Pixel Scroll 8/1/20 Scrollers Tick
In Vain

(1) WORLDCON ENDS: FILM AT ELEVEN. Watching CoNZealand’s Closing Ceremonies brought back a memory —

When Winnipeg started its bid for the 1994 Worldcon, chair John Mansfield had everybody on the committee fill out a questionnaire about their interests. On the last day of the convention he returned these forms to everyone saying, “Okay. Here’s your life back.”

At today’s Closing Ceremonies the gavel passed to DisCon III’s Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard.

(2) TABLE SERVICE. Camestros Felapton illustrates an aspect of the 2020 Hugo Award nomination process in “EPH Fan Writer”.

… As each person is eliminated, the points get redistributed. By looking at the change in points for each surviving nominee, you can calculate the proportion of points that the survivor gets from the eliminated.

(3) THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. There are several good rundowns on the problems with last night’s Hugo Awards ceremony, including this one from Sean Reads Sci-Fi, “Uh-Oh, the Hugos Were a Hot Mess!”, which includes some good excerpts from the acceptance speeches.

…Some of the history was admittedly interesting, but I kept waiting for Martin to catch up to the present day, to illustrate how the long arc of the Hugos has bent toward justice, how the field continues to evolve to this day. He never did. He stayed rooted firmly in the past, and as the night wore on his stubborn refusal to acknowledge current movements in SF/F began to feel pointedly exclusionary rather than just incidentally so.

And I haven’t even mentioned the names! To mispronounce someone’s name live is one thing. As a teacher, I can attest to the fact that you will occasionally get someone’s name wrong on the first day. But (a) they had plenty of time to practice, (b) they almost certainly were given pronunciation guides by most authors, and (c) this doesn’t excuse the constant mispronunciations during pre-recoded segments, unless, of course, Martin refused to re-record them, which is its own set of problems. The folks behind the scenes should have done more to vet these segments, and should have pushed back harder when it became clear what Martin was doing.

What’s fascinating to me, though, is how the awards themselves drew such a sharp contrast to the nostalgic navel-gazing of the toastmaster. It really felt like the past and the future colliding – and the future won. Literally! The winners often talked about systemic problems within the industry, about the fights that we still have to fight, about the hard work that women, people of color, queer folks, and others have to do in order to even be considered alongside the white/cis/het fuddy-duddies running last night’s show. It was such a welcome breath of fresh air, for instance, when R.F. Kuang, one of the first winners, emphasized the barriers that she faced getting into the field:

If I were talking to a new writer coming to the genre in 2020, I would tell them, well, if you are an author of color, you will very likely be paid only a fraction of the advance that white writers are getting. You will be pigeon-holed, you will be miscategorized, you will be lumped in with other authors of color whose work doesn’t remotely resemble yours. Chances are very high that you will be sexually harassed at conventions or the target of racist micro-aggressions or very often just overt racism. People will mispronounce your name, repeatedly, and in public, even people who are on your publishing team. Your cover art will be racist, and the way people talk about you and your literature will be tied to identity and your personal trauma instead of the stories you are actually trying to tell. If I had known all of that when I went into the industry, I don’t know if I would have done it, so I think that the best way we can celebrate new writers is to make this industry more welcoming for everyone.

R.F. KUANG, ASTOUNDING AWARD FOR THE BEST NEW SF WRITER

This was refreshing precisely because it’s an aspect of the history of the awards and of the fandom in general that George R.R. Martin, in his endless panegyrics to days gone by, refused to even acknowledge. Pointing out the deep-rooted, structural, and personal racism and sexism at the heart of the industry isn’t a sign of ingratitude – it’s a sign of strength and resolve in the face of tough barriers. As Ng put it in her speech:

Pulling down memorials to dead racists is not the erasing of history, it is how we make history … It would be irresponsible for me to stand here and congratulate us as a community without reminding us that the fight isn’t over and that it extends well beyond the pages of our books … Let us be better than the legacies that have been left us. Let them not be prophecies. Let there be a revolution in our time.

JEANNETTE NG, BEST RELATED WORK

That revolution was in strong form last night, as most winners took the time to celebrate marginalized voices and denounce the forces that marginalized them in the first place. I keep coming back to Martine’s speech, as well – to the knife that hurts all the more because you loved it before it cut you. A trenchant description of an industry and a genre that many loved but were excluded from for so long. That is, thankfully, changing. Not fast enough to prevent last night’s debacle – but fast enough to allow for last night’s inspiring wins

(4) GRRM RESPONSE. George R.R. Martin has commented here on File 770 about some of the reports and criticisms in circulation, beginning with – http://file770.com/2020-hugo-awards/comment-page-2/#comment-1205393

Whoever is circulating the story that I was asked to re-record portions of my Hugo hosting to correct mispronounced names, and that I refused, is (1) mistaken, or (2) lying. Never happened.

CoNZealand did ask me to re-record three of my videos, all for reasons for quality control: poor lighting, poor sound, wobbly camera. I complied with their request on two of the videos, the two that opened the evening; I re-did those live from the JCC. (The originals had been done in my cabin on an iPhone, when we were just trying to get the hang of this thing). The third segment they wanted re-recorded was the bit about the Hugo trophy, where I had some fun with the juicer, the Alfie, and the like. In that case, we decided to stay with the first take, since I no longer had the props on hand and could not easily have reproduced what I’d done at the cabin, which everyone seemed to like.

There is also a story out there that I was provided with the correct phonetic pronunciations of all the names. That too is completely untrue….

(5) YOUR NEW HUGO LOSERS HOSTS. Who wouldn’t sign up for that?

(6) GROWING PAINS. Scott Edelman stirred up some memories that were called out by his sister-in-law in service of an anti-Vietnam War protest.

(7) LEM STORY DRAMATIZED. “Review: A Sci-Fi Classic Featuring a Multiverse of Stooges” comes recommended by a New York Times reviewer.

…You wouldn’t think that the 4-foot-wide by 8-foot-tall space, approximately the same shape as an iPhone screen, would be big enough for a play, let alone an avant-garde company. Yet the closet, only 2 feet deep, is one of the stars of Gelb’s Theater in Quarantine series, which since late March has produced, on a biweekly schedule, some of the new medium’s most imaginative work from some of its simplest materials. As in silent movies, clowning, movement and mime are usually part of the mix.

“The 7th Voyage of Egon Tichy,” which was livestreamed on Thursday evening and will remain available in perpetuity on Gelb’s YouTube channel, has all of those and then some. Based on a 1957 story by Stanislaw Lem, the Polish science fiction writer most famous for “Solaris,” it concerns an astronaut named Egon who, passing through a minefield of gravitational vortexes, is caught in a causal loop paradox that bombards him with innumerable (and insufferable) alternative selves.

Lem’s story is a satire of the infinite human capacity for self-defeat, with the various Egon incarnations bickering and undermining one another as the gyrations of space-time bend them into conflict. When “a meteor no bigger than a pea” pierces the ship’s hull, destroying the rudder, everyone has ideas about fixing it — but since it’s a two-man job, making cooperation essential, nothing actually gets done.

(8) HEARING A DISCOURAGING WORD. Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich asks “Why are all these science-fiction shows so awful?”

Science fiction was once a niche TV commodity, but March brought three major live-action genre projects. Star Trek: Picard finished its debut season on CBS All Access. FX shared Devs with Hulu, pitching the miniseries as prestige bait for the chattering class. Season 3 of Westworld was HBO’s new hope for a buzzy, sexy-violent epic. And they were all terrible….

I get it: We are all scared of phones, and bots, and the Algorithm. Yet by demonizing technology, these projects oddly exonerate the people behind that technology. CEOs with tragic origin stories in Westworld or Devs are puppets for machines they can’t control. Higher-tech powers in Brave New World and “You May Also Like” control whole civilizations comprised of unaware humans.

(9) LIBRARIES TAKE HEAT IN CANADA. Publishers Weekly has the story:“Canadian Libraries Respond to ‘Globe and Mail’ Essay Attacking Public Libraries”.

[Intro] Editors Note: In a nearly 3,000 word opinion piece published on July 25 in ‘The Globe and Mail’ Kenneth Whyte, publisher of Toronto-based indie Sutherland House Books, pinned the troubles of Canada’s independent bookstores and publishers on the work of public libraries….

Publishers Weekly reprinted the Canadian Urban Libraries Council’s response:

It is otherwise hard to understand why public libraries are to blame when bookstores and libraries have coexisted harmoniously and supported each other for decades.

So what’s changed? While there are a lot of changes that point to shifts in the marketplace, such as the research identifying a decline in leisure reading, coupled with less and less space for literary reviews in major news outlets, these are minor compared to the two major developments that have dramatically altered the book and reading landscape—and they have nothing to do with public libraries. First is the explosive growth in popularity of e-books and digital audiobooks. Second, is the increasing dominance of Amazon in the book retail and publishing marketplace.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 1, 1986Howard The Duck premiered. Directed by Water Huyck and produced by Gloria Katz who were also the screenplay writers.  George Lucas was executive producer. Its human stars were Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones and Tim Robbins. Howard The Duck was Ed Gale in the suit with the voice being Chip Zien. Critics almost unanimously hated it, it bombed at the box office, and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 38% rating. It would be the last Marvel Film until Captain American twenty-one years later. (CE)

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 1, 1819 – Herman Melville.  Without debating – though some do – how far Moby-Dick is fantasy, we can claim some more clearly – hmm, maybe not the best word with this writer – anyway, “Bartleby”, “The Tartarus of Maids”, “The Encantadas”, let’s say nine or ten.  John Clute would include The Confidence-Man.  (Died 1891) [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1898 – William Ziff.  I mean Ziff Sr., though Ziff Jr. is noteworthy too.  The elder was the Ziff in Ziff-Davis Publishing, which took over Amazing from Hugo Gernsback, added Fantastic Adventures, comics with art director Jerry Siegel and e.g. John Buscema.  I happen to think this cover for Weird Adventures 10 is feminist – look how the man is fascinated while the woman with him knows they should fear – but then I think Glory Road is feminist, and how many see that?  (Died 1953) [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1910 Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May, 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available in digital form. (Died 1977.) (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1914 – Edd Cartier.  Oh, how great he was.  Eventually we put him on two Retrospective Hugo ballots.  We think of him as a comedian; true enough, but see this cover for Foundation and Empire.  Vince Di Fate knew; see his treatment of EC in Infinite Worlds.  World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award.  (Died 2008)  [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1923 Alan Yates. Though better known under the Carter Brown name where he wrote some one hundred and fifty mystery novels, I’m noting him here for Booty for a Babe, a Fifties mystery novel published under that name as it’s was set at a SF Convention. (Available from the Kindle store.) And as Paul Valdez, he wrote a baker’s dozen genre stories. (Died 1985.) (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1930 Geoffrey Holder. Best-remembered for his performance as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die but he’s also the narrator in Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He was also Willie Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle but it’s been so long since I saw the film that I can’t picture his character. And he was The Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland that had Richard Burton as The White Knight. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1945 – Yvonne Rousseau, 75.  Author, editor, critic, long-time fan.  Australian SF Review, 2nd Series with J. & R. Blackford, Foyster, Sussex, Webb.  Three short stories and a novelette.  Contributor to Banana WingsChungaFlagFoundationJourney PlanetThe Metaphysical Review, Riverside QuarterlySF CommentarySF Eye.  Fan Guest of Honour at ConFictionary, where the fire alarm went off and the hotel actually was on fire.  [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1954 James Gleick, 66. Author of, among many other books, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman and What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Electronic Frontier, and he is one of us in that he writes genre reviews which are collected in Time Travel: A History. Among the works he’s reviewed are Le Guin’s “Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” and Heinlein ‘s “By His Bootstraps”.  (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1955 Annabel Jankel, 65. Director who was first  a music video director and then the co-creator and director of Max Headroom. She and her partner Rocky Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show, a mix of interviews and music vids which aired on Channel 4 and HBO. Jankel and Morton would go on to direct Super Mario Bros. And they’re both responsible for the Max Headroom movie and series. (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1969 – Dirk Berger, 51.  Five dozen covers, a score of interiors.  Here is Sucker Punch.  Here is Empire Dreams.  Here is Nova 23.  Here is his Website.  [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1979 Jason Momoa, 41. I knew I’d seen him before he showed up as Aquaman in the DC film franchise and I was right as he was Ronon Dex on Stargate Atlantis for its entire run. He was also Khal Drogo in the first season of A Game of Thrones. And not surprisingly, he was the title character in Conan the Barbarian. (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1993 – Tomi Adeyemi, 27.  Children of Blood and BoneChildren of Virtue and Vengeance, both NY Times Best Sellers.  Norton Award, Waterstones Book Prize, Lodestar Award.  Parents thought she’d be better off if they didn’t teach her their native tongue (they’re Yoruba), so with an honors degree from Harvard she got a fellowship to study it in Brazil.  Website here.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur offers a suggestion on how to get started on that post-apocalyptic novel.

(13) BE PREPARED. A Public Service Announcement from the Dread Pirate Roberts channeling Inigo Montoya.

(14) ADVICE FOR SFF POETS. Veteran editor of Star*Line and Mobius: A Journal for Social Change “gives some surprising insights on submissions” in this interview conducted by Melane Stormm at SPECPO.

A must watch for any writer, but especially if you identify as female or if you’re feeling hesitant to submit your work someplace.

(15) ON BRADBURY’S SHELVES. The second installment of Phil Nichols’ Bradbury 100 podcast had dropped.

My guest is Jason Aukerman, Managing Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. The “Bradbury Center”, as it’s known for short, is the place where Ray’s working papers are held in archive, along with the contents of Ray’s personal library, and many of his professional and personal artefacts such as awards, videotapes and film prints.

(16) BALESTRIERI JOINS READ-A-THON. A Bradbury Read-A-Thon is planned as part of the author’s centenary celebration: “Iowan to join top authors, celebs in sci-fi ‘read-a-thon’” RadioIowa has the story.

A library curator at the University of Iowa will join “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and a list of other celebrities, authors and science fiction experts in a Ray Bradbury Read-a-thon next month. The event on August 22nd will mark what would have been the famed author’s 100th birthday.

Peter Balestrieri, curator of science fiction and popular culture collections at the UI Libraries, says he’s thrilled to be taking part.

“The Read-a-thon will be about 40 people reading segments of Ray Bradbury’s famous novel, ‘Fahrenheit 451,’” Balestrieri says. “All of the clips from all of the different readers will be put together into one seamless audio-visual book.”

Balestrieri will read a six-minute portion of the book as part of the roughly-four-hour event. Top sci-fi authors who will also read aloud include Neil Gaiman, Marjorie Liu and Steven Barnes, as well as former NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

(17) THAT’S NOT GOOD NEWS. “Nasa: Mars spacecraft is experiencing technical problems and has gone into hibernation, space agency says” at Yahoo! News.

Nasa‘s Mars spacecraft is experiencing technical problems and has sent itself into hibernation, the space agency has said.

The spacecraft was sent to space Thursday in a launch that had no technical problems – even despite an earthquake that struck just before liftoff, and a preparation period that came during the coronavirus outbreak. Shortly after it was launched, Nasa announced that it had received its first signal from the spacecraft.

But soon after it was in space and headed towards Mars, it became apparent that something had gone wrong with the craft. After that initial signal, mission controllers received more detailed telemetry or spacecraft data that showed there had been a problem.

The signal, which arrived on Thursday afternoon, showed that the spacecraft had entered a state known as “safe mode”. That shuts down all but its essential systems, until it receives new messages from ission control.

The hibernation state is intended to allow the spacecraft to protect itself in the case of unexpected conditions, and will be triggered when the onboard computer receives data that shows something is not as expected.

Nasa’s engineers think that the state was triggered because part of the spacecraft was colder than expected while it was still in Earth’s shadow. The spacecraft has now left that shadow and temperatures are now normal, Nasa said in an update.

Mission controllers will now conduct a “full health assessment”, the space agency said, and are “working to return the spacecraft to a nominal configuration for its journey to Mars”.

(18) TOLKIEN SAYS. At BookRiot: “28 J.R.R. Tolkien Quotes From His Books, Essays, And Letters”.

“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’” —The Fellowship of the Ring

(19) NAVIGATING ON VIRTUAL SEAS. Mlex reports  on the Cyberpunk Culture Con (July 9-10), with some commentary on other virtual cons (BaltiCon, ConZealand, Fantastikon): “Cyberpunk Culture Conference”.

…I want to report on the recent virtual con, the Cyberpunk Culture Conference (Jul 9-10, 2020), which managed to swim perfectly through the fantastic milieu of the future that has already become the past, and floated out from the wreckage on that frenzied ouroboros of possibility waves as easily as a swimmer takes to an inflated tire inner tube on a summer pond.

The conference sprang up around recent books published by Routledge, which are quite excellent, I should add…

(20) 3D. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Great article about racing and 3D printing — “3-D Printing, a Boon for Racers, Inches Closer for Carmakers” — in the New York Times. Here’s two key ‘graphs from the top:

The Belgian racing team Heli had an engine problem. Specifically, under race conditions, the manifold of the four-cylinder turbo diesel in its BMW 1-series exploded, bursting along an ultrasonically welded seam that held together the manifold’s two halves.

…In 2018 Heli took the problem to ZiggZagg, a Belgian company that fabricates parts using an HP 3-D printer. ZiggZagg made a digital scan of the two-piece manifold and after 10 hours had a digital blueprint for a stronger, lighter, one-piece manifold. In its first race with the new manifold, printed using what is known as PA 12 nylon, the part held up and Heli took third. That same manifold lasted until the car was retired earlier this year.

(21) THE DRAGON RETURNING – MAYBE. NPR reports “Astronauts Set To Return To Earth In First U.S. Splashdown In Decades”.

The two astronauts that blasted off in the first private space vehicle to take people to the International Space Station are about to return to Earth — by splashing down in the waters around Florida.

This will be the first planned splashdown for space travelers since 1975, although a Russian Soyuz capsule did have to do an emergency lake landing in 1976.

NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley says that he and his crewmate Robert Behnken are prepared for the possibility of seasickness.

“Just like on an airliner, there are bags if you need them. And we’ll have those handy,” Hurley said in a press conference held on Friday, while on board the station. “And if that needs to happen, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that that’s happened in a space vehicle. It will be the first time in this particular vehicle, if we do.”

The astronauts will come home in the same SpaceX Dragon capsule that took them up on May 30. Their flight marked the first time people had been launched to orbit from U. S. soil since NASA retired its space shuttles in 2011.

The success of their trip in the SpaceX vehicle has been a major milestone for commercial space travel, and a vindication of NASA’s long-term plan to rely on space taxis for routine flights to and from the orbiting outpost—while the government agency focuses on developing vehicles for a return to the moon.

The current plan is for the Dragon “Endeavour” capsule to undock from the International Space Station on Saturday at 7:34 p.m. ET, with scheduled splashdown at 2:42 p.m. ET on Sunday. There are potential splashdown zones both in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. With a hurricane headed towards Florida, however, it’s unclear if the weather will cooperate with the plan.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Virtual Viewing:  Disney’s Cruise Line’s Tangled, The Musical” on YouTube is an hour-long musical, with three songs composed by Alan Menken, that was performed on Disney’s Cruise Line and is worth seeing for people who need a Disney musical fix.  (Hat tip to Mark Evanier.)

[Thanks to Darrah Chavey, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

157 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/1/20 Scrollers Tick
In Vain

  1. P J Evans on August 2, 2020 at 10:48 am said:

    Maybe I’m dim, but I’m not following you here: “maybe they have different priorities in what they seek out or what they deem worthy of praise”
    Isn’t that normal?

    Yes, it is normal, I’m just acknowledging that and reflecting that the results aren’t as interesting to me as perhaps they were in the past. Also normal.

  2. Contrarius on August 2, 2020 at 10:33 am said:

    The issue is that they’re just not writing the books that best capture the Hugo-voting population’s attention right now.

    Again: sff has always been political. While it looks to the future, it’s grounded in the politics of the present. And today’s politics are greatly focused on issues of diversity.

    I am kind of flabbergasted that so many people appear surprised to discover that diverse authors tend to do a good job of addressing those issues.

    I agree, there is a strong focus on diversity among Hugo voters but personally I find this less interesting, that’s all.

  3. I agree, there is a strong focus on diversity among Hugo voters but personally I find this less interesting, that’s all.

    Just to be clear, are you suggesting that Hugo voters vote for “diverse” (yes, those are sneer quotes) writers because they aren’t straight white male writers? You are flat-out saying that “diverse” writers aren’t interesting to you, and, again, wow, are you missing out.

    One of the things I am loving about the flood of previously-unheard writers is how many ideas and cultures I’m seeing that are new to me. Freshness is a great thing in science fiction.

    Aside: I knew Arkady Martine was a woman because I’d read her Homestuck fic. Same with Tamsyn Muir.

  4. @rob_matic —

    I agree, there is a strong focus on diversity among Hugo voters but personally I find this less interesting, that’s all.

    And that’s fine. Whatever floats yer boat, and all that.

    But there’s a huuuuuuuuge gap between “diversity issues are currently catching the voters’ attention” and “cishet white men just don’t write good books these days” or “How many decades will it take to “get even”? since that’s clearly what this is about..” I get really irritated when people insist on conflating them.

  5. clif:

    considering the number of women actually writing science fiction in those decades…

    At best, this comment indicates the gaps in your own reading. Women were certainly writing and publishing science fiction, including award-worthy science fiction, at a rate higher than 30% of the field prior to 2010 (?!).

  6. The only Arkady I could think of was Arkady Darell. And I’m an Arkie. 😉

    I think Contrarius largely has the right of it: The books hitting the zeitgeist right now are mostly not written by white guys. It’ll last a couple more years. So it goes.

  7. @rob_matic–What I love about the more recent writers, writers that have hit my awareness especially in the last decade, is that they are writing different stories, characters, and worlds compared to writers I was aware of and reading previously. I’m not always up for trying something from an unfamiliar background; sometimes I need the familiar. But when I am, when I do, I get something genuinely new, more interesting because it’s less like a comfortable old shoe–and it expands the universe of things that I do feel comfortable picking up and reading.

  8. Madame Hardy on August 2, 2020 at 11:24 am said:

    Just to be clear, are you suggesting that Hugo voters vote for “diverse” (yes, those are sneer quotes) writers because they aren’t straight white male writers? You are flat-out saying that “diverse” writers aren’t interesting to you, and, again, wow, are you missing out.

    One of the things I am loving about the flood of previously-unheard writers is how many ideas and cultures I’m seeing that are new to me. Freshness is a great thing in science fiction.

    I’m not dissing people who are seeking diverse writers in their SFF, I think it’s a perfectly valid choice but it’s not a motivating factor for me.

    I’m comfortable with the amount of exposure I get to a range of ideas and cultures in SFF and elsewhere without seeking out more specifically. I read and watch a bunch of non-Anglosphere stuff outside of the genre without making too much of an effort and to be honest this tends to be more eye-opening for me than a lot of current SFF.

  9. Lis Carey on August 2, 2020 at 12:04 pm said:
    @rob_matic–What I love about the more recent writers, writers that have hit my awareness especially in the last decade, is that they are writing different stories, characters, and worlds compared to writers I was aware of and reading previously. I’m not always up for trying something from an unfamiliar background; sometimes I need the familiar. But when I am, when I do, I get something genuinely new, more interesting because it’s less like a comfortable old shoe–and it expands the universe of things that I do feel comfortable picking up and reading.

    That’s fair. I’ve definitely had some ‘wow’ moments in the last decade, such as Ancillary Justice.

  10. Kendall on August 2, 2020 at 12:43 pm said:
    I don’t do enough reading these days, but this Kickstarter caught my eye: Don’t Touch That: An Anthology of Parenthood in SFF. I recognize at least 8 or 9 names in the subject-to-change list o’ authors.

    Risks and Challenges

    Well, there’s a pandemic. And children. . . .

    ? Anyway, the theme sounds different and interesting. FYI!

    This caught my eye as a relatively recent parent. On thinking about it, it’s a neglected theme in the genre.

  11. @Kendall: Interesting. My impression is that there were a lot of “parenthood” sf stories in the early baby boom era (“When the Bough Breaks,” “The Smallest Assassin,” “That Only A Mother,” etc.), but an anthology on this theme with modern writers sounds interesting.

  12. rob_matic notes That’s fair. I’ve definitely had some ‘wow’ moments in the last decade, such as Ancillary Justice.

    I’d say that most of my most memorable reading experiences this past decade have been by women writers, be it Becky Chambers or Arkady Martine, Their writing has just been better. Hell even MacGuire amazed me with the Indexing and the Sparrow Hill Road stories.

  13. I rate A Memory Called Empire a little lower than most people but I can see it is a Very good book – and the sort of book that wins Hugo Awards in these times.

    But it is a fact that there is a lot of really good SF/F being written by women. I don’t think any of the nominees didn’t belong on the list.

    If anybody thinks that there are male authors who are being overlooked then the thing to do is to create a little buzz for their novels. Get the word out – mention them when eligibility for the 2021 Hugos is being discussed – or if you have a blog review them. No need to get obnoxious about it or to overly promote one. Just draw attention to the great books that you think might be overlooked.

  14. If anybody thinks that there are male authors who are being overlooked then the thing to do is to create a little buzz for their novels.

    I loved Memory Called Empire but I’ll second this. I am not interested in hearing about how the Hugo shortlist doesn’t have enough men on it. I am interested in hearing about a great book that I might have overlooked. I don’t necessarily think that the Hugo shortlist is the be-all and end-all of defining the six best books of the year (for instance, IMO last year’s would have been improved with the addition of Blackfish City and Foundryside) but generalized demographic complaints (which I am not saying anybody in this thread is doing, but I have definitely seen in various places) make me think that the objector isn’t really engaging with the works or the field.

  15. I check all the boxes on “Cishet White Guy” and I could not possibly care less about the demographics of the ballot.

    The Hugo has never been about picking “the best”. No award is. It’s whatever the subset of Worldcon members who bother to nominate selects as nominees. 20 years from now, people will no doubt be thinking, “What were they smoking?” wrt some of the nominees this year.

    I personally thought the ballot this year was one of the best I’ve seen in years. When my biggest gripes are that a video won Related Work over two books I preferred and that the winners were far too predictable, that’s a great year.

  16. There seems to be this feeling among some people that books written by diverse writers are somehow pushing out books by white male writers or eclipsing them.

    Massive oversimplification inc: Hypothetically, ~40-50 years ago, let’s pretend there were 200 readers of scifi and 100 authors writing that scifi (everyone) and of those writers, 50 were getting published. The rest are diverse writers unable to get published or promoted. Sure the occasional one gets through here and there but mostly, those 50 published writers are white men. The other 50 are hampered, not because their writing is bad, but because no one will give them a chance. But they are there, just invisible.

    Jump forward. Now we have 400 readers of scifi and 200 authors of scifi and 175 of them (white male and diverse) are getting published whether by traditional houses or self publishing or whatever. There are plenty of eyes to go around and now that some of the barriers have been removed to both getting published and access to fandom, those diverse writers are gaining us a new fan base (part of the 400 above) as well as established people being exposed to new concepts and ideas and worldbuilding.

    Win win.

    People apparently are threatened because they think there is a finite amount of consumers for what is being produced when in fact, we’re opening up spaces and conventions and voting for more consumers to be involved. That in turn helps not only diverse writers but also white male writers being discovered by this influx of people. There is this glorious glut of material out there, a buffet to gorg at full of both the older scifi books and the new ones. To get to the top, your writing better be good and enjoyable because it’s not just the same 3 white male reviewers who have a voice anymore. Anyone can have a platform and amplify a signal, if 390 people like a book, it’s probably a good book – even if you yourself don’t like it.

    As a woman though, I gravitate to newer authors and books because I got tired of how women were being written, not having a central character that I related to, lots of rape descriptions, white saviors, etc. And I’m white – can’t imagine what bipoc go through.

  17. I am actually unsurprised by the recent dominance by women in the genre, and don’t expect it to change any time soon. The simple fact is that women constitute the overwhelming majority of readers and writers in the world (ignoring genre boundaries for the moment).

    The reasons for this are many, and I can’t claim to know them all, but I can guess at a few factors: women are often pushed out of STEM, and writing is one of the more solid non-STEM fields around. Also, society expects women to have creative “hobbies” more than it does men, for a variety of reasons. I have more guesses, but they’re all just guesses. The facts, however, remain.

    Romance is the largest genre of all, and is utterly dominated by women. (And is ghettoized for just that reason, unfortunately.) And fantasy and mystery both have a disproportionate number of female writers. Genres like science fiction, where men have still, until recently, continued to dominate, are the exception, not the norm.

    And then, of course, there’s that other ghetto, fanfic. Which, say what you like about it, provides practice and (since the rise of the Internet) feedback and critique. And practice and feedback are essential elements of becoming a good writer. So it’s no surprise that so many rising stars in F&SF have a background in fanfic. And, of course, fanfic is overwhelmingly written by women and girls.

    All of which means that as the field opens to women, and more female writers attract more female readers, some of whom will be wannabe writers as well, the field will become more and more dominated by women, and I don’t see anything that would reverse that trend.

    When most writers are women (and they are) then one should expect that most of the best writers will be women. It’s not about “fairness” (that BS excuse); it’s simple statistics.

  18. 3/9 author winners this year were white men. As compared to 0/7 last year. So you could say things have already gotten better!

  19. xtifr says When most writers are women (and they are) then one should expect that most of the best writers will be women. It’s not about “fairness” (that BS excuse); it’s simple statistics.

    So I’m curious now as to these stats. Have you seen them? Or are you guessing it’s so? The set of authors I’d be interested in are the ones over the twenty years who’ve become published by the major publishers. I know there’s apparently a lot more really outstanding female writers but that’s a subjective feeling on my part. Is there data to back up your claim?

  20. @Xtifr Yep. Simple ecomonics plays a huge role.

    But there is another factor that a few folks have already brought up. I always expect neophilia of SFF folks and I’m a bit surprised when I don’t see it.
    I’ll admit I’m of a certain age where it gets a bit more difficult to keep up with new things. Often it’s just indifference if something doesn’t immediately appeal to me. I DNF books a lot more quickly nowadays and with music, my other passion, I am quick to click away if something doesn’t grab me.

    I should keep a commonplace book for quotes that I find really arresting in my reading. The one I had in mind that I have been looking for was a quote by either
    Greil Marcus or Robert Christgau, two famous rock critics, about the band Sleater Kinney, a trio of three women who came from the Riot Grrl scene in the mid-90s. Both of them championed Sleater-Kinney (S-K) from their 2nd album onward, and both of them said in the late 90s and/or early 2000s that they were the best rock band in the USA. One of the two critics said something that the reason why they were the best rock band in the world is because they brought new voices to the conversation of rock. There were a lot of important rock musicians at that time period who were women as well adding their voices too.

    Two of the members of S-K sing, and they often seem to responding directly to the lyrics the other member had just sang, most memorable on their breakthrough album, Dig Me Out, which covers their breakup. Their lyrics clearly deal with concerns that women have and are you can hear the raw emotional content in their voices but see it in their lyrics.

    I’ve already heard enough from preening male rock stars or mopey indie rock guys. I think that rock music has been formally exhausted as a genre but musicians like S-K kept it going for at least another decade longer than if we could only hear mostly male voices.

    I think this analogous to the situation in SFF now. There are plenty of new voices writing about what their fears, concerns, preoccupations, and obsessions are as well as their anger, and yes, I believe the majority of them are not only women but BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ folx as well. They deserve to be heard for their own sake, but also for ours as they are and will revitalize SFF.

  21. Robert Reynolds notes I personally thought the ballot this year was one of the best I’ve seen in years. When my biggest gripes are that a video won Related Work over two books I preferred and that the winners were far too predictable, that’s a great year.

    Errrr, a video did not win Best Related Hugo. The 2019 John W. Campbell Award Acceptance Speech by Jeannette Ng did. It was recorded as a video but it won for its content, not the medium in which it was presented. The film about Le Guin was indeed a video but not this.

  22. @Cat Eldridge:

    A speech is a dramatic presentation. Were it simply the content (i.e., the text of the speech) then the written text could have been provided in the packet without losing anything. It is, however, Jeanette Ng’s impassioned delivery of the words which made the event itself so powerful.

    I stand by my statement-a video won Best Related Hugo. The medium, in this case, was what brought the message so forcefully home to so many people that it was nominated

    I’ve read the “I Have A Dream” speech as a text on a page, listened to it as a recording without video and seen the video footage of MLK delivering the speech. The video has a greater impact than either of the other media do, because it engages the audience more fully.

  23. @5: I have this vague memory of Hugo Losers parties being thrown by the incoming Worldcon (that being the reason I brought a tux to 2003). It’s been nice (for the almost-select) to have a lavish party, but maybe people and conventions could pitch together to support a group that would have motivation for serious planning?

    @7: a great way to make lemonade out of COVID-19: do a play in which the same person can play all the characters! When do we get “All You Zombies”, “By His Bootstraps”, *The Man Who Folded Himself”, …?

    @9: the G&M wouldn’t even publish the response? Shame on them! The WaPo story is surprising, but I look back and realize what I heard (e.g. from PNH) about gross book sales hitting an all-time high was some time ago, before the proliferation of cable channels.

    @10: given the way the film bombed (and that I wasn’t a fan of HtD anyway), I’m not surprised I didn’t know Chip Zien voiced the role — but given that he also created the Baker in Into the Woods he should get a birthday cite (March 20, 1947, per Wikipedia) sometime.

    @11: I’m still baffled that Hertz considers Glory Road a feminist tract; there’s one marginally fighting woman and a great many male playthings. …gout.

    @11 (Cartier): an impressive and unusual work; I’ve seen color from him, but nothing this subtle.

    @Cat Eldridge: but is HtD worse than the recent Green Lantern movie?
    (later) a hassle you Really Don’t Need — I hope the ACO told whoever reported to MYOB and/or flagged them as an unreliable reporter. Cat personalities go all over the map; our last was very adventurous spacewise — breaking all the suggestions about giving new cats a bit of space at a time to get used to — but was always up the stairs to the second floor in a flash when the (very quiet) doorbell sounded. (Later, he gradually was willing to come down one step, then another, when there were voices of visitors he’d been around for several times.)
    (still later): de Bodard has 7 unsuccessful Hugo nominations (and a then-Campbell), almost as many as Swanwick did before winning; the Hugo voters eventually appreciated his offbeat work, so maybe they’ll catch up to her as well.

    @Erik Stone: same here on all counts. There’s an occasional flavor-of-the-lustrum that leaves me cold (right now it’s Becky Chambers) — but that’s one small piece of a large field of winners. Like @Meredith, I’d love to see @clif actually put up samples of what he likes, instead of whinging that the winners represent some sort of personal insult.

    @rob_matic: I don’t seek writers of any particular description (except non-caninity, which is 99.44% of the field); I look for recommendations that sound interesting, and read them. A lot of what I find that is also diverse is anchored by a terrific story; the fact that the X’s and Y’s don’t always pair up as in Analog, or even necessarily have the expected appearance, isn’t something I hunt up — but it sounds like for you it’s an outright distraction. And note that if there is anything current that pleases you, you should put a note in http://file770.com/2020-recommended-sf-f-list; there seems to be an unstated rule that people can +1 other people’s suggestions, or maybe ask about what strikes them as a hole, but not slam the suggestion.

    @Xtifr: I’d be interested in seeing verified statistics for the parts of publishing that don’t more-or-less assume a female reader looking for something exactly like the last something.

  24. Chip asks me: but is HtD worse than the recent Green Lantern movie?

    Yes, the recent Green Lantern film was just flat. Howard the Duck actively engaged in Acts of Really Questionable Taste.

    (later) a hassle you Really Don’t Need — I hope the ACO told whoever reported to MYOB and/or flagged them as an unreliable reporter. Cat personalities go all over the map; our last was very adventurous spacewise

    They actually do keep such a list, and yes she’ll have a talk with the complainer.

    (still later): de Bodard has 7 unsuccessful Hugo nominations (and a then-Campbell), almost as many as Swanwick did before winning; the Hugo voters eventually appreciated his offbeat work, so maybe they’ll catch up to her as well.

    My bad for not checking the Hugo database for nominations. I’ll know better next time.

  25. The first Arkady I ever heard of was Arkady Renko, in “Gorky Park”. I can’t remember if I read the book first, or saw the movie (with the excellent William Hurt as Arkady). Arkady Darell is in Asimov’s Foundation. And there are Arkady characters in KSR’s Mars trilogy and Tom Clancy’s novels.

  26. (3) the twitter thread at the end of this link is shockingly ageist, sexist, and racist. All that poor old guy did is mispronounce some names and gas on about old times – well, what do you expect old folks to do? His heart is in the right place and he did his best.

  27. Miles Carter kvetches the twitter thread at the end of this link is shockingly ageist, sexist, and racist. All that poor old guy did is mispronounce some names and gas on about old times – well, what do you expect old folks to do? His heart is in the right place and he did his best.

    I’m going to argue that his heart clearly wasn’t in the right place. If it had been, his stories would’ve reflected the present genre community not the one of fifty plus years ago. The Hugos celebrate this community as it exists now, not one long gone to dust. Surely GRRM is intelligent enough I hope to know that.

    ConZealand bears much of the blame for a badly thought out format. A live GRRM, sure. A taped GRRM, huh? Why folks, why?

  28. I’m a bit shocked in the discussion of Arkadys that no one has yet mentioned the Strugatsky brother.

  29. @Cat Eldridge: It was in an article I read a while ago about the ghettoization of Romance, but my google-fu is not leading me back to that article. In any case, if you factor in self-pub, including transformative fiction, I don’t think there can be much doubt. But even if you ignore fanfic (as I’m pretty sure the article did), my understanding is that it’s still true.

    @Chip Hitchcock: I’m not quite sure what you mean by “the parts of publishing that don’t more-or-less assume a female reader looking for something exactly like the last something.” Is that some sort of dig at romance? I don’t read a lot of romance, but I’ve read enough to know there’s a lot of creativity in the field, even if there are certain fixed elements of the genre. (And if you leave out the word “female”, I note that your comment sounds a lot like a dig at MilSF.) 🙂

    An additional thought about the recent surge of women and bipoc in the awards: the barriers to entry mean that only the best are going to get published, at least at first, so it shouldn’t be surprising to have some truly outstanding examples appear relatively early on.

  30. @Miles Carter

    It’s sort of impressive how you managed to be almost more insulting in your attempt at defence than the tweet was in criticism. GRRM isn’t some doddering old fool from whom no-one can expect better. He’s a very smart man with a huge amount of knowledge about fandom and the field. I liked a lot of things about the ceremony, but even I think it could have have been better, and quite clearly a lot of people don’t feel nearly as positive about the overall experience as I did. He couldall of the production team could – have done better. He’s perfectly capable.

  31. Since the novel long-list includes three works written by white men (unless my recollection of their gender and ethnicity is betraying me, which it sometimes does with gender — so let’s say male-presenting white people) clearly it’s not true that white men aren’t being recognized as writing beloved SFF these days. The difference between making the long list and making the short list is not a bright dividing line.

    I’m always uncomfortable when an individual author is described as being “diverse” when what is actually being indicated is “historically marginalized”. And I rather think that “historically marginalized” may hold a clue to another contributing factor.

    You know that saying about certain categories of people needing to be twice as good to be given half the credit? Consider what happens if you have a field of endeavor full of people whose reaction to needing to be twice as good is to knuckle down and do the work to be twice as good. And then consider what happens if there’s a paradigm shift and people’s work starts getting considered on its own merits, rather than needing to be twice as good to get a foot in the door? It just might happen that “suddenly” the world is full of books written by people who learned how to be twice as good and are now getting recognized for it.

    It can sometimes happen that books written by historically marginalized people are knock-your-socks-off brilliant because for a long time that was the minimum level of writing they needed to be working at to get published at all. Not saying it’s true in all cases, but it’s a different angle to consider.

  32. @cliff

    considering the number of women actually writing science fiction in those decades … I’d call some of those numbers pretty good.

    There were a lot more women writing SFF in the 1920s to 1960s than many assume, let alone in the 1970s and beyond. However, the women writers of the past were often ignored, forgotten and erased. Nowadays, women, POC, LGBTQ folks, etc… at least get a shot at a Hugo.

    Also, the 2020 Hugo winners in the fiction categories are not all female. Max Gladstone, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck are all male. Gladstone and Abraham are also white, Franck is Hispanic.

    There are also several men on the longlist: Best novel has four men, novella has five, short story has two, series has three.

  33. Heather Rose Jones says It can sometimes happen that books written by historically marginalized people are knock-your-socks-off brilliant because for a long time that was the minimum level of writing they needed to be working at to get published at all. Not saying it’s true in all cases, but it’s a different angle to consider.

    Oh that’s crap. You can’t judge what’s going on by the still relatively small number of writers who are from historically marginalized communities being published now as a total of the titles each month. And do the publishers who via the editors who are the gatekeepers even know the manuscript they’re buying is from such an individual?

    I love A Memory Called Empire but I knew nothing about its author when I decided to listen to it. Most fiction is divorced from its creator as far as most readers are concerned. And unless you’re suggesting that the publishing companies are actively seeking such manuscripts, so are they. Also it isn’t really fair to say an author represents an entire class of people. Their work is reflective of them and what their life.

    We stitch together narratives and the present narrative is a delightful but it’s still a narrative that’s reflective of a subset of the genre, not necessarily the entire community. Does Faith Hunter count in your narrative? Or Martha Wells? White women writers dominate seem genres, mysteries and romance, come to mind. And many are very successful here as well.

  34. Cora says There were a lot more women writing SFF in the 1920s to 1960s than many assume, let alone in the 1970s and beyond. However, the women writers of the past were often ignored, forgotten and erased. Nowadays, women, POC, LGBTQ folks, etc… at least get a shot at a Hugo.

    Let’s keep in mind that the Hugos are currently awarded by a SJW infused community so we’re biased in favor of these folk. And we know who they are as individuals, not something most readers know or even I’d suggest care about.

    I get, because I’ve had a review site for decades, a lot of publicity material from the usual sources. It rarely if ever mentions anything about their cultural background unless it’s relevant to a book, e.g. a Trinidadian writing her childhood there. In the world of publicists, all writers are grey. They aren’t white, they aren’t POC, they’ve no sexual preferences… Well you get the idea. This isn’t just true for the Bog Houses, it’s true for the small presses as well.

  35. @Cat: ” And do the publishers who via the editors who are the gatekeepers even know the manuscript they’re buying is from such an individual?”

    Multiple writers in the romance community, for one, have testified that they’ve been asked if queer/POC/(other I disremember) characters can be removed from the manuscript or rewritten to be majority. Writers I’m friends with, Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith, were offered agent representation for their YA novel if they agreed to make a gay character straight, or at least refrain from mentioning the character’s sexuality. (https://cleolinda.livejournal.com/993710.html)

    You don’t have to know an author themself –awkward, I know– to gatekeep content that you find alien or political or “not what our audience wants to read”. That is disproportionately going to silence authors writing from non-majority experiences.

  36. @Miles Carter: your first sentence is debatable; your second is indubitably ageist, which makes your judgment on the thread unbelievable.
    tl;dr version: +1 to @Meredith.

    @Xtifr: I deliberately did not say “romance” because I’m aware that the term covers a lot of ground; however, much of the reporting I’ve read describes a slice of it that is far more … focused? … than any part of any other genre I’ve read about. I’ve read plausible descriptions of romance labels that guarantee (depending on the label) anything from hot sex on the first date to no sex until marriage (just for the obvious axis), and I’ve read that these labels generate substantial sales and are the only things read by some serious fraction of the reading public; I’d really like to see current hard data. I doubt there’s anything in MilSF that specific, even if I suspect there’s a line that guarantees (e.g.) that women are just objects rather than fellow soldiers or even capable support staff; it’s easy to get crap into “print” these days.

  37. Madame Hardy says You don’t have to know an author themself –awkward, I know– to gatekeep content that you find alien or political or “not what our audience wants to read”. That is disproportionately going to silence authors writing from non-majority experiences.

    Huh? It effects all writers equally. And frankly it doesn’t surprise me at all as a lot of such publishers appeal to largely conservative readerships. You write to the Book or you don’t.

  38. Chip says it’s easy to get crap into “print” these days.

    Oh it certainly is and even our beloved genre is a lot of crap in it. I think sometimes we forget that the the Hugos do represent that tiny sliver of the very best of this genre. I get to read a lot of ePub galleys. There’s are far more of them that are just awful than are good. And there’s very few that are really good.

    I rarely, unless I know the name, have any idea what the background of the witter is. That’s ok — it’s the story I care about.

  39. @Chip: Consider how the popular reporting about SF differs from SF as fans/readers know it. Then extrapolate the same to romance. The Romance Writers of America (which last year reenacted the Cincinnati Privy Disaster in slow motion) years ago came to the following definition of romance.

    Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

    A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.

    An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.

    That’s it. Some readers and writers add a requirement for a Happily Ever After, some don’t. There certainly exist romance lines with remarkably narrow plot/character requirements, but overall romance mutates faster than the common flu. One year it’s Highlanders, another it’s football teams, another it’s Navy Seals. Romance readers are famously voracious. The reason the romance shelves at used bookstores are so big is that romance readers are constantly looking for new-to-them books.

    There certainly exist formulaic romances, but there’s a hell of a lot of formulaic SFF out there, too.

    @Cat: “Huh? It effects all writers equally. ”

    If I write a novel that centers on my experiences as a heterosexual Midwestern child [leaving aside the quality of that novel] no editor is going to complain that their readers aren’t familiar with the Midwest or find it uncomfortable. If queer me writes a novel centering on her experiences as a trans child, that content is immediately marked as “political” and she may be asked to change or diminish it.

    When a writer writes from their experience, some experiences are treated as more valuable and more saleable than others.

  40. Madame Hardy says If I write a novel that centers on my experiences as a heterosexual Midwestern child [leaving aside the quality of that novel] no editor is going to complain that their readers aren’t familiar with the Midwest or find it uncomfortable. If queer me writes a novel centering on her experiences as a trans child, that content is immediately marked as “political” and she may be asked to change or diminish it.

    When a writer writes from their experience, some experiences are treated as more valuable and more saleable than others.

    Absolutely correct. However a publisher is under absolutely no obligation to take that novel as written and publish it. What they think is acceptable is entirely up to that publisher. The writer is free to send that work elsewhere to see who is interested in publishing it.

    I don’t expect Tor to publish works containing material they like, and so I don’t expect any publisher to do it. That’s the nature of capitalism.

  41. Nobody here has suggested that publishers should be forced to publish works they don’t like.

    You made the claim that publishers don’t see author race/gender/other in manuscripts, and I pointed out that author race/gender/other heavily influence manuscripts, and that there are multiple records of publishers asking for non-majority aspects of manuscripts being toned down. Which does hit writers of non-majority backgrounds harder than writers of majority backgrounds.

    Unconscious (to be overgenerous) gatekeeping is still gatekeeping.

  42. Madame Hardy follows up:

    Nobody here has suggested that publishers should be forced to publish works they don’t like.

    You made the claim that publishers don’t see author race/gender/other in manuscripts, and I pointed out that author race/gender/other heavily influence manuscripts, and that there are multiple records of publishers asking for non-majority aspects of manuscripts being toned down. Which does hit writers of non-majority backgrounds harder than writers of majority backgrounds.

    I’d need specific examples of these being asked. And again if it was fir genres like a Romance, I’m neither surprised not really upset by it being asked. If it was a genre publisher, I’d find it more problematic.

    Unconscious (to be overgenerous) gatekeeping is still gatekeeping.

    Everyone gatekeeps. You do, I do. Learning to deal with it is something all of us do our entire lives.

  43. Everyone gatekeeps. You do, I do. Learning to deal with it is something all of us do our entire lives.

    You keep trying to overgeneralize what I’m saying. I’m saying that content about minority groups (again, GLBT+, POC, Hispanic, and many others) is gated because of that content, and that this gating disproportionately affects writers from those groups. That is bad. If you want to dismiss the romance community, Rachel Manija Brown’s and Sherwood Smith’s YA post-apocalyptic SF novel Stranger (see cite above) was turned down by an agent unless they agreed to make a gay viewpoint character not explicitly gay.

    The original point, though, is that there is a substantial barrier to publication of books by diverse authors, and that a diverse author who succeeds does so in spite of those barriers.

  44. @Chip Hitchcock: writing to formula does not mean a writer lacks talent–writers like to eat, and formulaic writing can often pay quite well. Some may even see it as a challenge: meet the formula and still do something interesting and/or innovative. (And, as you mention, there are multiple formulae available, giving the writers some freedom to pick and choose.)

    Nora Roberts (to pick an example not at random) has certainly written a number of books that follow one or another set of formulae, and her success at doing so has given her the freedom to start writing science-fiction/mystery/romance crossover novels–not exactly a mainstream subgenre with a guaranteed market, but hers still sell. Quite well. (And are definitely well-written.)

    And it’s not like SF doesn’t have a long history of writers producing stories to meet some specific set of constraints and guidelines required by a specific anthology. These formulae may be one-offs (which makes them more interesting to me), but they’re still formulae.

    There’s also all the books in [media franchise] extended universe, which generally come with hordes of restrictions! And many talented SF writers have tried their hand. (I still have Cherryh’s “Lois and Clark” novel.)

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