A question I often get is: why do I engage with the leadership of SFWA and others who have legacy positions in science fiction? They clearly have it out for me, so is there any good that comes from talking?
I had good relationships in the past with several of the legacy names in science fiction—and I still do, though most are quiet about it at this point because they don’t want to get overrun by the mob that comes from File 770.
I’m obviously working to build my own platform and help others build their independent platforms in the ashes of what traditional publishing left when they decided politics was more important than story. The party line was more important than the customer. Their act of willful defiance against the market, as if the people reading books were somehow some faceless “oppressor” and they, in their establishment in corporate industry were somehow “oppressed” is mind boggling, and that’s what led me to questioning the set up of the industry to begin with.
But my questioning threatens power structures. Because of the way these folk have had their cut throat fights with one another, they believe that I’m making moves to attempt to usurp their power in their organizations— which I am not in the least. My success is a threat to their power structures in a lot of instances.
But I do want to make change in science fiction publishing. I want a science fiction where you don’t get blacklisted for your ideas, because the whole point of science fiction is to create unique visions of the future, to be able to posit “what if?”, to hope for better days and a better humanity. My ideas of what a better humanity can look like are valid, and actually more artistically expressive than those who toe the line, because I’m actually putting out t something different to the masses of writers out there. I want publishing to allow the free flow of ideas and not check mark identity politics with the fear of a strong arm threat.
Though I in no way am worthy to compare myself to the apostles, my strategy is a long term one that bears an analogy in the way Paul conducted himself. You may recall a story of how he was flogged and beaten, and then thrown in prison, though he had committed no crime. That metaphorically can apply to how conventions like WorldCon have treated me as if I’m some sort of criminal over my outspoken political views. There was an earthquake and the chains were loosened, but Paul remained.
It’s because the jailer who was there was primed to listen. For every magistrate or corrupt judge of science fiction who’s misusing power to an extreme extent to try to say, block me from SFWA and turn the non-profit organization into a personal club rather than a professional writer advocacy group, there are people in the ranks below who see that there’s something not quite right. They often are in position they have to follow orders, they often are in position to have to try to hurt me themselves, but they know there’s something wrong about it. And when the ground shakes… they will talk. And when we talk and dialogue, we both discover we’re humans on the other end of the line. That is the first step toward making science fiction an actually inclusive place, and not one that is beholden to a few loud “point and shriek” writers who form a mob.
I’ve already had great conversations with authors big and small, ones you wouldn’t expect. I’ve had great ones with agents and publishers as well. We’re still in the very early stages. This is the first phone call before we can even make an ask to summit over North Korea. These things take time, years even. But the momentum is on our side, and the people who aren’t extreme zealots see it both financially and with the way culture is moving. They understand that talking and humanizing can only be a good thing.
And overall, I’m an optimist. I don’t have a bleak dystopian science fiction vision of the future. I have a bold, optimistic vision that is awestruck in wonder for what we all can accomplish together. That is what I’m hoping to forge in the years to come.
If you like bold visions of the future where individuals can enact change on a galactic scale, read The Stars Entwined. It shows that love can conquer even the staunchest of prejudices.