Origins Game Fair Drops Larry Correia as Guest

Larry Correia won’t be one of the guests when the Origins Game Fair takes place June 13-17 in Columbus, OH. Shortly after publicizing that Correia had been added to the lineup, John Ward, the event’s Executive Director, received so many negative social media comments (on Twitter, particularly) that he announced Correia’s invitation has been rescinded.

Ward wrote on Facebook:

I want to discuss our invitation to Larry Correia a guest at Origins. By all counts he is a very talented author.

Unfortunately, when he was recommended I was unaware of some personal views that are specifically unaligned with the philosophy of our show and the organization.

I want to thank those of you that brought this error to our attention. Origins is an inclusive and family friendly event. We focus on fun and gaming, not discourse and controversy.

I felt it necessary to recend [sic] his invitation to participate in the show. I apologize again to those of you that were looking forward to seeing him at Origins.

John Ward, Executive Director

Many of the critical tweets mentioned Correia’s history with Sad Puppies.

Correia subsequently responded on Facebook with a statement that begins:

So I’m no longer the writer guest of honor at origins. My invitation has been revoked. It was the usual nonsense. Right after I was announced as a guest some people started throwing a temper tantrum about my alleged racist/sexist/homophobic/whatever (of course, with zero proof or actual examples), and the guy in charge (John Ward) immediately folded. He didn’t even talk to me first. He just accepted the slander and gave me the boot in an email that talked about how “inclusive” they are….

His statement also says “none of these people can ever find any actual examples of me being sexist, racist, or homophobic.”


BEFORE AND AFTER:


Corflu 35 Report

By Taral Wayne: We live in an on-line world in which Corflu is no longer entirely for the enjoyment of a couple of score fans who have the means to travel. Now everyone can watch the proceedings live as they happen. For the first time in quite awhile I was able to witness a Corflu that was not merely virtual, but actually real … and it does still make a difference.

I was somewhat nervous when I set out, despite having done all this before, having planed it all ahead, and actually pretty confident that nothing ought to go wrong. And by George, it really didn’t seem to! I arrived on Friday afternoon after somewhat more than an hour on the road. Traveling Matt cam through beautifully, and at the first opportunity it was plugged in to top up the juice.

I have to say I had a pretty good time, and even recognized a number of people I had not laid eyes on for 20 or 30 years… In one case, I may have last seen one fan in the 70’s!

I collected an envelope of con pubs, fanzines and a badge at the front desk — despite a certain tardiness in preparations, Catherine and Colin seemed to have matters under control, and no-one seemed to think delays were anything unusual or to be excited about. With the last detail in place … I relaxed.

Saturday was pretty full, with most of day engaged in traditional talking heads. The amount of media evident would have done a White House press conference proud. I expected to be press-ganged into one panel on the use of fanart in comparison to photos, but I bowed out when it was found that the table was not really large enough for five. That was all right with me … I think I could have expressed my thoughts entirely in about three sentences, and more or less did exactly that from the audience.

I seem to recall a break after that, prompting me to locate the con suite where I hoped to find some grub. I found better than grub, and was never short of food. However, upon leaning that the con auction had begun, I met my first set-back at Corflu. The hotel was genuinely peculiar in that some of it was in one building, and the rest in another, connected by a glassed in bridge.  This was no problem for most people, since there were only four or five steps to mount one side and cross to the other.  It should not have been a problem for me, either, since there was a motorized lift.  It was rather flimsy looking, and as first I was nervous about sliding off the side and falling to the ground.  But my fears were groundless, so to speak.  I was given a key by the front desk and instructions on its use.  It worked exactly as it should have, and that was how things stood when I returned the way I came to raid the con suite.  However, that was not how it worked the second time!  I was able to mount the lift and drive to the other side and, but nothing would make the second half of the lift operate so that I could dismount on the other side!  We called for three increasingly more important employees to come and look at me – hanging precariously on the lift – but only pronounce in the end that is was “broken.”  At least I was able to dismount on the far side and re-mount on the near side, and wasn’t trapped until someone could repair the lift however many days later…

There was another route into the other half of the hotel, which would have allowed me go through the lobby there, enter the authorized only area to use the employee’s elevator to re-enter guest area on the other side, and finally join the Corflu auction in progress.  But I just plain thought it wasn’t worth the effort at that point.

All the same, that was exactly what I had to do on Sunday, to join the brunch.  It actually didn’t turn out to especially complicated once I had done it.  However, I didn’t know where everyone had gotten to, and stupidly waited in the program room for several minutes before someone wandered by to remind me where I was supposed to be!  So I was fortunate enough not to miss lunch.  As soon I as I had cleaned the plate,  of my last pound of bacon, the tables were cleared for announcements and the FAAn Awards.

Mike Glyer has already announced them on File770, so I won’t repeat then.  All the same, it must be admitted that there were a few unexpected surprises.  I don’t feel it is my place to comment on them, but I trust there will be quite a lot said in the next few days.  You have probably seen the obvious … that I was acclaimed as the new Past President of the Fanzine Writers of America.  What may seem even less likely was that I honestly had no idea – with other things on my mind over the last year — who the nominees were or anything else.  In fact, I was feeling rather drowsy while the nominees were read and the winners announced.  So when was told I had suddenly become the Past President, I was not entirely kidding when I said I had missed the whole thing.

By unlikely coincidence, Alan Rosenthal was chosen of Corflu 35’s Guest of Honour.  The only reason I had a place to stay at the hotel was because Alan offered me the fold-out couch in the other room.  As a result, the con had the new Past President asleep on a couch, while the Guest of Honour was asleep in the bedroom with Jeannie Bowman.

It was late afternoon by that time, and out-of-town guests began to drift away to taxis and airports.  What was left of the food and supplies were carried up to the Dead Dog Party.  There was quite a decent number of fans who were staying over to Sunday, and I might have stayed in the other for a third night if I chose.  It was a near thing, since the night was cool and had rained.  But I was fairly tired and would be grateful to sleep in my own bed instead.  I stayed while Traveling Matt was entirely re-charged once more, then said my goodbyes around 9 or 9:30

I have to admit that I really enjoyed seeing so many I hadn’t seen in years, for many reasons.  The odd thing was that I experienced it in a way that I hadn’t before.  Worldcons are too busy, and you often spend only a few minutes with people and then never encounter them for the rest of the con.  I’m forced to say, as well, that I was a late bloomer.  I was only really getting to know fandom  — and then me, I suspect – late in life.  But there had been almost no opportunity to genuinely relate to the names and printed words as real people.  I may not have another chance … but … well, who ever really knows?

George Slusser Conference

The George Slusser Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy, with the theme “Science Fiction: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”, runs April 26 and 27. There is no conference fee, and everyone is welcome to attend. For full details and parking information click here.

This literary conference will pay tribute to the extraordinary career of the late George Slusser (1939-2014) by presenting papers and panel discussions that engage with and build upon his extensive scholarly works on science fiction and fantasy. The conference will be held at the University of California, Irvine.

Confirmed guests include: James P. Blaylock, Bradford Lyau, David Brin, Charles Platt, Sheila Finch, Tim Powers, Rob Latham and Gary K. Wolfe.

Tentative Program

Thursday, April 26

8:30-9:30 AM: Registration

9:30-10:40 AM: Session 1 (Coordinator: Jonathan Alexander)

  • Gary Westfahl, “The Homeostatic Culture Machine Revisited: The Contemporary Wordmills of Science Fiction”
  • Charles Platt, “You Can’t Get There From Here: Unrealistic Expectations among the Practitioners of Science Fiction”

10:50 AM-12 PM: Session 2 (Coordinator: Gary Westfahl)

  • Gregory Benford, “Economics Meets Reality: Space and Beyond”
  • Steven Postrel, Response

Noon-1:35 PM: Lunch

1:35-3:20 PM: Session 3 (Coordinator: Howard V. Hendrix)

  • Stephen W. Potts, “Soviet Utopianism and Post-Soviet Dystopias”
  • George Slusser (read by Gary Westfahl), “The Strugatskys Under Western Eyes: Science Fiction as Cognition”
  • Lisa Raphals, “The Several Faces of Chinese Science Fiction”

3:30-4:40 PM: Session 4 (Coordinator: Stephen W. Potts)

  • Joey Eschrich, “Complicating the Frankenstein Barrier: Science Fiction Futures and Social Transformation”
  • Ari Brin, “‘No Such Thing as Night’: Tracing the Origins of Science Fiction in Early California”

4:50-5:40 PM: First Keynote Speaker (Introduced by Gregory Benford)

  • Gary K. Wolfe, untitled (on genre-blending)

Friday, April 27

9:05-10:50 AM: Session 5 (Coordinator: Gregory Benford)

  • Bradford Lyau, “Robert A. Heinlein Revisited”
  • Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, “The Slusser Test for Generic Identity: Reflections on George Slusser’s ‘Reflections on Style in Science Fiction’”
  • Julia Ree, “Observations on the Early Life of the Eaton Collection and Dr. George Slusser’s Invaluable Contributions”

11 AM- Noon: Second Panel

Theme: Memories of George Slusser and the Eaton Conferences

Moderator: Gary Westfahl; Panelists: Celeste McConnell Barber, Gregory Benford, Sheila Finch, Howard V. Hendrix, Bradford Lyau

Noon-1:30 PM: Lunch

1:30 – 2:30 PM: Second Panel

Theme: Back to Jules Verne’s Future: Nineteenth-Century Science Fiction and Twenty-First Century Steampunk

Moderator: Gary K. Wolfe; Panelists: James P. Blaylock, Stephen W. Potts, Tim Powers, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

2:40 – 3:50 PM: Session 6 (Coordinator: Bradford Lyau)

  • Jonathan Alexander, “Utopia and Exhaustion”
  • Howard V. Hendrix, “Millions Seek The Egg: Reproductive Technofuturism in Ready Player One and Armada”

4-4:50 PM: Second Keynote Speaker (Introduced by Howard V. Hendrix)

  • David Brin, “The Emperor – and Heretic – of Point of View”

5-6 PM: Third Panel

Theme: Science Fiction Writers and Scholars: Bridging the Gap?

Moderator: Jonathan Alexander; Panelists: David Brin, Gregory Benford, Sheila Finch, Larry Niven

6:30 – 8:30 PM: Closing Reception (Hosted by Jonathan Alexander and Gregory Benford)

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Mythcon 49 Guests of Honor

Conference theme: On the Shoulders of Giants

Mythcon 49 will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, July 20-23. Congratulations to Filer Dr. Reid for being named one of the headliners —

Our Scholar Guest of Honor for 2018 is Dr. Robin Anne Reid. She is a Professor in the Department of Literature and Languages at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Her teaching areas are creative writing, critical theory, and marginalized literatures. Please see her full bio on the Mythcon 49 site for publishing credits. Perhaps most notably for Mythies, she wrote an outstanding bibliographic essay on the history of scholarship surrounding female characters in Tolkien’s legendarium in Perilous and Fair, published by the Mythopoeic Press.

Our Artist Guest of Honor is Donato Giancola. He balances modern concepts with realism in his paintings to bridge the worlds of contemporary and historical figurative arts. He also teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, the Illustration Master Class in Amherst, Massachusetts and online through the SmArt School, and appears at various institutions, seminars, and conventions, from San Diego to Rome to Moscow, where he performs demonstrations in oil paint and lectures on his aesthetics. Please see his full bio on his donatoart.com for influences, awards, and credits.

Visit www.mythcon.org for more information and to register for the con.

[Thanks to Lynn Maudlin for the story.]

ENMU Special Collections Update

By Craig W. Chrissinger: After a late-December flood damaged several books and periodicals in Eastern NM University’s temporary storage for its special collections, librarian Gene Bundy revealed during the Williamson Lectureship on April 6 that items are ready to come back from freeze-dried vacuum storage in Fort Worth, TX.

Once the damaged items are returned to Portales, Bundy and his staff will be able to evaluate whether they are salvageable or not. The freeze drying process is supposed to draw moisture out of the paper, and leave the printed materials flat (with no warping) if done properly.

At the same time, the heavily renovated Golden “Student Success Center” is not finished for the public, but librarians are starting to move archives and library books back into the building. Space for special collections is much smaller than before, and there are no glass cases to safely store rare books and Jack Williamson’s many awards.

Sadly, book shelving installed into the main space for special collections are four inches wider than standard, thus eliminating a whole row of shelving in the room to meet ADA requirements. There also is no room for glass cases, even if they were saved from the original library space.

Bundy and staff will be spending the next month moving everything back, and figuring out how to make all the special collections items fit into the revised, smaller space.

“We’ll make it work, but it’s going to be a real challenge,” he said.

BSFS/Balticon Offer to Universal FanCon Attendees

[Press release]

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society, sponsors of Balticon, the Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention is saddened to hear of the postponement of Universal FanCon as we had hoped to meet many fans at the fan table we had arranged at the convention. Because fandom is family we have decided to offer the following assistance to registered Universal FanCon attendees.

On Friday, April 27, 2018 we will host an impromptu social for Universal Fan Con registrants from 6:00pm till 9:00pm (or when folks want to leave) at the BSFS Building. Further Universal Fan Con registrants in Baltimore for the weekend are also invited to our Anime Social, Book Discussion and general Social Meeting on Saturday, April 28th and the Tabletop Role-Playing Game Event on April 29th all at the BSFS Building. Check our website at www.bsfs.org for details and directions.

In addition, this one time, we are breaking with our traditional policy of never offering discounts on Balticon membership. (Balticon will be held May 25-28, 2018) We can not change the online registration program at this late date, but anyone showing up at Balticon and buying a membership at the door will receive a 30% discount off the membership if they show printed proof they were registered at Universal Fan Con. Proof can be a receipt from Universal Fan Con, or a credit card statement showing payment etc…

Further, although we have the same number of dealers tables already sold as last year’s Balticon the dealers room manager will reduce the isle width back to the width used every year except last year to allow a few more tables. Any dealer not already in at Balticon, with printed proof of paying for a table at Universal Fan Con, will receive a 30% discount on our normal dealers table rate if space is available. For Universal Fan Con artists (with printed proof) wanting to exhibit at our art show, if they are not already exhibiting at Balticon, they will receive a 30% discount off art show hanging fees. (space available) Program participants can also ask to be on program and we will try, but time is getting short to fit more onto the schedule. To learn about participating in Balticon, Universal Fan Con registrants should check our website at www.balticon.org We hope these actions will help until Universal Fan Con can reschedule their event.

[This statement from the BSFS Board of Directors was submitted by BSFS President Dale Arnold.]

John Ringo Out As ConCarolinas Special Guest

A week after ConCarolinas announced John Ringo as a special guest, a choice hailed by his fans but protested by a number of writers on the con program in an extended social media controversy, the con committee has announced he won’t be coming.

Their official statement reads:

ConCarolinas and John Ringo have mutually agreed he will not attend the 2018 event. ConCarolinas wants to provide a positive environment for everyone who attends our events from our guests, attendees, vendors, and staff.

We represent a diverse range of opinions and support that.

We will not tolerate harassment or bullying as stated in our policy.

Any comments regarding this may be sent to concarolinas@concarolinas.org

ConCarolinas ConCom: Jada Diaz, ConChair; Dawson Kriska, Vice Chair; Sue Lambert, Secretary and Treasurer; Luis Diaz, Director of Security

While the official statement focuses on a desire to “provide a positive environment for everyone,” both Ringo and the con chair are spinning a different story.

John Ringo wrote on Facebook:

I just got disinvited from a con due to threats to my personal safety. This is more dangerous to me than the five fatwahs I’ve had over the years from various friendly and peaceful lovers of The Most Holy Prophet. Peace be upon his beard. Allahu Akhbar.

And ConCarolinas chair Jada Hope, responding to questions from Jim C. Hines, said:

Ringo has also unspooled a long commentary on his Facebook page [Internet Archive link] seeking to turn the “safety” complaint back against the protesters who raised it about the author and his fans in the first place. (The excerpt is about half the wordage, see the rest at the link.)

And again with the ‘we do not tolerate harassment or bullying’ without pointing out who that is pointed at.

From my last email with the conchair:

“as ConChair I know this will be an extremely hostile environment and I am concerned for your personal safety. ”

It was mutual, more on that in a moment. But they very much rescinded because they were concerned for my safety.

That was how bad it was getting.

They weren’t concerned I’d grab and axe and start killing all the POCs, women, transgenders, what have you.

They were (justifiably from the comments) concerned for MY safety. And the ‘bullying’ they were commenting on was the bullying by the SJW twitter mobsters.

Why it was phrased as ‘mutual.’

‘Oh, no, John Ringo, no! You’re giving in to the Social Justice Bullies!’

You can phrase it that way. Or you can phrase it this way.

I’m a New York Times best selling author with over 7 million books in print. By far and away I was the largest ‘print’ guest on the list with the largest fan following and thus the biggest draw.

For someone like myself, cons are NOT about marketing. There is very little additional market to be picked up at any litcon, including WorldCon. Cons are places to go to talk with people who enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy and are generally smart and interesting people. To meet new people (one of the reasons I agreed to attend ConCarolinas was ‘new people’), to pick up new characters, to have a good time.

There is very little fiscal reason for someone like myself to attend. Ergo: The best reason is to have fun.

Not for any particular ‘political’ reason, prior to my being invited the guest list for the ‘lit’ side was HEAVILY weighted to the Left. Basically, the entire guest list is ‘between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ with the late add of a ‘token Nazi.’

I’ve been to those cons. I know what happens. Every single panel turns into a continuous shitfest. I’m constantly stopped in the hallways to be asked when did I join the Nazi party and how long have I been a Nazi. Forget intentional ‘disruptions’ that are the hallmark of the modern fascists called ‘progressives.’ It would be just another shitfest like WindyCon or (christ, can’t even remember the name of that one, I’ve deleted the memory…) Hell, I dropped my attendance at LosCon over much less furor than this.

The panels consist of someone with no background and no real professional CV spouting some idiocy they learned in a bad writer’s workshop followed by me trying to politely tell them they’re as full of shit as a Christmas turkey and pointing out the reality of writing and publishing. Then I get told ‘That’s not true!’ or ‘You’re wrong!’ with no logical follow-up and it just goes downhill from there. If I sit there mute it turns into a Communist Party Religious Meeting of people speaking Truth to Power and being told how great they are until the next person speaks Truth To Power and so on and so forth. And pretty much every truth to power boils down to ‘The Sun Rises in the West and Revolves Around Moscow Center and Bernie/Obama/Whoever is Jesus and We Have Always Been At War With Eastasia!’

Yeah. No.

…To be clear: This isn’t any loss to me. It is a loss to the con and the attendees who were looking forward to John Ringo attending. It’s even a loss to the Social Justice Bullies since some of my fans might accidentally have bought some of their books.

To me, there is NO downside.

YES! I caved to the social justice bullies and now I DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH TSA! WOOOOT!

And con chair Jada Hope added this response:

Caveat – I am commenting as Jada Hope – individual human being. Even though I am going to post somewhat as ConChair, this is not endorsed by the ConCarolinas ConCom.

This decision sucks. To be concerned for John’s safety to the point of looking at having security guards (possibly armed – an off duty police officer is present at the con during “high traffic hours”) – what fun would that be for John?

Like John, I hate traveling and I’d rather stay in my chair (I’m in it now as I post). And yes, we could have marched to the top of the hill and planted the flag of “Nobody tells us what to do”.

Again, what fun would this have been for John? He doesn’t need the marketing exposure.

I apologize, again personally as Jada the individually member of the human race, to everyone who was looking forward to John attending.

One thing I will address is the rumor that John and I were in collusion to pull a “Gotcha” by delaying the announcement. Very late in February John signed an agreement to be a guest. That Friday I was in a car accident and sustained a concussion aka traumatic brain injury and was under doctor’s orders to not be on the computer or phone. I posted very little from 3/2 until a week and a half ago and a week ago Thursday I ended up with the concussion symptoms coming back full force.

There was no collusion.

I can only apologize to John and his fans for this getting so out of hand.

As my dear friend Sue has said:

“Public stoning is no longer done in the town square. It is executed via social media.”

What Is The Future of Odyssey Con?

Will there be a 2018 Odyssey Con? That’s the decision now under discussion by the parent organization.

Last year Odyssey Con suffered the loss of its three original GoHs as Christopher Mihm and Tad Williams followed Monica Valentinelli out the door when she quit because some of the committee leadership continued to support of one of their members after she made an issue of his history as a harasser.

The experience has taken a toll, as the latest status report from Odyssey Con shows:

As many have probably noticed by now, nothing has been posted about Odyssey Con 18. After Odyssey Con 17, OCSI (the parent organization of Odyssey Con) and the concom have taken its time moving forward and trying to determine the best course of action after last year’s convention.

Several of our key members have either decided to take some time away, move to the back seat, or otherwise break away from the convention for the time being. This has left some vacancies we weren’t certain we’d be able to fill. Some of them we have been able to, while other positions still remain open. We are still looking for volunteers for those positions.

…Having lost a fair amount of time in doing all this, the future of Odyssey Con still remains with some doubts and we are in talks about how to proceed. Our current options are:

  • End the run of Odyssey Con as a convention. Seventeen years is a fair run for a small convention, and many of the long-term committee members are feeling a bit burnt out.
  • Push forward with 2018 and see what happens. With only seven months left to plan, this may be a very daunting task.
  • Run a small convention in 2018 with no guests and very limited programming, gaming, etc, focusing on 2019. It would keep the convention going for those who want to attend, though would still be a drain on resources.
  • Skip a year and run Odyssey Con 18 in 2019. Many conventions that skip a year don’t come back, but a few do. It would give the concom more planning time for retooling and on the convention itself.

While the committee discusses the options internally, they also plan to canvass public opinion about them, either on their website or Facebook.

John Ringo’s Selection as ConCarolinas Guest Sparks Controversy

ConCarolinas, happening in Charlotte, NC from June 1-3, has become another battleground in sff’s culture wars since announcing John Ringo as an Author Special Guest on April 9. Ringo is well-known for sharing his social and political views in a frank and provocative way. His selection as a special guest has caused other writers in ConCarolina’s orbit to rethink their participation, whether by actually dropping out, or publicly explaining their reasons for remaining on the program.

John Ringo

John Ringo defined the controversy from his viewpoint in a response on Facebook on April 12.

ConCarolinas:

An ‘issue’ has been raised at ConCarolinas, not by members of the con but by some of the other invited guests and attendees. It is the usual SJW sort of thing. I am a bad person with bad opinions and I need to shunned from society.

(Though they appear to have missed various of the usual ad hominems. They hit the regular ‘racist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘homophobic’ etc but seemed to have overlooked ‘xenophobic’, ‘transphobic’ and ‘Islamophobic.’ Just an oversight I’m sure they will correct.)

I am discussing this with the ConCommittee. However. It is currently between myself and the concom and I would prefer to keep it there for the time being. While I appreciate shows of support, try not to respond to this in kind. Just let me work the issue.

Were ConCarolinas the usual and standard ‘SJWCon’ I would not have accepted their invitation. But they’ve never had to deal with something like this so it’s a learning curve. Let them find their path, please.

Afrofuturist author Gerald L. Coleman provided the most thorough explanation for opposing Ringo’s appearance in an April 12 Facebook post:

Gerald L. Coleman

Seeing as people are beginning to draw lines and to share what they think is an appropriate response to the current situation at ConCarolinas, I think it would be illuminating, especially to the demographic of people who are not the target of the Special Guest in question, to understand why a person who would be a target (and often is) would decide not to go in response. I had not planned on sharing this but I think it’s important. Here is my letter withdrawing from ConCarolinas:

[Redacted],

I heard a lot of good things about ConCarolinas from the same people, but the decision to have someone like Ringo as a Special Guest has forced me to reconsider that assessment. ([Redacted] was in one of the fraught discussions online where she was attacked by people trying to defend both Ringo and the invitation. I’m not sure [redacted] will be attending either). Here’s a link to one of his vile diatribes, which includes this passage:

“The first point that has to be recognized as historically valid: White males have dominated the planet’s art, music, culture, politics and wars for centuries and often deliberately at the expense of non-European, non-white, etcetera. This is historically unquestionable and unassailable.”

http://crimeandtheforcesofevil.com/…/oh-puppies-when-will-…/

Now, is what follows a right and just evisceration of that behavior? No. He’s defending the agenda of the Sad Puppies and their toxic ilk. And using the pejorative term “SJW” or Social Justice Warrior as a derogatory insult as he attempts to attack the efforts to diversify publishing and fandom and make them more inclusive.

This is the guy you, and by you I mean the Con, have invited to be a Special Guest.

People of color in general and black folks in particular, who are members of the geek/nerd fandom community, including authors, often have difficulty finding conventions that are safe places for us to revel in our shared love of all things geek. Often we are given the impression, sometimes unconsciously, many times consciously, that we are not welcome – that it is not our space, and we don’t belong. So, it becomes vitally important for our sanity, our safety, and our well-being to be very selective in choosing which Cons we will attend.

To spend time, energy, and a not insignificant amount of money to attend a Con that doesn’t take our sanity, safety, and well-being seriously, by inviting a toxic voice who rails against our inclusion – and who is defended by members of the Con, it’s guests, and perspective attendees, is not only a bad investment but a bad idea in general.

I have been to Cons (Boskone, recently) where I was welcomed warmly and felt accepted and included. I’ve also been to Cons where a fellow Panelist told me discrimination against black authors was a figment of my imagination. I’ll be returning to one and not the other.

Who we give a platform to is incredibly important. Given the times we live in, the current state of our political affairs, and the general climate for people of color in general and black folks in particular, it says a lot that ConCarolinas is giving a platform to someone like Ringo. I can’t support that and am unwilling to subject myself to him or his fans who are in agreement with his toxic beliefs.

When I was a kid I knew how unwelcoming the world in general was going to be to me. But I always thought that fellow geeks/nerds who loved the same things I did like Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, comic books, and science fiction and fantasy would be different. That because they consumed content that talked about justice, equality, exploration, tolerance, acceptance, being kind and never cowardly, that I wouldn’t have to face that same toxicity in the ranks of the fandom. Sadly, that wasn’t and isn’t true. The same prejudices, biases, and toxicity exists in fandom and I have to navigate it.

I was excited to be accepted as a Guest for ConCarolinas. Imagine my disappointment when Ringo was invited as a special guest.

I won’t be attending. Please remove me as a Guest for the Con.

Coleman later posted a screencap of the ConCarolinas committee answer —

— which he described in these terms:

Here is ConCarolinas response to legitimate criticism and concern from black folks and women over their invitation to a “Special Guest” author whom we find deeply problematic (he’d start by calling me an “SJW” and go on to rant about the supremacy of white men in all things: see comments for attribution) and whom women in particular see as deeply misogynist (just Google John Ringo misogyny). Somehow they’ve managed to confuse resisting bias and toxicity with hatred. Several of us guests have withdrawn from our invitation over it. ConCarolinas? They apparently think we are engaging in hatred and they have no obligation to curate their guest list. So anyone can be a Guest? Anyone? And if “their passion for Science Fiction and Fantasy” happens to mean that people of color and women aren’t welcome? What then? The mind boggles …

It’s no longer possible to trace the full extent of the protests, as ConCarolinas has deleted some entries from their Facebook page which contained relevant comments, and at least one fan has restricted her FB remarks after being attacked by trolls.

[A woman’s quote from Facebook dated April 10 has been removed at her request.]

 

The next day, Stuart Jaffe wrote on FB:

I will not be at ConCarolinas this year. Y’all probably know why. If you don’t, I’m not getting into it on FB. That kind of conversation only goes in one direction on FB.

By April 12, the discussion had gone viral.

Jason Graves of Prospective Press wrote:

Choosing division over community isn’t a choice I expected from ConCarolinas. Prospective Press supports and welcomes diverse voices—voices of color, voices of gender, voices of inclusion, and voices of identity—and always has. When people CHOOSE to be hateful, they are no longer welcome at our table—inclusivity is based on mutual respect.

Madison Metricula Roberts said she was pulling out of the con:

I regret that I am no longer attending or performing at ConCarolinas. I wish the event, guests, attendees, and volunteers well!

While I have confidence in ConCarolina’s commitment to safety at the event, I still have concerns about comfort, safety, and response of the con in light of recent events.

And in a further comment on the same post Roberts said:

I want to be clear that I understand CC is in a difficult position, and it’s run by people I like. That said, I feel like they were unprepared for the backlash in booking a controversial guest who is known for cultivating or emboldening a subset of fandom that is not just politically conservative (that’s not the issue) but anti-inclusion. I am confident in CC’s harassment policy and security, but my gamergate-style anxiety is through the roof in spite of my rational assessment of the thing.

Other authors have felt pressured to drop out, or justify why they are not.

David B. Coe is still going:

Why I will be attending ConCarolinas:

  1. I made a commitment to the convention. Indeed, I signed an agreement saying I would attend. That agreement gives me no veto power over the people they may or may not invite. In short, I feel that I have a professional obligation to go. Others feel differently, and that is their right. But I have to do what feels right to me.
  2. I don’t believe in ceding ground to racism, misogyny, or bullying in any form. I don’t live in the Carolinas, but I have considered ConCarolinas my “home” con for years now. It is just about my favorite con to attend. Many of my closest friends in the business are usually there. I love it. And I will be damned if I will allow that convention and that community to be ruined for me by the presence of one guest.
  3. I believe (ME — this does not mean that I condemn any of my colleagues for thinking differently) that we on the Left have a responsibility to be tolerant, and I believe tolerance cuts many ways. If I saw that a con had invited a progressive author to attend, and that in response to this the attending conservative writers withdrew from the con, I would be appalled by their actions. I cannot in good conscience do what I would fault others for doing.
  4. I believe that for every voice at a convention that is inclined to attack those who would advocate for social justice and for the most vulnerable in our society and in fandom, there should be ten voices present who will defend those people and those principles. I wish to be one of that latter group of voices.

I understand that people I consider friends will see my intention to attend the convention as a betrayal. I am deeply, deeply sorry for that. To those who have withdrawn, I respect your decisions. I hope that you can bring yourselves to respect mine.

S.H. Roddy was far more emphatic in “Bad Decisions, Social Justice, and the ConCarolinas Kerfluffle” at Creepy Author Girl, explaining “Why my attendance at ConCarolinas is more important than my absence.”

Yeah, so everyone has heard the nonsense going down over ConCarolinas, right? If not, let me catch you up in three sentences:

  1. The ConComm invited John Ringo to be a special guest and he accepted.
  2. THE WORLD EXPLODED – meaning the mostly-liberal, mostly-welcoming regular ConCarolinas crowd freaked the absolute fuck out over this guy’s historical behavior and some not-so-far-fetched hypotheticals stemming from it.
  3. Some people got pissed and others withdrew from the con.

…Keeping this in mind, I’ll be going into ConCarolinas weekend wary, but professional. This is my career, damn it, and I refuse to give anyone enough power over me to make me walk away from a chance to further myself professionally and spend time with my friends. Neither this man nor his followers have any sort of pull or control over me. So what if there’s a chance there could be an altercation? I’m willing to take that chance, because to me, my presence and my ability to stand up for myself and the people I care about will be more effective than walking away. Why? Because I don’t have the same social pull as the man the con world is currently rallying against. Because my actual VOICE and my ACTIONS will speak louder than my absence.

Which brings me to my next point:

A very dear friend of mine felt so emotionally threatened over this announcement that she has withdrawn her attendance. I completely understand her decision, because this wouldn’t be her first racism rodeo, were it to happen.

Her action was based on previous personal experiences with this person. It’s not arbitrary or unjustified.

I support her decision, because she’s doing what she feels is best for her. I will always be there to support her, no matter what, because I love her. Do I wish the situation were different and she was still going to be there with me? Yes. Absolutely. I would love for any resolution which would guarantee her a seat beside me. But that isn’t the case, and it’s her decision to make.

Which brings me to my third point:

Someone else made the statement yesterday that basically amounted to “you can’t be everybody’s friend and if you’re not resigning in solidarity, then you’re not an ally.”

That pissed me right the hell off.

See, I’m usually pretty quiet on political and social issues. I’m not a political creature. If I were, I’d be in politics. I’m a freaking writer. I use words to entertain people. Well, mostly myself, but anyone else who happens to come along can enjoy them, too. I’m also not the type to use my books as a sociopolitical platform. That isn’t what I do.

Do I have opinions? Oh, yeah. Loads of ‘em. But I choose to conduct myself in a more or less professional manner because my opinions should have absolutely no bearing on my book sales.

So a fellow author piping up and telling me I’m suddenly not good enough because I’m not pissed off enough? Yeah, no. Bullshit.

Gail Z. Martin made a similar statement:

Please do not presume to tell me that I am not an ally or not genuine in support of a cause just because I do not hop-to every time someone gets upset about something.

I will decide which battles I fight and how I fight them. I will not be ally-shamed and manipulated into actions that violate my own judgment. Telling me I dare not make my own decisions or I’m somehow not pure enough by someone else’s arbitrary standards is bullshit.

I have been an ally and fighting some of these battles since before some of you were born, in times and places where there were serious consequences like losing a job, getting expelled or cutting ties with communities and family.

Working within the system for change is just as valid (and usually a whole lot more effective, albeit requiring patience) as just saying ‘f***-it, let’s burn the whole thing down’. You have no idea what conversations happen behind the scenes in private to advance causes, conversations that often yield results because of friendships built between people who don’t always agree on everything or walk in lockstep.

So do what your conscience demands. But don’t you dare attempt to shame others or judge the sincerity of their convictions because they didn’t make the same choice.

This is a manifesto, not a debate. Civil comments are welcome, but I’m in no mood to be f***ed around with, and if you piss me off I’ll block your ass.

Two other writers who posted justifications for why they still are going to ConCarolinas are Michael G. Williams and Faith Hunter:

Michael G. Williams wrote:

ConCarolinas’ choice to invite John Ringo is an affront to many people of color and women who were planning to attend. Ringo writes works containing unabashed aggression towards marginalized populations(1), then says in interviews he largely does not see what his characters do or say as “particularly controversial, crazy, evil, or illogical,”(2) though he does say in that same interview that he excludes “some of the stuff” in his novel “Ghost” from that.

I’ve seen a lot of conflicting opinions between other guests who feel the only right choice for themselves is to withdraw and those who say they want to go as a voice for the opposition rather than cede the platform to Ringo. I sympathize with both sides.

ConCarolinas had to know the situation they would create when they made this choice. No matter how apolitical they may declare an event to be, inviting an overtly political writer whose statements about writing and conventions are overtly political to attend a convention to discuss their writing is to create a political event. Speculative fiction in general is inherently and fundamentally political to begin with. Ringo’s is quite explicitly so.

As people have spoken out, Ringo’s fans have shown up to harass them.(3) The convention has remained silent on this obvious, observable behavior. I am forced to wonder what it will be like to be surrounded by these same fans, people who clearly are willing to go looking for a fight, who clearly are searching (of their own volition or at another’s direction) for any mention of Ringo so they can harass those who object.

All these – the invitation, the trolls, the silence – have made it impossible to feel good about participating, but at the moment I still plan to participate for two reasons:

– If I can use the privilege I enjoy as a white man to attend in greater safety and comfort than others in order to be a voice for a more humane view, to some degree I feel I should try. I’m the smallest of the small-fries. If I withdraw, no one notices. If I go, maybe I get a word in edge-wise.

– There are very few loudly queer guests at ConCarolinas. If there’s no presence by the two or three of us who always lobby for a Queer Fandom panel, who put ourselves out there as queer people who can be approached safely by attendees, and who make sure there is an unmistakeable queer voice in the proceedings, then queer fans may be left out to dry. I feel I have some degree of responsibility to be there for them, with them.

But as I say, this has made it VERY difficult to do so without tremendous reservation and regret. I am ready to walk into a tense situation on behalf of friends who no longer feel welcome. I am ready to be there to make sure my own community’s members do not feel targeted or harassed. But I can’t necessarily recommend anyone else do the same. I think already-marginalized people who are going should do some research into Ringo, observe the behavior of his fans, and carefully consider their choices. A number of guests have withdrawn. More may do so. I share their concerns and objections. We should not all lay down our dignity and our sense of safety because another guest has “Special” in their announcement, and the way the convention treats those who withdraw or feel threatened will certainly be remembered.

References:

(1) https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-revi…/john-ringo/ghost-3/

(2) https://michaelaventrella.com/…/interview-with-new-york-ti…/

(3) See, for instance, Faith Naff’s experience of having to lock a post because trolls showed up within minutes.

Faith Hunter said:

I have spent the last three days in a quandary over the ConCarolinas controversy and how to address it. I am keeping it simple. I have this to say.

ConCarolinas is my local convention.
I’ve attended it for over a decade.
I’ve met many friends and fans through the con.
I’ve signed a contract to attend the convention.
I will honor this commitment.
I will be attending the convention, where I plan to make my voice and views heard on panels. That’s how I’m choosing to deal with this. I understand there are others who feel they cannot attend, and I respect that decision. The convention has an explicit anti-harassment policy which all attendees must adhere to, and while I am there I will do my best to make sure that no one feels insulted, afraid, put down, or abused.
Edited to add — Y’all, I am asking you to please not call names or bring confrontation into the comments. I have been as non confrontational as possible. I’d like you to let it lie.

Seanan McGuire is one of 2018 ConCarolina’s Guests of Honor, therefore one of the faces of this year’s con, more so than any of the special guests. Attempts have been made to embroil her in the controversy, however, she has yet to make any comment.

Then, if you haven’t had enough, Fail. Fandom. Anon. is devoting a thread to arguments about the issue.

But things are by no means one-sided. John Ringo has received hundreds of expressions of support on his posts, and from his friends and colleagues.

One of them, Sarah A. Hoyt, even took the opportunity to relitigate the Sad Puppies controversy:

Sarah A. Hoyt You know, John Ringo is being stigmatized for a very distant correlation with Sad Puppies. A movement led by a man the state dept classifies as Latin, and which included a female ditto.
BUT minorities are offended that John supported this “racist” (Yep, we only supported writers who belonged to the human race. That’s how racist we are) movement, and feel they have to leave cons where he’s invited.
You know what, these aren’t the crazy years. The crazy years were semi-understandable. These are the running-down-the-street-with-underwear-on-head-singing-I’m-a-little-teapot years.

Stephanie Souders argues that Ringo’s conduct at Dragon Con should allay any fears:

John Ringo subsequently wrote a second response:

Here’s pretty much my take on the whole thing:

I spent four years ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to go wheels up anywhere in the world in 18 hours for the purposes of going head to head with Soviet tanks in a war sure to end with nuclear fire.

I was willing to do so to support a simple word: Liberty.

A major part of that liberty was the right to freedom of expression. That ten thousand voices may be heard.

There was no such freedom in the Soviet Union. Freedom of expression is anathema to Marxism.

In this day and age, the SJWs, thought children of that evil empire, attack the right to freedom of expression at every turn.

I shall not be silent. I shall not be quelled. If facing down T-72s did not quell me, my current detractors (just the latest of many) stand little chance.

They have their right to free speech. They can say what they will, even if the attacks are petty, false and irrelevent. That is part and parcel of the freedom of speech.

They have that right due, in great part, to myself and my brothers and sisters in arms going back not just to our revolution, but to the battles at Marathon, Salamis and Thermopylae. This is a war that has gone on for two thousand years and will not end in victory to either side any time soon.

Let ten thousand voices be heard.

Let freedom ring.

In a comment on the same post he also said:

I do not bow to the social justice mobs? I speak my own truth? I judge a person not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character? And by that judgement, I find most SJWs (not your type, the type that ‘bans’ authors for their words) to be contemptible?

Meanwhile, ConCarolinas con chair Jada Hope has pulled the Ringo announcement from their FaceBook page, taking all comments with it. Hope also has gone to the FB walls of some people who’ve made negative posts saying “You’ve made yourself quite clear. If you have further concerns they may be sent to concarolinas@concarolinas.org” in an attempt to stem the flow of public complaints.

And the committee’s latest social media (April 13) was a tweet linking to the con’s anti-harassment policy which says in part —

…ConCarolinas reserves the right to deny membership to any individual who has practiced harassment or bullying either at other conventions or on social media sites.

ConCarolinas is an apolitical, non-religious organization. Discussions in panels and on our social media are to remain polite. Trolling will not be tolerated….

— in effect, brandishing the antiharassment policy at con members who criticize the Ringo choice in social media, implying their memberships are at risk.

Update 05/01/2018: A woman’s quote was removed at her request.

Martin P. Robinson Announced as 2018 SFWA Nebula Awards Toastmaster

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) have announced Martin P. Robinson will serve as Toastmaster for the 52nd Annual Nebula Awards Ceremony.

Robinson is a puppeteer who has worked for the Jim Henson Company for 37 years, performing a range of characters including Mr. Snuffleupagus, Telly Monster, Slimey the Worm, and the Yip-Yip Martians.

In 1982 he designed, built and performed the carnivorous plant Audrey II for the original Off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors, and designed/performed the show’s 2003 Broadway revival as well. Martin is the senior Muppet-style instructor for all international productions of Sesame Street.

The Nebula Awards will be presented on Saturday May 19, during the annual SFWA Nebula Conference.