SFWA Election Update

citizenscalzi.jpg

I think this may be my favorite poster of all so far.Thank you, Mary Dell!

Word of the SFWA election is getting around: It gets a write-up today in Galleycat, publishing’s blog of record. Excellent to see interest outside of our little corner of the world.

Over at the Election Q&A newsgroup, I’m fielding questions about health care, volunteer service and reading in schools. I could be running for Congress. Come check it out, and if you’re a SFWA member, feel free to ask questions of your own.

(Non-SFWAns and others who just don’t care: No worries, I won’t be posting on the election every day. But for now you’ll just have to slog through. Okay? Groovy.)

16 thoughts on “SFWA Election Update

  1. JOHN:
    You do realize that many of these propaganda posters are just begging to be made into T-SHIRTS–the proceeds from which could go directly to SFWA. It’s just a thought, but, I mean, come on! Who wouldn’t want a CITIZEN SCALZI T-SHIRT for their next convention?
    D

  2. Steve Buchheit — I wear a size 8XLT T-shirt, though for one with printing on it I might go larger so the image doesn’t bind. Is that moose size?

    Dr. Phil

  3. Hey John -

    Longtime reader, even longer time SF fan. (I’m about to turn 30, and I’ve been hooked ever since I read Drake’s Rolling Hot when I was 12.) I’ve heard of the SFWA, and as an aspiring writer, I’ve done my best to learn about the different advocacy and support groups available within the industry. I’ve always been less than impressed by the SFWA, if only because they don’t seem to have done anything that would warrant my attention. Your recent campaign rekindled my interest, and I’ve been following along with detached amusement.

    Until tonight. Thanks for posting the link to the Q&A taking place on the sff.net site – lots of interesting reading. Some good points, interesting views into the history of the organization, some heated arguments unrelated to the actual election – a typical forum discussion. It’s also been very enlightening to see how the different candidates respond to questions and present themselves to voters.

    SF has always been a niche non-mainstream market, but it seems to have gotten more and more closed off in the past few years. Given the high level of technology that we currently live with, the advances that are straight out of the pages of older SF, and the very tech-aware attitude of younger generations, this should be a boom period for SF. Computers are no longer threatening doomsday machines, robots are used in everyday manufacturing, we’re physically exploring Mars, people communicate over vast distances instantly – we’re living the SF of the past! My five year old has an alarm clock that is smarter and more powerful than anything that existed when my father was born. Why has SF not been able to capitalize on the general public’s comfort with technology? Why does it continue to be seen as the domain of musty old men and their crazy stories?

    (As an aside, my wife LOVES the Eve Dallas stories written by JD Robb – these stories have near-future technology that could qualify as SF. She LOVES these books, but won’t have anything to do with ‘my’ SF. No interest, even when I attempt to draw parallels between the books we read. Give her a fantasy book, and she’s happy – give her a book that substitutes a computer and cyborg for a wizard and a dragon, and she has no interest in cracking the first page.)

    Why can’t SF reach out to these readers? The general public certainly isn’t going to immediately clamor for ‘hard’ SF, and Charlie Stross would make my wife’s head explode. But she could handle some light SF, some introductory SF, that might just scratch an itch she didn’t know she had (much as Harry Potter did for fantasy for her). Give her a suspense/thriller/mystery that uses SF as a backdrop, and she just may go for it, and just may seek out similar books and authors. But she won’t seek it out – she wants to be wooed.

    And, to circle back around, after reading the posts by the candidates listed on the ballot, I despair for the future of SF. SF isn’t reaching out to new readers, the SFWA leadership doesn’t want to explore new markets and new ideas – they’re stuck in the old world.

    Michael Capobianco isn’t a visionary leader, he’s middle management, somebody who keeps a meeting on track. He doesn’t want change, he likes things the way they are – he understands the organization as it is, and is comfortable navigating its hallways. His postings and attitude remind me of the genial old man who runs the local meeting of some organization that hasn’t added a new member in 25 years, and doesn’t want to. It’s the guy down at the barber shop who sits with his buddies and talks about how things used to be, and how great they were. He’s non-threatening, but his inaction will cause harm. SFWA will continue down its current path to irrelevance. Anybody who looks down upon self-promotion is no longer relevent to the conversation about today’s marketplace. If he views writing as a pure art form (publishers should promote and not make the author get their hands dirty), then why the heck hasn’t we taken his own advice and written anything in the last decade?

    Andrew Burt, on the other hand, pisses me off. His resume, on a technical level, looks somewhat impressive. Some neat programming, some good coding, interesting thoughts – for a coder. He should be a behind the scenes type of guy who helps keep the webpage up, who helps co-ordinate online activities and publication of news, a guy who helps automate duties that free up time for other work. He’s not a VP type of guy, someone who will go out and work the crowd, someone who inspires others, someone who ‘gets’ what needs to be done and wants to push SF into a new age. I saw an awful lot of bullet points about anti-piracy work, but saw darn little about productive efforts to publish electronically. Darn little about efforts to promote SFWA activities online, darn little about efforts to bring SF readers to a central gathering place, darn little about anything positive. Shutting down piracy is good, is useful, is beneficial – but it’s not what an evangelist (which is what a VP should be) does – it’s what a committee member does. I’m glad he has added some neat code into the world, and has hacked on Unix – but so have I. That doesn’t qualify me to run for VP of SFWA. Being a self-made millionaire doesn’t qualify him to run for VP. Being an arrogant SOB who talks down about current technology, technology used to engage the very fans who support your work, sure as hell doesn’t qualify him to run for VP.

    Seeing the type of old boys club that runs SFWA fills me with dread for the future. New initiatives should learn from the past, not be stillborn because they failed before. New technologies should be embraced and exploited to bring in new audiences and new markets, not denigrated and treated as fads.

    I’m disgusted by the attitudes and positions taken by these candidates. When (not if) I am published, I will not join a SFWA organization run with this type of mindset.

    I wish you luck in your campaign, John, but I’m not sure they deserve you. It might be better to let SFWA slowly die off and allow the stragglers to fade off into that long night. A new organization may be required, one that understands and embraces today’s (and tomorrow’s) world.

    Thanks for letting me vent, back to lurking.

    Matt H

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