Firstly, in the spirit of full disclosure, I want to say that though I don’t know John Meaney at all well – we first met properly at NovaCon last year – I like him a lot and on the Sunday afternoon of EasterCon he performed an act of great kindness towards me for which I will always be grateful.
Now then. I was in the audience at what has now become the infamous BSFA Awards ceremony. I thought John’s presentation wandered a bit, it took me a little while to work out what he was trying to do, and I thought a couple of his gags were ill-judged. I laughed at his in-jokes. Apparently this makes me a dinosaur. Apparently I was in good company because I judged, from the laughter and applause, that it was generally well-received.
After the ceremony I popped outside for a ciggie and met a friend who said that Twitter was having a meltdown and that people had walked out of the ceremony in protest – something I hadn’t noticed during the event, but the room was big and dark and people were arriving late so I wouldn’t necessarily have noticed the doors opening. Then I heard someone, who I don’t know and whose badge I didn’t manage to see, telling his friends that he’d walked out from disgust at John’s performance.
And that’s all I know. Everything else comes from Twitter and various blogs and opinions and harangues and I can’t verify any of it. This seems to gather most of the relevant stuff and you can background yourselves. http://www.lizbatty.co.uk/2012/04/10/the-bsfa-awards/
This has all made me angry. The excoriation and subsequent resignation of a number of the BSFA Committee has made me angry. I continue to be angry. Not that anyone will care.
There is still a colossal amount of work to do. We have to have a conversation about racism and sexism in science fiction and in the science fiction community. But the important word there is ‘conversation.’ Shouting, pointing fingers, calling names and forcing people to quit their posts is not a conversation. And yes, you will tell me that sometimes that’s the only way to get things done, and yes, I will agree with you to a point. But sometimes it becomes a default response and when it does that it turns a reasoned discussion into something unreasoned and then all you get is casualties.
I regret the resignations. I regret one in particular, who appears to have taken a great deal of flak and then decided that it wasn’t worth it any more, and I can’t blame him. Talented people have gone, and the Committee will miss them.
I love science fiction, and I love the people who write and read it and just get together and celebrate it. But I hate the angry and the shouty; I used to think we were better than that, but as usual I was wrong. In his closing comments at EasterCon, George RR Martin described us as his family. Unaware that his family were behaving like a bunch of drunks at a wedding.
So. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days and I’ve been asking myself whether I want to be part of this madness any longer. I’m still asking myself that. Science fiction was a place where I felt at home, but at the moment it’s a home where people are being unpleasant about each other and I don’t like that. I’ve got a couple of things on the go and once they’re done I’m going to have a quiet word with myself about whether I want to write science fiction any more.
Not that the genre will miss me. I don’t write much. I don’t take part in fandom hardly at all. It was important to me, but that won’t matter to anyone. So, no great loss. I’ll probably pussy out of it, like I always do when important stuff’s going on, but at the moment I want no part of fandom or science fiction. They’ve become a scary place and my life right now is scary enough.
I’m not going to reply to comments about this post, or talk further about my feelings towards this insanity. If you want to come here and fight among yourselves, knock yourselves out.