Trash & Treasure is a miscellany of month-to-month opinions on SFF, fandom and common geekness from Foz Meadows. This month’s entry is a recap of Worldcon 76 that occurred in San Jose between August 16-20…
This yr, I used to be fortunate sufficient to attend Worldcon 76 in San Jose, the place I had an exquisite time. As an extrovert who seldom will get the prospect to speak SFF-shop in day by day life, cons are a method for me to recharge my artistic and psychological batteries, and whereas there have been invariably some points relating to marginalisation and accessibility to be discovered from sooner or later – not solely within the leadup, however each through the con itself and afterwards – the general expertise, at the very least for me, was a constructive one.
From Friday to Sunday, I participated in seven occasions: six panels and a shared studying with fellow Guide Smugglers authors Kate Elliott and S.L. Huang. The studying was packed, and all three items – together with Lisa’s excerpt from her Guide Smugglers novella, The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist – have been well-received by the viewers; it was a genuinely fantastic strategy to spend an hour. Panel-wise, whereas I might be hard-pressed to select a favorite look, the Breaking Out of the Margins panel with Michi Trota, JY Yang, Caroline Yoachim and Sarah Kuhn was undoubtedly a private spotlight. Whereas discussing what we most needed for the way forward for numerous storytelling, we coined the time period #ownvoicestrash to spotlight our want for marginalised creators to have the ability to inform as many tropey, indulgent, fluffy, mild, ridiculous tales as we would like, with out all the time having to bear the representational burden of being critical and deep about our identities and politics. Given how a lot of my WIP folder at current could be precisely described as #ownvoicestrash, it was immensely validating to seek out the sentiment shared by such a gaggle of wonderful, gifted writers, and left me extra keen than ever to complete the varied tasks on which I’m working.
One dialogue I want might’ve run longer was Saturday’s Writer vs Fan Possession panel, the place I appeared with John Scalzi, Renay Williams, Eric Kaplan and Greg Hullender. Although the result of the panel itself was constructive, I felt that the dialog spent too lengthy discussing strictly authorized definitions of possession, somewhat than – as I think was extra meant by the panel description – the issue of fan entitlement and the etiquette of navigating writer/fan relationships. Although the panel dialogue ultimately began to maneuver in these instructions, we ran out of time earlier than they could possibly be addressed in any depth. Afterwards, a number of viewers members requested for my ideas concerning the current development in claims by some fandom extremists that followers actually personal the tales they love, no matter these tales may be, simply by straight-up advantage of ardour.
To offer an instance of two of the extra poisonous examples of this sense of fannish entitlement, taken from each ends of the fan-political spectrum, think about each the MRA Star Wars followers who tried to crowdsource funding for a brand new, lady-free model of The Final Jedi, and the lone Voltron: Legendary Defender fan who tried to blackmail Studio Mir into making their homosexual ship canon. In each instances, there’s a perception that wanting a private, idealised, particular model of the narrative to exist in canon shouldn’t solely trump the plans of the creators, however successfully represent a shouted BECAUSE REASONS! override of their precise, authorized possession.
My response to this logic is straightforward: no fan, regardless of how fashionable their ship or the groundswell, perceived or precise, behind their help of an alternate canon, speaks for everything of fandom. That being so, even when we accepted the frankly weird declare that loving a narrative entitles a fan or followers to take possession of it canonically and legally, this energy would relaxation with all followers, not simply those that subscribe to a single, particular interpretation of what ought to occur. If a random Keith/Lance shipper is entitled to take over Voltron simply because they need to see two boys kiss, then so is somebody who ships Shiro with Keith as an alternative, or Lance and Hunk, or any one of many hundred different romantic permutations potential between the characters. Which is why we now have fanfiction within the goddamn first place: as a result of canon is, of necessity, finite in a means that our imaginings of it are usually not. I’ve immense sympathy with the frustrations of marginalised teams and their want to see themselves mirrored of their favorite tales and characters, and as a fanwriter, I’m clearly in favour of discussing the potential canonical improvement of specific tales alongside our most popular strains. However to say that wanting one thing is identical as being entitled to it’s, in nearly any context, an extremely poisonous mindset. No matter authorized liminalities exist round fan possession of fan-produced content material based mostly on the IP of others, there’s zero ambiguity about their possession – or slightly, their lack thereof – of the canon itself.
On Sunday night time, I attended the Hugo Awards ceremony. San Jose was my fourth time attending a Worldcon, and so my fourth look on the Hugos: I’ve been nominated for Greatest Fan Author 3 times now (!), however have solely been within the viewers on two of these events. It’s all the time a tense, anticipatory feeling within the leadup, however even when there’s a flash of momentary disappointment at not profitable, it’s troublesome within the excessive to really feel dangerous about coming in second to writers like Kameron Hurley, Abigail Nussbaum and Sarah Gailey. It’s an honour simply to be nominated – and extra, it’s an honour to have the ability to be there regardless. I’m not usually given to welling up in public, however there’s one thing concerning the Hugos that all the time will get to me: the memoriam for these we’ve misplaced within the earlier yr, even once I don’t recognise the names, jogs my memory of the interconnectedness and longevity of fandom; of the largeness of a group which, when it’s simply me in entrance of my keyboard, can typically really feel small. Listening to the acceptance speech given on behalf of Ursula Le Guin for her posthumous win was likewise poignant within the excessive, whereas N.Okay. Jemisin’s historic third consecutive win for her Damaged Earth trilogy had the entire room on its ft, cheering.
There have been, in fact, individuals outdoors the room who have been vastly much less impressed with Jemisin’s achievement – and, certainly, with the con itself. After publicly stating his intent to interrupt the conference’s code of conduct and being banned accordingly, a sure Unhappy Pet determined to point out up anyway. He filmed in a lodge foyer for a bit on Friday, then briefly wandered round earlier than being evicted, however whereas each this cameo and his broflakey twittering inspired a handful of random white supremacists to point out up and picket out entrance on Saturday, he didn’t be a part of them. Because the drama unfolded, a peanut gallery of amused onlookers shaped on the higher degree of the con venue, watching because the protestors, who have been outnumbered each by a bored-looking police presence and by the antifa who confirmed as much as counteract their yelling, succeeded solely in blocking entry to the blood donation van for a few hours. Truthfully, the entire affair created about as a lot disruption as a burst sewage pipe: there was a quick stink out entrance, individuals took an alternate foot-route to keep away from it, the related authorities tidied every part away whereas the con took primary well being and security precautions, after which issues went again to regular.
Even so, in mild of my third non-win as a Hugo nominee, I discover myself reflecting on the origins of the Puppies: of the bitterness of these different non-winners who, as an alternative of celebrating the achievements and success of their friends, determined there was extra to be gained from throwing over the entire establishment in a match of pique. Which makes me mirror, in flip, on the query of fan entitlement that our panel by no means fairly addressed: of the hubris of people who really feel so basically entitled to their view of canon, their view of a world and its characters, that they interpret any disagreement as a sort of belligerent theft. As with the canon of any given narrative, an award is a essentially finite factor: regardless of what number of probably deserving recipients alongside numerous axes exist in a given yr, a single prize can’t be given to all of them. Somebody is all the time going to be omitted, simply because the canon of a narrative will all the time omit some narrative prospects: that’s, each definitionally and basically, an integral a part of any human motion that requires us to select, and regardless of the way you carve issues up, it’s one thing that can’t change.
Sure, there might be biases and nepotisms that unfairly steer the decision-making course of in any award-giving context, however anybody claiming that the Puppies have been the primary to boost such considerations relating to the Hugos clearly wasn’t paying consideration: for years previous to Correia’s preliminary tantrum, there have been widespread discussions of logrolling, accusations of favouritism and arguments concerning the etiquette of self-promotion each time Hugo season rolled round. What differentiated the Puppies wasn’t their remark that the Hugos don’t all the time rejoice the preferred tales in a given yr or that not everybody agrees with the precise winners (see additionally: the Oscars, the Emmys, the Clarke, the Man Booker, actually each different main award because the daybreak of time and persevering with ceaselessly, amen), however their rageful, entitled certainty that they alone knew what was Worthy. And due to this, we now have a serious schism in SFF, as distinct from all the opposite, smaller schisms that invariably make up any complicated entire: those that share in festivity of the winners, and people who chant precise Nazi slogans outdoors conference centres.
Personally, I do know which aspect I’d moderately be on.
(PS: the Hugo Losers social gathering had a chocolate fountain.)