Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?

supergreat shark

You know one of the reasons why my weekly links posts have so much depth? Why I read so widely?

It’s because I used to be afraid to speak. Instead, I read. That is how I participated in the community. I still read.

But I am no longer afraid to speak.

I feel that’s important for me to put out there after the last few days.

Complaining about the Hugo nominations happens year after year. And yet: this year, the year that saw organized bloc voting because a couple of assholes wanted to troll fandom, we’re not supposed to speak about it.

I am–I repeat–completely thrilled for the broad majority of the slate. I am over the moon that a bunch of the people and works I nominated made the final ballot. Even more so that there are works on the ballot that I haven’t yet read, and that I’m really looking forward to reading.

I have also reacted with dismay to the parts of the slate that are there because of those assholes. Others writing about this issue have implied that folks who are upset at this obvious and open gaming of the nomination process are blowing it out of proportion. For me, personally, a line was crossed that should not have been crossed and it was crossed deliberately. That will affect how I vote.

So. My troll infestation. That was fun, amirite?

The main thing I found incredibly interesting about it was how certain commenters felt they had the right to my space. The right to demand very specific answers from me. My refusal to engage except superficially led to goalpost shifting and increasingly vitriolic abuse and deliberate misreadings as well as outright lies about me.

After that, there was an insistence from both the trolls and other parties that I should judge the nominated works on their merits alone. These works do not exist in a vacuum and the context in which they are produced is, for me, relevant. The personal is political. I am not going to waste my time reading books written by people who hold me, my friends, and my family in contempt–and Larry Correia and Vox Day do. They have made this abundantly clear through their own discourse as well as through the discourse they allow and encourage to flourish in their comments.

My refusal to allow that sort of discourse to take root here is not a sign of weakness. It is a refusal to allow myself to be diminished and to be made smaller. I’ve spent too much of my life trying to be small, measuring out my life in coffee spoons.

It’s time to disturb the universe. Who’s coming with me?

(Thanks to Abi Sutherland, Alex Dally McFarlane, Jenny Thurman, and Rachael Acks for all helping in their own way to crystallize my thoughts.)

Obligatory Hugo Nomination Reaction Post

I love seeing my friends and colleagues getting nominated for Hugo Awards.

Love it.

This is how excited I get:


And I am really excited by seeing so many great nominees.  There are going to be lots of first time winners this year, which is AWESOME. My favorite novel and short story from last year were nominated (Ancillary Justice and “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”). The fanzine, best related work, and fan writer categories are full of so much awesome I might explode (how am I supposed to decide between Liz Bourke, Foz Meadows, Kameron Hurley, and Abigail Nussbaum for fan writer? SERIOUSLY!). Book Smugglers! Pornokitsch! A Dribble of Ink! all in fanzine! The Campbell Award (not a Hugo) has a wonderful slate of nominees. Pacific Rim! So. Much. Awesome.


And yet. There is some not-awesome, too.  Let’s talk about that, shall we?

I don’t love is Wheel of Time being nominated as an entire singular work.  Sorry, no. I don’t care how you bend the rules, no.  A 300,000 page that dragged on for 20+ years and had two authors is not a singular work.  Article 3.2.4 of the WSFS constitution is the rule that applies here:

Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a whole is not eligible. However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part.

I can see how the rule was interpreted and I don’t agree with it, especially since the final part of WoT was split into three volumes.  But I can see the interpretation and I hope that this doesn’t turn into a trend in years when long-running series conclude.

What I agree with, even less, is the campaign that went on to stuff the ballot box on the part of Larry Correia and Vox Day.  They each wrote a post, shortly before the nominating deadline, exhorting their readers to submit a particular ballot. You can see their posts here and here (both are donotlinkified for your and my protection). I would be extremely interested to know how many ballots match that list in all respects. I would also be interested to know how many supporting memberships were bought for spouses, children, and extended family who did not actually submit those ballots.  It would be ridiculously easy to game the nominations that way. Ridiculously.

It’s also potentially a violation of Article 6.2:

Natural Persons. In all matters arising under this Constitution, only natural persons may introduce business, nominate, or vote, except as specifically provided otherwise in this Constitution. No person may cast more than one vote on any issue or more than one ballot in any election. This shall not be interpreted to prohibit delivery of ballots cast by other eligible voters.

Not that it can be proven, of course–I assume they were smart enough to use different email addresses and mask their IPs if they voted on behalf of their grandparents and spouses.  As Renay said on Twitter, this was gross and manipulative and not in the spirit of the award.

I am, very much, looking forward to ranking “No Award” higher than Vox Day, Larry Correia, Brad Torgerson, Dan Wells, Steve Diamond, and Toni Weisskopf.


But hey! Look at all that awesome that is on the ballot! Woo!


Reframing and Punching Down

Or, you know, more tilting at windmills.

I’ve been watching the discussion around the Hugo/Ross fiasco for most of the last week.  I was offline when much of the backlash started earlier this week but once articles in the mainstream media started appearing I found myself getting angrier and angrier.  I started to feel like my mood was stuck on “angry shrill bitch,” to be honest.

There have been a lot of fantastic posts about this.  Here are links to a few:

Then there were some other posts that I found to be less than fantastic. Many of them boil down to “chill out and settle down, be nice”.

There have been a number of articles in the mainstream media–mostly British outlets–but the one I want to concentrate on is this one: Jonathan Ross and the Hugo awards: why was he forced out by science fiction’s self-appointed gatekeepers?

That essay, dear readers, was written by Hayley Campbell, Neil Gaiman’s goddaughter.  This is not disclosed anywhere in the article.  And yet it is a critical piece of information, as that informs the way Campbell has framed her essay.

Read that article carefully. Read exactly who is allowed to have a voice in that article, who is quoted, and who is given a name.  Read who is reduced to a mob, to an irrationally shrill group of bullies.

Now think about who has access to mainstream media outlets. Think about who has the connections. Think about the pre-packaged “toxic Twitter” meme that this story has, oh so neatly, been shaped to fit.

Are you angry yet?  Because you should be.

This entire conversation has been reframed to cast Jonathan Ross as the victim here.  I have looked for the abuse that was supposedly directed at Ross and his family and, like this commenter, I have been unable to find any.

Instead, the story is that Seanan McGuire is a bully for speaking to her own fears in this situation and not even tagging Jonathan Ross or his family (note: dragging someone’s family into this sort of thing is seriously Not On; people’s personal lives are just that: personal).  Instead the story is that a bunch of people–mostly women–bullied a celebrity into resigning a hosting gig that he was being nice enough to do for free.

And I am furious.

I am furious that there is the appearance of Jonathan Ross is using his access to the media to punch down onto a group of people who have historically been made to feel unwelcome in fandom–from the procurement of butts for Isaac Asimov to pinch on stage to Harlan Ellison groping Connie Willis during the Hugo ceremony and through the discussion and controversy around other harassment at conventions and the SFWA Bulletin.

This is yet another way that voices are marginalized. People who are afraid of being hurt again are being told that they’re overreacting. That they need to be kind and generous and give people a chance.

When I was younger, I was often told by my father that I was difficult and hard to get along with because I was too outspoken. That I needed to be nicer and listen to other people and that I’d eventually get a chance to speak.  You know what I discovered?  That if I followed that advice, my chance to speak never came.  And this feels very much like that.  For me, that is no longer an option.

The only way we can change our culture is by speaking up when we can.

As for Jonathan Ross and his wounded ego?

sound of music fucks

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Jesus fucking Christ, Loncon3. This is why we can’t have nice things. (cache)

I don’t even know what else to say.  After all the discussions over the last year (and more) we’ve had about sexism, racism, and harassment in fandom, you–the Chairs, Steve Cooper and Alice Lawson–have decided that a man who was suspended from the BBC and who has, essentially, made a career out of punching down is the perfect person to host the Hugo Award ceremonies.

This basically says everything:

Seriously, what the actual fucking FUCK, Loncon3? Was everyone else you asked already booked for the evening? Was Jonathan Ross the literal best you could do?

You took people’s labor–Farah Mendlesohn’s in particular–and waited until they were so invested that they couldn’t completely walk away. You waited until after people bought memberships before the deadline for the Hugo nomination period. And this is what you do with all the goodwill you’ve accumulated over the last year by promising that this year’s Worldcon would be different?  You’ve pissed it away because the chance to have an actual celebrity host the Hugos was too good to pass up.

I don’t even. I just don’t.

Update. And Ross has withdrawn.



Update 2. Mendlesohn has taken her original post down.