Why Ed Kramer is Evil but Marion Zimmer Bradley Isn’t. Go figure

bradley

Undated photo of the late author Marion Zimmer Bradley found at Wikipedia

The world is a funny place. On Mike Glyer’s “fanzine” File 770 this morning, I read an article called New Child Porn Charge Against Ed Kramer. I’d never heard of Ed Kramer before, so I looked him up. According to Wikipedia, he is:

an American editor and convicted child molester. Kramer lives in Duluth, Georgia and was a co-founder and part-owner of the Dragon*Con media convention. Kramer has also edited several works in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Before pleading guilty in 2013 to three counts of child molestation, Kramer was the subject of a long-running legal battle that began with his initial arrest in August 2000.

The word DragonCon got my attention. DragonCon has been associated with more conservative elements in Science Fiction and Fantasy. In and of itself, that means nothing. If you’ve been sexually abusing children or been into child porn, you are evil and deserve to be in prison, regardless of your politics.

But what gets me is that certain demographics in SF/F fandom seem to give other, similar people a pass because of their politics and because they are feminists, or at least they seem to do so.

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The Sins of John W. Campbell Revisited

Author Jeannette Ng – image found at the Angry Robot website

Just for giggles, I revisited the comments at File 770‘s article Storm Over Campbell Award. As you may recall from my own wee missive Jeannette Ng’s Campbell Award Acceptance Speech and Here We Go Again, Ms Ng, a fantasy writer based in the UK, was recently given the John W. Campbell award for best new writer, which she accepted, and then went on to point out Campbell’s terrific flaws, which included being a fascist.

There are now over 200 comments on Mike Glyer’s commentary on Ng and Campbell, and of course, they all damn Campbell, some even comparing him (more or less) to Mussolini. Further, one person said that anyone with even the tiniest hint of actually liking anything Campbell ever did is considered a fascist sympathizer. Really. I had heard of Campbell, but before this, I never had any idea about his political beliefs.

However, even according to Wikipedia, while he may or may not have been a fascist, he certainly was a racist.

His opinions go far beyond the occasional “joke in bad taste,” and many well known authors, including Michael Moorcock and Isaac Asimov, lambasted Campbell for his even then unpopular and heinous ideas.

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Science Fiction, Opinions, and Why It’s Okay to Disagree

A statute honoring Ray Bradbury was unveiled outside the Waukegan Public Library just after sunset on Aug. 22, 2019, the 99th anniversary of the late author’s birth. (Dan Moran / Lake County News-Sun)

I just read an article at File 770 called Waukegan Public Library Unveils Ray Bradbury Statue (click the link and read, the story’s pretty short). Waukegan was Bradbury’s hometown and I’m thrilled to see that he is being honored. He is a truly timeless writer, and I can prove it, since my 33-year-old son Michael just read Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Over a year ago, I wrote my own wee Bradbury essay titled Should We Burn Ray Bradbury’s Books?. I crafted my missive in response to Katie Naum’s essay at Electric Lit called The New ‘Fahrenheit 451’ Movie Fails to Reckon with Bradbury’s Racism.

I seriously doubt he was a racist, at least in the dictionary definition sense, but assuming Bradbury had character flaws and perhaps some dated beliefs given that he was born in 1920, that doesn’t change his influence on the field of science fiction, nor make him unworthy of being honored.

Of course, we’ve seen this sort of thing before.

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Jeannette Ng’s Campbell Award Acceptance Speech and Here We Go Again

Author Jeannette Ng – image found at the Angry Robot website

Here we go again. British fantasy writer Jeannette Ng was presented with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at Worldcon recently, the 47th winner. Of course, she accepted the award, and then began to rip the late John W. Campbell apart, calling him, among other things, a fascist. An edited copy of her acceptance speech is hosted at Medium.com with the profanity removed.

Last December, I wrote an article called Is SciFi Author/Editor Robert Silverberg Really Racist and Sexist (or has the internet once again lost its mind)?. Silverberg had created his own response to allegations of his own racism on File 770, a popular SciFi fanzine after, apparently, he privately said that author N.K. Jemisin‘s 2018 Hugo acceptance speech (the third consecutive Hugo she won for best novel) was “weaponized.”

I looked up Campbell, not knowing much (if anything) about him personally, and found he held a bunch of “difficult” attitudes, but then again, he was a product of his times, having been born in 1910 (he died in 1971 at the age of 61). There’s no denying that Campbell shaped much of 20th century science fiction, having discovered talents such as Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, so it’s certainly understandable that, based on his career, he is worthy of having a science fiction award named after him. Does he have to be a perfect person by 21st century progressive, politically correct standards to still be considered significant?

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