From the keyboard of George R. R. Martin:
Also… really, when you come down to it, this whole “were they contacted?” thing is a false issue. Torgensen says he contacted almost everyone, but missed a few. Some of his slate say no, they never heard from him… but does it really matter? I have been trying my damndest to get Alan Lee and John Howe nominated for Best Artist for years, and I never asked if I could. This year I wrote a long post about the brilliance of STATION ELEVEN and why it should be nominated in Best Novel, and I never contacted Emily St. John Mandel to ask if I could. I will not condemn Brad Torgensen for failing to do what I never do myself.
George is on record stating he dislikes the SP3 slate, as a thing. Not the contents so much, but as a concept. Thankfully George’s critical analysis skills are much more sharp than those of some other people who have spent the past week flailing away at the question of, “Were they contacted?”
I have said it adamantly: this is a red herring. It doesn’t really matter.
People kept hammering me: were they contacted??
Yes, I tried to contact as many people as I could. Hundreds of messages and e-mails. A few people turned me down, both before and after the slate went live at the beginning of February. I graciously pulled those who said, “Wait, I want off!” Many more have been unhappy about being later drafted for Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies alter-ego slate. For the latter case, I don’t blame them a bit, because many of the people I contacted for SP3 specifically said, “Don’t put me on anything Vox Day is going to be on,” and in point of fact, Vox Day is not on Sad Puppies 3 anywhere. I can’t be responsible for what Vox does. Only what I do. And I worked pretty damned hard to be courteous and reach out to people. Because I knew it was the gentlemanly thing. And I am sorry I missed some individuals, and that these individuals were unhappy with it. And for these failures, I accept full accountability. My bad.
But really, can I ask the field to step back and examine a deeper question? To go along with what George said above?
Why does being on a list force any author, artist, or editor, to have to explain anything?
Poor Annie Bellet had to roll out a long list of progressive bona fides to “prove” she is not in league with the dark forces. That she is a child of the light. That she is not now, nor has she ever been, a member of the Communist Party!
Why did Annie have to do that?
Because the instant her name appeared on a list, people started in on her. Assumptions began to be made. All kinds of loyalty tests began to be applied. The questions and the dividing and the truth-testing and the probing. Is she of the tribe? How can we tell if she is of the tribe?? She let herself be on the bad list! Not a good list, a bad list! The list we all agreed was bad! We agreed on it! Nobody in the tribe would assent to be on the bad list unless she was bad too, right? Right? Annie must disavow the list. To prove she is good, she must be made to disavow the list!!
Sarah Hoyt and I have both talked about how this field suffers cognitive dissonance on the question of inclusivity. The field praises itself for being loving and open and kind and wonderful, but I think that’s only the very rose-colored half of it. Because running below the surface is fear. Fear of being found out. Fear of being with the wrong people. Fear of being on the wrong lists, or publishing with the wrong publishers, or even worse, fear of being caught not properly disavowing the people you’re told to disavow. Are you “of the flesh” of Fandom? Are your papers in order? Because we’ve got good evidence that your papers are not in order! And we all know what happens to you if your papers are not in order!!
Here’s George again:
I do not believe in Guilt by Association, and that’s what we’d be doing if we vote against every name on the Puppy slates simply because they are on the slate. That was a classic weapon of the McCarthy Era: first you blacklist the communists, then you blacklist the people who defend the communists and the companies that hire them, then you blacklist the people who defend the people on the blacklist, and on and on, in ever widening circles. No. I won’t be part of that.
If Sad Puppies 3 does nothing else this year, I hope it makes Fandom (all of us, and all of you who tacitly put dividing lines between “us” and “them” without even thinking) take a long, hard look in the mirror. I’ve been a fan (small f) since I was single-digit old. My fandom never had to be proven. There was no club. No rites or rituals or dues. I liked what I liked. Eventually, I got so enthusiastic, I decided to create my own material. People have said they enjoy what I do. Somehow, this seems like it ought to be good enough for me to walk into any con anywhere on the planet and say, “I am here, I belong,” and nobody should bat an eyelash.
The problem is, WSFS doesn’t really work like that. The field as a whole doesn’t work like that.
It claims to want to work like that: no questions asked, all may come.
But all the high drama over the past month, about the “wrong” people getting in the door the “wrong” way and the “wrong” names going on the Hugo ballot from the “wrong” lists, merely reinforces my point. A point Michael Z. Williamson nailed between the eyeballs with his piece he posted a few days back.
Folks, if you want to prove you’re inclusive, loving, embracing, and so forth, do it with action. Not just talk.
If people have to conform to your expectations or your litmus tests before you will accept them, no, you are not inclusive and loving and embracing in the way you think you are. You are loving and inclusive and embracing as long as the newcomers speak and talk and think and have fun just like you.
And that’s a broken way to be, for a thing branding itself WORLD SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION.
So, fix it, or be quiet with all this talk of inclusivity and welcoming new folks. That’s just a party line. The small slights and the noses in the air and the turning away, all of that speaks far louder than your words.
And it’s a big reason why the BIG world of fans (small f) left the little world of Fans (big f) behind. It’s why a little flyover town like Salt Lake City can host a record-breaking 150,000 raving, crazy, adorable fans during three days of glorious fannish mayhem, while Worldcon stamps and harumphs and Fandom people grouse about what’s the best way to bring in new blood.
You do it by not giving a damn if anybody’s papers are in order!