Since Chris Barkley released his “Proposal to Re-Name the Young Adult Book Award” yesterday it has been heavily criticized, and five of the nine signers have removed their names — Juliette Wade, Melinda Snodgrass, Pablo Miguel Alberto Vasquez, and Shawna McCarthy, and Vincent Docherty, who says his name never should have been included to begin with.
Last year, the Worldcon 75 business meeting finalized creation of a new YA Award for the World Science Fiction Convention, ratifying it by a vote of 65-27, and a motion naming it the Lodestar award received first passage. (For a complete explanation of how the committee chose that name, read the YA Award Full Report.)
Barkley’s proposal urges the award be given a different name — though just what name he planned to keep embargoed until the start of this year’s business meeting. (“There is very good reason why the name will not be revealed at this time and that explanation will also be given at that time.”)
However, when Melinda Snodgrass told Facebook readers why she was no longer a signer, she also revealed the proposed name.
So I have apparently inadvertently stepped into the middle of a science fiction fandom/Hugo/Worldcon hornet’s nest. So do pass on to anyone who might care that this was done innocently and was me attempting to not seem to be slighting Ursula K. Le Guin who was one of our greatest writers.
How this all happened — I had the vague memory that we now have a YA award of some kind and when I got a request to put my name on a petition to have it named for Le Guin it seemed churlish to refuse. I thought it was another make nice sort of honorary thing so I said sure even though it didn’t matter to me one whit.
But apparently this process has consumed fandom and worldcon like a wildfire for the past several years, and I have apparently been pulled into this fight when I didn’t even know there was a fight.
So consider this me stating that I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m not taking a side because I didn’t know there were sides to be taken, I’ve requested my name be removed and I’m backing slowly away from the whole thing so I can get back to writing and working to get Wild Cards on the air.
Once this whole thing gets settled I will be happy to vote for a YA novel because I really enjoy YA novels. And I don’t care what they call the award.
Chris Barkley sent File 770 this comment “on the record”: “I do not have any comment at this time. If anyone wants to know what name will be officially revealed, they are welcome to attend the Preliminary Business Meeting at Worldcon 76.”
Also, Ellen Datlow, although not listed in Barkley’s post on File 770, announced on Facebook that she has removed her name from the petition.
Renay of Lady Business has made the most thorough critical response to the motion. Jump on the thread here:
Look, I'm straight up going to say it: I'm sick of men at the Worldcon Business meeting pulling nonsense like this, especially when they probably don't give two shits about modern YA. https://t.co/1uqlFFyTeg
— Renay (@renay) March 7, 2018
At another point she underscores how the proposal disrespects the process used to create the award —
In case the Old Guard of Worldcon and the WSFS was wondering, this is the type of behavior that drives new people away. I took part in the naming of this award when it was being formed. We chose the name as a group of interested fans who love YA. Where WERE y'all?
— Renay (@renay) March 7, 2018
She is not the only one to see the proposal as demeaning people’s work on the award:
1. Hi! we'd like you to volunteer your time on important thing.
2. Thank you for your 28pp report on important thing.
3. We're announcing your work!
4. We're holding sekrit meeting where your work will be replaced with something so [sekrit] we cannot name it.
5. Where'd you go?
— Fran Wilde (@fran_wilde) March 7, 2018
You cannot put together a committee, including some of the best YA SFF writers we have, for a YA BUT-NOT-A-HUGO-OH-NO-NOT-THAT Award, and then THROW IT ALL OUT because you know better, you not YA community members.
— Katherine Locke (@Bibliogato) March 7, 2018
Here, for your reading and swearing at: https://t.co/ApTIc50D9m
— Adam "Big Pig Teeth" Rakunas (@rakdaddy) March 7, 2018
Yeah. This proposal is badly-handled and thoughtless. https://t.co/RGKXfoT17C
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) March 7, 2018
While the name was still unknown, Brian White voiced his deepest fear….
So Worldcon is renaming its YA award but is going to hide the name until August? What did they do, name it after Lovecraft?
— Brian J. White (@talkwordy) March 7, 2018
However, it needs to be made clear that the Worldcon was not the author of this idea —
It's not something being done by Worldcon, or by Worldcon members. It's a rogue fan who was unhappy with the name chosen by Worldcon.
— ? PERSISTENT Scribble? (@illegibscrib) March 7, 2018
Stacy Whitman satirized the proposal in a thread —
I am going to livetweet my reading of what looks like it will be a complete WTF Worldcon proposal to rename the WSFS Young Adult Award, which starts by quoting a "YA author" I've never heard of. https://t.co/h7q7gtBWVC
— Stacy Whitman (@stacylwhitman) March 7, 2018
And a writer who knows something about the years of debate behind the award wryly suggested another new name:
I'm totally on board for the renaming of Best YA Novel (not a Hugo).
I think they should change it to: Hugo Award for Best YA Novel.
— Caroline M. Yoachim (@CarolineYoachim) March 7, 2018
[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, JJ, and Chris Barkley for the story.]