My Endorsement for SFWA President: Steven Gould

Photo by Ellen Datlow

As most of you know by now, I am stepping down as president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at the end of my term, which concludes on June 30. On July 1, the organization will have a new president. Steven Gould has announced that he is running for the position. This makes me happy, and I fully and unreservedly endorse him for president of SFWA.

Steven brings to the position an impressive depth of knowledge of the field and of the genre. He’s been writing science fiction professionally since 1980, when his first story, “The Touch of Their Eyes” was published by Analog. His first novel Jumper was published in 1992; his most recent, Impulse, was published last month. His work has been nominated for Hugo and Nebulas, posted in the New York Times bestseller list, and has been adapted into film. He’s been in the field, and been notable in the field, long enough to develop an understanding of where the genre has been as a professional area, and is active in it now so he’s aware of the challenges that face writers publishing right now.

Nor is he a stranger to emerging areas of publishing or the concerns of newer writers. Steven understands the emergence of the self-published electronic market because he participates in it himself with his backlist. Steven teaches at the Viable Paradise writing workshop and has been the teacher of numerous writers who have gone on to publish and make a name in the genre, and to become SFWA members, including several Hugo and Nebula nominees.

If Steven becomes president, this will not be his first time on the SFWA board; he served as its South/Central Regional Director in the 80s. He knows the organization, knows its membership, and knows the challenges that each face moving forward.

All of the above are reasons why Steve Gould looks like a fine SFWA president candidate on paper: He’s got the knowledge base, he’s got the experience, he’s got the publishing bona fides. However, the accomplishments on paper are only half of the story. There’s the other factor to consider: The human factor — how a potential candidate works with and relates to not only the other members of the SFWA board but with the membership in general.

In this regard I can also unreservedly recommend Steve. This is because I’ve known Steve both as a friend and a colleague for the better part of a decade — we both taught at Viable Paradise, and during that time and after I have been able to observe him up close to see how he handles other people.

The answer is: Admirably. To begin, Steve is a fine colleague. He’s encouraging and supportive; he takes time to understand people and how they work, and then works to complement their set of skills. He’s measured and patient, and prefers consensus over confrontation — I’ve seen him work with people of all sorts of personalities and find common ground with them. This is extraordinarily important for working with the board of SFWA, which has a full range of temperaments on it, and with the membership at large.

Finally, Steve is very simply a person I trust: Trust to listen to any member of SFWA, hear his or her concerns without prejudice or assumption, and to make decisions and actions, in concert with the rest of the SFWA board, that reflect our organization’s mission and the needs of our members.

He’s a grown-up, in short. He understands people, sees the value in diverse opinion, background and perspective, and will, I am confident, put the needs of the organization first — and do the work so that the organization’s needs are addressed.

Steve Gould is my friend, but this is not why I’m endorsing him. I’m endorsing him because I have been president, and I know the set of skills that one needs to succeed in the position. Simply put, Steve has them. He is the right person for the job. He has my vote, and if you are SFWA member, I hope that you will give him your vote as well.

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