Dropping the Pilot

The SFWA Blog has posted “An Exit Interview with John Scalzi” conducted by Carrie Cuinn. It’s very much a presidential memoir, alluding to much without saying anything outright.

Cuinn’s basically softball questions allow Scalzi to avoid the only topics people really want his opinion about – the SFWA Bulletin and the motion to expel Theodore Beale from membership.

Cuinn reaches back to quote from Scalzi’s 2008 campaign as background for a question about SFWA’s current reputation instead of using the obvious starting point, Scalzi’s June 2 statement on the SFWA Bulletin:

Carrie Cuinn: When discussing the 2008 presidential election, you said, “Whether SFWA wants to admit it to itself or not, thanks to the massive public debacles of the last year, its reputation is in the dirt, and not just with people already active in the field. I go to a fair number of science fiction conventions, you know; I’ve met a lot of the neo-pros and the under-30 writers who are (or should be) SWFA’s natural new membership. They see SFWA as either useless, or actively hostile to them.” (Feb 18, 2008, Whatever blog)

Now that you have completed your service as President, what do you think SFWA’s reputation is? In what ways can the new President continue to repair the organization’s relationship with the “neo-pros” – both new members and potential ones?

John Scalzi: I think SFWA’s reputation is better with the outside world and neo-pros than it was in 2008, although I would want to be clear that the reason for that is not all (or even majority) due to me – we’ve had very good boards in the time since, which has focused on member service and on making sure that the organization was doing what it was supposed to do – advocating for writers in the marketplace. The best argument SFWA can make to a potential membership is simply to do its job. If the next president and board do that – and I don’t have any doubt they will – then SFWA’s reputation will continue to rise.

Scalzi told readers of Whatever he planned to say little about SFWA in the immediate future, and since he was unwilling to engage with the issues that are tearing the organization apart it’s hard to see why he interrupted his Bush-like post-presidential silence to do this interview.

4 thoughts on “Dropping the Pilot

  1. The interview was done a couple of months before the end of my tenure, before several recent events. As such (and as I don’t control the release of the interview) it doesn’t represent a break in my decision not to speak of SFWA-related things after leaving office.

  2. Although I haven’t given you much reason to suspect I hold this opinion, I generally think you handle your business and manage your professional image very well. The foundation of that opinion has been myriad examples of your acute sensitivity to your audience.

    So I have been surprised by two recent developments to the contrary. You had a chance to veto publication of the last Resnick/Malzberg dialog. It may be that after years spent amid the thunder and lightning of the Forum their toxic arguments seemed no worse than the usual fare. And you’d definitely been on a killer schedule. But it was a misreading of the audience. However, you dealt with it squarely and once you explained your role (which most of us outside SFWA would not have known unless you told us) you took full responsibility.

    Then this interview. I wish you had requested it be spiked. And whoever runs the SFWA blog should have understood it does not exist in a vacuum. How can the past president of SFWA review his term in office in a piece appearing in the middle of July with no reference to the chaos of the past six weeks? A rhetorical question — you’ve said how.

    Simply as a fan, I would like to see SFWA thrive. These kinds of editorial missteps are painful to witness.

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