SFWA Denies A Membership Application

The SFWA Blog today posted a “Statement from the SFWA Membership Credentials Committee” about an unidentifed writer:

Recently, a science fiction writer made a very public announcement of his application to join SFWA. SFWA Bylaws section VI.1.c.i gives discretion to the membership credentials committee “regardless of qualifications.” Based on the behavior of and online statements by this writer over the preceding year or so, which the credentials committee believes is inconsistent with the obligations that SFWA members have to one another, the committee has determined that it has good and sufficient cause to deny this membership.

We did not take this step lightly, and we are sensitive to suggestions that this action is due to the writer’s political opinions: it is not. SFWA does not, and will not, impose a political test or political standard for membership. We strive to be welcoming to all SFF writers of good will, whatever their personal beliefs or opinions. However, the membership credentials committee, comprised by the sitting Board of Directors, believes that admitting this writer would not be in keeping with our obligations to our membership.

Interestingly, when SFWA revoked Theodore Beale’s membership, he also went unnamed in the announcement.

However, the “very public announcement of his application” (see “SFWA: Pending Membership” at the Internet Archive)  and the attention given it in social media (such as the widely-read Twitter thread by A.Merc Rustad) in recent weeks means one name immediately popped to mind.

And in any case, Jon Del Arroz promptly self-identified:

Support for SFWA’s decision has already been voiced by several writers, as in this dialogue with critic Gareth M. Skarka by Scott Lynch and Chuck Wendig.

Ann Leckie tweeted:

Critics of the decision itself (not merely as tactics) already on record are Richard Paolinelli, Mad Genius Club columnist and writer Jason Cordova, and Superversive SF editor Jason Rennie, with doubtless more to come.

[Thanks to all who pointed me to this story.]

214 thoughts on “SFWA Denies A Membership Application

  1. @Owlmirror

    I found Spider Robinson’s Callahan stories to be something wonderful and mind-expanding when I was younger, and promoting empathy was an important part of them. I think Spider’s works were sometimes deeply problematic, and often became more so as time progressed, but he did have a way with provoking thought, and was often hilariously funny.

    I just read the first Callahan book last week. Your assessment is fair. Strangely, I felt like the values expressed in that book line up very closely with my own values as a 12 year old, except that he doesn’t have anything against weed or booze, and I was very anti-(all drugs except caffeine) back then.

    As far as reading goes, I just started the feline wizard series, because, I guess, I just can’t get enough cats in my life.

  2. RedWombat; Oh god, someone tell me that I’m not getting old and other people still know the “You’re no Jack Kennedy” speech. Please. Anyone.

    Well, you’re younger than me, and I’m not old.

  3. I don’t put any faith in what Jo says about herself, either, but, Aaron, sorry, you’re being a jerk. Mocking her for a supposed l all of education is not markedly better than mocking her for being homeless.

    And yeah, VD will do his thing regardless, and we shouldn’t worry about how our words will be used or twisted in that pursuit. Instead, we should not act like obnoxious jerks. Not because VD will make use of jerky behavior, but for the same reason we advise Jo to knock it off: Nobody likes obnoxious jerks, and we aim for a better standard of behavior here.

  4. And yeah, VD will do his thing regardless


    If you can’t even get that right, why should I think you’ve actually paid attention to anything else that’s been said in this thread.

  5. you’re not going to listen to anyone.

    I’m certainly not going to listen to someone who hasn’t bothered to pay attention to the conversation thus far. Get things right and I might worry about what you say. Until then, not so much.

  6. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little said:
    Other uses for the Stylish File770 killfile: Putting people on “timeout” who have suddenly, inexplicably turned into jerks who double down on their jerkiness even when half the regulars are telling them “Dude, you’re being a jerk, stop it.”

    Oh, good idea! I should have thought of that already. If anyone wants to place Aaron on timeout, the code is 555756c660144ad027f2358b686cf8a5. He’s now greyed out on my screen – readable, but easy to skip until he figures out he’s managed to anger most of the people here.

    Again, the instructions are here on how to use Stylish to “fade out” people. I have known trolls faded to oblivion (opacity: 1) and put a couple of people who annoy me on .6 opacity. Aaron is getting the .6 treatment until he comes to his senses, which I’m hopeful will happen quickly.

  7. Aaron, you are now being a dick to regulars whose intelligence and clarity you know. Considering we’ve been talking about extreme likeness of technique between Jon and VD, and considering the latest thing posted on the Jon business IS a VD article about the whole thing (in the latest scroll, not here, lest you accuse ME of failure of reading comprehension) one mistyping of one name certainly does not invalidate Lis Carey’s frequent and often valued other contributions throughout.

    You’re being your worst self. Please stop and think about what you’ve been told by numerous people who usually stand with you. Particularly reread Arifel and Bonnie McDaniel. Don’t justify yourself. Don’t defend. Just back up and take a breather. Please.

  8. RedWombat, I refer you to the late Johnny Carson: “Old age is fifteen years older than I am.”

    Just finished The Silerian Trilogy by Laura Resnick, which I heartily recommend. Current genre reading is The Crown Jewels by Walter Jon Williams. Also reading Vacationland by John Hodgman.

  9. one mistyping of one name certainly does not invalidate Lis Carey’s frequent and often valued other contributions throughout.

    It invalidates her points here.

    Look, I apologized for the affront. I didn’t intend to cause splash damage, and I regret doing it and apologized for it. But all of you have vastly overestimated how much I care about your opinions. All of you all can kindly go fuck yourselves now. And that especially means you Lenora.

  10. Aaron, why are you doing this? You are a better person than this, but every once in a while you go overboard, and won’t listen to your friends trying to pull you back. Do you really not care about any of your friends here, enough to insult and curse at us? Please, please, take a break and think about this. We all deserve an apology.

    And so does Jo.

  11. If your apology is invoked in the same sentence as “go fuck yourself for not accepting my apology”, it’s not a very sincere apology and people are entirely within their rights not to accept it. If you find yourself in a position where you are telling people to go fuck themselves for not accepting your apology for the previous thing you said to them, it’s usually a good sign that you probably need to step away from the keyboard, take a deep breath, and look back to figure out where you went wrong in the whole conversation.

  12. won’t listen to your friends trying to pull you back

    There are a handful of people who post here who I count as friends. None of the people who have been “trying to pull me back” are among them. You vastly overestimate how much you matter to me.

  13. @Aaron If you felt attacked, then I apologize for that.

    Hardly what most reasonable people would accept as an “apology”, when the clear implication is that the aggrieved’s feelings are really the problem, rather than the aggriever’s behavior.

  14. And this is why I killfiled Aaron months ago: he gets so deep into his own view of How Things Should Be that reality can’t find him with a radiotelescope.

  15. @Bill: I normally have you whited out. The only reason I can see your comment now is that I’m not on my home computer. Given that, how much do you think I care about your assessments?

  16. Mike – Thank you.
    That got ugly fast.

    Re-reading The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage because I am vaguely depressed and it always makes me laugh. Anyone have any book suggestions that have a similar quirky sense of humor? And math?

  17. Thanks, Mike.

    Elisa, I don’t know, but I just reread The Goblin Emperor, and I kind of want to be back there. This is awful.

  18. Ooh. Goblin Emperor is good! But I think it evolves too slowly to pull me out of my funk. But do want to reread that soon. I tend to resort to kids books or graphic novels when I get reallly bummed. Dragonbreath might be a good idea right now.

  19. I did a recent reread of the Hamster Princess books when the combination of Trump IRL and the Stone Sky as my, er, pleasure, reading got a bit much. I can see Dragonbreath fulfilling the same role.

    Or Lumberjanes if you want another graphic novel.

  20. @Elisa —

    Not at all the sort of thing you’ve been reading, but I can always count on any book in the Vorkosigan series to put me in a good mood. Also, full disclosure, when I’m down in the dumps a good Regency romance cheers me up. 😉

  21. I’d be a terrible umpire. I was thinking this was Aaron’s strike 3 with me but because I can no longer recall what strikes one and two were I was going to count it as strike one again. And suggest at most a 2 day time out.

  22. Contrarius, the challenge for me is finding a *good* regency romance. Even Heyer has her misses. Julia Quinn had some thorough winners but then I hit two in a row that felt phoned in. Got any suggestions?

  23. Hampus: that is definitely cheering. As was your earlier comment. Thanks.

    (OMG the quokka!)

  24. Elisa,

    William Ritter’s Jackaby novels were fun reads (and now that the series is complete, you don’t have to wait for the next one).

  25. Thank you for the quokkas, Hampus! I recommend googling “Heaven let your eent shine down”.

  26. @Lenora —

    You never know what’s going to be a good or bad Regency, really. But if you hit a bad one, just read another — they’re like potato chips. 😉

    For that special “cracktastic” something (I totally stole that word), I like Laura Kinsale — she does not hesitate to go over the top. I have read and enjoyed a few Heyers now, and I tend to like Courtney Milan, Julia Quinn, and Tessa Dare. Though I love Quinn’s narrative voice, I do get tired of her TSTL MCs.

    If you want to try a short Milan, one I thoroughly enjoyed was Her Every Wish — it not only has a mixed race hero, he is also unashamedly bisexual, and both MCs are lower class. It’s from the middle of a series, but I don’t think that would ruin your reading of it.

    Oh, and since we have Aussies on the brain the last coupla days — if you ever read (non-Regency) mm romances, I can highly recommend By the Currawong’s Call by Welton Marsland. It’s a historical in a tiny Australian town, guaranteed to give you all sorts of warm fuzzies.

  27. I tend not to care what gender combo I get in my romances as long as I can cheer on the characters being genuinely compatible. A friend of mine didn’t get it, because she likes essentially inserting herself where the heroine is ( or one of the two heroines, since she was bi)

  28. I had never heard of quokkas until I visited Australia last September.

    My go-to mood improving website is Zooborns, a website that catalogs all the baby animals at zoos and aquariums worldwide.

    I like the funny Georgette Heyer novels. Cotillion and Friday’s Child are favorites. Other favorite light reads are the Miss Buncle series by DE Stevenson and almost anything by Margery Sharp.

  29. John Lorentz, Thanks! I read the first one but not the rest. I shall have to remedy that. If you like Jackaby, Lockwood and Company by Jonathan Stroud is great fun. That series just ended too.

    All- Thanks for the suggestions. I am a bit burned out on Heyer and similar, especially if it includes characters TSTL. I am feeling very lacking in manners right now.

    Just finished a couple of ‘cozy’ mysteries where I swear that most of the characters had to have had lobotomies. Way too much ‘I know this is dangerous/nuts/unbelievably illogical to do but I am gonna do it anyhow ‘cause reasons’ and ‘I know this is extremely important but I’m just gonna wander over here and polish my toenails for no explicable reason’ going on. One reason going digital can be a less satisfying experience – I can’t chuck the book across the room in a fit of pique. Or at least it would get really expensive.

  30. I’ve been reading mostly horror, when it comes to fiction, lately, and the policy of “read more by women” is paying off very, very well.

    The Hollower; Found You; and The Triumverate, by Mary Sangiovanni. I picked the first of these up looking for mental junk food. So much for my picks. What I got was something much better: a story that, like a bunch of King’s best work, hangs really thoughtful observations on a fairly straightforward framework to excellent effect. There are creatures that feed on things like misery and despair, and would like much freer access to our world. A slice of ordinary folks need to deal with them. It really works. (It also does something I rarely see done so well in fiction – the cast evolves over the three books, not inn a tidy “these are book 1’s heroes, these are book 2’s”, but lumpily and gradually the way life itself often does.)

    And Her Smile Will Untether The Universe, by Gwendolyn Kiste. A short story collection that’s really more weird tales than horror as such. I don’t think I can do much justice to these, because if I say “like, the first story is abut a woman who keeps giving birth to birds”, that sounds like an invitation to pointless randomness. But Kiste doesn’t do pointless. Her stories carry familiar emotional states into bizarre new contexts that prove deeply illuminating (and, fairly often, very funny too). The prose is fascinating, too – she makes a lot of use of the second person. I’m kind of a hard sell when it comes to that, but she makes it work every time here; the narrative voice has all kinds of funky relations to the protagonists in these pieces. Very highly recommended.

    The Gate Theory, by Kaaron Warren. Laird Barron recommended Warren, along with others, last year, and I just now got to this. I shall be reading more by her. These are horror stories, and the recurring motif is the ways people adapt to and embrace what life is handing them even when it’s supernaturally strange. My favorite is “The History Thief”, about the ghost of a complete nebbish who finds that he can snatch some memories from people he walks through, and builds a new existence around this kind of second-hand life. Sooo good.

    Hammers on Bone, by Cassandra Khaw. Got this at Scott Lynch’s recommendation. Scott gives good recommendations. It has a quality that some of Alan Rodgers’ stories did, of feeling like it ought to break and collapse utterly but never does, just dances along. It’s set in modern-day London in a version of the world that’s quietly getting more and more Mythos-tainted all the time. The narrator is a private eye, who is rather complicatedly not human but trying to be a good guy, who conducts himself in a noir manner to stand out from the contemporary-fads-and-styles crowd. It starts with a kid wanting to hire him to kill the kid’s stepfather, because the stepfather is a monster who wants to murder the family. Things escalate. it’s weird, broody, very good, and I need to read more Khaw, too.

  31. Elisa, DE Stevenson and Margery Sharp are not romances, and they were contemporary with the period in which they were written.

    For lighter mystery, I recommend Charlene Harris’ Aurora Teegarden series. She writes complex characters. My favorite series of hers is Lily Bard, which begins with Shakespeare’s Landlord. They aren’t light as the heroine is the survivor of a horrendous kidnapping and rape that made her a household name years before. This all happened in the backstory, but it informs the character and her choices.

  32. Mike, thanks.

    In the last couple of years, my most common comfort reading is Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s Liaden series. Completely caught up on the novels now, having just finished Neogenesis.

    A newer addition is Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell Victorian adventure series. Speedwell is a lepidopterist, who has done her own collecting over much of the world, and recently made a rather startling discovery about her parents. Her friend, Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, a.k.a. Stoker, is an adventurer, naval surgeon, taxidermist, and, when they meet, more or less terminally depressed in the wake of, well, let’s just say events. Together, they can get into a lot of trouble. I just finished the newest one, book three, A Treacherous Curse.

  33. I recently re-read a few Aurora Teagarden. I was reading them as they came out. Exactly the sort of thing that might work. I had to drop the Lily Bard books. Too triggering for me. I will definitely look into your other suggestions. Thanks!

  34. Oh no, I went to bed straight after my last post and have awoken to discover that Aaron fell on the silliest of hills. I’m so sorry to anyone who ended up in the firing line during that discussion.

    @Lenore I hadn’t heard the term “splash effect” for the effect you describe, but it puts into words perfectly something I couldn’t quite articulate earlier. I don’t particularly care about JDA making hay over the whole thing (although I agree with Mark that it isn’t the least bad option and could have been avoided), but I do care that this isn’t the kind of place where others feel judged over anything except their behaviour to others.

    @Hampus aww, quokka selfies are great!

    I’ve already talked about my actual reading (which hasn’t changed, partly because I spent too much of yesterday evening stressed about Arguing on the Internet), but I haven’t talked about the audiobook I’m listening to at the moment, which is Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly. I got the audiobook specifically because I hadn’t heard Mary Robinette Kowall’s narration before and wanted to try it out, and it does not disappoint! The character accents are a real highlight – while two are a bit grating for in-text reasons, I got used to it quickly. I’m enjoying the story too, although it’s the kind of plot where you want one main character to have everyone else sit them down, lock the door and say “LET US ALL HELP YOU” until they finally communicate. Probably not a 2017 shortlist book for me at this point, but still a strongly recommended read/listen.

  35. @Arifel. I didn’t realize MRK had done the audio narration for it. Coolness, that makes me want to consume it in that form instead of ebook

  36. @Arifel, I don’t remember mentioning the splash effect.

    Maybe we should use my jonesnori name here? Or something else. I’m happy to acquire a nickname to make telling us apart easier for y’all. I’m the blue-haired 60-year-old cat lady retired accountant living in NJ.

  37. [Helpfully] The phrase “splash effect” was used by Lenora Rose on January 22, 2018 at 8:35 am. I’ve also seen the concept worded as “splash damage”.

    The “splash” is pretty evocative, isn’t it? When you’re metaphorically slinging gloopy mud or ordure, it can land on people that you weren’t necessarily aiming it at.

  38. @Lenore Oops sorry, it was Lenora! Which I thought was what I typed, and I had her Gravatar rather than yours in mind when I wrote it, but apparently something happened between brain and keyboard. I don’t think I’ve met any Lenor*s before, let alone two in the same place, so it’s possible I just hadn’t processed the different endings until now…

  39. Regencies aside, I went through what I called an “objectified Scotsman” phase about two months ago. A very specific, very silly genre, mostly tied to kilts, existence thereof, and what may or may not be worn underneath them.

    You have to be absolutely in it for the romance, there is no comedy of manners, and they run INTENSELY formulaic (and I say this as one who respects romance enormously as a genre, couldn’t write it, and believe it deserves an immense amount of respect) but they are hella fun for comfort reads.

    Structure goes as follows:

    Act One: Arranged Marriage
    HIM: I hate the English.
    HER: Goddamn.

    Act Two: Love
    HIM: I still hate the English, but this one’s mine.
    HER: Hot damn!

    Act Three: The Clans Go To War
    HIM: Let’s kill those other English!
    HER: Oh, damn.

    Julie Garwood’s probably the best.

  40. @RedWombat
    I call those kilt rippers, an analogue to bodice rippers. Most of them are basically Outlander clones, but occasionally you find one that’s more interesting.

  41. It’s occurred to me that autocorrect can also take a hand in name mix-ups. I caught it fixing Mikki to Nikki for me the other day. In general it does a good job, but you gotta keep an eye on it, that’s for sure.

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