Well, the progressives running the SF/F industry, including WorldCon, like to think of themselves as the “good guys” and on the “right side of history,” but there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of hate of anyone who might even be slightly conservative. I guess not being inclusive is okay as long as the groups you are bigoted against are on the “Nazis” list (though maybe they should actually look up the definition of Nazi before slinging around their own brand of hate.)
Trust me, if these people are typical of WorldCon and the science fiction conventions in general, I want nothing to do with them. At the end of the day, all I want to do is write a good story. At the end of the day, all they want to do is hurt people.
Here’s a fictional story based on this blog post and Part 2 of my rant, which I didn’t believe I’d be writing while authoring Part 1.
7 thoughts on “This is the World of Science Fiction and WorldCon?”
I didn’t comment on your previous essay (linked here) about the metaphorical use of hate-filled terms like “Nazi”, or the notion of disagreeable speech as metaphorical “violence”. But what you illustrate here is an actual harmful intent, which not only does “violence” against truth and language but clearly expresses extreme antagonism toward its objects. Surely that is a worse sort of metaphorical violence. But worse still, in my view, is an apparent tendency to conflate metaphor and reality, or to mistake one for the other. This, then, gives rise to reactive behavior that does not fit the reality. It is, perhaps, not unlike Don Quixote’s hallucinatory view of windmills as giants to be attacked.
I’d have to agree with you here, PL. In one of my previous essays, I traced such hostility to a sense of fear or threat, so I can only assume the people expressing such opinions really feel threatened by those people who are on the right side of the aisle, or even those generally moderate. It’s as if the people running these Conventions increasingly want to trim the attendees to a few narrow groups to create a “safe place” for themselves. In the end, you’ll have a homogenous group that only wants to talk to itself. Ironic, given that science fiction, like the concept of free speech, has been all about pushing barriers aside and exploring new vistas.
Oh, and I didn’t even get to Mike Glyer’s File770.com blog and its support for the violent leftist gang of “protestors” Antifa.
Pretty intense. Who is Robert K.?
Apparently, one of the “Sad Puppies,” or group of conservative SF writers who objected to how the Hugo awards were run. He describes himself on twitter as: “My pronouns are Dude, or His Dudeness … Duder … or El Duderino, if, you know, you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”
Well, having just returned from Worldcon, I can answer your question and reassure you then: “these people” aren’t typical of those that you’ll meet at Worldcon or at science fiction and fantasy conventions, so you should feel free to go to them and have a good time. Yes, there are always fringe elements who are throwing mud at each other, and people who overreact, and those are the ones whose tweets and FB posts,etc., end up being circulated as representing the overall whole. I have no idea why anyone would jump to “Nazi” in this case, for instance. However, you might want to learn more about the Sad Puppies before defending them. My reading of the whole debate is that the SFF community — like many others — is getting around to realizing that it would be good to stop discriminating against people of color, women, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, and people from a wider range of countries and cultures, and to include more stories by them and about them, and promote a broader range of what we’re all reading. So it’s not a fight against people who are “conservative” in any general way. We’re responding specifically to the push back against this recognition of diversity, from people who are arguing that this amounts to discrimination against straight white men, since that’s who “should” be writing science fiction. So it’s pretty much the opposite of what you said, about trimming the attendance down to one group — that’s what the “straight white men” faction is trying to do, to keep SFF to themselves.
This past month has been “evolutionary” for me as far as gaining an understanding of WorldCons (and cons in general) as well as the Hugos. I hadn’t realized that only a very narrow band of people nominate SF works for Hugos, but it isn’t a true representation of the best books/stories based on the general population of SF readers/fans. I do try to understand both sides of “opposing forces” because, at the end of the day, we’re all human. That has the effect of sometimes making me unpopular with both sides of the aisle (although, in general, I tend to lean conservative, though it’s much more complex than that), since I won’t (most of the time) go to one extreme or the other.
I decided to follow WorldCon on twitter, and at least one women at the Con was a Christian (which sort of surprised me) and one author who was slinging around the term “Nazi” on twitter sad he was a conservative, and that surprised me as well.
I wonder if the majority of people there represented a wider spectrum than I might have imagined, but the loudest voices tend to come from the farther ends of either side of the aforementioned aisle?
My understanding of the Sad Puppies, at least from my online conversations with a few of them, is that they don’t discriminate against people of color, women, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, and people from a wider range of countries and culture. Their concerned (and admittedly, I sometimes share it) is that the bias won’t go away, it will just shift so that people like me (male, white, cisgender, old) will be edged out of participating entirely. My personal opinion is that there’s enough room at the table for everyone. I can’t claim nor do I desire to keep SF/F to myself not only because I do like a mixture of voices but (to my chagrin) I’m not a published SF/F author (yet). So if the so-called Sad Puppies are experiencing a misplaced fear of being deleted from significance perhaps their critics also have misunderstood their intent (or the intent of at least some of their participants).
Hopefully, from my writing, you’ve gotten a sense of who I am and that I’m not power hungry or needed to keep significance all to myself. One of my favorite sayings is “blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours burn any brighter.” Like my flash fiction tale Peace on Earth, I hope that one day we can all bring our candles together and share our light.
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As you say, it seems to be the most extreme people on either side who get the most Twitter time, and no, they don’t represent the majority of people at Worldcon. If your attitude is that there is enough room at the table for everyone, then I think you’d enjoy Worldcon, because that was the general attitude I heard all around. I didn’t hear anyone talking politics or criticizing others for being white, cisgender, married, or Christian. (Well, there was one audience member who made a negative joke about Trump during the Q&A that got some laughter, but that was mostly about the Space Force.) In fact, in the mythogenesis panel, they discussed how it’s important to respect others’ religions — that “one person’s myth is another person’s sincerely held belief.” The majority of people there were people “like you” — at least in terms of being white and married to someone of the other gender, and many of them brought their kids with them. I saw several people wearing crosses or yarmulkes, and assume that many others were religious and just not wearing overt signs of it, as it often the case anywhere. Everyone was there in the spirit of shared camaraderie and shared love of the genre, not to blow out anyone else’s candle.
There’s a sense that many people in the SFF community are vulnerable — they have been discriminated against and/or bullied because of being different (whether due to being “nerds”, or gay, or their race, or having disabilities), they don’t have a lot of social power, they tend to be introverted and scared of confrontation — and certain others want to stand up and defend them, keep them safe from the provocateurs and agitators, make it clear that they are wanted and loved here. I think their motives are (mostly?) coming from the right place, but obviously I can’t speak for and don’t condone all the extreme statements and actions on “my” side of this.
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