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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » Does Anyone Have an Opinion About This?

   
Author Topic: Does Anyone Have an Opinion About This?
Robert Nowall
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http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/02/05/the-hugo-wars-how-sci-fis-most-prestigious-awards-became-a-political-battleground/

I found it probably the most interesting thing I've read about the SF / Fantasy genre niche world in years. But I'm so out of it far as field gossip goes that I didn't even know some of this was going on.

Anybody know anything about it?

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Grumpy old guy
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Hasn't crossed my radar, but I'm not surprised. Such champions of justice as described in the article are notoriously intolerant, even violently intolerant, of any views they don't personally condone.

Just don't ask them to identify themselves or their aims; they are peculiarly reticent when asked to do that.

Phil.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I've heard bits of this, but haven't been active in the SFF community for a few years, so I don't know all the details.
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LDWriter2
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It's sad:

I knew of some of that but it's gone a lot further than the last time I read anything about it--which wasn't that far ago,


As the article stated this intolerance in the name of tolerance has already hit other fields. Certain people are so over sensitive that it's amazing. And they have become a stereotype of the worse religious dogmatist.


What is worse is that a couple writers I respect and admire and follow on Google+ are on that side--Or they were at the beginning. I didn't read one hundred percent of the article but at about ninety percent those two or three were not mentioned. One is from here long time ago.


Another thing is that they do have a couple of real points, that probably should be discussed but they go so over board that it hinders that discussion in more than one way.

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extrinsic
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Personality cult power squabbling is why I'm a nonbelonger. SFWA's squabbles began when Damon Knight founded the parent organization and continue unending to raise dissent about SFWA's writer advocacy -- political -- and award culture. Culture politics are static, in a state of unstable, buffered equilibrium state of being: Stasis. And static -- the white-noise hiss of a corrupted transmission signal.

The Hugo awards' squabbles began at inception, too, and also within the sponsoring organization: the World Science Fiction Society and its conference culture. Literary award culture, across culture and society overall, squabbles and uncompromising dissent and dirty smear campaign politicking are more common than mutual compromise in any and every social group, which is extremely rare, though squabbles are kept confidential as much as possible.

Most anyone who becomes civically involved imposes their insular views on others with little or no regard for others' likewise insular views. Many become active because they've become cognitively aware and because they've become involved, because a particular activity matters to them, because they've been negatively or positively influenced by an activity, and because they've come of an age where they feel socially responsible participation is important in insular areas that matter to them. Jealousy, pride, and vanity, other social vices as well, (envy, gluttony, greed, wrath, maybe lust indirectly), underlay a large portion of their true though veiled agendas.

With rare exceptions, they argue past each other -- tactically and strategically exactly like each other, label each other with identical negatively charged buzz words, like "fascist," and from the same accusation grounds they themselves argue and trespass against -- out of a need to self-promote their insular views and careers and narrowly construed values by any means to their ends.

The assertions of the article sensationally demote an opposition view for expressing considerations about social responsibility as a political platform and is also from a political platform that asserts social responsibility claims and considerations. The opposition faction had itself previously stooped to opposition demotion from political platforms. Hypocrites. How about a little civil compromise and cooperation toward a more civil society instead? When did the grudges and figurative blood feuds start? Who knows!? At inception.

The contentious, never-ending conversation is as old as chromosonal Adam and mitochrondial Eve after their departure from the proverbial Garden and as recent as tomorrow. The pendulum swings when one faction feels others are too far ahead of it and it is too far behind others. The pendulum swings.

[ February 14, 2015, 02:40 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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The first casualty of war is truth; whether that war is on the battlefield or in the minds of men.

Regardless of your views, or whatever cows you all hold sacred, you and I are not above manipulating the truth to serve our own ends. The truth will set you free: if you can find it.

I think it is incumbent on all of us to find the truth of an argument before committing ourselves to one side or the other; and that is no easy task. But, for the most part, I think that all of us have the capacity to see through the hokum being masqueraded as truth is we apply ourselves.

If we all think for ourselves critically, then the peddlers of misinformation better beware.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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I've many times read Damon Knight's signal short story "To Serve Man," Galaxy Press: November 1950, (PDF Perry Local Schools.org, Massillon, Ohio), Hugo 2001 retro award for 1951's "Best Short Story," from a literal approach. Figuratively interpreted as an extended metaphor and verbal irony, the narrative models the perils of masqueraded altruism and appeals to self-gratification as an ulterior predatory agenda.

[ February 14, 2015, 12:54 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Robert Nowall
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One thing I can say about the Science Fiction Writers of America: do not mistake this social organization for a strong union. I was told this well before I eventually did become involved in union activity.
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Reziac
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Attacking the problem more directly,

http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/02/23/the-social-justice-warrior-racist-reading-challenge-a-fisking/

I got there from this very long but interesting essay:

http://www.jamesmaystock.com/essays/Pages/DeathofSF.html

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Read what you want to read and write what you want to write, hoping that there are those out there who will want to read what you want to write.
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Grumpy old guy
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There will always be people who will stamp their foot, waggle their finger and loudly moan that, "People just aughta (insert bizarre social attitude here)."

Just remember what your mother said, "It's rude to point and laugh at the afflicted." [Smile]

Phil.

PS. In fact, ridicule is often the best response to such commentators. The problem is, they won't understand what you're doing and will take your comments at face value; which can be hilarious in its own way.

[ March 06, 2015, 06:30 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]

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Robert Nowall
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Followup story to the above:

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/04/04/hugo-awards-nominations-swept-by-anti-sjw-anti-authoritarian-authors/

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Thought I'd share Dan Wells' take on this:

http://www.fearfulsymmetry.net/?p=2282

He has insightful things to offer from both sides.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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And this from Mary Robinette Kowal:

http://maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/please-stop-with-the-death-threats-and-the-hate-mail/

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extrinsic
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Really going political, all the stumps no matter the side. As ugly as electioneering is, which is dirty culture. The idea of nominating a slate of whatever makeup to tell others who they'd best side with for the argument and vote for Hugo awards, whatever, or else be numbered among the vile enemy is electioneering at its most distasteful.

Hidden self-involved agendas, other than politics, lay among the nonsense, too: self-promotion at the expense of others' feelings and status demotions by any feel good means to the end of crushing the opposition. This is petty-clique shunning, playground recess popularity pageantry. If the writers would just write and leave politics to feeble politicians, maybe their writing might earn the praise they can't by writing the same tired-out fiction they're stuck with and that is the crop anymore.

Personally, as far as I'm concerned, every one of the contributors to the contention no matter the position has lost much trust and respect in my eyes. Hard to win back.

[ April 07, 2015, 07:15 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Robert Nowall
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Being not a published writer and somewhat aloof from this sort of thing, it's difficult to sort out.

But if, say, I found out that my not being published had anything to do with my political opinions or positions...well, I'd set out to pull down the whole rotten structure around their ears.

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extrinsic
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That's the position of the several factions and a red herring. Marginally successful writers debuted and then had career crises and cast about for someone to blame externally, because they didn't experience meteoric glory, fame, and wealth they expected. The whole culture has been in crisis at least since the introduction of the Internet.

The challenge as I see it is to transcend the factional rivalries and produce appealing writing. The squabbles are meaningless misdirections of efforts and blame.

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Grumpy old guy
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extrinsic, I think you missed Robert's point. It's not that his expectations of fame and glory were denied by decree, it's that his opportunity to be fairly judged on merit was subsumed by 'others' political (whether classically political or philosophical) imperatives.

Judge me for the manner in which I write, not by some arbitrary moral standards you alone hold sway over.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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The factions each want to "tear down the whole rotten structure" by political machinations because they reject political machinations of others not of the same mindset -- that everyone should believe she or he is a better writer than they do. Never mind they are all about equal and only a degree above vanity press par. Thus the common declined writer lament, "Why them, not me, published, Hugo winner, etc.?"

The literary status quo establishment oscillates from one fashion to another, and political machinations for any given status quo fashion supremacy goes back in time to at least the Attic Orators of ancient Greece. They competed in Olympics-like forums. Affiliates stumped for them and they stumped for themselves.

How much of a story's popular or critical acclaim is genuinely based on identifiable artistic merit, and how much on personal sentiment and intuition, and how much on political stumping? Figuring that out -- that way lays madness and anger and frustration and feelings of worthlessness. They all matter to more or less equal degrees and are objectively quantifiable and qualifiable. But human biases are intimately involved.

Literary prize culture is the next and top-tier screening tradition. The culture is naturally and necessarily the most competitive tier: fewest slots, though the awards are numerous and different enough that a variety of criteria promote a variety of standouts: meritorious, subjective, and political and mixtures.

The vices most involved at present are jealousy in the form of envy, pride, wrath, greed, gluttony, sloth, and, usually indirectly, lust. All of them. What about some kindness, humility, patience, charity, temperance, diligence, and chastity for a change? Ahh the moral human condition! Put it on the fiction page and leave it out of public laundering. The science fiction community is in enough disrepute without making matters worse by petty and unnecessary rivalry squabbling.

Here's what net happened: a number of militant advocates for self-ideology promotion blew away their fifteen minutes of fame. Fine, room now for a new, perhaps more artful and persuasive and respectful crop.

[ April 08, 2015, 06:52 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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extrinsic
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Here's the timeline of the current cultural state:
  • General, factional, and perennial pushmi-pullya perceptions of pushmi-pullya social and cultural pressures set factions' nerves on edge. The pressure bases include sexual politics, social politics, economy politics, political politics, art politics, culture politics overall.
  • The general factional divide falls along perceived inequity of representation; that is, perceptions a faction's or individual's ideologies are underrepresented and other factions irresponsibly bogart the limelight.
  • The several factions believe the limelight bogarts are talentless hacks and are only in the limelight because of their popularity clique campaigns. In other words, not based on merit, based on an inverted idea everyone should be allotted a fair, fifteen minutes share of fame, so long as that means the faction's affiliates get their share first, foremost, and last. That is, based on participation in the competitions' contests everyone should win an equal prize. The warp comes from the factions' claims that winners should be genuinely competitive winners, not merely allotted an exceptional prize for also-ran participation.
  • The perceived inequities are also perceived as representing irresponsible social conduct: each faction believes that the others are imposing their irresponsible social values by force majeur of majority rules and minorities and dissenters can go fly a kite.
  • The current brouhaha's nominal pivot point erupted when the SFWA Bulletin, Winter 2013, Vol. 47, No. 200, published with a cover art of a suggestive female clad in a chain mail bikini, The Cover.
  • One faction objected to the perceived gratuitous use of the art, connected to a perceived biased article in the Bulletin contents.
  • One faction objected to the perceived, overt objectification of women on the Bulletin's face alone.
  • Another faction objected to the perceived objections.
  • Other factions made a few perceived disparaging comments against the several perceived objectors' factions.
  • Disparaging comments escalated in tone and quantity.
  • One faction determined to carry the argument forward across the culture; that is, to stifle perceived dissent by stumping on a so-called fairness campaign that, in actuality, is intended to promote its views to the exclusion of others'.
  • The fairness campaign lobby lobbied support among its rank and file to shut out other factions.
  • The current state of affairs is the fairness campaign faction is, for the moment, perceived ascendant and intends to substitute its regime for a previous regime's perceived supremacy.
  • And all will bow and swear fealty oath to the current regime or be put to the trial of the High Inquisitor's tortures.
  • Long may the current regime reign.
  • Never mind other factions are building and conducting their own alliances and fairness campaigns and strategies to stifle perceived opposition.


[ April 08, 2015, 09:57 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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Ooohhh-kaaaaaay.

I think I'll just go fly a kite and ignore them all. They might not go away, but I won't be paying enough attention to notice one way or the other.

I'll just stick to puddling around writing bland and tiresome prose that's cliched and hackneyed.

I like it that way.

Phil.

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LDWriter2
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This has been discussed over at the WotF forum and by various people on Google+. Mary being one of those.


There seems to be a bit of confusion since there are two groups who have made their presence known. One group I believe felt the need to respond to the all inclusive push not only because of what is going on in SF but also what is going on in the wider society. This debate is just one smaller "battle" going on through out this country.

The other group or slate seems to be just jerks who should be totally ignored.

I side with those who think the uninclusiveness problem isn't as big as those who started this debate say it is. Or I seem to be able to find the books by and about certain types of people they say aren't being represented.

Some writers evidently have been treated unfairly: called names and such, but I believe most readers don't really care who or what wrote the book they love. And I wonder if the few other writers who do negatively care really are that big of deal.

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extrinsic
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One "slate" expresses and imposes an overt and ignoble political agenda, unseemly for a merit-based ideal. Another "slate" sarcastically mocks and ridicules the culture, perhaps ironically to intend a general satire of award rituals' vices and follies, though is overtly a superficial rant of a malcontent. Well, both.
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Robert Nowall
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Apparently there have been several changes in the slate of nominees plus a withdrawal by a trophy presenter.

Up above, I said something along the lines of "pulling the whole rotten structure down around their ears." It would seem others felt that way and are doing just that.

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