Complaint About Term “Neo-Nazi” Results in Foz Meadows Post Moving from Black Gate to Amazing Stories

Black Gate published Foz Meadows’ analytical essay “Unempathic Bipeds of Failure: The Relationship Between Stories and Politics” (archived version) on December 7.

As it originally appeared, the post included these lines  —

For the past few years, the Sad and Rabid Puppies – guided by an actual neo-Nazi – have campaigned against what they perceive as the recent politicization of SFF as a genre, as though it’s humanly possible to write a story involving people that doesn’t have a political dimension; as though “political narrative” means “I disagreed with the premise or content, which makes it Wrong” and not “a narrative which contains and was written by people.”

Vox Day, who was not named in Meadows’ piece but is the subject of the linked We Hunted the Mammoth article, immediately published an objection to her “neo-Nazi” characterization, and asked Black Gate to remove it.

I have written to John O’Neill, my former editor at Black Gate, asking him to remove this false, malicious, and materially damaging libel directed at me, and by extension, the Sad and Rabid Puppies. As I was a long-time contributor to Black Gate, Mr. O’Neill knows perfectly well that I am neither a neo-Nazi nor a National Socialist, I have never been a neo-Nazi or a National Socialist, I do not belong to, or subscribe to the tenets of, the German National Socialist Workers Party or any subsequent facsimile, and I do not appreciate the libelous attempts of Ms Meadows, to publicly and falsely assert that I am “an actual neo-Nazi”.

On December 11, Black Gate truncated its version of Meadows’ post. What remains now are two introductory paragraphs and a link indicating the rest can be read at Amazing Stories. (The link is not yet operative, for reasons outlined below.)

Foz Meadows explained for File 770 the steps that led to her essay originally appearing on Black Gate:

I pitched John a piece about the relationship between politics and SFF back on November 14th; he expressed an interest, and I turned it in to him on December 8th. He read, approved and posted it to the site himself.

The day after it appeared, O’Neill wrote to Meadows discussing reaction to the post.

Checking my email, I found two missives from John on the subject. The first warned me that there was some ugliness about insults and doxing me in VD’s comment thread; he said he’d been getting threats from VD’s readers, that VD himself had sent a lengthy email demanding a retraction, and to let him know if I started getting harassed.

The second email was longer: as VD lives in the EU where there are laws about Nazi affiliations, John said, he (VD) was concerned that being called a neo-Nazi could have adverse legal consequences for him, and though John expressed his agreement with and support of what I’d written, he nonetheless didn’t want to risk Black Gate being the source of an actual legal difficulty for someone else. As such, he asked if I’d consider changing my wording as a personal favour to him. I didn’t want to do that for a number of reasons, not least because we’re at a point in history where refusing to acknowledge the neo-Nazism of the alt-right, with which VD is openly affiliated, is a major contributing factor to its normalisation. To me, this was a statement worth defending. VD denies being a misogynist while saying that women shouldn’t have the right to vote, denies being racist while spouting white supremacist dogma, and denies being homophobic while defining queerness as a defect and a moral failing: that he would additionally deny being a neo-Nazi while defending anti-Semitism and espousing xenophobic, ableist and ultranationalist views, among others, fits the established pattern of his behaviour. His dislike of the label doesn’t moot its applicability, and as I pointed out to John, I’m hardly the first person to call him one, whether online or off. John agreed again, but reiterated his preference that Black Gate not risk responsibility for getting someone else in legal trouble, however hypothetically.

O’Neill proposed several ideas for removing the controversy from Black Gate.

Initially, it was suggested that I could either change my wording in the piece and write a footnote explaining why, or else move it to my own blog with a link remaining at Black Gate. However, John also mentioned that Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories had contacted him in support of what I’d written and was willing to back me up on it, and would I consider transferring the unaltered piece to his site? After a further back and forth with both Steve and John, I agreed to that. However, owing to various emails getting caught in spam filters, there was a miscommunication about timing between Steve and John: Steve wanted to research and write a footnote of his own before posting the piece to Amazing Stories, while John assumed it was good to go. Hence the current state of affairs where the truncated version is up at Black Gate, but linking to a URL that hasn’t yet posted the rest.

Essentially, then the issue is this: a man who happily uses feminazi as an insult, gives commenters who think Nazis are preferable to feminists a space on his blog, and who has publicly said that people have a right to be anti-Semitic, thinks my calling him a neo-Nazi is both inaccurate to the point of being libelous and concrete enough to potentially get him in trouble. Rather ironic, really.

Meadows’ expects the essay to reappear before long at Amazing Stories.

Black Gate’s O’Neill published the essay without having committed to keep it online when the inevitable objection came. That one would be coming could be predicted based on Vox Day’s success in extracting apologies from Tor Books’ Tom Doherty and Irene Gallo  after Gallo referenced the Rabid Puppies as a neo-nazi group on Facebook in 2015.

This Was the Forrest Primeval

Ackerman Square sign installation. Photo by Michael Locke.

Ackerman Square sign installation on November 17. Photo by Michael Locke.

By John Hertz: When I passed a storefront bearing a sign “Esperanto Inc.”, I knew it would be a good day for remembering Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008).

If he were reading over my shoulder he might say “But Esperan-Test was Roy Test [1921-2009].”  Maybe he is.  They were among the happy few who in 1934 founded the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, oldest SF club on Earth.  Roy’s mother Wanda was the secretary; Forry called her minutes Thrilling Wanda Stories.  In an inspired pun he called SF fandom the Imagi-Nation.

Eventually we recognized as First Fandom all those who had been active at least as early as the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939.  Forry’s first published letter was in Science Wonder Quarterly ten years earlier.

On November 17, 2016, the City of Los Angeles, as advertised, declared the four corners of Franklin & Vermont Aves. to be Forrest J Ackerman Square.  This was in District 4; Councilman David Ryu was there.  The ceremony was on the southeast corner, in front of Forry’s beloved House of Pies restaurant.  When he had to give up the Ackermansion on Glendower Ave. his real-estate agent was told “Get me something within a half-mile radius of the House of Pies”, and did.  Another Ackermiracle.

The Acker Mini-mansion. Photo by Michael Locke.

The Acker Mini-mansion. Photo by Michael Locke.

The City’s placards acknowledged 4e as “Mr. Sci-Fi”; he had coined sci-fi when high-fidelity audio recording was new and people talked of hi-fi.  He knew but was unconvinced by the sorrow some of us came to feel at the scornful use of his expression in the mass media.  His attitude might have been Don’t fight them, embrace them.  I never discussed it with him.  He wasn’t a fighter, he was a lover.

I also never discussed what he knew of Owen Glendower.

I was merely the first, by no means the only, person to remind Ryu’s staff there was no period after the J.  Forry had gone to court making that his legal name.  Replacement placards were promptly promised.  A deputy showed me the Council resolution had written it right.

Ackerman Square dedication placard (with erroneous period after the initial "J").

Ackerman Square dedication placard (with erroneous period after the initial “J”).

Most of the sixty standing on the corner, and all the speakers, knew Uncle Forry as the Ackermonster, for twenty years editor, writer, chief cook and bottle-washer, and blithe spirit of Famous Monsters of Filmland.  They spoke of his generosity — which he certainly had — and his turning focus from the stars to people behind the camera, make-up artists, technicians.  They thanked him for inspiring them to become professionals and to achieve recognition.

Some of the Ackerman devotees on hand for the dedication. Photo by Michael Locke.

Some of the Ackerman devotees on hand for the dedication. Photo by Michael Locke.

Half a dozen from LASFS were there too, including two on the board of directors and a former president.  No one had invited us to speak, nor indeed to attend; we came because we were willing and able (must be both) and it seemed the fannish thing to do.

LASFS delegation. Standing (L-R) Michelle Pincus, Gavin Claypool, Beverly Warren, Matthew Tepper. Kneeling (L-R) John Hertz, Debra Levin, Shawn Crosby.

LASFS delegation. Standing (L-R) Michelle Pincus, Gavin Claypool, Beverly Warren, Matthew Tepper. Kneeling (L-R) John Hertz, Debra Levin, Shawn Crosby.

It’s a proud and lonely thing to be a fan.  I’m not surprised that commercial science-fiction conventions run to six-figure numbers while our local Loscon draws a thousand.  The difference is in the participation.  Not much mental voltage is needed to imagine people must be either buyers or sellers.

Some fans do turn pro; if willing and able, why not?  Some pros develop careers as fans.  Some people are active as both.  Forry was.  But as Patrick Nielsen Hayden says, and he should know, in our community fandom is not a junior varsity for prodom.

And there was cake. Photo by Michael Locke.

And there was cake. Photo by Michael Locke.

Forry’s hundredth birthday will be in a few days, November 24th.  Buy a book — or write one.  See a movie — or take part in one.  Send a letter of comment to a prozine — or a fanzine (since you’re here in Electronicland you might as well know, and you may already, that you can find some fanzines electronically.)

Visit fans in another country, in person or by phone or mail.  Forry did all those.  To him it was all good.

Photo by MIchael Locke.

Photo by MIchael Locke.

The Handle of a Scythe

Steve Sneyd. [Via Eight Miles Higher.]

Steve Sneyd. [Via Eight Miles Higher.]

By John Hertz: A sneyd (also snead, sned, snathe) is the handle of a scythe.  The Science Fiction Poetry Association named Steve Sneyd a 2015 Grand Master of Fantastic Poetry. Marge Simon too, but Sneyd is a fanziner.

He was poetry editor for Langley Searles’ unsurpassed Fantasy Commentator.  His own Data Dump has been published a quarter-century; I reviewed it in Chunga (“Unfolding Stars”, Chunga 14). It’s mostly about poetry, preferably strange.  For a decade he ran a series of acronyms, printing six dozen of mine, e.g.

Puncture Overlords Escape Madness (DD 74)

Pulling Oars, Entering Moonlight (DD 142)

Poplars Oaks Elms March (DD 166)

On the occasion of the Grand Master award, Andrew Darlington posted a 3,400-word piece “Steve Sneyd from Mars to Marsden” at Darlington’s Weblog Eight Miles Higher,  with photos, images of Sneyd’s various publications including Data Dump, electronic links, and things too fierce to mention; Darlington says “He’s been featured regularly, week-by-week, month-by-month, year-by-year since the 1960s in more strange, obscure, and esoteric journals than even he can possibly remember.” The piece is framed as an interview, but the poor interviewer found his subject “talks about everything…. everything — in fact, but Steve Sneyd himself.”  Earlier last year there was an interview in Amazing.

Sneyd himself elsewhere tells us

A Call to Mind is a Call to Action

greenypurple as winter bramble
deathbedded he-it-they strive
to call back to aching side
all those offshoots driven
out to farflungs of the spiral arm
lucky for their convenience
now newrooted in another clime
the message system long ago
ceased functioning and so remains
all on its ownieownieo

Running To Save The Rhino

Mowatt peeks outBy Jim Mowatt: “We’ve got a bloody fanzine to get out. Where’s your stuff?” Nic Farey has written a series of messages demanding, quite rightly that I get my finger out and send in my contributions for the fanzine, Beam. Unfortunately I’ve been distracted by a number of five-toed ungulates from the family Rhinocerotidae.

The rhino is having a bit of a tough time you see with all manner of people trying to kill it so that they can chop off the horn and sell it to deluded idiots who think that in powdered form it can do all sorts of wonders for them. There are all sorts of things being done to try to protect them and it all takes money so I figured that I would try to get them some money. Not wanting to make things easy for myself I volunteered for the London Marathon as a charity runner for Save The Rhino International and set up a fundraising page here: http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt/ .

photo (7) COMP

A little later as I’m musing over how I can raise the profile of the charity and my campaign I have another ridiculous idea. Why don’t I borrow one of their rhino suits and do some shorter runs in that? It sounds easy but the execution of this plan proved to be a little fraught.

I don’t have a car so decided that I would try to get the rhino suit from London to Cambridge on public transport. It’s far too big and unwieldy to carry so I wore it through the London subway from Borough to Kings Cross. Station staff pointed and laughed and when they’d recovered a bit asked if they could take my photograph. Eventually my wife Carrie and I made it back to Cambridge and she wedged me into a taxi so we could be taken home. Phew!

Compared to that, going out to run 5K at my local parkrun was a piece of cake. We got up and toddled around to the park. Carrie carefully guiding me along as I have no peripheral vision in the suit. can’t see where I’m treading and can’t hear very much. The chap from the local paper was waiting for me at parkrun and spent considerable time arranging people around me so he could take several thousand pictures. Inside the suit I had very little idea what was going on. We set off on the run at 0900 and the noise inside the suit grew from loud to cacophonous. The whole thing was bouncing around all swooshing, wooshing, crunching and crackling as I ran along.

It was tough going. It is ridiculously hot in the suit and it seemed to push me forward a little so there was quite an ache in my back even after only a mile. I started to get a feel for how to run in it and so for the second mile I started to pass people. Seeing folks (especially those wearing earphones) jump and shriek as I passed gave me enormous pleasure (evil rhino that I am).

I staggered across the line and was incredibly relieved to remove the rhino head and cool down a little. One child expressed his disappointment that I wasn’t a real rhino. We bought him off with a Save The Rhino sticker and asked him not to tell anyone.

We added some money to my fundraising total and Fannish fans on Facebook have been particularly generous. Thank you everyone for your help so far.

To answer the question that is possibly bubbling up in many minds out there, no I don’t think I’ll be running the London Marathon on 24th April 2016 in the rhino suit. I don’t reckon I’ll have the strength or the stamina to do it. Despite this I hope many of you will watch out for me next year though if you get to watch the marathon. It’s an amazing event and will be my first ever attempt at running 26.2 miles.

Jim Mowatt is a former TAFF winner. Jim’s London Marathon fundraising page http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JimMowatt

rhinobedroomsm

Ready for the next run.

Benford Recalls Sidney Coleman

Canfield-Albert&Sid_s

Grant Canfield’s cover art for eI #36.

Gregory Benford has posted a compelling and entertaining profile of the late Sidney Coleman, physicist, fan and wit.

A reputed Einstein-look-alike, Coleman’s accomplishments included co-founding Advent:Publishers, and devising “wormhole calculus.” As for his wit — here are two examples:

When his physics department suddenly needed someone to fill in for an ill colleague, they asked Sid if he could teach a field theory class that the energetic colleague had scheduled for 8 a.m. Sid was a notorious night owl who often had to rouse his dinner guests to go home at a mere 3 a.m. He relished the pleasures of watching the sun come up while putting on pajamas and others stirred. Still, he considered. He felt that he did have an obligation to his department. “I’m sorry,” he finally said, “I just don’t think I could stay up that late.”

He wrote a great sendup of the space program: “Once I gained access to Pioneer 10, it was the work of a moment to substitute for NASA’s plaque my own, which read, “Make ten exact copies of this plaque with your name at the bottom of the list and send them to ten intelligent races of your acquaintance. At the end of four billion years, your name will reach the top of the list and you will rule the galaxy.”

The tribute first appeared in Trap Door 25 in 2008.

Problem With Gaiman’s “Trigger Warning” Title?

Kameron Hurley thinks Neil Gaiman did not make a good choice in calling his latest story collection Trigger Warning. Commenting at SciFiNow, she first explains the use of the term in its original context, then levels this criticism at Gaiman:

The problem with mainstreaming this kind of use of the term is that instead of saying, “Yes, trigger warnings are useful so let’s not continue to water it down” what you do when you title a rather typical short story collection “Trigger Warning” is that your work becomes part of the problem of breaking it down into meaninglessness and slapping it on any old thing as a marketing gimmick. You co-opt a term used in feminist spaces, and you use it for shock value, to be edgy and subversive, instead of acting like an ally who has empathy and understanding of the term for its intended use.

Gaiman, in his introduction, goes immediately from saying “Yes, I understand its intended use” to “I decided to use it in this work in a way in which it’s not intended.” A little whiplash, there.

I’m not part of the presold audience for the issue, but this post made me willing to think about it more. What I like about Hurley’s approach is that she unapologetically explains what she believes and equips the reader with enough information to understand the issue, while stepping up to challenge a writer who influences a wide audience. She respects the reader, and takes risks.

Of a Feather with Dave Kyle

By John Hertz: In case you, like me, couldn’t be with Dave Kyle in person for his 96th birthday (gosh) last weekend, here’s the verse thing I could think of to send him.

Happy birthday to you!
Hooray for First Fandom too.
We’re behind you in the relay race
Joining the old and the new.

First Fandom is the few, the happy few, active at least as early as the first World Science Fiction Convention, 1939.

I keep saying grab that torch.

While in Japan as a delegate to the Yokohama Worldcon, I kept meeting the proverb on ko chi shin “study the old to appreciate the new”.

First Fandom is fond of calling itself dinosaurs, possibly because dinosaurs were mighty and children seem to love them.  Since dinosaurs are apparently the ancestors of birds I ought to have gotten in something about flocking together.  I did with my Lloyd Penney song.

Verse and Re-Verse

Morris Keesan answered John Hertz’s recent metrical sally Verse and Verse with three haiku of his own. He sent them to John in a postcard, knowing better than to count on John seeing them online. However, the two poets have agreed File 770 readers should not be deprived…

Morris Keesan:

The creatures I meet
Have seven feet in one line,
Five in the others.

Meet them in a line
Exchange seven feet for five.
A net loss of two?

Do they profit, thus?
Is it how many they have,
Or how they use them?

John Hertz:

Seven-foot creatures
With five on each side to help
Exchange beauty, truth.

Verse and Verse

By John Hertz: Among the wonders of Loscon XLI (28-30 Nov 14) I saw a table in Ask Us Alley for next year’s Fandom Verse Expo, Lancaster. At that hour – 1 a.m. if I recall correctly – no one was staffing the table, but there was literature. Feeling I was surely in favor of fandom verse I left this sample, which Paige Willey later politely said the gang found acceptable.

I like fandom ’cos it’s strange.
It helps my mind get broader range.
The creatures I meet
May have seven feet
But there’s nothing I’d take in exchange.