Rocket Stack Rank has answered “An Open Letter With Respect to Reviews Published on Rocket Stack Rank” with an apology and commentary. The open letter was coauthored by Brooke Bolander, Indrapramit Das, Ada Hoffmann, Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Rose Lemberg, Sunny Moraine, Suzanne Palmer, Charles Payseur, A. Merc Rustad, K.M. Szpara, Bogi Takács, and JY Yang, and has been cosigned by well over 100 others since it was posted yesterday.
Rocket Stack Rank’s “Apology & Open Letter Responses” begins:
We apologize to all readers and authors we’ve harmed and offended. Greg [Hullender] has withdrawn from the Locus Recommended Reading List panel.
We apologize for offending non-binary and trans people who use “they” as their pronoun. Our criticism of fictional non-binary characters in stories hurt real people who read and identify with those characters. What we’d previously dismissed as differences of personal preference or as “neutral” linguistic arguments, actually exposed a major blind spot.
We also apologize for trying to “explain” trans people to a cis audience in two reviews (The Black Tides of Heaven & The Red Threads of Fortune). It is not our place to do that no matter how much history Greg had in the LGBT movement, and we should have known that.
Moving forward, we will no longer single out the use of “they” as pronouns for non-binary characters as a Pro or Con of a story. We will treat non-binary characters the same way we treat gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans characters. For existing reviews, we will update each with a correction and comment that links to this post. In general, if people tell us about errors in pronouns or gendering, we’ll thank them for their feedback and correct the errors.
We continue to listen and to learn, and we will do better.
The apology is followed by a paragraph-by-paragraph response to the Open Letter, accepting some of the criticisms, disagreeing with others, for example —
We do not promote ourselves as the one-and-only authority on short fiction, as evidenced by the search link we provide with every story that lets readers find reviews written by people with very different tastes from RSR, as well as direct links to recommendations from prolific reviewers where available.
Other parts of the response vary between accepting the criticisms and making further apology, explaining measures being taken to avoid similar problems in the future, and trying to document the inaccuracy of a few specific criticisms.
Meanwhile, Locus, which has been under pressure to drop Hullender from the Recommended Reading List panel, has issued this statement:
Thank you to those who brought their concerns about RSR to our attention. Greg Hullender will not be involved in the Locus Recommended Reading List. We support our wonderfully complex and diverse SF community, and hope for continued positive dialogue on these issues.
— Locus Magazine (@locusmag) November 30, 2017
[Editor’s note: I have been covering this story in the Scroll, however, I did not want to delay reporting these developments for eight or ten hours til the Scroll is ready to post.]