Theresa Derwin Enters TAFF Race

Also running for TAFF is Theresa Derwin, whose website identifies her as an author of urban fantasy, sf and horror.

I took one last look at Facebook after posting about Mowatt and discovered a link to the other candidate.

Derwin says her candidacy is already the subject of controversy, as she has received an e-mail declaring it out of bounds (“you’re a professional, and TAFF is for fans”), and a query from someone else revealing it is under discussion in an unnamed fannish listserv.

Far be it from me to deprive our usual experts of the pleasure of smacking around holders of these parochial views but sure, TAFF has never been won by a pro except in the years when it was won by Ken Bulmer, Terry Carr, Eddie Jones, Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Dave Langford, and heaven knows how many more, depending on how “pro” you need your pro to be.

23 thoughts on “Theresa Derwin Enters TAFF Race

  1. Indeed, and all those named ran on their fannish credentials rather than pro ones…

  2. Look at Derwin’s website, and she did provide fannish credentials on being asked. As she has them, I wouldn’t quibble over whether she should have emphasized them in her initial announcement. But the question had been, did she have any? Objections to “pros” running for TAFF is to pros who are not also fans, or who haven’t been active in fandom for a long time; none of that was true of the other people named at the time. It’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

  3. I’ve never heard of Theresa Derwin, but that doesn’t automatically disqualify her from the race … these days it is no easier to know everyone in fandom than it is to list every planet in the galaxy. The issue is whether Derwin has fannish qualifications or not, and she says she does. Even if only the dozen people in a D&D circle vouch for a friend’s fannishness, what grounds are there to say that’s not enough? Few fans are known everywhere in fandom — how well known must they be? Or can anyone run even if a relative unknonwn? However, I do feel very much that pros who are relatively unknown as fans running for TAFF is not the spirit in which the fund was created, and is part of a drift toward pros in general feeling entitled to compete for fan honours and awards. With the definition of “fan” becoming fuzzier all the time — anyone can claim to be a fan merely by watching TV regularly — many fans no doubt support the new view that pros are fans too, by definition of merely enjoying SF. In the long run, I see nothing that can be done about this. In the short term, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. The voters will decide who wins TAFF, and will vote on the basis of who they want to see make the TAFF trip. Whether or no anyone’s fan “creds” are real or nominal probably won’t make a difference. But we *will* see more of this sort of thing, you can count on it.

  4. I think the point being made was that the initial pitch mentioned pro credentials rather than fan ones. That’s now been corrected after inquiry by others, but to “provide fannish credentials on being asked” rather misses the concern.
    I’m not sure what you mean by your final sentence. I think Theresa certainly has enough “fancred” to run. I wouldn’t have known that from the initial flyer, but I had previous knowledge of her which others clearly did not.

  5. Those emails are bullying in my view. Time to name and shame such behaviour. The vote is the way to express ones preference not such emails. If the administrator feels a candidate is valid – that is all there is to it.

  6. Nic, if you’re addressing me, as far as I can tell, “That’s now been corrected after inquiry by others” means exactly the same thing as “provide fannish credentials on being asked”, so I’m not sure how you think the latter “misses the concern.” It’s the same concern: the inquiry was made, what are her fannish credentials?, a reply was given.

    What my final sentence meant is that it’s disingenuous to reply to an objection to “pros” running for TAFF by pointing to Bulmer, Carr, et al. They were all _also_ active fans; most of them, their fannish credentials were considerably more polished than their pro ones at the time they ran. By “pro” in this complaint is meant “pro who is not also a fan, or who hasn’t been active in fandom recently.” Obviously; or I would have thought it obvious.

  7. @DB: Of course I was only two years old when Ken Bulmer ran for TAFF, but I am impressed to see that by 1955 he had 15 published sf novels. You’re right, however, that his fan credentials were more polished — after all, most of those novels appeared under pseudonyms.

    Although I do not characterize your comments as examples of it, you prompt me to say that much of what I am seeing written about this controversy is essentially the latest chapter in the age-old fannish culture war in which a number of fans who believe fanzines take precedence over other fanac also feel TAFF is a proprietary enterprise of fanzine fans and will do their utmost to make a candidate with another fannish background feel uncomfortable about entering the race.

    Bob Madle was the original case (so long ago it was not only before the invention of the internet, but the Xerox machine as well). Later on, Martha Beck and Samanda Jeude.

    I have no idea how many supporters Theresa Derwin may have, since like Taral I never heard of her before she declared for TAFF, but my past five years as a blogger have made me acquainted with how many fans love a let’s-you-and-them-fight kerfuffle and I’m guessing she has more today than yesterday.

  8. I for one do feel that TAFF is rooted in the fanzine community, and I might be old-fashioned in thinking that this is as it should be.
    Fact is, both candidates publish fanzines, so where’s the “us v them” in that?

  9. Mike: I didn’t say anything about specifically fanzine credentials. The fact that the “fan vs. pro” disqualification argument takes the same form as the “fanzine fan vs. con fan” disqualification argument, and may indeed be made by the same people, shouldn’t mislead us into considering them the same argument. Most importantly, the answer to the argument is different. In the pros’ case, the answer is, “But these pros are also active fans.” In the other cases, the argument isn’t usually “But they also publish in fanzines,” but more “Their fanac counts.” Bob Madle’s case was before my time, and I’d not heard of Martha Beck before she ran, though I was persuaded that if I’d been active at midwestern cons I would have, but I certainly knew of Samantha Jeude, and I felt no objection to her running for TAFF, whether I’d be inclined to vote for her or not, or, even more importantly, what the Brits who were less likely to know her would think about it. The “minimum vote on both sides” provision took care of any problems with that.

    Nic: Exactly. So my statement doesn’t miss the concern; it’s directly on the concern.

  10. Were either Patrick or Teresa pros when they ran for, and won, TAFF? If so, it must have been very early in their careers. At the time they were certainly best known for their fanzines not their professional editing and writing.

  11. @Rich: I thought so. The titled editorial jobs may have come a little later but I thought they were working in publishing by then. If not, I’ll take correction.

  12. A group of fanzine editors have evicted Dark Matter from fanzine-dom NOT on the basis of earning money or being paid (Dark Matter runs at a loss), ONLY on the basis of being ‘too professional’. This additional demarcation, intended to evict those whose fanac is of ‘too high’ a standard to be deemed professional, adds to the controversy.

    It’ll be interesting to see the *real* arguments against Theresa – I get a vibe that some ‘fans’ actually don’t like those they call ‘professionals’, even though the real professionals write the books and screenplays, make the literature and media that *IS* science fiction.

    I’ll be interested in watching the controversy play out.

  13. @Nalini; your news item, while welcome in giving publicity to TAFF, unfortunately contains the line “I’d support the fan supporting female fans and writers” which will give an erroneous impression that the other candidate does not, despite the rather buried throwaway admission that “Jim Mowatt seems a nice enough guy”, a statement I can heartily agree with.
    I’m also concerned that TAFF itself could be tarred with the same brush of implicitly not supporting female fans, when in fact since 1980 there have been an exactly equal number of male and female delegates, making it probably the most egalitarian institution fandom has.
    Another concern might be that, while I know your zine is based in the Antipodes, I don’t know what your readership is internationally, but your puff piece would also have been better served by appealing directly to European and North American readers. Not that TAFF does not welcome interest and votes (and hence donations) from anywhere, but a hypothetical Australian voting bloc influencing the result would look like impropriety, so no favors to either candidate, weaken TAFF as an institution and give us another All Fandom Plunged Into War moment.
    That’s not to say I would discourage you (or anyone) from supporting and promoting TAFF via a candidate you feel in tune with but, as often seems the case with these brushfires, the flames themselves distract from the underlying thing (in this case the TAFF race).

  14. @Nic Farey If you voiced your concerns on my website then you’d be half way to rectifying a number of your concerns by adding greater perspective. I would welcome such a comment bringing added depth to the discussion.

    Personally I doubt very much that Australians, who are renown for their apathy, would care enough about the TAFF (something that does not affect them) to vote as a block.

    My largest readership is Australian, but the second-largest nationality following Dark Matter is American, US to be precise. Since launching the website, I’ve had 7,006 visits from Australians and 6,378 visits from the US. This might seem like a large gap between 1st and 2nd place but it’s a bit up and down – there has been a similar gap before, then the US surged ahead to be my largest readership by hundreds before falling behind again. I think the issues covered in Dark Matter and the time of year all influence readership. I’ve also had visits from 118 countries – today alone (consisting of 8 hours since midnight) I’ve had 44 visits from 11 countries. Although Dark Matter’s coverage of events is local, its coverage of SFF is global and appeals to a global audience.

  15. I would read those Australian & US numbers as more or less equivalent, not really a huge disparity, and congratulations on your visit count.
    Please feel free to quote my comment above if you believe it will constructively add to the discussion, I have no idea how to leave a comment on your site due to old age and general “new media” incompetence.

  16. @Nic Edward has written up a user friendly login guide to help facilitate comments. Dark Matter also links to other wordpress blogs, so if you, like Mike, have a blog then you can choose one of your latest posts to be linked to your comment on Dark Matter’s website, thus promoting networking and cross-traffic.

    Rather than me trying to interpret what you’ve said I think it’s better if you comment yourself. If you don’t have the time or inclination, then your comments are on record here.

  17. @Nalini: Needless to say I don’t have a “blog”, and you don’t have to “interpret” something that you can simply quote, surely?
    I looked at the registration link you posted and unsurprisingly (to me) failed to comprehend it. I can comment very simply here, by contrast.
    I realize that I am despaired of by people who continue to be amazed that I am not “on Twitter (I’ve never understood it), and in any case am already frustrated by having the stupidest cellphone I could find, which nevertheless insists on trying to do things other than make or receive calls.
    I’ll give some serious ‘boo to Mike here for making F770 not only easily available and readable, but also seemingly accommodating to the blog-challenged challenged generation to which I evidently belong.
    If you wish to encourage discussion, as I said you are more than welcome to quote my comment in full.

  18. There are a lot of circles in genre fandom, and I’m a decent-sized fish in some, a minnow in a few, and won’t swim in others. I edited over 300 cult TV and SF fanzines in the early 90s over a three-year period, but I hadn’t attended a pure SF convention until Eastercon last year. I’m local to Birmingham and a semi-regular attendee (but not member) of the BSFG where I met Theresa Derwin several years ago. Her fanzine, Andromeda’s Offspring, although promoting women in SF, was named after Rog Peyton, founder of Andromeda bookshop and in my view one of the biggest contributors to old fandom, and a man for whom we have to thank for encouraging and promoting many, many authors.
    It was Theresa who encouraged me to go to Eastercon last year, and whose faith in what I wanted to do convinced me to shift from thinking about running a small press to actually setting one up. When I was umming and ah-ing about whether to edit books myself or to court people I knew, it was she who jumped in feet first and offered to help. She’d had a few short stories published, and she had also convinced Andy Remic of Anarchy books to reprint them with a few new ones as a collection. She convinced me she could edit my first anthology, and within half an hour of me agreeing it was up online and had received its first enquiry.
    Theresa writes horror, but her fanzine is very much rooted in SF. Everyone at Eastercon seemed to know her and had stories about her. I’ve subsequently attended around a dozen writers’ events up and down the country where Theresa is a familiar face, and she is almost single handedly responsible for many of the writers we now have on board for our future anthologies. She impressed me so much that I offered her an (unpaid) job, and on the back of that work she has another three or four anthologies and a micro-convention in the works this year alone.
    I’m unashamedly biased about Theresa’s candidacy, and in part that’s because she asked me to knock up a poster for her first TAFF newsletter, and although I felt I was not active enough in fandom to put myself forward as a nominator, I was more than happy to offer help and support for her campaign.
    She doesn’t have a secret closed web group where she and her supporters plot and scheme, just her blog and, of course, facebook. As for her campaigning, as well as equity issues (that’s equity, not equality) she’s not just about gender parity, but also ability and race issues, although she doesn’t feel qualified to shout about the latter too much. She’s also not an ardent feminist, but a realist. One example of her sense of humour is the name of her twitter feed, @barbarellafem, which certainly doesn’t make her the next Germaine Greer, and shouldencourage those who feel she might have a strident androgynistic agenda to think again.
    Whatever happens, Theresa will put up a fair fight, and is deserving of whatever support she ends up with. She certainly won’t run a Theresa vs. Jim campaign, it’ll be about doing what she does and telling other people about it, which she’s very, very good at.

  19. “Were either Patrick or Teresa pros when they ran for, and won, TAFF?”

    No. Mike is wrong. Sorry. They did work for Chelsea House, but that was compiling biographical/bibliographic material for Harold Bloom to put out under his name; it wasn’t science fiction, fantasy, or fiction of any kind. Patrick and then Teresa weren’t hired at Tor until years later.

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