Brad R. Torgersen

Panel: how to protect science fiction awards from Bad People™

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MODERATOR: My friends, it is with deep regret that I must come before you — the Peoples Republic of Science Fiction — to announce that Bad People™ have come into our country, and they are seriously messing up our awards.

AUDIENCE: (gasps, shouts of outrage)

MODERATOR: (bats hands down toward the floor, in a plea for silence) I know, I didn’t want to believe it either. For many decades now, the Peoples Republic of Science Fiction has been a bastion of inclusiveness and tolerance, because as every caucasian progressive over the age of 45 knows, the way you demonstrate your diversity to the public, is to occasionally welcome in an Asian person — who has identical politics to caucasian progressives over the age of 45.

AUDIENCE: (cheers, applause)

MODERATOR: Yes, yes, we know we’re wonderful, don’t we? Well, friends, it’s time for us to take a stand. The forces of Badthinkery® are upon us. Our Hugo award — silvery, phallic, entirely sausage-like — is being invaded by Bad People™ intent on inflicting their Badthinkery® on our beloved field.

AUDIENCE: (more gasps, more shouts of outrage)

MODERATOR: It’s true. We can’t deny it any longer. The Bad People™ couldn’t leave well enough alone. I mean, aren’t they satisfied, clinging like they do to their God, their guns, and their Megyn Kelly? Why did they have to come after us poor, innocent, dafodil-scented Fans in our beloved little nation of Trufandom?

AUDIENCE: (wailing, tears, gnashing of teeth)

MODERATOR: I know, friends, I know. It’s beyond horrible. For how many years has our beloved little country been a bastion of light amidst the cultural darkness of the mundanes — those nasty outsiders who have lives, and jobs, and families, and who haven’t been going to Worldcon (like it’s a religious duty) since they were teenagers?

AUDIENCE: Throw them out! Throw them out!!

MODERATOR: Yes, well, I think it has come to that, friends. Indeed. The Bad People™ have pushed us too far. Drastic times call for drastic measures. We must find a way to purge our Peoples Republic of Science Fiction of Badthinkness© perpetrated by Bad People™ who do not share our tolerant, inclusive values, which stand for never tolerating anyone who might be a Republican, a Tea Partier, a Baen fan, or a Wheel of Time reader.

AUDIENCE: (wild cheering)

MODERATOR: We will cast out the Unfans™ and their Unfannishness®!

AUDIENCE: (more wild cheering)

MODERATOR: We will make the Hugos a juried award, and end this hideous pox upon our beloved genre!

AUDIENCE: (titanic, wild cheering — with a few boos)

GRUMPY OLD FAT RICH FAMOUS AUTHOR: *ahem*

MODERATOR: Oh, pardon me, our Guest of Honor would like to add a few words. Yes, please, the floor is yours, sir.

GRUMPY OLD FAT RICH FAMOUS AUTHOR: Back when I didn’t have two nickels to rub together, the Hugos represented something special in this field. They were the yearly culmination of the collective Fannish spirit. Our communal celebration of what is best in this genre. We did this together — the many, come to unite as one.

AUDIENCE: (tepid applause, some straining forward in their seats, not quite sure where this is going)

GRUMPY OLD FAT RICH FAMOUS AUTHOR: Now, it’s all well and good to get rid of the Bad People™ because Lord knows I’m as sick of them as you all are.

AUDIENCE: (a spontaneous roar of agreement)

GRUMPY OLD FAT RICH FAMOUS AUTHOR: Our genre has never, ever been about Bad People™ nor should we ever be forced to tolerate the intolerant, who of course were never real Fans in the true meaning of Fannishness anyway, because we say so.

AUDIENCE: (collective orgasm of hearty ascent)

GRUMPY OLD FAT RICH FAMOUS AUTHOR: But this has to be done very politic-like. Why do you think all the great Socialist reformers of the past hundred years, have always staged elections? It didn’t matter if they were at the pinnacle of a one-party system, and gave themselves titles like “President.” What mattered is that their subjects — excuse me, citizens — were able to vote. That is the basis of the Republic — allowing people to pretend that there is actual democracy happening.

AUDIENCE: (murmurs, a few shouts, some scattered golf claps)

MODERATOR: (coughs nervously) But, sir, how are we to preserve and protect our glorious accolades?

SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: I know nobody included me in this conversation, but I am going to include myself anyway, because everybody knows it’s all about me, in the end — me, me, and me. In fact, the only reason the Bad People™ exist at all, is because they are out to get me. That’s why there’s trouble in the Peoples Republic of Science Fiction. There are individuals who don’t like me, and have decided to get militant about it.

MODERATOR: (fawning over Shrimpy Famous-On-The-Internet Author) Well, please, by all means, have my chair! We would love to hear more.

AUDIENCE: (cheers, laughter)

SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: I agree one hundred percent with my lovely and esteemed colleague, who is wealthier and more famous than me, so I will suck up to him at every opportunity — just like I do with that rock star Sandman guy. We of the pure and true fold, don’t need to tolerate the intolerant. Diversity means ensuring that a rainbow spectrum of ethnicities, genders, and sexualities — who all vote the same in national politics, have the same ideas on economics, and also literary taste — are afforded the opportunity to come celebrate with us, this most wonderful thing we call Science Fiction and Fantasy.

AUDIENCE: (massive, outlandish, squeeing approval)

SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: But we have to be careful about how we go about ensuring that the Baen people, the FOX News viewers, the homophobes — did I tell you this hour how much I love and adore all gay people, for all time, everywhere? Because I, like, totally do! — and the transphobes, islamophobes, and other assorted Heinlein devotees, are kept out of the awards process. Do it too bluntly, and we risk sacrificing the public face of the field. We have to be sure we can say to the world — with straight faces — that Science Fiction and Fantasy is still a field that celebrates all ideas. Even though we want to make damned sure that SF/F’s power people and core literary prizes remain firmly on the side of the right ideas. Progressive ideas. For all definitions of Progressive which include, “Whatever Jon Stewart is being cute about this week.”

AUDIENCE: (murmuring wonderment at the great man’s epic intellect)

MODERATOR: (crying) My God, that was so beautiful . . . (reaches for tissue)

GRUMPY OLD FAT RICH FAMOUS AUTHOR: (steeples fingers) We’re kind of stating the obvious at this point. So, since we agree that we can’t be direct in addressing the problem of Bad People™ meddling in our business, what’s your proposal?

EDITOR TO THE SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: (clears throat) Actually, it’s not his proposal, it’s mine. Because when it comes right down to it, we all know you writers would sell your souls for the right offer; from my house specifically. I can make or break any of you, any time I want. Same goes for people like that chump moderator over there, licking the hand of the caterer who’s putting out the lavish spread of food and treats — a spread my company is of course paying for, because the best way to win the hearts and minds of Fandom, is to give them free shit. Anyway, you all will rubber stamp whatever I want, in the end — just like when we split the editor category — so I’ll have my wife draft something on our blog later in the week. We can assume it will pass with flying colors at the business meeting, right?

MODERATOR: (in between mouthfuls) Weeth willth maketh thure of it, thir! (grabs more food)

EDITOR TO THE SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: Splendid. Just make sure to get that business meeting packed with our guys. Shouldn’t be hard. Nobody but Trufans gives a crap about the business meeting anyway. There won’t be enough Bad People™ there to override or overrule whatever we decide to adopt. Then we need to be doubly sure that we pack successive business meetings, to lock it in. We’re progressives, dammit. We know more about bending bureaucracy to our will, and instituting rules that suit our agenda, than anybody else! The Bad People™ think this genre is about having fun? HAH! Pathetic fools. This genre is about making sure people know who is in charge! That the right authors and the right publishers are rewarded for creating the right product that affirms the right politics and ideas! We’ll have those Bad People™ shut out very quickly. It won’t be hard. Most of them have jobs and lives that prevent them from focusing on this field full-time, like a proper Trufan should. They will get discouraged, and move on to other things.

SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: But what about that one guy who, like, totally hates me personally? He’s not going to quit, and he actually has fans who do what he says!

EDITOR TO THE SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: Which guy that hates you personally? They are legion. With more springing up all the time.

SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: you know, he’s short, brags a lot, has a gargantuan ego, and thinks he’s the center of attention, even when he’s not.

MODERATOR: (stares)

AUDIENCE: (stares)

GRUMPY OLD FAT RICH FAMOUS AUTHOR: (stares)

SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: What?

EDITOR TO THE SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: Look, are we about done here? I have more important things to do than come be on a panel in front of a bunch of little people. (begins to tap rapidly at cell phone . . .)

MODERATOR: (with chicken salad on his cheek and collar) Absolutely, no problem! Uhhh, we’ll just keep an eye on your wife’s blog. Whatever she sends out, we’ll make sure it’s all done up formal and everything, for the meeting. Perfect. That solves that.

GRUMPY OLD FAT RICH FAMOUS AUTHOR: (frowning) I’m not sure, now that I am really thinking about it. I mean, obviously we have to do something. But what if we go too far? What if we end up excluding a bunch of people who shouldn’t be excluded? I mean, how do we tell for real who the Trufans are, versus the Bad People™? In the end, no genre award matters unless it has the blessing of our people. Make it too hard for them to nominate and vote, and we wind up driving them away too.

EDITOR TO THE SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: You’re familiar with Arnaud Amalric?

GRUMPY OLD FAT RICH FAMOUS AUTHOR: Of course.

EDITOR TO THE SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: Same thing here.

GRUMPY OLD FAT RICH FAMOUS AUTHOR: (frown deepens)

MODERATOR: (quickly gets the roaming mic into his hands) Okay, well, this has been a rousing and illuminating session, friends. I just want to say again how proud I am to call all of you my comrades. The Peoples Republic of Science Fiction will not only survive this latest onslaught by Bad People™ engaging in Badthinkery®, it will thrive like never before. In fact, we will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever! A purer, more correct Fandom! More inclusive of people who think and talk and act just like we do! Is that not a thing to cherish and celebrate? I tell you, friends, this is surely a golden age for us. The Bad People™ will be buried by history. As they always have been.

AUDIENCE: (wild applause, hooting and fist-pumping)

GRUMPY OLD FAT RICH FAMOUS AUTHOR: (frown continues to deepen)

MODERATOR: For those interested in staying until the next panel, stick around. In five minutes we’re going to hear from four old white people — and, I am told, one angry not-white, possibly genderqueer person — about how Science Fiction and Fantasy have together been a Nazi literary hell-hole of racial, sexual, and gender oppression. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

AUDIENCE: (hoverounds begin to queue for the exit — it’s a big queue!)

SHRIMPY FAMOUS-ON-THE-INTERNET AUTHOR: Just so everybody knows, I love this next panel coming up. In fact, I am going to invite myself onto that panel too. Because I think we should all care about how privileged we all are, and how this privilege makes us bad. Well, except for me. I am awesome, because I just said that. Did everyone hear me say it? I said it. You back there, recording this on your phone? Post that shit to Twitter. Do it. Because I’m wonderful, and the world needs to know.

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