I’ve dealt with this game for a long time on a personal level, and see it going on elsewhere on a regular basis. Back in 2015, I wasn’t all that well known in the science fiction community. I had my group of friends locally, and was on the periphary of Anne McCaffrey’s sorta crew (who are the most wonderful people in the whole world I might add), but not to where I had much of a name for myself, despite having a couple of decent entertainment industry successes with my Flying Sparks comic, working for the Doomtown: Reloaded card game, and of course my big claim to fame, having sold a song I wrote/recorded to MTV’s Real World: New Orleans.
None of that mattered. I was still on the fan side of fandom at the time. And from a different perspective. I was warned over and over that I wouldn’t want to associate with Brad Torgersen, that he is single-handedly ruining fandom, that he was an awful person, that he makes people cry. It was was scary at the time. I was an aspiring novelist, trying to get published, i certainly didn’t want to be seen as someone who’s torching the science fiction community, did I?
I’ve never liked the gossip game. I didn’t then, and I don’t now. When someone talks that bad about someone, I try to see what the other side of the story is, I don’t take that as word. The only difference to me is when someone very personally hurts a friend of mine, loyalty exists there. But from what I saw, Mr. Torgersen never personally hurt anyone. So I went and talked to him.
And this is what I recommend doing: when you see this sorta thing going on, look at what the person who’s getting the “disavow and disassociate” treatment’s saying, be open, talk to the person. There is a human there, and it’s easy to see what they’re about. In multiple conversations with Mr. Torgersen, reading his writing, etc. I found that he is a stand up guy, cares passionately about what he believes in, and isn’t out to hurt a fly. It was the direct opposite of the narrative. He’s a wonderful individual and I’m quite happy to have picked up his books to support him. Since then, he’s become probably one of my top 3 if not favortie short fiction writer. Great writing skills and ideas on top of being a great person. He’s got my support for life.
That’s the kind of thing you’ll find if you take a step back from the rumor and pay attention to reality. The rumor mill, the passive aggressive attacks, the whispers behind peoples backs are not good for anyone. And it’s quite easy to put a stop to that.
What I’m getting at is the whole disavow game is ugly. There’s no point to it. It’s gossip. it’s Mean Giirls extrapolated into adulthood — where it shouldn’t exist at all. When I see it, I’m not going to play it, and you shouldn’t either. It keeps going, and now on this side of the fence where I’ve got a readership and a fanbase, I get even more people “concerned”about who I choose to associate with, as if it matters who my friends are.
It doesn’t. I’m sorry to say to the concerned people out there that “associating” hasn’t hurt me a single iota. My friends are my friends because I support them, and they support me. I am loyal to them, and someone spreading gossip and rumor to me is not going to change that. I’m not going to engage in that, and I’m never going to attack my friends.
I call on everyone to step up to this sort of thing. Especially those of us on the periphary of publishing, in independent entertainment. It’s hard enough with the entire establishment barking at us to tear us down without us eating our own. There’s no reason to do that, there’s no leadership or power strucutres that need to be maintained here. It’s the wild west of entertainment, and we either have each other’s backs or we don’t. I’d much prefer a gorup that has my back, even if it’s a smaller one, and you should too. That’s what will make us all stronger in the end.