George R. R. Martin used to include quite a few fan Hugo endorsements in his annual post at Not A Blog. His 2015 article “For Your Consideration: Stuff Not By Me” names only one —
BEST FAN WRITER. There have been arguments in the past about what, precisely, constitutes fan writing, and who should or should not be eligible for this award. LAURA J. MIXON is a professional writer, and a very talented one, with half a dozen strong novels under her own name and her pseudonym of M.J. Locke… but this year she published on-line, in a non-professional and unpaid capacity, ‘A Report on Damage Done by One Individual Under Several Names,’ a detailed, eloquent, and devastating expose of the venomous internet troll best known as ‘Requires Hate’ and ‘Winterfox.’ You can find it here: http://laurajmixon.com/2014/11/a-report-on-damage-done-by-one-individual-under-several-names/ It’s not your usual sort of fan writing, admittedly… but it wasn’t done for money, and it wasn’t published professionally, and it’s a terrific piece of journalism, an important piece that speaks to issues of growing importance to fandom in this internet age. So I’m nominating Mixon for Best Fan Writer, and I urge you to do the same.
I keep an eye on Martin’s recommendations as a kind of sanity check because he knows the field thoroughly. If he has a completely different idea about what should be nominated for the fan Hugos than I do then it’s instructive to ask myself why. In this case, I agree Mixon’s article was a milestone in the field, even though I generally avoid nominating sf novelists for fan awards.
Another reason to check in with Martin is that, as he is just about the most famous sf/fantasy writer alive, I am curious how much clout he has with Hugo voters. So far the answer has been, not as much as you might expect. He plugged 12 fanzines and fanwriters in 2012 and none of them made the final ballot. In 2013 he named three fan writers he considered deserving, his only formal endorsements, and they didn’t make it. The 8 blogs he complimented in the same post didn’t make the 2013 shortlist either, although one of them, A Dribble of Ink, won Best Fanzine in 2014, a year he made no recommendations in the fan categories. And for Worldcon site selection he endorsed Helsinki in 2015, which lost to Spokane.
[Thanks to Janice Gelb for the story.]
If you read Laura Mixon’s original report about the damage done by Requires Hate/ Winterfox/ Benjanun Sriduangkaew, chances are you will be interested in her latest take, “Requires Hate Follow-up, Three Months Later: Are We Past the Winter of our Discontent?”, posted February 14.
Mixon covers a wide range – here’s one point that particularly intrigued me.
Here’s the thing. Our community doesn’t kick people out. Ever. People can decide to leave—and part of my distress last fall was learning that numerous talented writers, editors, and engaged fans had decided to leave the field rather than face further death threats and stalking by Requires Hate et al. But if a person decides to stay, however controversial and destructive their actions have been, they’ll nearly always find someone ready to listen to them.
It’s a salient trait of our community to be tolerant—to a fault—of difference, of clueless behavior, argument, and dissent. It can be a bad thing, when we find ourselves tolerating abuse. But tolerance can also be a good thing, when it’s used to give people we disagree with the benefit of the doubt and to create a space for debate and reform.
I agree that anyone who stays in the sf field, whatever their circumstances, will find somebody willing to make common cause. But is that tolerance? The characterization of the sf community as tolerant is one I have debated for years. You can find friends here. You can find people willing to have civil discussions. You can also find tempestuous disagreements, accusations of bad faith, personal invective, and people battering others with ideological demands. “Marketplace of ideas” may be an imperfect description, too, though what I like about the term marketplace is the way it speaks to the bargaining, competition, and conflict that happens as we offer our ideas to one another.
Like one of those aerial shots of the trail of wreckage left in the path of a tornado, Laura J. Mixon has documented several dozen examples of the damage done to writers and members of online communities by 2014 John W. Campbell nominee Benjanun Sriduangkaew aka Requires Hate, aka Winterfox, pyrofennec, acrackedmoon, and others. (Indeed, even Sriduangkaew may eventually prove to be another person or combination of people altogether.)
After the Benjanun Sriduangkaew/Requires Hate connection was made public both personas posted apologies mixed with justification and the blaming of some material on impostors – see Requires Hate’s apology and Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s apology.
Mixon’s report contains many examples of the prolonged, vicious attacks that Requires Hate and the other identities made online. The comments on her post contain many more statements from past victims about the emotional damage they experienced and how in the face of these attacks they tried to survive professionally as sf writers – or in a few instances failed to do so.
The report also illustrates how these kinds of attacks became a regular feature in the sf community because they were enabled by people with various motivations, ranging from a desire to encourage the oppressed to be more outspoken to those who simply like to see anger being colorfully vented.
Liz Bourke, who last year endorsed Requires Hate for a Best Fan Writer Hugo (“Requires Hate. A vicious, insightful, and provocative critic.”) before gaining her own nomination, denies knowing RH’s history of trolling or abusive behavior.
Mixon is an American sf novelist who also writes under the name M. J. Locke. She also works in engineering. She’s married to SF writer and current SFWA president Steven Gould.