The Worldcon 76 program revisions promised yesterday will be aided by Mary Robinette Kowal and a team she is in the process of assembling.
Chair Kevin Roche tweeted –
@MaryRobinette graciously offered to help and we accepted. If you have been wondering about my silence the last 24 hours it was as all of us worked out the details to make this happen. https://t.co/BPapM6ajgP
— Kevin Roche (@kproche) July 24, 2018
Mary Robinette Kowal asked for breathing space to get started. (Thread begins here.)
A request, please…grant me 48 hours of not answering questions so that I can get oriented.
WorldCon is a huge, complicated beast. We know about the mistakes, but there's also a ton of stuff they've done right.
I don't want to throw things out that are working.
— Mary Robinette Kowal (@MaryRobinette) July 24, 2018
John Picacio announced on Facebook:
Well, here goes nothing. I just got off the phone with my friend Mary Robinette Kowal and agreed to join her select team to help Worldcon 76 in San Jose with programming. Yes, all of us have witnessed problems in recent days, but there’s a lot of AMAZING work that is in the foundation that Christine Doyle and team has constructed, with the support of Kevin Roche. Our team is not here to trash and burn, but to chisel, refine, and include. LET’S DO THIS. #GameOn #Worldcon76
Despite the dramatic statement “We are tearing the program apart and starting over,” as John Picacio indicates, the program is being fixed, not done over from scratch.
PANELS DECLINED. Additions to File 770’s list of creators who tweeted yesterday that they were dropping off Worldcon 76 program:
- Charlie Jane Anders
I just emailed the @worldcon2018 programming folks and asked to be removed from all program items, including the live version of @OOACpod that @Annaleen and I were going to do. I hope those slots can go to marginalized and early-career writers, especially Hugo nominees.
— Charlie Jane Anders, Our Opinions Are Correct (@charliejane) July 23, 2018
- Annalee Newitz
I have emailed the @worldcon2018 organizers and asked to withdraw from programming. Hopefully my slots can go to marginalized folks, especially early career writers. Being on programming is fun, but you know what's more fun? Discovering new writers, and panels w/diverse voices.
— Annalee Newitz (@Annaleen) July 23, 2018
- Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Both @tnielsenhayden and I have just now emailed @worldcon2018 and asked to be removed from their program. Like several others, we hope that the spaces thus freed up can be used to highlight some of the Hugo finalists they couldn't previously find slots for.
— P Nielsen Hayden (@pnh) July 23, 2018
PERSPECTIVES. Representative examples from a broad spectrum of responses to the controversy that have appeared since last night —
Foz Meadows: “Worldcon 76: More Than Technical Difficulties”
Right now, my personal suspicion is that Worldcon 76 has been afflicted by a combination of bigotry – some likely subconscious, some very likely not – and poor coordination, with the latter significantly enabling the impact of the former. As much as I appreciate Kevin Roche stepping in to issue apologies and redo the programming, that these actions were necessary at all speaks, at absolute best, to an administrative setup wherein the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing, and at worst, to a gross case of insincere, post-facto ass-covering.
Even from the outside, it seemed clear well before yesterday that the programming for Worldcon was disorganised and running behind schedule. The “very preliminary programming” email I received on July 9 had me listed for no panels at all, confirming only that I’d be attending the Hugo Awards. When I queried whether I’d be on any panelling, the reply I received from Christine Doyle stated that, while I was “pencilled in” for some panels, “We were in the “get something out now” vs “get everyone scheduled” phase — and opted for the get something out now.” This didn’t exactly alleviate my worries, given that the con is due to start on August 16. (By comparison, the first full program schedule for MidAmericon II in 2016 was sent out on July 6, well in advance of the August 16 start date, with final corrections issued by August 4.)
I was more encouraged by the July 22 email I received from Leigh Ann Hildebrand, the LGBTQ+ content lead for programming, which listed 27 separate queer panel topics and asked which ones I’d like to be a part of. Thinking that these would be the only panels on which I might appear, I listed four but gave no order of preference; when the original program was sent out yesterday, I was therefore surprised to find that I’d been given two of the four, plus three other panels and a reading. In honesty, I was happy with the panels I’d been given – both in terms of topics and fellow panellists – but once it became apparent that other Hugo nominees had been offered far less, it was difficult not to feel angry on their behalf. Campbell Award nominee Rivers Solomon, whose expenses for attending Worldcon were crowdsourced by the SFF community, was offered only one item; to the best of my knowledge, JY Yang was given only a reading – or at least, this is what I inferred from their saying that they’d been left off the panelling items that they requested. Either way, it ought to be Worldcon 101 to try and accommodate both guests and award nominees from the outset instead of letting their contributions be afterthoughts, and whatever other factors are in play, it doesn’t escape notice that, overwhelmingly, those slighted by the programming are POC, non-American, queer or a combination of all three.
L.E.H. Light of Black Nerd Problems responds to the controversy and proposed solution in “Worldcon Starts Over: But Will It Be Enough?” . (I’m linking to this even though the post was publicized in a tweet with a dumpster fire GIF…)
…With only a month left to the convention, can the trust be regained? Can WorldCon 76 get itself together and present the event they promised us?
I’m not feeling hopeful.
Full disclosure, I’m attending WorldCon 76. I’ve paid my money, booked my room, and planned my cosplay. WorldCon is the best chance for me to meet some of my favorite authors without me having to book an international flight. And to attend the Hugos? That will be fantastic. I submitted panel ideas and have been placed on a few. Every step of that process has been delayed and challenging far beyond what I expected, even from a volunteer-run event. All along I had a voice in the back of my mind telling me something was wrong, and now, with all the evidence in front of me, I have to confront a real possibility: That my presence at the con is one of tokenism and not inclusion.
I say that while keeping in my mind all of the white people, whom I know personally, who invited me, and the people of color who stood up for me to get the placements I did. I don’t want to insult their work or say they did this purposefully. I do want to say that when they added me to a panel, for some the “Black critic with a sassy mouth” box was checked and they went on to schedule a bunch more white guys with conscious clear.
The old gatekeepers of book sci-fi/fantasy continue to be in full control of the keys to mainstream readers. I say that knowing that many of these people consider themselves “allies”, but they remain small-c conservative. They are fundamentally change resistant. While we readers may nominate an inclusive slate of writers and artists for the Hugo awards, the folks planning the conventions don’t really want to have us around, to socialize with queer fans, fans of color, immigrant fans. How can people who haven’t put out new fiction in 10 years have panels, but you can’t find room for new talent? They want our art, but they don’t want to make room at the con table for our concerns, our fan fiction, and our #ownvoices panels.
Larry Correia is one of several Sad Puppy authors delighted to hear about these problems — “My Official Comment on WorldCon 2018’s Social Justice Cannibal Feeding Frenzy” [Internet Archive link].
James Pyles: “An Outsider’s Point of View: Why Did WorldCon 76 Implode?” Despite taking Declan Finn’s and Richard Paolinelli’s posts as his jumping-off point, Pyles is an unusual commenter from the right who isn’t verbally abusive.
So far, I have no skin in the game, but if I ever have some body of my work published and become even marginally established, the Cons will start to become more significant in my life. My concern, and I’ve expressed it before, is by the time I get there, I will be considered an artifact from the “bad old days,” unworthy to have my #OwnVoice.
I don’t think it ever occurs to very many people that you don’t have to exclude “traditional” voices to include “underrepresented” ones. However, in this era of reflexive and wholly visceral panic attacks demonstrated on the far left side of the aisle, it seem virtuous to exclude, marginalize, or even actively express hostility toward “white baby-boomers,” if for no other reason than we’re old and white. And as those who tout the values of social justice and progressiveness continue to dominate the entertainment industry (including publication of SF/F genre material), the shoe, very much, is being put on the other foot.
The answer? I’ve said this before, too and it’s so, so simple. Definitely include Bogi Takács, JY Yang, and others who are from “marginalized” groups, and treat them in a humane manner and with respect, but do not throw the baby out with the bath water. Don’t torpedo those writers and editors who aren’t considered “marginalized,” even if you feel that somehow they (we/me) have “done you wrong,” because, in all likelihood, the vast majority of us haven’t. At the end of the day, all we want to do is tell a good story.
David Gillon’s suggestion —
Starting to see voices on the right cackling about #Worldcon76. Let's remember, they think it's funny because they'd have done the same, and much, much more. Best way to spite them is to hold #Worldcon76 to fixing representation.
— David Gillon (@WTBDavidG) July 24, 2018