– one who blatantly imitates, fawningly admires, or vulgarly seeks association with those regarded as social superiors.
– one who tends to rebuff, avoid, or ignore those regarded as inferior.
– one who has an offensive air of superiority in matters of knowledge or taste.
It’s been most of a full day since the final Hugo award ballot was announced, for the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention. If you’re tuned in to this thing — and if you’re reading this, you probably are — you’ve no doubt seen the small mountain of verbal outrage which has flooded forth. Because the SP3 slate didn’t just do well with nominating voters, it did overwhelmingly well. A raft of notions has been forwarded by different critics, to explain the “discrepancy” in the 2015 ballot. Most of the critical commentary takes the form of very earnest protestations focusing on violation of etiquette — though, again, SP3 broke no rules — and seem intent to make SP3 out as nothing more than a “fringe effort” by a minority.
Please go look at the Merriam-Webster definition I’ve provided above.
Because 100% of the opposition to SP3 can be distilled down to that single concept: snobbery.
You, gentle SP3 supporter, are not good enough. The refined arbiters of the field all say so. Your politics are wrong, your taste is wrong, your reading habits are wrong, your affiliations within fandom are wrong, you like the wrong things, you go to the wrong fan meetings, you are part of the wrong circles, you like the wrong publishers, and you vote wrong when you cast your ballots. You’ve been told this for years, in variously subtle and sometimes unintentional ways. But now your intellectual and moral betters in the field are getting more explicit about it.
Does the desire to expand fandom mean we have to welcome every imaginable kind of person? I think a moment’s reflection reveals that no, we do not. The SF convention that finds itself sharing a hotel with the International Association of Cheerful Child-rapers can probably be excused for not inviting them to come visit the con suite.
Patrick is the chief boss at the publisher TOR, a brand label which has (until this year) tended to make out remarkably well on the Hugo ballot. Perhaps a little too well? TOR still has some works on this year’s ballot, though not in the percentages TOR (and Patrick) might have become accustomed to. I find Patrick’s commentary illuminating, but also puzzling. At least if you consider the fact that at least one highly-praised SF/F luminary was recently outed for collusion in her husband’s “cheerful child-raper” activities, and another highly-praised luminary is an admitted fan of the National Man-Boy Love Association. Perhaps Patrick would like to revise his comparisons? Maybe not. Like his wife Teresa Nielsen-Hayden, Patrick clearly doesn’t want you at Worldcon if you are the “wrong” kind of fan. (Read that as: whoever or whatever Patrick does not approve of from hour to hour.)
I have to give this some thought, but I may have to conclude that an ethical fan with traditional fannish values has no choice but to only consider nominees _not_ backed by the slates and, if not satisfied that those deserve to win, to then vote No Award in as many categories as necessary. No Award is our last bastion against corruption.
Moshe is also a senior editor at TOR, and perhaps not surprisingly has a rather specific definition of who should be allowed to decide what is and is not award-worthy in the field. “Traditionally fannish” would seem to be defined as “anything or anyone Moshe approves of” but all the rest of us are left out in the cold. Moshe’s also made it clear he believes SP3 to be an entirely “right wing” invasion of the Hugo selection process, which ignores the fact Marko Kloos, Kevin J. Anderson, Kary English, Annie Bellet, Jim Minz, Jim Butcher, and many other SP3 slate suggestions are either explicitly not right-wing, or are cagey about their political affiliations so that we have no idea if they’re progressive or conservative. Just because Larry Correia is an outspoken conservative, and I am a moderate conservative, doesn’t mean the entire slate is nothing but conservatives. Of course, for those with “traditionally fannish” tastes, even a minor up-tick in conservative representation on the Hugos, is probably cause for severe alarm.
Those putting forth and endorsing the slate are certainly of fandom, but they do not understand fandom. If they really did, they’d never have started this voting slate nonsense to begin with. Indications that they’ve had to go outside of fandom in order to gain recruits suggests that fandom largely rejected their actions – a message that they should have heeded early on.
Here again is the “inside” talk, for the purpose of discussing the problem of “outside” invaders come to participate in a democratic process. Davidson, like Moshe Feder, sees the world being split between the “inside” people such as himself, and others with a similar mindset, history, and inculcation in Worldcon’s long history, and “outside” people — which includes you, me, and everyone else who ever came to love and adore Science Fiction & Fantasy, without being inculcated. Like so many others, Davidson loves the Hugos so much, he wants you all to destroy the awards this year. By voting “No Award” because we certainly do not want the “wrong” people possibly winning!
Charlie Jane Anders:
The only processes that really get you there are deliberative, involving a lot of public discussion and private rumination. That’s how you get surprising, out-of-nowhere choices. As someone who won a Hugo Award in 2012, I’m sad that there might be one less avenue out there for new writers to be plucked from obscurity and put on a stage with their idols.
Charlie Jane seems to be ignoring the many authors on the SP3 slate who have never before received even a single Hugo award nomination, including venerable greats like Kevin J. Anderson — the long slighting of one of the field’s titans has finally ended! — and also successful independent authors like Annie Bellet, Marko Kloos, and new and up-and-coming authors such as Kary English. I find it difficult to believe that the status quo Charlie Jane is defending, would have turned up any more fresh and new people, than someone like Kary. My hunch is that Charlie Jane only has eyes (and votes) for new writers who get plucked from places Charlie Jane approves of, or who come to the table with certain demographic box-checking bona fides Charlie Jane might find attractive; as an author-activist. But the message is clear: SP3 doesn’t “count” and neither do you, dear SP3 voter. You’re not part of Charlie Jane’s “solution” so you are obviously part of the “problem” and this makes Charlie Jane sad. So please go away before you ruin the Hugos for Charlie Jane any further.
And there’s much, much more. But you get the gist of it. SP3 and its participants and its voters are not welcome. Not wanted. Wrong kind of people. Definitely not the sort of fans who get to be Fans (note the caps) according to the insular rules of “cool kid” politics being played by people who very much view the field as their exclusive domain. A place where you — the fan (small caps) are not invited to play. Your voice is not the kind of voice they (the “cool kids”) want. You didn’t come up through Fandom (caps) the way they did, or you don’t bring the right ideology to the table, or you are the wrong demographics to suit the desires and needs of the author-activists. You are just a fan (small caps) and the Hugo (as evidenced above) was never an award about you. It was an award for the snobs.
Only, it’s not a snob award. It’s your award too.
And World Science Fiction Convention is your convention.
This field — the field of Science Fiction & Fantasy — is your field.
Nobody can tell you that you don’t belong. They may certainly try. In fact you have to wonder about the cognitive dissonance of any individuals who annually complain that Fandom (caps) is getting older and shrinking, but who actively seek to thwart “outsiders” — and who have many hangers-on who will actively aid in this exclusive effort. Because we certainly can’t allow the wrong kinds of people and the wrong fans and the wrong ideologies to sneak through the door. This is the “cool kids” club, after all. Regardless of how tireless the concoms may work to advertise and invite participation. The “cool kids” who regard Fandom (caps) as their personal club, and the Hugo as their personal award, don’t want you.
In fact, they never wanted any of us.
Snobbery. It’s a thing. And unfortunately for Fandom (caps) it’s rather rampant.
Thankfully, Sasquan (the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, Spokane, WA) and MidAmericCon 2 (the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, Kansas City, MO) are ready and willing to take your membership dues. For a small price you get a hell of a nice voter package, worth hundreds of dollars in quality, top-grade SF/F books and stories. The gatekeepers and the CHORFs and the TruFans have not yet gerrymandered the rules so that the “wrong” fans and the “wrong” voters are locked out of the convention. This might be the inevitable dividend of Sad Puppies — and the overdue peasant revolt against the snobs — but I hope that saner, less stuck-up heads at future Worldcon concoms will conclude that fresh blood and fresh faces is not only good for business, it’s also good for Fandom (caps) because Fandom will slowly return to reflecting the actual diversity of the fan world overall; versus a self-selected group of individuals who don’t like you, me, or any other “ordinary” fans who aren’t of proper fannish pedigree.
I want to end by citing something fan and author Michael Z. Williamson wrote brilliantly on his blog:
I’ve been an attendee, panelist, artist, author guest, special guest, guest of honor, filker, gopher, badger, I’ve run a dealer’s room. I’ve helped in the con suite while a special guest, because I was up early and they had vegetables they needed cut. What, not everyone takes their hand forged Japanese kitchen knives to a con in case of such an emergency?
Heck, back to my first WindyCon, the consuite needed a plastic drop cloth for the soda tub. I went to my car and got it. Then the needed double sided tape. I had that, too. Then they needed a screwdriver. Exasperated, I demanded their list of material needs, went to my trunk and got most of it-poster board, highlighter, scissors, more tape, bungee cords. I had trouble with the red marker. I only had black.
No one ever guessed it was my first con.
I was at X-con in Milwaukee the year we shared the hotel with an NBA reunion, a Baptist youth group, a bowling convention and the Secret Service preparing for Gorby’s visit. Hilarity ensued.
But, you guessed it, per certain elements, I am “not a real fan.”
Sing it, Mike. The gatekeepers can’t be inclusive, while inventing all sorts of excuses why they — sitting upon their pedestals of superior taste and gnostic knowledge — get to exclude somebody. Either because the new person has the wrong politics, or the wrong tastes, or the wrong friends, or maybe they’re a pro who publishes with the wrong publisher and has the wrong peer group; a peer group that doesn’t ingratiate itself to CHORFs and snobs.
Frankly, I hope MidAmericon 2 and future Worldcons slowly turn their backs on the exclusive, CHORF-driven attitude: that nobody who isn’t a properly vetted, adopted, and indoctrinated member of CHORFdom doesn’t get to participate in the con (or the selection of the Hugo) because maybe some CHORFs will be butthurt about it.
Stay tuned, folks. The peasant revolt will be televised.