Outrage Greets 2016 World Fantasy Con Program

Darrell Schweitzer released the program for the 2016 World Fantasy Convention and promptly came under a hail of criticism from writers.

Much of it was directed at a program title found to be offensive – “Spicy Oriental Zeppelin Stories.” During the afternoon the item was renamed “Outrageous Aviation Stories, Flying Pulp Oddities.”

Other Twitter users complained that women are underrepresented in the overall count of writers mentioned by name in panel topics, as are fantasy works written less than 20 years ago.

Sarah Pinsker discussed her concerns in a series of tweets, now collected on Storify.

Here are some of the highlights of the conversation.

SARAH PINSKER

KEN LIU

https://twitter.com/kyliu99/status/760221655532732417

CARL ENGLE-LAIRD

LIZ BOURKE

HEATHER CLITHEROE

JAYM GATES

GREG VAN EEKHOUT

JOHN SCALZI

DAVE PROBERT

ANN LECKIE

DAVID MACK

DONGWON SONG

WESLEY CHU

KAMERON HURLEY

ANDREA PHILLIPS

And in the meantime Justin Landon has been tweeting suggested revisions to make the problematic items workable – or snarkier, depending on how they struck him….

JUSTIN LANDON

404 thoughts on “Outrage Greets 2016 World Fantasy Con Program

  1. Andrew Porter, we are commenting on a panel title proposed today, not 50 years ago. So, yes, it’s appropriate to question the panel title in light of today’s standard of civil discourse. Would you find it okay to have a panel titled “Rayguns and N*****rs”? Even if it’s talking about old blackspoitation pulps or Doc Savage?

    There are a thousand ways that a panel about old-time and potentially problematic pulp fiction can be discussed and described. A banner headline featuring a racial slur is not, perhaps, the best way to make people want to go to such a panel.

    (edit to add) It’s appropriate to discuss things in the cultural context when they were written. It’s not appropriate to say, “Since ‘Gone with the Wind’ showed slavery in a positive light, we’re not allowed to call that out now, regardless of the other merits of the film.” In a modern discussion of problematic content, it’s USEFUL to call out the problematic aspects. That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to enjoy the saga of the life and times of Scarlett O’Hara. It does mean that if you defend the institution of slavery in the process you can expect to be challenged on it.

  2. Casey B: No, you are making a comment that the very title—which is a longtime science fiction fan (NOT reader) joke—is objectionable. You are also saying that discussion of stories by, say, H.P. Lovecraft should not take place because NOW, he is considered a horrible racist and sexist author. He is, however, an author of stories upon which the field today rests. Ever heard the expression, “We are standing on the shoulders of giants”?. By denying the right to discuss material by such authors, you deny the history of the field.

    By this reasoning, all old pulps and books by authors who are objectionable NOIW should be banned.

    The Nazis handled this very well: they burned those books they objected to.

    Incidentally, science fiction fandom contained black authors and fans for decades (not many, but some), and fans in the South never used the N word. In fact, southern conventions, even in the years of segregation, never discriminated against black (or women, or Jewish) fans and pros. They were judged on the quality of their contributions to fandom and SF.

    Oh, and the word is “blacksploitation.” (Hey, let’s burn those pulps, too!)

  3. Am I allowed to comment here? I use my real name. I am? Oh, good.

    As Cassy B just said, the issue is with something someone’s said now, not with all fiction ever written in the past. The notion that “it was all a clever in-joke which most people won’t get” doesn’t really help; if you know most people won’t get the joke, you have to assume that most people will just read what you’ve written and interpret it literally. Which – since the programme item title in question was distinctly, umm, problematic – is liable to provoke a reaction.

    I’m sure lots of us read and enjoy things that aren’t “strictly PC” – I know I do; among other things, I’m a big fan of Sax Rohmer’s “Fu Manchu” stories. Point is, though, I enjoy them for their ingenuity and their outrageous melodrama, while being perfectly well aware that the racial stereotyping is a bad thing. (I sometimes think, actually, the stereotyping in those particular stories is so bad, it goes all the way through racism and out the other side – it’s that obvious that Rohmer’s “Chinese” characters have nothing to do with actual living, breathing, Chinese human beings. Perhaps, in doing this, Rohmer is unintentionally calling the whole process of racial stereotyping into question, using exaggeration to demonstrate its failings. Or perhaps I’m just making up excuses for enjoying trashy books. Whichever.)

    Point is, though, Sax Rohmer was then and this is now, and if you start talking about “spicy orientals” in 2016, people are going to roll their eyes and go “tut” at you. At least.

  4. No, you are making a comment that the very title—which is a longtime science fiction fan (NOT reader) joke—is objectionable.

    No. The title is not a longtime science fiction fan joke. It is a mutated version of a longtime science fiction fan joke with some offensiveness added. Even if it were a “longtime science fiction fan joke”, that doesn’t shield it from criticism. Many “jokes” contain offensive material and should be retired. This “joke” is one of those.

    You are also saying that discussion of stories by, say, H.P. Lovecraft should not take place because NOW, he is considered a horrible racist and sexist author.

    No one has said that. You’re just making bullshit up at this point.

    And nearly everyone here comments using a screen name, instead of their real name.

    John A Arkansawyer, Tasha Turner, Matthew Johnson, Bruce Baugh, David Gillon, Karl-Johan Norén, Lenora Rose, Bruce Arthurs, Steve Wright, me, and several others in this thread alone are using their real names. If you’re going to make up bullshit, you should try to make it less obvious that you are making up bullshit.

  5. @Andrew Porter:

    You are also saying that discussion of stories by, say, H.P. Lovecraft should not take place because NOW, he is considered a horrible racist and sexist author. He is, however, an author of stories upon which the field today rests. Ever heard the expression, “We are standing on the shoulders of giants”?. By denying the right to discuss material by such authors, you deny the history of the field.

    Huh. I have read this entire thread and have not seen anyone saying this. I have seen comments on the disproportionate presence of Lovecraft to the detriment of more modern and/or female authors, but that’s not the same thing at all.

    But what do I know, I’m just a reader, and one with a pseud, no less! Shocking!

  6. The membership in the World Fantasy Convention is limited to 1,000 people. Every year, it sells out. So there is no need to have program items with enticing names in order to increase attendance.

  7. The membership in the World Fantasy Convention is limited to 1,000 people. Every year, it sells out. So there is no need to have program items with enticing names in order to increase attendance.

    So your defense is that it is okay to be racist and sexist so long as you don’t want a large audience. That makes your position so much better.

  8. I’m impressed(?) at how this thread has brought out so many people who are upset that they can’t be racist/sexist/ableist etc. anymore without being called on it.

  9. Andrew Porter on August 10, 2016 at 9:31 am said:
    The membership in the World Fantasy Convention is limited to 1,000 people. Every year, it sells out. So there is no need to have program items with enticing names in order to increase attendance.

    1. Because people, rightly or wrongly, think that going to WFC is essential for their career, and claim I have always somewhat doubted.

    2. My friend Liz also points out that the price of admission to WFC (a ticket, unlike what you pay for other convention, which is a membership) makes it unaffordable by most people who try to live by writing. I know I couldn’t afford it now, though I did go I think twice. As far as I can make out, the price is deliberately set so high so as to discouraged mere “fans”, as compared to “pros” from attending. That, for me, is in itself more offputting that the panel titles.

    3. Having worked for several august commercial entities, whose services neither I nor many of the people in this list need or could afford, I am keenly aware that they are sensitive about their reputation, even their reputation among people who don’t own a firm or a family fortune or a sovereign trust. None of them is likely to say, what the hell, we’re never going to be broke, let’s eat some kittens, bwah-ah-ah.

  10. Technically, John A Arkansawyer isn’t quite my real name, but I sign almost everything “John A”, so it’s very, very close.

    I don’t use the full last name partly because there are so many people, including living people in three fields I care about with the same first and last name as me, one of them being a noted SF editor, and partly because I started using it two decades ago on the BUBBA-L southern culture discussion list and I liked it.

    It’s as real as a pseudonym can get.

    Except my other one, which I’ve used for almost four decades, and which a lot of people know me as better than by my “real” one. Ah the days of punk rock glory!

  11. Dawn Incognito on August 10, 2016 at 9:29 am said:

    @Andrew Porter:

    You are also saying that discussion of stories by, say, H.P. Lovecraft should not take place because NOW, he is considered a horrible racist and sexist author. He is, however, an author of stories upon which the field today rests. Ever heard the expression, “We are standing on the shoulders of giants”?. By denying the right to discuss material by such authors, you deny the history of the field.

    Huh. I have read this entire thread and have not seen anyone saying this. I have seen comments on the disproportionate presence of Lovecraft to the detriment of more modern and/or female authors, but that’s not the same thing at all.

    Personally I do find the fame and fortune of HPL among SF/F writers puzzling. I have read, or tried to read him, and I find his prose purple and his mythos unattractive. His influence seems to me to be a bit overstated.

    Mind you, I am not terribly fond of the horror side of fantasy spectrum, so that might be it. Although I enjoy a Chtulhu joke as much as the next person, but that’s all they are, jokes,as in Vote Chtulhu for 2016 – why go for the lesser evil?

  12. @Andrew Porter: In one very narrow sense, what went wrong with this program–or so it sounds to me from a distance–is that one guy put the program together without listening to much, if any, “editorial” input. It sounds oriented to his tastes, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but that means people with other tastes get left out.

    I mean, seriously–the most recent example of animals in fantasy fiction is Watership Down? That argues for cluelessness rather than ill intent.

    And now I’m curious: Is a typical WFC program this narrow? Is it equally likely that next year will be mostly woman authors of this millennium? Was last year’s program focused on magical realism in blaxploitation movies? If so, then this year’s program is more understandable in content, though not in presentation.

    But this sounds like a cluster to me. The cat in charge should own up and move on.

    Believe me, I love my share of material I don’t fully get behind. You’d have to pry my National Lampoons out of my cold dead fingers. There’s stuff in Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks that makes me shake my head. Then I play them again. I’d put any of that into a program. It’s great work, worth discussing. Intelligently and with eyes open.

  13. @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan: I think there’s a lot of scope for discussion about Lovecraft – about his merits* and flaws** as a writer, about his attitudes, his influences, his impact on the field, about the mythology he created….

    … which is why, of course, there is still a lot of discussion going on about Lovecraft, and nobody is saying there shouldn’t be!

    *Some, IMHO.
    **Many, IMHO.

  14. Well, I use 2/3 of my real name… but Lenora Rose, as well as being my first and middle names, is the name I publish under, sell art under, etc., including when I did so at WFC.

    I’m also unclear exactly why this matters. Does it mean I have 2/3 of an opinion? Does it mean I didn’t really go to WFC, or only 2/3 of me went? If I was using a complete pseudonym and said I had been to WFC but probably won’t ever be again if they keep this up, is my word on having been there in doubt?

    Look, someone went a long way to saying Oriental is no more offensive than Negro, old-fashioned but not anything as bad as the dreaded n-word, and sometimes grandfathered in to the names of institutions related to the people in question.

    So let’s look at that:
    Spicy Negro Zeppelin Stories.

    No, that really looks like something nobody in 2016 should write in a program, no matter whether they’re talking about stories from eras when the word was standard English and not considered a slur.

    The membership in the World Fantasy Convention is limited to 1,000 people. Every year, it sells out. So there is no need to have program items with enticing names in order to increase attendance.

    So there’s no need to actually try and draw the interest of women, anyone who isn’t white, anyone who has a disability, or anyone not conversant in the last 150 years of literary horror and fantasy fiction. So it’s okay to be racist and ablist because hey, we’ll still sell tickets.

    No. For one, as someone who in the past has been part of the reason they sold out, if they keep this up, I’m going to be staying away. Based on the responses I’ve seen here and elsewhere, I’m not alone, either.

    So maybe right now the number of people losing interest and walking away is small. Thing is, eventually, the people who will go every year no matter how many panels reference ablism and racism and sexism — those people will die off. And add that to the slow hemorrhaging of the people who went a couple of times but are not satisfied, the people staying away because of crap like this… and while it may not be immediate, this stuff does hit the bottom line.

    _________________

    AS for Lovecraft: I wonder; How much can there be said about Lovecraft that hasn’t already been said? Not much, I suspect. Enough to fill a panel or two and keep a few scholars going, but not enough to support the whole of WFC in days to come.

    However, there might be something still to be said if one bothers to look at the new people playing with Lovecraftian mythos, turning it on its head and examining it from new perspectives.

    The people I know who are doing that are women and PoCs. The same people being driven away from WFC.

    IOW, they’re even stabbing their Lovecraftian origins in the back by driving away the new blood with this tired and prejudiced old stuff.

  15. Andrew Porter on August 9, 2016 at 5:03 pm said:

    And who else rants on Twitter?

    Donald Trump.

    Political correctness gone amok regarding convention programming. Have any of these people actually attended the conventions they complain about?

    Yup. Tempe and DC, I don’t remember the years but it must have been 2204 and 2005.

  16. @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan:

    Personally I do find the fame and fortune of HPL among SF/F writers puzzling. I have read, or tried to read him, and I find his prose purple and his mythos unattractive. His influence seems to me to be a bit overstated.

    I tried to read HPL as well, and didn’t make it through whichever collection it was. I don’t mind the mythos, quite like the idea of Eldritch Horrors Beyond Human Ken, but the purple prose did me in. Ah well. I prefer more current works inspired by him.

    @John A Arkansawyer:

    Was last year’s program focused on magical realism in blaxploitation movies?

    Programming based on movies instead of the printed word? Blasphemy! Ingrate! 😉

    Seriously, though, I would totally sign up for that program. I loves me some Grindhouse/’sploitation movies.

  17. Tempe and DC, I don’t remember the years but it must have been 2204 and 2005.

    Getting to the 2204 WFC must have taken some doing.

  18. Andrew Porter,

    Casey B:

    Since you misread every single point I made, I suppose it’s only fair you misread my name, too. <wry>

    No, you are making a comment that the very title—which is a longtime science fiction fan (NOT reader) joke—is objectionable.

    Except people in this thread have done the research, and it is NOT a longtime science fiction fan joke. It was a small injoke promulgated by exactly one person, that never caught on in the fannish community.

    And being a joke doesn’t excuse racism. Professional comics embrace “edginess” — Andrew Dice Clay comes to mind. But professional comics also understand that they drive away as many people as they attract with their offensiveness, and that’s a calculus that they’re willing to make.

    See also Scalzi’s pithy comment, “the failure mode of ‘clever’ is ‘asshole’.”

    You are also saying that discussion of stories by, say, H.P. Lovecraft should not take place because NOW, he is considered a horrible racist and sexist author. He is, however, an author of stories upon which the field today rests. Ever heard the expression, “We are standing on the shoulders of giants”?. By denying the right to discuss material by such authors, you deny the history of the field.

    Either quote where I said that, or retract your statement. I think it’s important to acknowledge the history of the field, however problematic that history may be in parts. I also think it’s important not to ignore the entrenched racism, sexism, etc. of that history. We not only can discuss this, I think we MUST discuss this. But putting blatant racism on a panel title as if one is endorsing that racism is a major error. If the title had been “Spicy Oriental Zepellins: A Discussion of Racism in the Pulps” — you know, I’d have been fine with that.

    By this reasoning, all old pulps and books by authors who are objectionable NOIW should be banned.

    Nope. Read what I said, not what you want me to have said. Hell, I read Heinlein. ‘Nuff said.

    The Nazis handled this very well: they burned those books they objected to.

    Show where I said books (ANY books) should be banned, or retract and apologize. We’re talking about the TITLE of a PROGRAM PANEL. The head of programming had complete discretion as to what to call it. He decided to try to be clever and instead wound up looking like an asshole.

    Incidentally, science fiction fandom contained black authors and fans for decades (not many, but some), and fans in the South never used the N word. In fact, southern conventions, even in the years of segregation, never discriminated against black (or women, or Jewish) fans and pros. They were judged on the quality of their contributions to fandom and SF.

    That’s nice, and I’m glad to hear that, but I’d very much like to hear that from actual, you know, black and/or Jewish authors and fans. I certainly heard much the same thing (from men) about how inclusive fandom was to women when I started going to cons in the 1970s… and yet I encountered a fair amount of casual sexism. Which was entirely invisible to the men around me.

    Oh, and the word is “blacksploitation.” (Hey, let’s burn those pulps, too!)

    Sorry; typo. Spillchucker doesn’t recognize the word “blacksploitation” in any form, spelled correctly or incorrectly. And so far as I can see, you’re the only one calling for books (or pulps) to be burned.

    My actual opinion follows: I think that old books, movies, comics, pulp magazines… all of them are a very important part of our cultural history, and our genre history, and they should be preserved, read, and discussed. But I also think we shouldn’t willfully ignore the problems even as we celebrate the triumphs.

    To make a non-genre example: you may not have seen my addendum about the movie “Gone with the Wind.” It was, arguably, one of the most important movies of its time. It deserves to be watched. You’re allowed to enjoy it. (My mother would watch it and *sob* every time it came on television….) But it also makes a tacit case that slavery wasn’t evil, blacks were inherently inferior, and that slaves were happy to be slaves. That problematic aspect shouldn’t be ignored or papered over, either.

  19. Steve Wright on August 10, 2016 at 10:51 am said:

    @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan: I think there’s a lot of scope for discussion about Lovecraft – about his merits* and flaws** as a writer, about his attitudes, his influences, his impact on the field, about the mythology he created….

    … which is why, of course, there is still a lot of discussion going on about Lovecraft, and nobody is saying there shouldn’t be!

    *Some, IMHO.
    **Many, IMHO.

    No doubt. But I am SO TIRED of it. I have much the same problem with regard to Philip K. Dick and Italian SF. For a long time, and alas to this day, anybody in Italy who had any serious ambition to do SF criticism would talk about Dick to the exclusion of anything else. Dick, Dick, Dick. Dick and the singularity. Modern fantasy and how Dick prefigurated it. Surrealism and modernism in Philip K. Dick. (Never, as far as I’m aware, How Dick was a dick to most of his wives and tried to shop people to the FBI, or Problematic aspects of Dick in his depictions of women).
    Now I like Dick. I like him a lot more than Lovecraft, even. But for Heaven’s sake, there is lots and lots of more interesting stuff to talk about, and he is not the Greatest Author Of All Time.

  20. Aaron on August 10, 2016 at 11:13 am said:

    Tempe and DC, I don’t remember the years but it must have been 2204 and 2005.

    Getting to the 2204 WFC must have taken some doing.

    Burned through most of my temporal allowance. Which is a shame because they tell me great things about the 2030 AnctartiCon. (“Miles of white beaches! All the krill that you can eat!”)

  21. Anna Feruglio Dal Dan on August 10, 2016 at 11:21 am said:
    Aaron on August 10, 2016 at 11:13 am said:

    Tempe and DC, I don’t remember the years but it must have been 2204 and 2005.

    Getting to the 2204 WFC must have taken some doing.

    Burned through most of my temporal allowance. Which is a shame because they tell me great things about the 2030 AnctartiCon. (“Miles of white beaches! All the krill that you can eat!”)

    I dunno, I thought it kinda went south. Plus the dress code was too formal.

  22. @Lenora Rose:

    Look, someone went a long way to saying Oriental is no more offensive than Negro, old-fashioned but not anything as bad as the dreaded n-word, and sometimes grandfathered in to the names of institutions related to the people in question.

    I think that was me. And I still think the panel title with the word “Oriental” in it is obviously offensive. Duh. Now, if someone were to tell me, “I see that word used so often in discussions of pulp fiction, I’m numb to it and didn’t consider how it might be taken by folks who aren’t,” I’d cut that person a yard of slack–but no one has.

    The whole thing is clueless, and that’s not the end of the world, but the price of that clue keeps on rising the longer it sits on the shelf, waiting to be picked up.

    This clue wants someone to take him home and hug him and pet him and squeeze him and name him George!

    Will no one rid me of the this troublesome clue?

  23. @Andrew Porter
    The Andrew Porter I know is better than this. I must have you confused with a different Andrew Porter. The problem with common names – there are many of you and you get confused with each other making other real Andrew Porters look bad. Maybe a pseudonym would help.

    It appears your commenting without reading the entire thread – rude and it makes you look foolish. It also appears your scanning instead of reading fully causing you to misread filers comments and again look foolish. Hard to take a “real name” seriously when they don’t seem up on English and appear to be ok with racism, sexism, ableism and more in 2016.

    If you can show us where and when Spicy Oriental Zeppelin Stories became a fan in-joke and isn’t offensive to people from areas Americans and British call Asia feel free to do so. Make sure you are pointing to the correct fan in-joke and not the unobjectionable Spicy Zeppelin Stories.

  24. @Aaron
    Is a pen name a real name if one has gone and gotten legal documents for it? I use my pen/business name here. So many legal names I’ve used on the Internet since late 1980s: 5 + 2 combined names (pen+married and married+Jewish). Names: changing your name when married because your a woman, converting to Judaism, and pen name. What fun. 😉

  25. AS for Lovecraft: I wonder; How much can there be said about Lovecraft that hasn’t already been said? Not much, I suspect.

    That is probably true, but everything is new to someone. I’ve seen so many discussions of the Age of Jackson in texts about American history that rehash the same events so many times they make my eyes water. But for someone who has never studied that period of history, that’s new information. Discussions of Lovecraft seem to me to be much the same – old hat to people who have been around genre fiction for a while, but new to those just getting into it.

    On the other hand, loading up the schedule of WFC with as many Lovecraft panels as it has is kind of ridiculous. Yes, Lovecraft is important in the history of the genre, but he’s not everything, or even the most important thing. Plus, given how expensive it is to attend WFC, the attendees are generally not going to be curious newbies.

  26. “Political correctness gone amok regarding convention programming.”

    As Neil Gaiman said, that only translates to “treating other people with respect gone amok”.

  27. Andrew Porter, I find your complaint that “most” of the people here use pseudonyms incredible.

    Not only, as numerous people have pointed out, do many people post under their real names here, why is the fact that there are people posting under pseudonyms an issue for you?

    I am presuming that you, as a straight white male (and yes, I’ve Googled you: so either I know who you are, or the Andrew Porter who has published science fiction should be suing you for causing defamation of character to him), have never experienced the level of harassment that women, POC, people who are LGBTQ, people who are disabled experience — as a matter of course, on a daily basis, on the Internet.

    It’s very easy for you to be all smug about using your real name when you won’t get death threats or rape threats or verbal abuse and harassment simply for daring to express your opinion under your real name.

    The fact that there are people on here who use pseudonyms does not diminish their credibility, or the validity of their opinions and words.

    But the fact that you are claiming that it does — well, that certainly speaks volumes about you. 🙄

  28. Guys, I thought Tuesdays and Thursdays were Respond to Incoherent Arguments days. Buncha rules breakers…

    @Andrew Porter, I didn’t look you up. I didn’t need to in order to guess you’re both white and male. While I’m often wrong about some things, it’s hard to miss when someone speaks from the vantage point of privilege (which is a polite term for a particular – and predictable – form of cluelessness).

    I’m also guessing you’ve never had the pointy stick of otherness pointed at you for the color of your skin, your gender, the sex of your preferred partners, the language you speak at home. Maybe I’m wrong and that actually has happened to you, but if so it didn’t teach you empathy. Instead, you’re standing with those who don’t know that what they’re calling political correctness is really just common politeness and pretty necessary in what is all too slowly becoming a world of equals. You do you, but maybe start to get a glimmer of a clue that stripped of curliques, your argument is just a desire for it to still be okay to be an asshole.

    I use six of the fourteen letters of my full name. The more than two decades of rape and death threats probably have something to do with that. Or maybe it’s residual caution left over from when an internet stalker sent me the newsletter from my children’s school, so I’d know that he knew where they spent their days in case he decided I needed to pay for not being nice to him.

  29. @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan: my apologies if I’ve expressed myself poorly! I don’t for one moment mean to imply you should be stood on the Fandom Naughty Step for not being interested in Lovecraft. My point, if I have one, is that there is no Fandom Naughty Step, that people are free to be interested in whatever they like, and that’s what diversity and inclusiveness are all about. People who are interested in Lovecraft can talk about him. People who aren’t can talk about someone else.

    Nobody is banning anything. Nobody is burning any books.

    There is an awareness that civil discourse, in a diverse and inclusive setting, means you have to watch out in case you give inadvertent offence… which, as far as I’m concerned, falls under the heading of, well, simple good manners and basic decency. As others have pointed out, this is all “political correctness” really amounts to.

    So, if I’ve given inadvertent offence, I apologize! (To be honest, I kind of agree about Lovecraft being done to death these days, anyway.)

  30. Dawn Incognito on August 10, 2016 at 6:34 pm said:

    Oh, good! I’m not the only one, then.

  31. Oh, Dawn Incognito and P.J. Evans, yay! I didn’t dislike LotR, but I’ve never “gotten” the fanatical love for it, either. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one.

    Likewise, with Lovecraft: I checked out and read his “greatest hits” from the library a year or two ago, in an effort to understand what all the hullaballoo is about. It didn’t happen. His works are okay, I guess, for the time that they were written, the contrived prose, and for the subgenre of horror (if you don’t require your horror to actually be scary). But I just don’t see whatever it is that so many people are raving about. So I looked at that WFC schedule and thought, “Is this a Fantasy con, or a Lovecraft con? Why would this lineup appeal to more than 10% of Fantasy fans (all of them being over the age of 60, to boot)?”

  32. I loved The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when I read it as a kid (9, 10, 12?). Still enjoyed rereads in my 20s. Have tried to reread over the last few years and I can’t get past the first 50 pages. It’s been hit by the suck fairy.

    I’ve yet to read the original Cthulhu *don’t even know the real name of story* by Lovecraft – nothing anyone writes about it or Lovecraft has made me think it’s worth my time. I’ve enjoyed a number of silly children’s takes on Cthulhu and I own a very silly purple plush Cthulhu from the C is for Cthulhu Kickstarter (books were for a friend’s kids and great-nephew). A few times when I’ve been confused while reading fantasy or horror my husband has had to explain the author is playing with Cthulhu mythos so at some point I’ll give in and read the original… Maybe.

    Joins @Dawn Incognito, @P J Evans, & @JJ in the Fandom Naughty Step dance

  33. Steve Wright on August 10, 2016 at 5:00 pm said:
    @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan: my apologies if I’ve expressed myself poorly!

    No, I wasn’t offended, just needed to rant and whinge a bit.

  34. @Dawn Incognito I was kinda hoping to start a Fandom Naughty Step Confessions subthread

    It would be a refreshing change of tone for this thread. Whose joining us with Fandom Naughty Step Confessions?

  35. I never managed to get more than a couple of chapters into any EE “Doc” Smith book. #Fandom-Naughty-Step

  36. Is there still room on the Naughty Step?

    If you quote Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , I will look blank, because I’ve never gotten past the third chapter.

  37. Another “Naughty Step” stroke for me: I really don’t care for the Narnia stories. I think that they are seriously effed-up in terms of message.

  38. I bounced off Delany’s Dhalgren so hard, I left a dent in the wall behind me. And this was back in the days when I still believed Samuel Delany was Irish.

  39. Steve Wright on August 12, 2016 at 2:37 pm said:
    I bounced off Delany’s Dhalgren so hard, I left a dent in the wall behind me.

    I think I managed to get to the end (skipping a lot) because Delany was one of my Clarion instructors, but am still scratching my head. Worse, I bounced off Nova and Babel-17. But liked the Neveryon stories. Go figure.

  40. More seriously, I would welcome an explanation of the Importance of Lovecraft, as distinct from the fact that his mythos makes for great in-jokes about Elder Gods, eldritch this and that, and so on.

    For example, even in my I’m Really Fed Up With Tolkien phase, I was able to explain to my then boyfriend that not only Tolkien had basically invented deep secondary world worldbulding, he had done it with a grace, thoroughness and consistency that was a wonder to behold. I could also point out to his supple prose, to his control of register, to his ability to create memorable characters and so on and so forth.

  41. Worse, I bounced off Nova and Babel-17.

    I like Babel-17 (treat it as space opera, and it’s easier), but Delany, like Stephenson, is one of those authors that causes much bouncing from me – usually in the bookstore, because if I bounce in the first few pages, I’m not going to go further in a book.

  42. Anna Feruglio Dal Dan on August 12, 2016 at 2:48 pm said:

    More seriously, I would welcome an explanation of the Importance of Lovecraft, as distinct from the fact that his mythos makes for great in-jokes about Elder Gods, eldritch this and that, and so on.

    I guess it’s because Lovecraftian horror is secular. His writing is just overblown and not that great*, but the idea of a secret history to the world is always an attractive one and Lovecraft offers a notion of glimpses into such a history with hideous things in it. In edition that those hideous things are mentally hideous – that contemplating them is a threat to ones sanity and/or existance.

  43. Tasha Turner on August 12, 2016 at 9:54 am said:

    I’ve yet to read the original Cthulhu *don’t even know the real name of story* by Lovecraft – nothing anyone writes about it or Lovecraft has made me think it’s worth my time.

    Interestingly it here in full https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Call_of_Cthulhu/full but it really has been visited not by the suck fairy so much as by a horde of gibbering elder-shoggoth-suck-fairies from another dimension of racist-suckage.

  44. I suspect a lot of Lovecraft’s influence is down to networking. He was in contact with a whole lot of other writers, through correspondence or in collaboration (or in friendly rivalry, as with Robert Bloch), and – for all his personal quirks and *ahem* views – a lot of them remembered him fondly, on a purely personal level. It got him friends in the genre, and even a devoted admirer or two – August Derleth springs immediately to mind – who were prepared to keep his words alive and his works in print.

    And he does have some merits as a writer – that chilly grandiose cosmic vision, of a universe full of the utterly alien and utterly uncaring, was pretty novel in its day, and I do think – if you look past the ludicrous purple prose and the flat characterizations – his plotting is neatly done, with that sense of smoothly rising action from small beginnings to a final high point of horror. It’s maybe not enough to make me think he’s a genuinely good writer, but it’s a step or two above mere hack work, at least. And those few merits, and a lot of devoted friends, seem to have been enough to establish him as a “Figure” in weird fiction. Maybe he doesn’t deserve it, but that’s the fickle finger of fame for yer.

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