2018/11/28

Stay Away from Conventions

Gregory Benford

Author Jon Del Arroz reports on yet another deplatforming of a major science fiction author from a convention. This time, it was astrophysicist and Reason Magazine editor Gregory Benford who ran afoul of the SJW hatemob.
Gregory Benford thought he was just speaking on another panel, something he’d done dozens of times over the last 40 years of his career, especially after his novel Timescape won the Nebula Award and has since been hailed as one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written. The topic is The New Masters of Sci-Fi, letting panelists know who in the current day takes on the mantle of the greats like McCaffrey, Heinlein, and Pournelle, and having a robust discussion among authors and friends alike.
It should have been a fun time had for all, as LosCon had a wonderful line up of panels this year that many other conventions could do well to take note of, but for those who attended this panel at LosCon, they’ll only remember one thing for the rest of their lives– a moment soured by identity politics. Another convention ruined by outrage culture and the extreme left doing anything but allowing people to have a good time.
In the context of the discussion, Bedford made an innocuous statement, not to anyone in particular, but talking to himself about what makes science fiction great. He simply uttered the words,”If you write sf honey, gotta get the science right.”
Most of us reading along will nod our heads along with that statement. Of course, the science is important to at least maintain a certain veneer of accuracy. But for a woman in the audience, Bedford’s words triggered her.
She started ranting about sexism, about the word “honey” as if it were some kind of insult. Even though nearly all of the new modern classic authors mentioned by the panelists were women, somehow women couldn’t get their fair shake with this panel.  A long time champion of fandom, Barbara Landsman described the incident: “I couldn’t believe it. My heart started pounding and I knew nobody else was going to say anything. When I caught Benford’s eye I knew that I was just going to do something.Somebody had to stop her. But it didn’t work. She came in there with a political agenda. She wasn’t happy with anything that anybody on that panel said.”
Read the rest of this by now familiar story.

Spoiler alert: It includes Benford being pulled out of a signing and unceremoniously given the boot.

While LosCons treatment of Benford was reprehensible, it's yet another milestone on literary sci-fi cons' terminal descent into irrelevance. The once mighty World Con has reduced itself to a sick joke. The lesser cons are rapidly following suit.

JDA likewise senses the old cons' swiftly approaching doom. Some highlights:
It’s unfortunate, because while most convention committees have given into this political terrorism that festers in sci-fi fandom, LosCon actually had a slate of panels mostly FREE from identity politics. Other than inviting Literally Wu, it seemed like a pretty good slate. It was just going to be a fun weekend. But people remember when their fun gets ruined by these crazies, and the people stay away from conventions. I don’t know what occurred at years past, perhaps such outbursts or commentaries were commonplace, but LosCon is suffering now due to this ever-outraged political tyranny. Their attendance was reported as low to begin with.
I haven't attended a convention in over two years, and I have no plans to go back. Jon touches on a major reason why.
It’s going to be hard for us all to get back into fun in 2018. The political is the personal now, and vice versa. The rabid fake news media has sent us all into spirals of anger and panic over everything. Nothing can be left untouched. We even have a man who is probably going to be the next president of SFWA calling Tolkien “racist” in recent days. The absurdity of this kind of behavior from the leaders of the field is to blame, and it’s why so many reasonable people walk away, turn to comic cons and indie books on Amazon, rather than deal with these dying establishments.
Legacy outfits like World Con and LosCon are tradpub artifacts. It's not that identity politics is making the old cons sick. It's that SJW infestation is a telltale symptom of a sick industry. Look at Comics. SJWs didn't cause the crash of 93. They just descended afterward to pick the corpse. Similarly, tradpub becomes increasingly converged as newpub makes the Big Five publishers increasingly irrelevant.

Is there a way back for the old SF con scene? Declining attendance won't give the organizers a road to Damascus moment. We already know SJWs don't respond to market pressures. The only remedy that might prove effective is Chicago rules style lawfare. We saw a bit of that this summer during the Origins and ConCarolinas debacles. But the fact is, most big time SF authors don't find it worth their while to take legal action against cons that manifestly interfere in their business--which goes to show what little impact convention appearances have on authors' business.

Go to conventions to meet up with industry friends if you want. Head to Dragon Con if you're in the mood for fun. But if you're an author looking to reach new readers and keep in touch with your existing customer base, your time is better spent writing and maintaining your digital platform.

19 comments:

  1. She sounds like fun. I bet her rants bring ALL the boys...

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    1. yeah, brings all the boys to the nearest spacebound Space X rocket

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    2. Her rant comes across as both mental illness and demonic oppression.
      It's just not a normal reaction and the ranting is proof of something dark.
      Brian's advice is very apropos: engage the customers directly and ditch the conventions

      xavier

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    3. It’s called female hysteria, Xavier, a concept well known in more civilized times. Left unchecked, it has a habit of creating “moral panics” based on female ego.

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    4. Durandel,
      So like the Salem witch hunt? Hmmm So to conclude: women crave security over all other values and panic very easily provoking authoritarian resolutions.that disrupt thoroughly society..because fussing over nothing in the end.
      Got it.

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  2. Recently called Tolkien racist... then, is the future president of SFWA Andy Duncan? A zine-only writer whose work is half redlinked on Wikipedia? Shoot, if he hadn't won a minor Nebula in 2012, publicly calling Tolkien racist would be the only qualification he had for the post.

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    1. Lack of accomplishment is a running theme with that crowd. They can only win converged awards. It's why they're so zealous about gatekeeping the Hugos.

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    2. I just wrote about that guy: https://amatopia.wordpress.com/2018/11/28/the-war-on-art/

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    3. Thanks for the tip. I liked it so much, I wrote a post about your post about that guy.

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  3. It's already a worthless ghetto as it is. You might as well let these people have the thing. It's not like owning "fandom" is doing anything for them.

    I'd rather deal with normal people anyway.

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    1. SFSJWs are the dregs of the Left. Bezos has shown himself willing to ban dissenters, but the converged New York publishers still can't make him stop destroying their rice bowl.

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  4. You had me at Chicago style lawfare. Anytime we encounter an SJW moral panic, we should respond by nuking it from orbit. Pain is the only thing that might stop future reactions and possibly snap these people awake to seek repentence.

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    1. All in favour of restoring the Inquisition with non-burning autos da fé?
      xavier

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    2. Hear, hear. Every industry pro on our side from the D list on up should take a page from John Ringo and Richard Meyer.

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  5. An embargo on conventions isn't in anyone's best interest.
    _Unless_
    Someone's next article is going to be about sucesful alternativees for public appearances. Good spots to press the flesh with the normies, to remind them that we even exist.

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    Replies
    1. Who's calling for an embargo on conventions? The obsolete CHORF cons like World Con are self-sunsetting just fine. Meanwhile, Dragon Con is successfully rebuffing SJW nonsense, so if you still want to attend a con, there's your best bet.

      For authors, public appearances have zero benefit.

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  6. It's not Brian pointing out the decay that's the problem.
    I like the point about SJWs being symptomatic. I strongly believe this and have said so for a while. SJW infestation shows that the organization is already dying; like maggots infest already-necrotic flesh.

    At the very, very least SJW infestation indicates a disconnected or disorganized executive. Organizations usually do not alter drastically over their lifespan; if they start acutely poorly organized they will die of it, just like any major genetic flaw.

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    Replies
    1. Re: systemic organizational change

      Interesting you bring this up. I was just thinking about the phenomenon of women outnumbering men in leadership roles everywhere from concoms to corporate boards. In general, men are inherently goal-oriented, while women tend to be focused on the personal. Neither focus is "wrong" per se, and a healthy society needs both perspectives. But SJW convergence can be considered a symptom of over-feminization in regard to the political becoming personal.

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