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Sunday, December 30, 2012

A candidacy is announced

Yesterday, I sent a notice to the SFWA's head of the election committee, announcing that I am running for the office of president of the organization.  It is highly unlikely that I will win, of course, but I would like to be able to say that I at least attempted to do my part to salvage an organization that is speeding rapidly into irrelevance.

One reason I am running is to restore the independence of what appears to have become a captive house award that Tor Books authors give themselves on an annual basis.  This may not be the case, but the statistical evidence suggests that there has been considerable corruption in the awards process in the past and that the 2010 rules changes have actually made the problem worse.

The other reason can be seen in these two quotes by its current president, the Tor Books author John Scalzi.  He condemned himself in the very words with which he criticized his predecessor, Michael Capobianco back in 2007.

"Simply put, the professional organization of speculative fiction should not be headed by people who believe their job is to hold back the future. I believe strongly that Michael Capobianco sees it as his role to hold back the future and to maintain the status quo in publishing and in speculative fiction. That battle has already been lost; the publishing world has already irrevocably changed from when Mr. Capobianco last published. It's time that SFWA moves forward with leadership who understands this....  

[T]he answer to whether I support membership in SFWA for people who are not published writers is no.* That's not going to change. I don't think it's useful and I don't think it's needed. SFWA should certainly make itself useful in helping aspiring SFWAns make the transition into published status, and to a good extent, it does that now. But at the end of the day it's an organization for professional writers, and needs to be composed of professional writers." 

Scalzi is a dinosaur.  He fails to understand that "professionally published" has been rendered a meaningless term by technological development and that science fiction writing now goes well beyond the simple medium of printed books.  The most influential science fiction writers don't even write books, they write games.  Scalzi should know this, considering that he very recently got involved working for a company in the industry in which I have been active for 22 years.  And under the current qualification requirements, some bestselling SF/F novelists, whose work outsells most SFWA members, cannot qualify.

Scalzi is also a fascist ideologue who actively attempts to shut down all debate he personally finds distressing at every opportunity.  Consider the way in which he proudly declared that in 2012, he managed to avoid permitting anyone to present facts or arguments that might have disturbed the tender sensitivities of the rabbity readers at Whatever.

This year I also managed to arouse the ire of a whole stack of racist, sexist, homophobic dipshits with the above posts as well as several others. If I did nothing else with my year, this would have made it delightful to me. They also gave the Mallet of Loving Correction plenty of use when they would drop by the site and learn to their surprise that the sort of smug trollery that passes for thought in the land of epistemic closure doesn’t get past the door here. This is not a delight to me — trolls are always irritating — but whacking them so that the conversational level here remains high has its own grim level of satisfaction.

There is something deeply amusing about a man who claims that people pointing and laughing at him in contempt somehow translates to "ire".  But it is deeply problematic for an organization to have someone who actively prides himself on the overt and intentional silencing of dissent - and is either delusional or dishonest enough to project his own closed-minded perspective on his critics - as its head.

As proof that it is John Scalzi who dwells in the land of epistemic closure and not those who disagree with him, I note the subsequent comment from one of his readers: "Thanks again for making this a safe place to visit and comment."  Whatever is a safe place for the Rabbit People to visit and comment precisely because Scalzi practices the very epistemic closure that he feigns to decry. The quoted statement is virtually a textbook illustration of psychological projection.  He sees ire on the part of those who feel none because he is angry with them.  He sees closed minds and smugness in others because he is smug and his mind is closed to competing ideas.  He can't conceive of honest dissent because he is himself dishonest and inclined towards conformity.

Now, it should be made clear that John Scalzi is not the problem with the SFWA, he is merely one of the symptoms of the ideological disease that has been gradually killing science fiction and fantasy in the print world for the last thirty years.  Thanks to technology, SF/F will survive, but not in its traditional form if its self-appointed gatekeepers continue to stress mediocrity and ideological conformity over the dangerous new visions that once characterized it.

It is unlikely that I will win the election; even if I win it is unlikely that I can do anything to salvage the situation.  The myopic Neo-Luddism and anti-intellectual ideology in the organization appears to be both deep and wide.  But I will present my platform to the membership on February 1st so that at least no one will be able to say that things could not have been different if the organization, and the literary genre, continues its downward spiral.

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47 Comments:

Anonymous Outlaw X December 30, 2012 5:28 AM  

Good luck Vox, at least you care about something other than yourself.

Anonymous Outlaw X December 30, 2012 5:41 AM  

Someone made a board game called Monopoly after some made Monopolies. It sure is a long shot my good friend but I once hit a melon at 1000 yards. Now I just shake in pain. Do it while you can, you never know. Feel the wind and the distance and take your best shot, because that is really all you got.

Anonymous Idle Spectator December 30, 2012 5:43 AM  

So Vox is like, going to be Hall Monitor.

Except instead of students, they are science fiction writers.


It is much cooler.

Anonymous jSinSaTx December 30, 2012 6:26 AM  

Who are some of the authors not eligible in spite of selling well. I am not familiar enough with who publishes where.

Anonymous Neutral Observer December 30, 2012 7:02 AM  

This could be the most important election ever.

Anonymous Outlaw X December 30, 2012 7:05 AM  

"Who are some of the authors not eligible in spite of selling well. "

I don't read sci fi fantasy. But being reasonably intelligent, if you are not in the PC click you probably don't vote.

Now back up and think about who gets to vote in the NCAA.

Look I hope Vox wins but he won't as he has already conceded. Big mistake. But I let Vox be Vox and he lets me be me.

God love him, but if anyone thinks he is a conceded bastard he is exactly the opposite and it is why he won't win. He just needs to think more of himself. He has the Ron Paul curse.

A good man with good Ideas unwilling to put it all on the line. No one ever won a damn thing thinking they could not win, and I could care less about the SFWA. As I could care less about who won (Obama or Romney) Both assholes and while everyone lined up to vote I was chewing bubble gum watching Captain Kangaroo.

Anonymous Neutral Observer December 30, 2012 7:21 AM  

This could be the most important election ever.

Anonymous Susan December 30, 2012 7:38 AM  

I have one little nit here to pick VD. While I can appreciate the effort to be kind to Scalzi, he is an enabler who is allowing what is wrong with SFWA to continue. That makes him much more than a symptom. That makes him part of the problem.

Outlaw is right. You can't concede before you even begin. If SF/F is to survive, the organization needs new direction. In other words a bite of VD's reality sandwich. Not always tasty, but very good for you if you have the courage to swallow it.

And I totally agree that games are where its at now for SF/F fans. I used to hit the bookstores on a fairly regular basis and I have never seen anyone buying books from that section. They are all at the games store next door.

Anonymous Salt December 30, 2012 7:46 AM  

It'll be fun watching an AWCA at work. One recommendation Vox, take no prisoners.

Anonymous bub December 30, 2012 7:54 AM  

You should start a competing (replacement) organization instead and recruit the new generation of writers, instead of reorganizing the dinosaurs. Why be associated with, or king of, losers? I would not be moved by any endorsement of books by any existing organization. However, if a new organization set high standards and published/endorsed particular authors/works, I would surely be interested.

Anonymous RC December 30, 2012 7:56 AM  

It's a cause for celebration whenever a man sees something that needs fixed and goes about trying to fix it.

As to the victory, there are select voting machines and scanners in a number of Ohio districts, used only twice, that might provide a good assist. They are available for rent until November, 2016. If it's God's will that you prevail you must use these machines.

Anonymous Roundtine December 30, 2012 7:56 AM  

I recommend this speech:

BLOOD ALONE MOVES THE WHEELS OF HISTORY! [pause] Have you ever asked yourselves in an hour of meditation - which everyone finds during the day - how long we have been striving for greatness? [bang fist] Not only the years we've been at war - the war of work - but from the moment as a child, when we realize the world could be conquered. It has been a lifetime struggle [bang fists again] a never-ending fight, I say to you [bang again] and you will understand that it is a privilege to fight. WE ARE WARRIORS! [applause] Science fiction writers of the world, I ask you once more rise and be worthy of this historical hour. [even bigger applause] No revolution is worth anything unless it can defend itself. Some people will tell you fantasy writer is a bad word. They'll conjure up images of wereseals, and gnomes. This is our duty to change their perception. I say, writing men and women of the world... unite. We must never acquiesce, for it is together... TOGETHER THAT WE PREVAIL. WE MUST NEVER CEDE CONTROL OF THE MOTHERLAND... Audience: ...FOR IT IS TOGETHER THAT WE PREVAIL!

Anonymous Outlaw X December 30, 2012 8:01 AM  

Well if VD is going to announce and crawdad, he can watch the Cowboys lose to a winner they call RG3. Vox, the Tony Romo with a Jason Garret chasing him. RG3 is going to kick our ass. He believes. And I hope he does. I love a winner.

Anonymous Josh December 30, 2012 8:01 AM  

Has a superpac been formed?

Blogger IM2L844 December 30, 2012 8:04 AM  

I'm curious how you are perceived by the electorate.

Blogger Jemison Thorsby December 30, 2012 8:12 AM  

Neutral Observer December 30, 2012 7:21 AM

This could be the most important election ever.


I nominate this for quote of the thread...

Anonymous Outlaw X December 30, 2012 8:19 AM  

"As to the victory, there are select voting machines and scanners in a number of Ohio districts, used only twice, that might provide a good assist. They are available for rent until November, 2016. If it's God's will that you prevail you must use these machines."

Only a fool could not see, that was damn funny, or not.

Anonymous jack December 30, 2012 8:38 AM  

@bub

Vox, I think bub may be on to something. Why not use your energies to start up an organization as competition to SFWA? You could probably work something out with the publisher you use as a seed bed for authors that might like to go an additional route as well as Amazon press [ebooks]. Maybe you could use some of the ILK as helpers [anyone say OC, here?]

Its and interesting thought. I know I usually follow your recco's on new reading material.

Anonymous Rantor December 30, 2012 8:39 AM  

Is Scalzi term-limited or is he the competition?

Blogger TontoBubbaGoldstein December 30, 2012 9:55 AM  

If he's not on the ballot, I'm writing in Ron Paul!

Blogger Bogey December 30, 2012 10:06 AM  

There is some decent stuff being self-published on Amazon. If one of these eBooks catches fire and becomes well-known, well-read and well-reviewed will it still lack consideration for a Nebula based on the current rules?

Anonymous VD December 30, 2012 10:37 AM  

If one of these eBooks catches fire and becomes well-known, well-read and well-reviewed will it still lack consideration for a Nebula based on the current rules?

Yes. All self-published books are barred as per the SFWA site.

Anonymous VD December 30, 2012 10:39 AM  

Is Scalzi term-limited or is he the competition?

I don't know. I don't think he intends to run again. But I think people will be lining up to make sure I don't win.

Anonymous Tad December 30, 2012 11:11 AM  

But I will present my platform to the membership on February 1st so that at least no one will be able to say that things could not have been different if the organization, and the literary genre, continues its downward spiral.

Having sat on a few Boards, both of for profit companies and non-profit associations, and having served terms in Non-profits as an officer, I can offers some advice. Take it or leave it.

1. Unless an officer has demonstrated a propensity to harm or bring disrepute upon an organization and only if that propensity is well known and publicized, do members of an organization care who the officers are.

2. If SFWA is anything like the vast majority of non-profit organizations, no more than 25% of the members will vote.

3. Finally, you ought to be very careful in how you criticize the current president. While doing so on a blog, you are mostly covered against libel charges and the victim of your criticism is mostly willing to take it. However, my experience is that when you harshly criticize someone in the context of trying to convince others to take something from them (the presidency, in this case), the victim is FAR more likely to litigate the matter. The problem with litigation of this type is not that you may lose. The problem is almost always the cost. Defending against a defamation suit can be very costly...that's the problem.

4. Good luck!

Anonymous Hood December 30, 2012 11:15 AM  

What can the ilk do to help?

Anonymous VD December 30, 2012 11:26 AM  

What can the ilk do to help?

Thanks, but I don't think any is needed. I just want to put a real alternative before the SFWA. They'll reject it, but it needs to be done.

And then we can all sit back and laugh as they rage against the slow dying of their industry.

Blogger Longstreet December 30, 2012 11:48 AM  

Yes. All self-published books are barred as per the SFWA site.
That right there makes me wish I could vote, and I haven't read any SiFi in years. How can any sort of Science Fiction organization be THAT stuck in the past? That backwards?

Anonymous The other skeptic December 30, 2012 12:16 PM  

If you do win, will you attempt to expose another coverup

Anonymous JohnR December 30, 2012 12:25 PM  

Down with the Tor whores!!!

Anonymous . December 30, 2012 12:33 PM  

If it is actually true that Tor has captured the SFWA, then there is no way in hell that they will let you win.

Anonymous Jack Amok December 30, 2012 12:33 PM  

How can any sort of Science Fiction organization be THAT stuck in the past? That backwards?

Ah, but you see, it's not a Science Fiction organization - it's a wannabe Writer's Guild. SFWA members are all people who have had some degree of success (perhaps very small, but still there) in the old, dying, Publishing business. They want to hold onto the thing they believe makes them special.

Special little snowflakes, melting in the sun...

Vox, out of curiosity, what membership requiremetns would you propose?



Anonymous VD December 30, 2012 1:13 PM  

Vox, out of curiosity, what membership requiremetns would you propose?

It will be in my platform.

Blogger Beefy Levinson December 30, 2012 1:32 PM  

A vote for a third party is a vote against VD!

Blogger RobertT December 30, 2012 1:36 PM  

Congratulations. Whether you win or lose, you're making a statement you want to make. I ran for Congress against an incumbent and got whacked. Just running gives you a certain amount of celebrity, so ever after you have to take everything people say to you with a grain of salt. But years later a lady told me that I had made it legitimate to run for Congress in Colorado on a pro-life platform.

My only caveat is this: don't get so wrapped up in this that you are willing to do anything to win. I saw that more than once. Truer word were never spoken than, "Politics can ruin you life."

Good luck.

Anonymous Gx1080 December 30, 2012 1:38 PM  

Man. I really want to see John "I don't link the pages of my detractors because I'm a pussy" Scalzi actually filling a lawsuit.

Ah wait is Tad talking. Dissapointing. That lawsuit would have been hilarious.

Anyways, given that the "Published Authors Only" policies have reduced a lot of genres to Circle-jerk R' Us, I support Vox's candidacy, or at least anything that injects originality on libraries.

Blogger RobertT December 30, 2012 1:43 PM  

Congratulations. Whether you win or lose, you're making a statement you want to make. I ran for Congress against an incumbent and got whacked. Just running gives you a certain amount of celebrity, so ever after you have to take everything people say to you with a grain of salt. But years later a lady told me that I had made it legitimate to run for Congress in Colorado on a pro-life platform.

My only caveat is this: don't get so wrapped up in this that you are willing to do anything to win. I saw that more than once. Truer word were never spoken than, "Politics can ruin you life."

Good luck.

Blogger TontoBubbaGoldstein December 30, 2012 2:11 PM  

a vote against VD!


*To easy. Too juvenile.*

Must. Resist.

Anonymous kh123 December 30, 2012 3:30 PM  

"We must never acquiesce, for it is together... TOGETHER THAT WE PREVAIL. WE MUST NEVER CEDE CONTROL OF THE MOTHERLAND... Audience: ...FOR IT IS TOGETHER THAT WE PREVAIL!"

You forgot to have them cross their arms over their head in an X fashion while throwing babies into a bonfire.

Anonymous Vidad December 30, 2012 5:11 PM  

This is brilliant. I wish the venues I've published with actually counted towards the SFWA requirements. I'd totally join just to vote.

Too bad they don't count "Stupefying Stories" or other smaller outlets. I don't think my lesbian bee apocalypse stories have any chance of hitting Asimov's...

Anonymous FUBAR Nation (Ben) December 30, 2012 5:25 PM  

Vox, who's your vice presidential pick?

Blogger GuyStewart December 30, 2012 6:58 PM  

Question: How many people commenting above are SFWA members? I am. I'm also a slush reader for STUPEFYING STORIES, so I don't think I'm "stuck in the past". I've had stories in non-SFWA qualifying venues, as well. I'm in the organization because most of the people I've dealt with have been thoughtful, interesting people who talk to each other about what's going on in publishing and rarely, if ever, discuss how to keep people out of SFWA who don't own up to the standards.

Like every other political organization I'm in, I pretty much ignore the leadership and take what I can get from the rest of the people. Most of them are decent -- people like Vox Day...who couldn't run for President unless he was a member of the organization that's "stuck in the past"...

Jack Amok December 30, 2012 12:33 PM

"How can any sort of Science Fiction organization be THAT stuck in the past? That backwards?"

"Ah, but you see, it's not a Science Fiction organization - it's a wannabe Writer's Guild. SFWA members are all people who have had some degree of success (perhaps very small, but still there) in the old, dying, Publishing business. They want to hold onto the thing they believe makes them special.

"Special little snowflakes, melting in the sun..."

My advice? Don't let this APPEAR to be a sour apples campaign. That would get no one anywhere.

BTW -- Vox, you'll have my vote. Don't disappoint me when you win.

Anonymous Jack Amok December 30, 2012 8:01 PM  

Guy,

Point is, the leadership is the organization. It always is, right? It's the leadership that, er, leads, sets direction, puts the resources of an organization in motion towards a particular set of goals, sets and enforces the rules (like, who can be a member and what counts as being "professional"). If the rank and file don't like the goals, rules or policies, they have to change the leadersihp.

My outsider's read is that the leadership of the SWFA is acting like a wannabe Guild as per my earlier statement. If the membership doesn't agree, Vox might be a good choice to set a new direction.





Anonymous Unending Improvement December 30, 2012 8:21 PM  

Gx1080: "Man. I really want to see John "I don't link the pages of my detractors because I'm a pussy" Scalzi actually filling a lawsuit."

Yes, but far left zealots like Scalzi love love love lawsuits. Now, whether he himself has the wealth to afford a good lawyer and go to court for such a thing, I wouldn't count on.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza December 30, 2012 11:14 PM  

Awesome! You'd bring logic, leadership and superior creativity!

Anonymous Loki of Asgard December 30, 2012 11:54 PM  

Be sure to wear something leather when you deliver your impassioned plea. I understand that women, and the sorts of men who tend these days to write mainstream science-fiction, do respond favorably to conquering warlords in leather garments.

Anonymous Unending Improvement December 31, 2012 2:08 AM  

As tempting as it is to agree with you that Scalzi is running the SFWA into the ground, I'm pretty sure the rot set in WELL before he took over.

Blogger Justthisguy December 31, 2012 10:20 AM  

Does Jerry Pournelle know that you're running? I betcha he'd vote for you.

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