And what a long, strange trip it’s been.
And yes, when I heard those in Portugal as a kid I had NO clue they were about drug use. Heck, it took a lot for me to realize Phillip K. Dick’s novels had drug use. Yes, I was an innocent little snowflake.
Now considerably less innocent.
So, let’s talk fandom. I like you guys, obviously. In fact, I like all of my fans.
I’ve reached the level of name recognition where people embarrass me in my “normal” life, tm. Like, I’ll be buying something and someone will see the name on my card and say “are you the Sarah Hoyt who–?” Sometimes it’s for the blog, sometimes is for the books, but every time the person is sweet, polite, nay nice. Very often they look as normal as everyone else, though they might be Odd and there are often tells for that.
I’ve met fans while at the grocery store, I’ve met fans while having the dishwasher repaired, I’ve met fans while trying to rescue a kitten, I’ve met fans at the laundromat when our washer broke, I’ve met fans when one of the neighborhood power cords frayed, I met fans while checking in to a hotel for a weekend away with my husband, I’ve met fans while having a dress pinned for alterations, and I’ve met fans at the museum. They seem, by and large, to be well adjusted, normal people with lives and families.
And then there is fandom. No, no, not truefans, but… close enough. the people who live, breathe and live for science fiction. A not inconsiderable cross section of it includes authors, including, alas yours truly.
Sometime ago I was reading the bio of someone who had been a communist early on and who started turning around when he realized “everyone in this room is some nice family’s tragedy.”
Raises hand. By definition, having married abroad and being very, very weird for a Portuguese chick, I was a burden/puzzle to my family. A lot of my friends are in the same bandwagon as is a significant section of fandom, possibly including most people here.
Here’s the thing: we were picked on, we stuck out, we had trouble as kids or teens or even young adults. And we picked ourselves up, turned ourselves around. Our families might still look aside and say “oh, him,” or “we don’t talk about her” when our names are mentioned, (well, my family turned around when I won a prize, because, hey, other people didn’t think I was crazy. But all the same.) but we are okay, REALLY. Most of us have families. Most of us have jobs. Most of us are happy and have gotten over the crap we got as teens, except for, of course, preparing our kids to withstand similar onslaught.
I even “get” my family, really. I mean I had the grades to do anything I wanted (there) and I chose to marry someone (not rich) and move here, and be a writer. That’s crazy level behavior. Except I’m okay with it. I could use more money, but it’s what the Great Move of 2015 was all about. If we can sell and buy smaller not only do we save money in mortgage, but in heating, cooling. And time in cleaning. Now maybe the gambit won’t pay off, but we’re trying.
But apparently there are some people among the really involved fandom who have bigger problems than that. This is all I’m going to say: I never expected/expect to win a Hugo. Hell, I never expect to win any awards. The Prometheus was a shock. I write for me and my fans not for the award.
I didn’t pay much attention — other than avoiding Hugo-winning books like the plague (unless they were written by Connie Willis.) — until they emptied the whole slop pot over Larry with Sad Puppies II. I hope I’m not falling prey to what Dorothy Grant calls the Myths of Friendship, but I come from a highly tribal culture, in which friendship is a sacred bond. When you attack my friend, viciously and without any foundation, I’m going to get involved. Which led to my saying I’d carry SP III, then I got ill and Brad took over and what they did to Brad who is considerably to the left of me and honestly one of the best people I know–
Well. I thought I was prepared.
I was not prepared for the infantile award show, the cheering of no award and nothing NOTHING could prepare me for the assterisks.
To the science fiction establishment — I’ll help run SP IV because I’d already told Kate Paulk I would help her (she has a full time job and other stuff we don’t need to/I’m not permitted to discuss here.) — if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t even be involving myself in this anymore. And if you think that’s because you won, you’re wrong.
If I hadn’t fallen in love with Simak and Heinlein, with Bradbury and Asimov at an early age, if I didn’t have fans who love my worlds, and if I didn’t have one of those obligations you can never pay back to Baen, I’d be dusting my sandals and walking away from science fiction and fantasy as one day I walked away from Portugal, as much as I had at one time loved it. It can be done. And that show pretending to be representative of my profession and my field gave me a really bit incentive to do it.
I want you to reflect on this. I love science fiction (and fantasy, but that will always be second.) I always have. I kept reading it through the arid years when I had to scrounge the entire bookstore to find ONE book worth reading. I’ve bought books — some of them by people involved in that sorry spectacle on Saturday — when I didn’t have money for food.
If you drive me out, yeah, your power and the power of your little clique will be safe. Indeed. BUT IF YOU DRIVE ME OUT YOU’RE DRIVING OUT YOUR BUYING PUBLIC.
About 20 years ago, I had this suspicion that most small sf magazines (guidelines: read us and see what we like) were kept afloat by people desperate for that first sale, that most big name name magazines had about 1/2 subscription from would be writers, and that most sf/f books that didn’t break out of the niche were bought ONLY by people hoping to sell to the publishing house.
I don’t know how accurate that is. It was just a gut feeling. And I never seemed to run into any enthusiasm for the books themselves, only for either the writer (if you were currying favor with such) or the book as “what are they buying now” signal.
Then I started working for Baen 12 years ago, and my first few weeks on the bar, I think I actually said, “So this is where the book lovers went.”
There are tons of people who don’t even write, but read. Avid readers, who know the history of the field and like discussing THE BOOKS.
But they weren’t involved in that sad spectacle last week. In fact most of us are still shaking our heads at it.
Which brings me to: congratulations. You probably achieved at least half of your objective — to drive out the people who don’t think/act like you and aren’t part of your groups. It is heartily to be hoped you won’t live to regret it, but don’t bet on it.
So, the show over, and once I’d gotten over being both mad and sad but mostly sad, we started discussing (Kate and Amanda and I) operational details for next year. Stuff like how many noms, where do we get recommends, do all three of us have to read something before we recommend it, and oh, yeah, logo? patches? t-shirts? Incredibly threatening stuff like that, you know? Since Kate, Amanda and I routinely PM and send each other scads of emails everyday (otherwise known as being ‘thick as thieves’) including on all important topics such as “that cute thing the cat did yesterday”, it barely rose above the ambient noise.
So imagine our surprise when Kate got hacked on facebook, not once, not twice but three times in a 24 hour period and her account started spamming sunglass adds. Coincidence? I don’t know guys. One time, maybe. But three times, when Kate has pretty d*mn good security? Bah.
Then Mary Robinette Kowal went after me for being racist by using Chicom. (Which she somehow still thinks I applied to Cixin Liu — partly because she can’t convince herself he’s not a good communist. I mean, I have no idea what he is. He lives in China, so there is a minimum of compliance required of him. But I know the book was among other things a blistering denunciation of the Cultural Revolution. And besides, grammatically, I was clearly NOT REFERRING TO HIM.)
She also cherry-picked the ONE dictionary that said it was “derogatory” to claim it’s racist. This is what’s known as “battle space preparation, I guess.” Stupid one. In fact, part of what has been shocking to me is the utter level of stupidity in these attacks. Guys, when I last dealt with socialists and communists, they were brighter than this. But I guess it takes being a fanatic to be a true believer after the fall of the SovUnion (Oh, look, another racial slur. I’m fairly sure it must be one, since it’s a contraction.) Also, there is such a thing as 3rd generation blight in would-be revolutionary movements. The first are original thinkers, striking out against the establishment, but by the fourth you have the good boys and girls who just follow what they were told, with no more thought than baby duckling following momma. This for some reason results in people so dumb that they could give fifteenth generation inbred nobility a run for their money. Part of why you get hellholes like Cuba and North Korea. (Yeah, yeah, I know, racist. But then what isn’t.)
So, Mary Three Names gave me an “apology” which I think would convince a toddler. A lot of “I forgive you little brown girl for not knowing the word is racist” — I might have paraphrased, but read the original here — and I refuse to accept her kind condescension and whitesplaining. I’d like to serve warning, though I normally don’t brag about it because I think it correlates poorly to things like building a decent cabinet or managing your finances, that I do have a Mensa card somewhere in the moving boxes and even if I don’t find it and have to renew to post it, you should realize that I AM NEITHER STUPID NOR BORN YESTERDAY. She manages to claim I “introduced her to a new ethnic slur” yet she wasn’t calling me racist (“I did not have relations with that connotative meaning”) and also that she knows the meaning better than I and all dictionaries out there (derogatory doesn’t mean towards race) and also, reasons, including I’m sure her milky white complexion and liberal-privilege. Seriously? That is your go to game? And your followers are of this caliber?
Yes, indeed. He goes on to say intention isn’t important. So if I use the word, say “potato” and you decide it refers to you and your sub-race or whatever, I’m immediately using a racist slur?