Friday, November 13, 2015

On Statues, History and Community...

Let me make something absolutely clear. I will never tell someone what they should or should not be offended by.  I also feel that a larger,  more inclusive and welcoming tent is a better tent, and that any changes that make the tent more inclusive are generally good. Got it?  Good. I don't want anybody to misunderstand where I'm coming from, though Goddess knows someone probably fucking will.

Have you out there ever been really angry at Conservative right wingers in america?  Okay, let me refine the question. Have you ever felt uncomfortable critiziing the policies of the Obama Administration because the other people critizing him are raving fucking lunatics screaming about Muslim Manchirian Candidates and socialist FEMA trailers?  Seriously. Its hard to be a left leaning critic of the Obama Adminstration because MOST of his critics are fucking crazy, and you face the real danger of getting lumped in with the crazies.

I feel like that right now. Because I have an opinion on the relevance of the World Fantasy Award trophy, but the REASONS for that opinion have little in common with the kind of rabid culture-war/Sad Puppy/GamerGate confluence that has included grandstanding, bloviating, death threats and other horrible fucking things.

Most of the rhetoric from people opposed to changing the award statue do NOT seem to interested in talking about why a silly statue, based on a silly sketch by Gahan Wilson might be important or relevant to 21st century Fantasy literature.  Instead they want to behave like spoiled children who have had toy taken away from them.  Fuck you and all you spoiled, entitled fuck-ups who have derailed any meaningful conversation about this. You are the reason we can't have nice things.

And one of those nice things is the ability to have a conversation, to politely disagree, and to be willing to accept the choices made by others, even though you disagree with them. 

Your rhetoric, and your threats, and your animosity and resistance to change do nothing to make the Fantasy genre and the community that has grown up around it better, in any aesthetic or moral way.  You are all Cthulhu cultists who would rather destroy the world instead of seeing it change. You are the problem.

But there are always people like you. It is in your nature. And the rest of the world will move on, and you will fade into the night, and be remembered poorly, if at all.

The people I don't want to fade away are the people who created the world fantasy award.  They helped create something good and lasting and important to the broader literary community. I want the judges from years past, and the adminstrators, and the board members who have shepherded this unweildy mass of craziness from year to year, and decade to deacde to be remembered, and respected for their contributions to to the community.

And I would like their reasons for doing things, and the icons they chose, and the shit that was important to them to be remembered and respected in its proper context.

The first world fantasy convention was held in Providence, Rhode Island, as a tribute to HPL . The people who attended, and helped create the award were inspired by WEIRD fiction as much as it was by High Fantasy. "The Extruded Fantasy Product" craze had not yet come to dominate the publising industry, and the label "fantasy" was still a very big-tent label that encompassed all the "weird fiction"of the 20th century.

Some contemporary commentators don't see the connection between horror, and fantasy fiction, and that is just one more reason why this history should be remembered. I often hear "what does horror have to do with fantasy" and it is a conversation that I would like to see carried out in a respectful, wide ranging way -- contemporary weird fiction and horror fiction writers are a very important part of the Big Tent that I spoke of earlier. I hope in the wake of the currently ugliness, this important history... of the award, of the genre, and the people who created the award is not lost or dismissed.

Over the course of my professional career I have worked with and published the work of many people who were involved in the Fantasy community in the 70s, when this award was created. I invite anybody who has personal recollections of those conventions to contact me, publicly, or privately, and please share this history. 

I am not interested in getting into a shit-slinging contest with anybody. I am not interested in attacking this decision, nor the people who made it, nor the people who advocated for it. I'm intersted in the history of the Fantasy genre and the people who helped shape it. I would love to see a host of primarly source materials come to light. Convention reports and Convention histories. Fan histories. Writer's auto-biographies (published and unpublished) and their first hand observations. As anybody who attends world fantasy knows, it is a secrete carnival of folks who LOVE fantasy fiction, filled with circles within circles within circles. The world Fantasy convention that I go to is not the world fantasy convention that other people go to. And that is part of the magic. And this applies to the literature as well. The stuff that moves me may not be the stuff that moves others, but it is all part of a larger tradition.

These are the types of things that I would like everyone to remember. These are the types of conversations I would like people to have. The shit-slinging cultists who just want to destroy everything should be ignored until they fade into the night.  But don't let the productive and important conversations about our genre's history go away or be forgotten. Remembering and talking about this tradition honors the history of the genre and the people in it far better than a single face on an awards trophy.

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