The SFWA Blog has posted “An Exit Interview with John Scalzi” conducted by Carrie Cuinn. It’s very much a presidential memoir, alluding to much without saying anything outright.
Cuinn’s basically softball questions allow Scalzi to avoid the only topics people really want his opinion about – the SFWA Bulletin and the motion to expel Theodore Beale from membership.
Cuinn reaches back to quote from Scalzi’s 2008 campaign as background for a question about SFWA’s current reputation instead of using the obvious starting point, Scalzi’s June 2 statement on the SFWA Bulletin:
Carrie Cuinn: When discussing the 2008 presidential election, you said, “Whether SFWA wants to admit it to itself or not, thanks to the massive public debacles of the last year, its reputation is in the dirt, and not just with people already active in the field. I go to a fair number of science fiction conventions, you know; I’ve met a lot of the neo-pros and the under-30 writers who are (or should be) SWFA’s natural new membership. They see SFWA as either useless, or actively hostile to them.” (Feb 18, 2008, Whatever blog)
Now that you have completed your service as President, what do you think SFWA’s reputation is? In what ways can the new President continue to repair the organization’s relationship with the “neo-pros” – both new members and potential ones?
John Scalzi: I think SFWA’s reputation is better with the outside world and neo-pros than it was in 2008, although I would want to be clear that the reason for that is not all (or even majority) due to me – we’ve had very good boards in the time since, which has focused on member service and on making sure that the organization was doing what it was supposed to do – advocating for writers in the marketplace. The best argument SFWA can make to a potential membership is simply to do its job. If the next president and board do that – and I don’t have any doubt they will – then SFWA’s reputation will continue to rise.
Scalzi told readers of Whatever he planned to say little about SFWA in the immediate future, and since he was unwilling to engage with the issues that are tearing the organization apart it’s hard to see why he interrupted his Bush-like post-presidential silence to do this interview.