The Merits Of Awards
Yes, you can blame Facebook for this post, too, although it’s not quite as potentially traumatizing as last week’s set of story-fodder links.
See David Gerrold wrote a thoughtful post on potential future SFWA Grandmaster awards (officially the Damon Knight Memorial Grandmaster Award), and added some equally thoughtful and sensible comments in the thread that followed. In the middle of this are some seriously sad observations – sad because of the behavior and attitudes they reflect.
“(One of the conversations was “we gotta honor more women”–the subtext being “to show we’re not misogynist.” The problem there is that SF was overwhelmingly a male-dominated genre for a long long time so the sex ratio is still kinda skewed among the older generation. That will change in another decade or two, of course.) “
The sex ratio… since when was it necessary that there be a “sex ratio” unless we’re talking the number of moves one makes on ones partner compared to the number of times said partner reciprocates (in which case if you’re in a healthy relationship that ratio should be pretty damn close to 1:1). Women are statistically less inclined to write science fiction. There are some that do and do it very well. But if you use the usual scientific method of looking at the titles in the SF & Fantasy section of your local bookstore, you will notice immediately that there are a lot of female authors, and that most of them are writing fantasy – more often than not urban fantasy. I have a theory about this (I have theories about a lot of things but I don’t have the evidence, time, or finances to dig further), but it’s not all that relevant to the point that when men who write science fiction far outnumber women who write science fiction there damn well should be a whole lot more male grandmasters than female grandmasters.
Then of course there’s Mr Gerrold’s list, which starts with Norman Spinrad and then adds:
“(Others on my list for future consideration include John Varley, Spider Robinson, George R.R. Martin, Mike Resnick, Lois McMaster Bujold, and probably a half-dozen more than that.) (I think Orson Scott Card should be considered as well, because his entire body of work has been impressive, but I doubt that any SFWA president would want to trigger that particular uproar with the nomination.)”
How sad is it that because the Vaginahood of the Perpetually Offended has decreed Orson Scott Card to be some kind of uber-evil demonic being who presumably eats babies for breakfast, authors who respect his works and their impact on the field are afraid to consider him as a potential Grandmaster. I can completely understand Mr Gerrold’s comment that he “will never run for the office of SFWA president” because he “might win”.
What Damon Knight (one of the founders of SFWA) described as herding cats has become much less pleasant and much more difficult. Yes, the president of SFWA is still herding cats. But the cats are the big variety, they’re hungry, and they keep eating each other. They’re also being led in ever-decreasing circles of political correctness, and the question of who is going to end up disappearing up which fundamental orifice really should be the subject of some friendly wagers (my virtual money is on each Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa disappearing up her own fundament and vanishing in a cloud of glitter peppered with faint cries of “____ist!” (which is of course the mating cry of the species – fatally hampered by members of said species not having any idea what they actually want to mate with)).
In another example of the same kind of silliness, this year’s World Fantasy Award Best Novel winner in the midst of a fairly normal post of the “OMG I won I’m so thrilled” variety (and who can blame her – I sure don’t) let slip just how far the brainwashing has gone. She may be somewhat more endowed with natural melanin than, say, me (whose natural color is so ghostly pale I grew up in Australia with people assuming I was sickly – because the Australian ideal is a “healthy tan” and darker skinned people are often envied for not needing to maintain said tan), but that does not make her any more of a “writer of color” than any other writer.
A writer of color. What in the name of all that is unholy does that actually mean? I’m a writer of stories. Writing color would be bloody boring. What am I supposed to do, fill the screen with “red red red red green green blue pink yellow white orange” (Ooh, I’m being racist, I didn’t include black. But if I had I’d still be racist because I don’t have the magic credentials to be allowed to write black. Yeah. Sure. And this is my middle finger.) To be absolutely clear, I do not blame this writer for succumbing to the endless PC chants. If that’s all you hear, yes, that’s what you’re likely to believe.
Then of course there’s the mention of the controversy about the award itself, namely the fact that the (hideously ugly, in my opinion) award is a caricaturesque bust thingy of H. P. Lovecraft who was most active in the 1930s and (shock! Horrors!) had the mindset and attitudes that were normal for a man of that era, and even more unforgivably allowed said mindset and attitudes to leak into his writing.
Honestly, you’d think he’d advocated serving babies without ketchup.
Awards of any flavor, unless they’re for the “Most Politically Correct Social Justice Tract Disguised as a Novel” should be based on one criteria only. The quality of the work. For a grandmaster award, the quality of the work the candidates have produced over their lifetime.
How hard is that?