3 Musketeer type hats, a rapier, and those boots that come up to the knee and fold down 6-10″. Still, a long, double-edged sword slung over a shoulder is mighty spiffy. And then there are war axes and such (all in that catalog I mentioned). Daggers are nice, too. Kukhris are fun, as well.

  32. Sticking to the post title, everybody wants to change the world, there is the always interesting question that any number of people can play. If you could be dictator for one day- What would you change?

    Or, you could simply go with, if you could eliminate ONE federal program- What would it be? Remember, we still have Amtrak running- it’s not easy to kill federal largesse.

  33. questionableprovenance

    How about ESFWA, where the “E” could be “Entertaining” and/or* “Enjoyable” – and refer to both the SF and the W. *superposition of states…

  34. Josh Kruschke

    I’m in!

    I’ve logged enough words on the blog to qualify as writer, right? …