Hi folks, Mark here with a few thoughts on how I view the SFF world. Sorry if this comes off a little fragmented, but I've had some disjointed rumblings that keep threatening to come together.
Lately it seems just about every day someone slides something onto my Facebook feed regarding the chaos attending this year's Hugo Awards and upcoming WorldCon. Many of the posts come from sources much more integrally associated with the award and its impact on conventions and publishing in general. If you are interested in the ins and outs of the matter, I would direct you to them as better sources. I do not feel connected to the issues or how they relate to some of the other sabotage behavior that has touched on folks loosely connected to Hadley Rille Books. I'm not positioned to comment save generally.
I think the whole thing is silly beyond belief. It reads like the adolescent chatroom flame wars I used to encounter on the message boards of some of the bands I used to follow some years ago. Now, I'm not minimizing those with real, invested emotions and material. I'm just tired of the hyperbole. I've had to block a few folks because they cannot seem to post about anything else.
And the negativity is galling.
The more I read about the back and forths from the various camps the more I liken it to two Napoleonic Era naval ships trading broadsides, achieving nothing save turning each other into battered wrecks. I do not see how, long term, this sort of thing can be helpful to our craft, the Con experience and the market in general.
Apparently, our little slice of the genre pie is not immune to the pc police and the reactionary rebels. I have begun to tune out the noise, but I have also begun to tune out my enthusiasm for the convention experience. And I fear for the health of publishing in general. Everyone lobbing pompous diction (yes, I know, I do too, now and then) on the nets is not making anything better. We are starting to look like many other areas of our culture, and that is a shame.
Who pays when the real world intrudes on our imaginary landscape? If we start turning against each other and fall to squabbling over increasingly empty honors, how does that make us look?
The truth is SFF needs to grow up. At times I have felt that our genre heading allowed us to adopt a mock superior tone; mostly as a response to being ignored by "real literature" and those who write criticism. We reveled in being aberrant. We rallied around our awards and celebrated our words in spite of the roaring silence from the wider world. We were a club with giants as members. We were privy to secret knowledge with informed, inclusionary eye-winks. We were the wandering Jews relegated to pulp fiction status, respected by none other than those lucky, lucky few who accepted the words and understood the latent power of the language of ideas.
I wonder if the worst thing to ever happen to the genre was its popular success. The bigger "it" got, the more insistently came the calls for "it" to be taken seriously. And when film tech caught up with story tech, a marriage of commercial explosion formed.
"Money, money changes everything..." And at present the affect has not been altogether positive.
We were once the progressives. Now we look like idiots fighting over cheesecake while the Titanic's deck begins to tilt. Wow. We have all but rendered the Hugo award useless. WorldCon cannot avoid the taint of controversy. The folks putting on the con deserve better.
Review slandering/pandering, cyber-harassment, piracy, spam-voting, flame-wars, shrinking markets and fewer publishers, judgemental hypocrisy; this is a list that just should not BE.
Every year I teach Orwell's 1984, and every year I see more and more of what his bleak tale posits showing up in our world. We have switched our enemies in mid-speech, and this time the enemy is us. What better way to lose control of all the important things than by fighting over illusions?