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Posts tagged ‘SFWA’

I’m tired

Let me start with a quick apology for the late post. The weather has done its best to lay me low. Highs in the 80’s one day and sleet and ice the next. It all has my sinuses clogged, my head fuzzy and a fever hit last night that I can’t seem to shake. I am so ready for Spring to get here. One of the side-effects of all this is that my google-fu has failed me this morning so I can’t find a site I read yesterday and wanted to refer specifically to in this morning’s post.

On the heels of the demand for J. K. Rowling to stop writing, unless it was for children or her own entertainment, and the subsequent “apology” comes news that a major publishing house has penned a deal for an, iirc, multi-book deal for what they are announcing is nothing more than modified fanfic based on Twilight. Sound familiar? Any way, the announcement not only admitted the deal was fanfic but also that it had been posted on online as such. Now, the disclaimer is that the fanfic has been taken down and major revisions have been made to it. Yet, as I read the announcement, I couldn’t help wondering a couple of things. The first is obvious based on my lead-in: where are those like the woman who called for Rowling to stop writing so they could have their chance at shelf and review space? After all, if folks like that have problems with what Rowling has been writing, shouldn’t they really have problems with what even the publishers are admitting is fanfic taking up shelf and review space?

My second thought was to wonder at the wisdom of the publishers to take this action. I’ll admit I haven’t read any of the fanfic in question. I have no idea how well-written it might be. Heck, for all I know, with the revisions supposedly done, it might be a really good novel. However, what it looks like to me is nothing but a panic move by the publisher hoping to cash in on the Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey bandwagon. The problem is, by the time the new books come out, the reading public will have moved on to something else. Publishers ought to know that by simply looking at their bottom lines. Look at how profits dropped for the publishers of Twilight the year after the last book in the series came out. Why? Because they didn’t already have something in the queue and ready to go after that last book was published. Without those sales, profits tumbled. Same with Fifty Shades. Is this another example of too little, too late? Very likely.

If that’s not enough to leave you scratching your heads and the foolishness surrounding LonCon this week has been. I won’t rehash it all here. If you aren’t aware of what happened, let’s just say that the GHHers have managed to strike there as well this week. You can find more about it on my blog here and here. The basic rule now appears to be if someone might feel uncomfortable about something that might be done or might be said at some unknown point in time during some event, no matter what the setting or causation, and if that something that might be said might be said by a white male then steps must be taken to not only make sure that what might be said isn’t said and that, preferable, the whit male who might have said what might have been said isn’t invited to take part in the event. Confusing? Well, that’s how I felt.

Cons have anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies. That’s a good thing. It was too long in coming, especially if you look at the business world in general where such policies for conventions and other large gatherings have been in place for years. What we need now — and by me I mean SFWA and all related groups — is a strong policy about the proper procedures for protesting decisions made by the organization or concoms, etc. The LonCom situation is one such example of where those procedures would have kept the entire SF/F genre (writers, agents, editors, cons) from looking like a bunch of toddlers pitching a temper tantrum. Of course, there are those SFWA proponents who will say such procedures are in place. Well, they may be but right now they aren’t being applied even-handedly across the board. The “cool kids” get a pass when they don’t follow the rules and yet those who then break the same rules to condemn what the “cool kids” (AKA GHHers) did or said, those folks get disciplined or, in at least one case, tossed out of the organization.

If SFWA and concoms, etc., want to be taken seriously, they need to become the grownups. There are times when grownups have to say “no” to the bratty little kids. There also comes a time when everyone has to just grow up. It’s past time for that to happen. Unfortunately, when it comes to SFWA, I doubt that it ever will. It is too busy trying to be “relevant” and “sensitive” to the more vocal members — and non-members — instead of worrying about what it can do to expand the SF/F share of the market. So, while it continues to drive more and more authors aways, I’ll continue trying to write stories people want to read instead of trying to indoctrinate them with the current PC message of the day.

And I’ll wait for the day to come — and it will — when a new batch of entitled darlings hit SFWA membership and turn the tables on the GHHers who will, in turn, find themselves no longer “relevant” and on the outs with those who are even better at screaming and crying on social media than they are.

For an example of just how hard SFWA is trying to be “relevant” and “fair”, take a look at the new cover for the soon to be relaunched Bulletin and tell me what message it’s sending. Tell me it is doing anything more than kneeling at the feet of political correctness, bending over backwards to show that this is a different Bulletin from the last issue. Then tell me if, now that the Bulletin will no longer have chicks in chainmail images on its cover, we will see those same authors who screamed and cried about how that cover was soooooooo wrong campaigning to get rid of covers with half-naked men on them.

Oh, wait, they’re okay with that because men are the oppressors and all those covers are doing is getting back at them for generations of oppression.

Sigh. Where are the grownups and will they please come take the bratty toddlers in hand before it’s too late?

SFWA Glittery Hoo Haas Bravely Flog Dead Horse

Yes, the special snowflakes are in shock that wafting the special-issue Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa has failed to make the world bow down to their awesomeness, so they’re getting their friends to flog the dead horse some more.

For your edification today we have the spectacle of the German whose English comprehension is as bad as her writing (trust me, her samples make The Eye of Argon look polished. No I’m not going to critique them here. I don’t need my eyes bleeding any more than they already do) and the friendly alleged media outlet she references a couple of times managing to completely misconstrue a lively discussion about the merits or lack thereof of having an editor report to a board of nebulous goals. You know, a bit like the way all the media in the Communist countries have to follow the Party line or they’re history – or rather, not history, just disappeared.

For an alleged media outlet, they show a disturbing lack of concern for little things like correct attribution, linking approvingly to a tumblr feed which leeches the discussion and posts the “best bits” without attribution or context. Now sure, the original discussion is in a public venue, and the original posters know this and have no objections to being quoted – providing the quotes are attributed and in context. They wouldn’t mind being asked before repostings, since even publicly posted comments are still subject to copyright law.

Oh, but I forgot. Legal only matters to these idiots if they can use the law against the people they don’t approve of. The people they don’t approve of have no right to use the law against them. It might might tarnish the glitter their hoo haas are supposedly spewing.

I can’t possibly top Sarah’s magnificent summary of the whole sordid business, so I’m not going to try. Just go and read it if you haven’t already. And make sure you have nothing in your mouth at the time. I’d also advise emergency breathing apparatus, because I swear it took me several minutes before I could breathe again after I read it, I was laughing so hard.

As for Frau (or Fraulein – and no I am not going to attempt umlauts so sod off) Cora, I have to admit to a good deal of unseemly giggling at her imagining I’m using the term “hoo haa” because I’m scared to call it a vagina.

Cora dear, I’m Australian. I’ve lived in the USA for over ten years and I still regularly shock Americans by using what I’d consider the polite terminology. You know, take something like asking the way to the toilet. Folks I know here get all flustered over that, where if I was relaxed or in Australia I’d be asking for the loo, or the dunny, or the bog. As for anatomy, glittery hoo haa has a certain ring to it. Glittery vagina or glittery vulva just doesn’t have that same feel, and glittery cunt, well that combination doesn’t work at all.

Yes, dear, I write. I’m an author who comes from a culture with one of the richest and least comprehensible dialects of English there is (Glaswegian Scots might have it beat, but it would be a close run). Rhyming slang, taking half of a colorful simile and trimming it back to a fraction of its original form, taking words and using them in a way that’s so loaded with irony and sarcasm a hipster would choke… That’s my normal mode of speaking darling. I can’t help it if you don’t have the brain to recognize any of it – I’m not actually talking to you because I don’t give a flying fuck what you think. After all, you’ve demonstrated that you’re only looking for something to be offended about and you can’t even be bothered to check the basics.

Sexist? Ya dopey sheila, you’re the ones insisting that women can’t cut it in the real world and need special consideration. A while back that was why women weren’t allowed to vote: they were too special to risk straining themselves thinking about politics or something. Now you drongos are telling me that you’re too special to face any kind of criticism?

Only babies get that privilege, sweetheart. So go ahead. Be a big whiny baby. And I’ll just keep on mocking until you grow up and join the world of adults who actually want to be recognized for their achievement instead of their vagina. Or their penis. Or both, if that’s how you swing.

I want to be evil too

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, our very own Kate stirred up more than a tempest in a B-cup with her post last Thursday. The glitter has been flying and outrage has been levelled. She and Sarah have been called two of the most evil persons ever, beating out – I guess – Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin. At least one woman – and I use that term loosely – has voice the wish that she could resign from her gender because of them. Golly, I had no idea two of my best friends were such evil, horrid persons.

Okay, now that I’ve finished laughing hysterically. . . .

It started with a fellow – note, I don’t say gentleman because he didn’t prove himself to be one – by the name of John Wesley Hardin. Yes, that JAH. He of the drive-by troll fame. He came swooping down on MGC after seeing a link to it on Facebook and left a comment that had nothing to do with the post. When he was called on it by several of us, he went running back to Facebook and made fun of Kate, including noting that she wasn’t a “pro” writer. His reasoning for this? Her bio lists that she work in QA. So that must mean that she isn’t a “real” writer.

Now, several of us responded to this on MGC and he tried to weasel around it and said weaseling once again had nothing to do with what he originally said or with the original comment. He was a troll. Worse, he was a SFWA-loving, glittery hoo-haa worshipping troll. Why? Because he came in with an agenda of leaving a snarky message and then going back to gloat about how he showed us.

Then came the GHHers. Except they didn’t have the balls to actually come to MGC to take on Kate or any of the rest of us. Oh, no. They took to their blogs and Facebook and Twitter. Now, we are nice folks. We’re even welcoming folks. We have no problem with opinions that differ from ours at MGC – as long as you discuss and don’t come in and name-call or leave one line diatribes and then flee. DISCUSS is the key here. Frankly, we have better things to do with our time than worry about what the GHHers and the apologists who side with them (men who think they need to apologize for having a penis and, gasp, testosterone) think. We smile when they accuse us of being disgruntled right wing writers (especially since I am probably the most conservative of the group and I’m anything but on most issues.)

But there are times when we just have to respond. This is one of those because another author, Cora Buhlert – I won’t insult her by saying she is a female author since I don’t know if she is a cis-female, a gay female, a pink-purple polka dot female or what – has taken it upon herself to try to castigate Kate for what she wrote.

I won’t go into the misrepresentation Buhlert has of why Vox got kicked out of SFWA. Nor will I talk – yet – about the double standard SFWA has been employing of late as evidenced by what happened with Vox. I won’t even go into the fact that I don’t always agree with what Vox says, much less with the way he says it. However, I will defend his right to say whatever he wants because, whether the politically correct crowd likes it or not, this is a free country and we do have a right to free speech within certain limits set forth by the courts.

However, let’s look at some of the rest of what she has to say.

“Next, her post is brimming with sexist language about “glittery hoo-haas” (“hoo-haa” is apparently a weird euphemism for “vagina” used to people who can’t bear to use the proper term, because they feel it’s a dirty word) and “storm in a B-cup”, while completely forgetting that many of those who criticised the petition are cisgender men and therefore not in possession of a vagina, glittery or otherwise.”

Okay, now everyone quit laughing. This is serious.

To start, I have serious concerns about Buhlert’s research skills if she can’t find out what a glittery hoo-haa is. A simple Google search brings up numerous links to sites using it, including the Urban Dictionary and the site where Kate first saw it. As for Kate not being able to bear to use the term “vagina” because she feels it’s a dirty word? Pardon me while I laugh again. (You know, I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Maybe I ought to thank Buhlert for being such good comic relief.) Kate’s Australian. She can swear with such vigor, fervor and inventiveness that a sailor would go to confession just because he heard her.

I guess that using alternatives to vagina and commenting on a bra size is sexist. At least according to Buhlert. So, does that mean she is going after every romance novel that uses every slang reference for a vagina, anus and penis because those are sexist? Or does her outrage only flow – oops, maybe I shouldn’t use that word either – to those who don’t agree with her perception of “right”?

Then we have Kate being basically accused of being insensitive because she didn’t take into account the number of cisgender men who don’t have a vagina.

Give me a break. Can this person not recognize saracasm? Yes, I’m rolling my eyes.

As if attacking Kate – which really is a foolish enterprise because Kate is more than capable of defending herself – wasn’t enough, Buhlert goes on a confusing rant about Cedar. I’m still trying to figure that one out but I think it comes down to the fact that Cedar dares identify herself as the Lady Writer (not bothering to discover that Cedar has long been known as the Lady Cedar by the ‘flies and others) and yet then identifies herself as white and – gasp – says she is gender and race blind as a reader. How dare she!?!

But she’s not done there. She tries to bring in Larry Correia, including figuring he’s still “too busy campaigning for Hugo nominations and getting his knickers in a twist about post-binary gender)” to speak up about this current kerfluffle. Then she accuses those of us here at MGC, and I assume this includes at least some of our commenters, of being Heinlein worshippers. Oh save me now! I didn’t know I was in the company of such . . . such . . . intelligent people. You see, we are bad because WE have message fiction. So how dare we bitch and moan about THEIR message fiction.

What she fails to take into account is that we don’t beat our readers over their heads with our message. We are more interested in telling a story our readers want to read. You know who I mean. The readers who want to pay money for our stories. Those who write us, demanding to know when we are going to get our next book out. That is what’s important, at least to me, as a writer.

When she finally gets to condemning Sarah, well, she proves her inability to read and comprehend in context. That’s too bad since she claims to be a writer. Or maybe it is just the politically correct blinders she has on. It certainly wouldn’t help her cause in condemning Sarah to note that the post in question was in response to a comment by the above-mentioned troll that Vox should not only have been kicked out of SFWA but out of the human race as well. The implication being that he shouldn’t be allowed to die. Sarah drew the comparison that is tantamount to saying that one group has the right to say who should live and who should die. I’m not sure where Buhlert got to Godwin’s Law.

What gets me is the double standard that has reared its ugly head in all this. No one on the other side gets upset when one of their own calls someone with a differing opinion names or suggests they should be hurt or killed. They don’t get upset when their own mock and make fun of those who aren’t of the “enlightened” set. But God forbid that the tables are turned and they get called on their BS or made fun of. Then they get full of righteous indignation.

Someone can’t disagree with them without them wanting to resign from their gender. We don’t lack empathy because we don’t fall in line with how they think. Funny, where is their empathy for us? I’m not asking them to sit down and have a drink with me. I’m just wondering if they remember the adage that respect is earned. You want to earn respect then you also need to treat that person with respect. You want to educate? Fine. But educating with a two-by-four, even a figurative one, doesn’t work. It creates resentment and causes rifts. Don’t believe me, look at SFWA. If there was ever an organization about to implode if something isn’t done soon, that’s it.

Finally, if you are going to condemn someone by saying they are “an American” and therefore can’t know what Marxism, etc., is, please do your research first. Kate is an Australian. Sarah was born and raised in Portugal. She lived there during who knows how many revolutions. She was there when it was Marxist, Maoist, etc., etc., etc. Dave Freer just immigrated to Flinders Island (Tasmania) after living in South Africa. Cedar and I are the only Americans, born and bred. Oh, and I’ve spend time as a student behind the Iron Curtain and in the Soviet Union before the Berlin Wall came down and Glasnost reined.

I won’t condemn Ms. Buhlert based on where she lives, what her politics are, or anything of the like. What I will question is why she couldn’t do even the most basic research into people she was going to attack. I also wonder why she feels it necessary to pull out the Nazi card in the comments. Oh, I know. She was looking for hot buttons she could use to prove how evil we are over here.

If anyone takes offense at what I’ve said, come discuss it with me. The comments section is open. In the five years or so MGC has been around, we’ve banned a grand total of five people and at least two of those bans are the same person trying to game the system. Bannings come after warnings and only when the commenter either refuses to address the post or comments or engages in nothing but personal attacks. So, if you want to discuss it, here I am.

Oh yeah, someone tell me how I managed not to make the list of evil folks? I can understand why they left Dave off. They’re afraid he’ll fling coconuts at them. But do they really think I’m the nice one here?

 

On Apple, royalties and glittery bits

After several weeks of not finding anything to really inspire a post, today there seems to be too many bits of inspiration. Some of them I’ve tossed to the side because, well, the blog would be bogged down in politics all too quickly. Those I’ll save for my own blog. But others are continuation of topics we’ve already discussed while yet others simply had me shaking my head and rubbing my hands together gleefully (okay, I’m evil but you guys already knew that).

Let’s start with the continuing saga of the price fixing suit filed by the Department of Justice against Apple and five of the (former) Big Six publishers and the accompanying class action and state suits.

Last month, Apple filed a complaint with Judge Cotes complaining of the actions of the monitor appointed to make sure Apple is living up to the judgment of the court.  The monitor, Michael Bronwich, is charging Apple $1,100 and hour plus a 15% administrative fee. Apple also contends Bronwich is acting “as an independent investigator whose role is to interrogate Apple personnel about matters unrelated to the injunction in an effort to ferret out any wrongdoing, all at Apple’s expense.” In conjunction with this allegation, Apple claims Judge Cote’s final order concerning the monitor, in which she gives the monitor the authority to meet ex parte with Apple executives illegally expanded the scope of the final injunction against Apple. This, according to Apple, lets Bronwich go on a “fishing trip” that has little if anything to do with his role as monitor in the price fixing case.

In a rather quick response to the complaint, Judge Cotes basically told Apple there is a process to follow and it didn’t. The first step in the process is to take their complaints to the Department of Justice. ““Objections are to be conveyed in writing to the United States and the Plaintiff States within ten calendar days after the action giving rise to the objection.” If, after reasonable efforts, the two sides can’t come to an agreement, they can request to meet with the judge. Judge Cote did take one other step. In response to Apple’s complaint that the original ordered allowed for ex parte communications between the monitor and the court, she amended the order to disallow such communications.

Now, let’s look at Apple’s main issues with the monitor — other than the rather obvious one that Apple just doesn’t like anyone looking over their shoulder to make sure no other anti-trust violations are committed. First, with regard to the reasonableness of the monitor’s fees, they do seem excessive. However, that will be an easily proven — or disproven — complaint. All the two sides have to do is show what the current going rate is for such sort of third-party monitoring. An agreement between the two sides should be easily had. However, Apple being Apple and the DoJ probably not wanting to look weak, who knows. Let’s hope Judge Cote has time on her docket for a meeting before long between the parties.

Where I foresee a problem coming to an agreement is the issue of whether the monitor should be able to meet ex parte with Apple execs. I, personally, have no problem with such meetings as long as the monitor is working under strict guidelines. He should not be allowed to go on “fishing trips”, as Apple alleges, looking for anything Apple or its employees may be doing in violation of the law. The monitor is there to insure the terms of the injunction are being complied with and nothing more. He should not be looking for anything outside the scope of the injunction.

Nor should he be hampered by having to wait to talk to an Apple exec until a corporate attorney is able to be present at the meeting. That would be like not being able to serve a search warrant until a defense attorney is present for its execution; Not only would the notice required for such action give the perp time to get rid of any incriminating evidence, it would slow the process down beyond the snail’s pace it is already at. The same applies with regard to Apple. The monitor has to be able to talk with Apple execs. They have the right to refuse to discuss anything without him without an attorney present. But to have to wait each and every time is not necessary, at least not in my layman’s opinion.

But that’s not the last of the news about the anti-trust suit the DoJ filed against Apple and the five publishers. Judge Cote has approved the last of the e-book settlements in this and related cases. Specifically, she approved the settlement involving Macmillan and Penguin. This means more than $166 million will eventually be paid out to consumers. But it won’t happen quickly. So don’t expect an early Christmas gift. The first payments will come no sooner than 30 days after the approval becomes final. Does this signal that the end is in sight for this chapter in publishing history? No. At least I don’t think so. Apple is still appealing the injunction against it and there are still third party objectors to Judge Cote’s judgment. But we are, in my opinion, on the downhill side of it. The only question is if publishing is going to cross the finish line and learn from what happened or if there will be an avalanche that will sweep away any lessons that might have been learned and leave legacy publishing even more engrained in practices that are outdated and outmoded.

In the “duh” department, we have the following quotes about e-book royalty rates paid by legacy publishers:

“there’s a lot of inertia built into the system . . . a strong incentive for publishers not to fairly pay authors for e-book sales.” (Paul Aiken)

“The problem is that [agents and authors] don’t know what to ask for, and publishers don’t know what to give.” (industry insider)

Aiken, who at the time of the quote was executive director of The Authors Guild, is referring to a system in which many publishing contracts have a clause “stating that an author will receive a higher e-book royalty rate if, and when, the standard rate changes.” Simply put, the industry standard won’t change until the publishers start paying higher rates but they aren’t going to pay higher rates because the industry standard hasn’t changed. Don’t you just love that sort of circular thinking?

But it is the last quote that blows my mind. After several years of a very healthy e-book market, why don’t agents know what to ask for? As for publishers not knowing what to give, don’t believe that for a minute. Publishers know where every penny of their money goes. They know how much it costs to produce an e-book. But they are also the ones who have tried telling the reading public — as well as their own authors — that an e-book requires extra art costs, extra editing, proofing, etc. No, it doesn’t. Once a book is edited, it is edited. It doesn’t matter how many different formats it is being published in. As for proofing, all you need is someone to put eyeballs on it to make sure there have been no glitches in the digital conversion process. It doesn’t take long and it sure as heck shouldn’t cost much. Cover art? Give me a break. You aren’t paying for two or three different covers. You are simply manipulating size.

Agents also know what to ask for, or they should. This is especially true for those agents who belong to agencies that now offer their own publishing services. If they don’t know how much to ask for, then they need to start doing their research. It is time for publishing — agents, editors and publishers of the legacy sort — to quit acting like things haven’t changed over the last ten years. More importantly, it is time for authors to quit letting them get away with it. There are alternatives.

And then, finally, there was this article that caught my eye the other day. First off, if these few items are the only controversies inside the world of science fiction and fantasy, we’re doing pretty damned good. The flip-side of their list of controversies is that it exhibits the current trend in SFWA and amongst some concoms to bend over backwards in homage to the great god of political correctness, even if it goes against the basic philosophy of the con or organization in question.

1. Elizabeth Moon and Wiscon.

When I first heard about this, I’ll admit the double-standard presented by the Wiscon concom and those condemning Moon bothered me. I could identify with a lot about what she said. Any parent with a child in school where “senstivity” courses in Islam were taught could. Heck, any woman ought to have been able to. More than that, Moon was exercising her right to free speech ON HER OWN BLOG. But she dared speak out against one of the PC darling topics at the time and the haters came out. Wiscon, after initially saying it wouldn’t withdraw her invitation as guest of honor, crumbled in the face of criticism and did just that. While Moon didn’t condemn the con for doing so, let’s just say that it seemed more than a bit strange that a con that prides itself on its feminist roots would remove her from the program when she was simply exercising her right to express her opinion about a religion that looks at women as second class citizens.

2. Harlan Ellison groping Connie Willis on stage at the Hugos.

Now, before all the glittery ones get their hoohahs in an uproar, Ellison was wrong when he groped Willis and he was wrong with his response later. My issue is two-fold. The first is that Ellison has been held up almost as a standard to strive for in bad behavior by the same folks who now condemn him. We’ve all heard the SWFA folks laugh at how Ellison allegedly sent a dead gopher to a publisher. His antics are legend. But, until it became the cause celeb with SFWA and the glittery ones to go after anyone who is male, over the age of 40 and who doesn’t feel self-loathing for being male, no one said much of anything about it. Now, Ellison is simply another “example of the sexism of the old guard of SF.”

3. Vox Day expelled from SFWA

Oh my. We’ve written about this some. Kate has some wonderful posts and comments about it.  So I won’t go into the details. What I will point out is that in this so-called list of controversies in SFF, it is apparently all right for N. K. Jemison to call Vox an “ass hole” because she didn’t name him even though the context of her remarks made it clear who she was referring to. But his response, which was over the top but — having read Vox — was probably meant to get a response — was enough to get him kicked out of SFWA. Why? Because it was racist and sexist and he’s male and not enlightened and SFWA is, apparently, the PC police of our industry now.

4. The SFWA Bulletin has a Sexist Trifecta

Okay, now my head explodes. I’ve written on this as have others of the mad ones. SFWA and some of its members have now decided that you are bad and must be punished if you are female and approve a cover with a “chicks in chainmail” type of image on it. Worse, if a couple of “old white guys” talk about women editors they’ve known and comment that these women looked good in a swimsuit, they are evil and must have their column taken away from them. Why? Because they are disrespecting the female sex.

WTF?!?

Again, if you are male, over a certain age and not apologetic for having a penis and for enjoying the company of women, you are the enemy I guess. And let’s look at the other side, just to show that there is a double standard. These same women — and so-called men — who object to these covers that “objectify” women have no problem with the bare-chested, loin cloth clad men on the covers. Why is that, I wonder?

Finally, if this isn’t enough to prove to you that the current crop of “enlightened” leader so-called leaders of the genre and its organizations aren’t just as bigoted in their own way, consider this quote that ends the article about these “controversies”:

Well, welcome to 2013. And the world wide web, where everybody, even those underprivileged nobodies you never had to listen to before, has a chance to be heard.

Everyone, it seems, except those who don’t fit their definition of politically correct and enlightened.

 

Some housecleaning was needed

Wow.

I’m not sure there’s much more than can be said about the response Kate got to her post this past Thursday. First, I have to commend her on saying what many of us were thinking. The situation between SFWA and Vox is yet another indication of just how low SFWA has sunk. If anyone still thinks Vox wasn’t tossed out of SFWA because of what the powers that be (and I don’t mean the officers. I mean the vocal group that has the officers wrapped around its finger because said officers are afraid of not being politically correct and liked by the “in” crowd) saw as his inappropriate views, you’re wrong. Go back and look at the attacks on Vox leading up to his removal from SFWA. When you do, you will probably agree that SFWA went looking for some reason, any reason they could find to toss him out and then hopefully convince the courts that they were in the right. So, they got him for misusing the organization’s twitter feed, among other things. Oooooh, that is worthy of expulsion.

All you have to do is go to the comments to Kate’s post to see the trolls who have never commented here before but who, when it was pointed out that Vox wasn’t the 100% Caucasian they all thought he was to see the hate that group has. There were more attacks and we finally had to do something we’ve done only once before on this blog: we had to swing the ban hammer. The person involved was warned twice. Once by Kate and again by me but she continued with the offending behavior.

So, the ban hammer came down and now let’s talk about why.

None of us here will ever shy away from a good discussion. For those of you how have read MGC, or any of our personal blogs, for very long, you know we even enjoy a contentious discussion — as long as it is a discussion and not just someone screaming that we’re evil or stupid or insane. But the key word is “discussion”. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with anyone who posts or comments here, as long as you think about what they wrote and then respond with a well-reasoned comment. If you can be funny at the same time, bonus points. But just spouting hate or anger without discussing the issues won’t cut it.

MGC has been around for some years now. I’ve been a part of it for three years or so. I’ve been one of those who have put up controversial posts before — heck, it’s a badge of honor among us if we can get certain folks to come here and try to defend their positions. But, even then, those involved will discuss the issue and try to show where we got something wrong. They don’t attack and they don’t keep coming back in the thread to show how wrong we are and how much smarter and politically correct they are when compared to the rest of us mere mortals.

But when it comes to trolls, I have a very low threshold. So do most of the rest of my fellow bloggers. Kate, Sarah and I had discussed what should be done if that certain person kept at her antics last night. The only reason we didn’t pull Dave and Chris into the discussion was the time difference. So, we tried answering her and warning her and she ignored us. In fact, when Kate asked if she thought her one line answers were proper, the person responded with a resounding “yes”. She was sooooo proud of herself.

When the ban warnings came, she ignored and her IP has no been added to the blacklist. It was only the second one ever. It wasn’t something we did lightly. So, if you see your comments not coming through, drop one of us an email or PM to make sure you aren’t being trapped by the IP ban.

So, rules of MGC: there are basically very few and they all distill down to a single rule taken from Jim Baen — don’t be a butt-head. If a post isn’t about politics, don’t bring it in unless the comment you’re responding to has. This is, primarily a blog about the publishing industry. If someone warns that you are being a butt-head, consider why they are saying it. If one of the MGCers tells you that you’re being a butt-head, stop whatever you’re doing immediately. You have been warned at that point.

Finally, when one of the MGCers opens it up to a rousing game of whack-a-troll, have it. We need to be entertained too 😉

Why?

I was going to write a follow-up of sorts to Dave’s post yesterday but just deleted it because it ranged well over the no-politics rule of the blog. Yes, I’m in that sort of a mood. It wasn’t so much brought on by Dave’s post — and if you haven’t read it already, go do so. It is, as usual, wonderful and thought provoking and it was fun reading the comments as people remembered books that helped make them who they are now.

No, it was really brought on by a facebook post I saw this morning where another author was asking why it wasn’t enough to simply write a good story, one that entertains the reader and makes them want to finish it. This writer was tired of those who identify themselves as being “literary” looking down their noses at genre writers. You know, writers who have figured out not only how to tell a story people want to read but who have also, in many cases, figured out how to add a message to their work without having to beat the reader over the head with it. Sarah and Dave manage to do so brilliantly. Kate has figured it out as well and I hope to have it figured out one day. But, for now, I’m happy with just writing stories folks want to read.

After all, isn’t that really what we’re supposed to be doing? Writing stories that entertain? If a story doesn’t entertain, folks aren’t going to read it — or at least not finish it. If they don’t read it, then what good is any message we might put into it? That message will be lost because it was never read.

But that isn’t enough for the literati, for all too many editors and, unfortunately, for the boards of too many professional organizations these days. No, you have to be socially relevant and enlightened in your writing. You have to promote what is “right” — as is defined by those who have the loudest voice. Heaven help you if you write something that might offend someone else, especially if you are a male of a certain age.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned (and I know that means I have the wrong beliefs and should probably be silenced now. Sorry, I’m a loud-mouthed woman who isn’t afraid to exercise my First Amendment rights). But I still feel that the story is the thing we should be concerned with and not the message. As I said earlier, folks won’t read the message if they don’t read the story. The corollary to this is: why is publishing in trouble? Because it forgot that readers, on the whole, read to be entertained and to forget about their troubles.

Don’t believe me, ask yourself why so many in publishing are trying to convince us that boys don’t read. Oh, I think there are those who sit in their ivory towers in NYC who actually believe that. Why? Because they look at the sales for their middle grade and YA books and see that the majority of those buying their books are girls. So, therefore, boys don’t read.

No, quite the contrary. Boys don’t read, on the whole, about sparkly vampires or angsty teen problems. They want stories that speak to them. Adventure and fun and characters they can identify with. (Sound familiar?) So they turn to other options, manga being just one of them. But the publishing powers that be fail to recognize that fact.

Then we have those publishers and editors and writers who feel that we must address all of society’s ills with our writing and “educate” our readers so there will never be any racism or sexism or any other ism they don’t approve of ever again. We saw one example of it with the Resnick/Malzberg issue involving the SFWA bulletin. Something that should have been handled in-house was taken public by a few very vocal critics and the SFWA board caving and condemning Resnick and Malzberg. Fresh on the heels of that, some of those same people who condemned Resnick and Malzberg were all over social media calling for gender swapping of characters on TV and in the movies — Dr. Who, specifically — and warning anyone who commented not to comment if they were going to offer sexist comments about how it would be against canon to swap the gender of a character who has been male previously. Funny how they never suggest switching a female role to male.

And SFWA continues to empower these folks in order to continue being “relevant”. After condemning Resnick and Malzberg, and basically forcing Jean Rabe out as editor of the bulletin, it has started looking at the SFWA twitter feed and who can post using it and what can be posted. While I agree that there needs to be a clear demarcation between official tweets of the board and tweets from the membership, it’s funny how this only happened after the vocal minority complained about an “offending” tweet.

From the SFWA announcement, the following applies to tweets for the twitter feed @SFWAauthors:

Publication and industry-related news only. Links or statuses under 140 characters. We will not edit your information for clarity; please provide all necessary information.

Racist or sexist material may be removed upon discovery. Threats or personal attacks or obvious trolling will also be grounds for removal. Repeat offenses will be subject to suspension pending investigation and possible removal from SFWA-managed feeds. We reserve the right to clarify, question or refuse any submitted material. SFWA does not endorse or promote any information contained in this feed.

Seems pretty straight-forward, right? But note that there are no attached definitions and also note the possible conflict in information. First, what constitutes racist or sexist material? After what happened with Resnick/Malzberg, I’d be especially worried about posting something that might be considered sexist. Also, it states that SFWA won’t edit tweets for “clarity”, but that sort of implies it might edit them for other purposes. Also, when it says SFWA reserves the right to clarify, does that mean to ask the poster to clarify what they meant or does that mean SFWA can “clarify” the tweet.

Yeah, I’m being picky, but when something is this poorly written as guidance, especially in light of what has been happening with the bulletin, I’d be worried about putting anything up on the feed if I were a SFWA member.

And then there’s the bulletin. If you think they overreacted with regard to the Resnick/Malzberg blowup, just wait. SFWA has suspended publication of the bulletin. Yep, that’s right, they have suspended the bulletin for a period of up to six months. They are doing this so they can “refresh” the magazine, find a new editor and — wait for it — “conduct a membership survey and consult advisors about the Bulletin and its future direction. Many aspects of the Bulletin will be discussed, including but not limited to: its format, its aesthetic, its content, its budget, and its inclusivity.”

All very pretty until you start looking at it closely and start asking questions. First, what about the non-member subscriptions? I may have missed it, but I didn’t see anything in the announcement that addressed what they will do about those folks who aren’t SFWA members but who subscribe to the bulletin. Then there’s the membership survey. Who is going to put together the survey and what questions are going to be asked? We all know how results of a survey can be skewed simply by the questions asked and the multiple choice answers provided to the responders to choose from. Unless they simply send out a questionnaire that asks “what do you want from the bulletin?” and let each responder answer on his own, the results are slanted from the get-go.

Then we get to the advisors who will be consulted. Who are these advisors? What are their qualifications for consulting on a professional bulletin, especially one aimed at the SF/F community of writers and readers? Notice how we aren’t given that information.

But what bothers me the most is the use of “inclusivity”. What does SFWA mean by this? Oh, I have a pretty good guess: they want to make sure everyone is included (as long as you aren’t a white male of a certain age and gentlemanly bent — we’ve already seen what happens then.)

Or maybe I’m just tired of the double standard many of those who condemned Resnick and Malzberg seem to hold. It’s bad to call a woman an lady and talk about how she looked in a swimsuit, but it’s just fine to post half-naked pictures of well-muscled men on your facebook page. Give me an effing break.

Or it could be that I’m just a writer and mother who is tired of being told I have to do more than entertain my readers and who should have taught my son to be ashamed of the fact he’s a male. Sorry, the latter is never going to happen and I write because I want readers to enjoy what they read, not because it has some super socially conscious message in it.

Or perhaps it’s because I believe in TANSTAAFL and wish those in their ivory towers of publishing would remember that and learn from it.

As I said a week ago, I’m a hack and proud of it.

(Welcome to everyone coming over from Instapundit. Thanks to Glenn for the link!

Also, many thanks to The Passive Voice for the link!– June 28th)

Storm in a B Cup or the SFWA Glittery Hoo Haas

I admit I thought about not adding my $2 (adjusted for inflation) to the whole sorry mess, but then I figured that the best weapon against these idiots is mockery and lots of it. So, herewith you will find my not in the least bit humble opinion of the whole thing.

It’s a storm in a b cup. I’d have gone a or aaa, but it doesn’t scan as nicely. I read the articles the silly twits have their knickers all knotted up over. They’re about as innocuous as you can get. We’re talking Malzberg and Resnick reminiscing about the ladies – editors, authors, publishers – from the Golden Age, people who they knew and clearly respected (I suspect at least one possible crush, but that’s just my suspicion). Of course they used “lady” as a term of respect. These women were ladies. They asked no quarter, got none, and used all their abilities and assets to the max – without batting an eyelash. This is the SF sub-definition of lady, the kind Heinlein so clearly adored. Smart, capable and emphatically not ersatz men.

Of course the Interchangeable Feminists got their tights in a tangle. Heaven forbid that anything remind them that they couldn’t hold a candle to the ladies of the Golden Age.

Here’s the problem, in a rather crass nutshell. The Interchangeable Feminists have succumbed to the feminist flavor of the Glittery Hoo Haa. Unlike the romance version where the glitter unaccountably activates when the heroine takes off her glasses (presumably blindness is sexier), the Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa is a thing of mysterious magical powers allowing the possessor to be better than everyone at everything she tries, without having to work at it. She doesn’t even have to wiggle it to get magical results. All she needs to do is let HR departments know she has one (they seem to be shy creatures in the wild, hence the Interchangeable Feminist insistence on proclaiming they have one), and she’s on a fast track to promotions without having to actually do the work involved. That’s what underlings are for.

For the Interchangeable Feminist author, the Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa magically transforms her grocery lists (should she ever deign to commit such a patriarchally derived act as create one) into high art (those of you speculating on precisely what one has to be high on to consider it art may stop now). Editors, agents and publishers recognize the brilliance of her FGHH and – judging by the samples I’ve read – don’t bother to read the piece before publishing it and pushing it harder than a heterosexual male backstage at a pole dancer’s convention. Obviously their brilliance is lost on the rest of us who lack this magical piece of anatomy and possess the usual combination of a pair of functioning eyes and some brain cells that don’t faint in shock when they’re called on to do any thinking.

The rest of us also failed to fall for the notion that math and logic are tools of the patriarchy. Possibly because we’re capable of performing both. The FGHH is even worse than the romance variety when it comes to rotting brains, you see. The poor things that have one spend all their mental energy trying to hold on to such utterly conflicting and ridiculous notions (simultaneously all-powerful and a fragile flower that wilts at anything resembling a harsh word? Yep. Got it in one) and they’ve got nothing left to actually use whatever brain function they possessed before the FGHH poisoned their lives.

In short, neither Mike Resnick nor Barry Malzberg did or said anything wrong. Jean Rabe, the now-former editor of the SFWA Bulletin, did nothing wrong either.

There was nothing wrong with the cover that’s got the FGHH owners and their lackeys screaming, either. It was a very pulpy cover with the typical metal bikini almost worn by a luscious female warrior who’d just finished finishing off a beastie. Now sure, there was snow in the background of the picture. But I guarantee you, if that cover had been drawn with a male in the same or equivalent pose he’d have been almost wearing an itty-bitty loincloth or a metal posing pouch. Well, maybe boots (she had boots on) and a cloak blown back so that it rippled gracefully in the breeze (which, being clearly magical would not turn the expanse of manly chest exposed by this posture into a mass of goosebumps). But you get the idea.

Besides, it’s a picture. I can come up with a bunch of scenarios for that scene that explain the metal bikini in that climate (near-freezing metal on skin… OUCH!). Who knows, maybe she got dragged from her exotic dancing job in some warm, steamy climate by an evil wizard with a strange sense of fun. Now she’s killed the critter, she’s going to cut it open, climb in, and hold her nose while she stays in there so she doesn’t freeze. Or maybe make herself some critter-skin clothes to supplement the metal bikini until she can get the hell out of there. The point is, it’s not exploitative unless you want to think it is. I see worse on a regular basis every day.

So… Maybe instead of the witch hunt against all who offend the FGHH, we should be hunting the possessors of the FGHH and destroying the blasted things before the Hoo Haas cause any more hoo haas. Because of all the SFWA shitstorms I’ve seen, this has to be the most pathetic.