Four 2018 Parsec Awards winners announced today they will decline their awards because the committee has sustained the award given to an alleged harasser.
The December 17 announcement of the 2018 Parsec Awards for sff podcasting was hailed by protests that one of the winners “has a history of extremely disturbing behavior”, according to a follow-up statement the committee issued the same day. The person was not named in that statement, nor in the committee’s December 19 release explaining why they were allowing the award to stand. The reasons given were —
…It is the goal of The Parsecs to judge solely on the merit of the content and not on gender, heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation, politics, or other factors not in the podcast as presented to the audience. To do more would be to fail at our core purpose.
There is neither precedent nor procedure for The Committee to intervene in the results based on information outside of the stated policies….
The target of the protests is Edward Champion, winner of the 2018 Parsec Award for Best Speculative Fiction Story: Large Cast (Short Form).
Some of the allegations against Champion were covered by Gawker in 2014:
Last night, a Brooklyn-based literary blogger/podcaster/personality named Edward Champion suddenly began attacking the novelist Porochista Khakpour on Twitter, after Khakpour tweeted about Champion’s private threats against her. Before the night was over, Champion had been kicked off Twitter, and several other writers and literary agents had come forward to tell stories of Champion’s threatening and bizarre behavior….
A Parsec Awards judge, Wil Williams, also says she has been harassed by Champion. Her thread starts here.
Several winners have answered the Parsec Awards committee’s decision not to take away Champion’s award by refusing to accept theirs.
Escape Artists has publicly declined their two 2018 Parsec Awards, as explained in the post “If You Stand for Nothing, What’ll You Fall For?”
In light of recent events, Escape Artists is declining its 2018 Parsec wins.
Escape Pod, edited by Mur Lafferty and S. B. Divya, won Best Speculative Fiction Magazine or Anthology Podcast.
PodCastle, edited by Jen R. Albert and Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali won Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form) for its production of “Six Jobs” by Tim Pratt, narrated by Stephanie Malia Morris.
EA co-owners Alasdair Stuart and Marguerite Kenner have been in consultation with both editorial teams and Mr. Pratt, and we have unanimously decided to reject both awards. We also reached out to Ms. Morris, but have not head back from her as of the time of this post.
… The systemic failure of care that has taken place with this year’s Parsec Awards can’t go unanswered and this is one of the strongest ways we can express our displeasure.
Pendant Productions has rejected the award they won for Best Speculative Fiction Video Story:
And Grant Baciocco of Saturday Morning Media has refused the award for Best Podcast about Speculative Fiction Content Creation.
Escape Artists co-owner Alasdair Stuart gave an overview of their decision in “The 2018 Parsec Situation”. He concluded:
…Letting down judges like this is bad. Lacking a complaints policy at a minimum in this day and age borders on unforgivable. The community’s trust in the Parsecs has, at the very least, been torpedoed by this incident and the committee’s response to it. Whether that torpedo hit under the water line remains to be seen.
For me, I’d love to see some changes. A complaints policy is years overdue. More awareness of the field and problematic behaviour within it even more so. That doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be political either but rather based on fundamental decency. Sexism, racism, homophobia, harassment. These aren’t political lines, they’re lifestyle choices and choices that podcasters up for awards should be aware of, just as prose authors are slowly starting to be. Blindness isn’t necessary here, and ignorance is the opposite of bliss. Engagement, compassion, dialogue and change are all needed. I hope the committee feels the same way and I hope that next year, these awards can be what they deserve to be; celebrated.
Escape Pod assistant editor Benjamin C. Kinney added his thoughts in “The Year of Declines: Parsecs and WOTF”:
…I understand the appeal and principles of above-the-fray neutrality. But in practice, any organization must choose between those who would act abusively, and their victims. If you won’t banish anyone, the harmful people will do the banishing….
And Adam Pracht, who worked on Escape Artists’ Parsec Award submissions, endorsed the decision in a thread that starts here.