Join the Insect Army!

“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.” — (name withheld) on, during the recent unpleasantness.

Heh heh heh.

I realize, of course, that the person who wrote the comment above meant “insect” as an insult. But what do we know about insects? They are numerous, adaptable, highly successful as a class, and, when they put their mind to it, absolutely unstoppable. No wonder this person seems terrified.

As it happens, I have for a long time said that there are three types of writers: dinosaurs, mammals and cockroaches. Dinosaurs are the writers who are tied into an old model of the writing and publishing life, and when that specific model dies, so does the writer’s career. Mammals are the ones who ride the wave of a new writing/publishing model into success and prominence — but if they tie their fortunes to that one model, they’ll find themselves transformed into dinosaurs soon enough. Cockroaches, on the other hand, learn and adapt and thrive in every circumstance, in part because they know that things change. If you’re a writer, being a cockroach is the way to go.

And so, oh! The irony! Of calling writers the thing that (metaphorically) it is awesome to be, careerwise.

For the record (and because it is referring to my time in office, which I can speak about): I am immensely proud to have, along with Mary Robinette Kowal (my VP for two thirds of my administration) and the rest of the board and volunteers, through our efforts on behalf of our membership, helped to bring so many of the writers this person so dismissively refers to as “insects” into SFWA. These writers are talented, opinionated, smart and adaptable, and not coincidentally write some really great things, and were already in my time doing good for the organization. If this person wants to put me at the head of this insect army, I’m delighted to accept the commission (as is Mary! I asked her! She said yes!).

Mary and I are no longer officers of SFWA, but I think our commissions at the head of the Insect Army are still in effect: After all, not every “insect” is in SFWA (yet). And so I say to you: Join John and Mary’s Insect Army! You must write! You must be fearless! You must stand your ground in the face of deeply silly insults, clacking your pincers derisively at them! And, if you believe that every person — writer, “insect” and otherwise — should be treated with the same dignity and honor that you would accord yourself, so much the better. Together we can swarm to make science fiction and fantasy awesome!

Join our ranks!

Update: Mary Robinette Kowal adds:

“One of the things that has troubled me is seeing women who say that they are apprehensive about entering SFF because they don’t want to attract the sort of bile I did.

“It’s not just women, of course. It is any group that has been historically underrepresented.

“For all of you… we have your back. There is strength in numbers. Join our army.”

(Fabulous artwork by Ursula Vernon. She is awesome.)

455 Comments on “Join the Insect Army!”

  1. Quick comments:

    1. Although I reference my time in SFWA here, I won’t be directly commenting on current SFWA actions, etc. I’m still in my one year “don’t talk about SFWA” stage (I’ve noted the recent unpleasantness elsewhere because it is not something SFWA is doing, but rather, something being done to SFWA).

    2. Before you ask, yes, we’re looking at t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.

    3. Regular Mallet caveats apply.

  2. I would join, if it got me access to someone who would read my stories and give me constructive feedback to help me become an SWFA member.

    I don’t know where to get that.

  3. I’m in. I’m nowhere near being published yet, but count me in as an insect minion! Do we get to pick what kind? Because my daughter will be horribly disappointed if I’m not a ladybug or dragonfly…

  4. Yes – I’m in! Let’s scrabble and scutter around in the walls and across the floor and give all non-insects the heebie jeebies. Their words bounce off our chitin, and our jaws and pincers make short work of their soft flabby flesh.

    Insect army! Advance!

  5. One of the things that has troubled me is seeing women who say that they are apprehensive about entering SFF because they don’t want to attract the sort of bile I did.

    It’s not just women, of course. It is any group that has been historically underrepresented.

    For all of you… we have your back. There is strength in numbers. Join our army.

  6. Not being a fiction writer and only a newbie at my writing field (scientific journal articles) I don’t feel that I qualify. I’ve been following the situation, though.

    I must say that I, for one, welcome our new insectoid overlords.

  7. I guess I’m a fellow traveller, as I write, but not in this aspect of this arena. About fandom, yes, but “for” it (in the form of fiction is not my metier; poetry I can do)

  8. “Minority of insects” is a bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it?

    If there are insects present, they’re almost certainly in the majority, and gaining numbers all the time. Just because you can’t see them behind the walls or in the tress, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    Also, insects have zombies. Real, literal zombies. Never bet against the zombies.

  9. Huh. Well, since you persuaded me at VP to join, and I joined the minute I was able (I don’t think I even got off the couch in the time between getting my first pro short fiction contract and applying to SFWA), I guess that makes me an insect. …Yeah, I’m cool with that.

  10. Haha! I love the graphics for this! Especially the Rosie the Riveter graphic (or, is that “Annie the Ant”? Or “Mary the Mayfly”? Maybe “Rosie the Roach”?)

    Also, while I’m sure it’s uncomfortable for many of the “Old Guard”, I think it’s good that the SFWA is changing. Change is life!
    Also, over the years, I’ve learned to trust that changes I don’t like, or am afraid of, or what have you, inevitably are; 1) not as bad as I think once actually implemented, 2) also subject to further change, 3) won’t stick for very long unless they were probably what needed to happen anyway no matter how I felt about it.

    I hope that the members of the SFWA, of which I am sadly not one, who are resisting these changes eventually learn to adapt, too. It’s ultimately the only way.

    Thanks for sharing this, though, especially those graphics!

  11. Just curious – why “name withheld”? Surely there’s no teeth in the threats of suing for libel when you’re directly quoting someone?

  12. I won’t be joining the SWFA, because while I know they do good work, and it is in the long run better to stand up to people who would denigrate everyone else, I can’t voluntarily join an organisation I know has members who are chauvinists, racists, and bullies. I have to deal with too much of that in my day job and don’t want to engage in that sort of thing in my free time. That said, I definitely want a t-shirt.

  13. I want to join the Insect Army! It sounds like fun. I’ve never engaged in group scuttling maneuvers before, but I’m eager to start.

  14. SWFA is notoriously full of dinosaurs, Scalzi – and not just when it comes to publishing either.

  15. Me me!

    (Though like earlier comments, I’ve not yet achieved SFWA membership criteria…)

    Oh, hey, can I whine about the agent with whom my friend chatted about my book? Who wrinkled her nose and said, “A steampunk novel with a Pakistani-American as the heroine? Who would want to read That?”

    *grumble* i would *grumble*

    (also, if I accidentally double posted it was because I was so excited to post, I did it twice! argh, excited fingers!)

  16. If only I was able to write something fictional, instead of the occasional mid-level gadget review, and the patient reports I do for my day job…

    (Go, insects, go!)

  17. Why does this remind me of Nell’s Mouse Army in Stephenson’s Diamond Age? (happily, I might add.)

  18. People do stay the course, even years after they probably shoulda learnt better; I still see people saying that roaches evolved an immunity to a bait poison. Nuh uh, the survivors just didn’t like how the bait smelled–Same poison, different sugar in the bait, sa’all good.

  19. As a dinosaur paleontologist, and in defense of my beloved study subjects, I will say that dinosaurs are _technically_ more successful than mammals, even today. Birds are dinosaurs, and there are twice as many species of birds than furballs.

    That pedantic point aside, insects blow vertebrates out of the water, both in species richness and biomass. It is _awesome_ to see the way sci-fi has grown and diversified, in all respects. So I still like your metaphor! I’m joining the Silverfish Auxiliary.

  20. I am a Grumpy Old Fart, but one of the stories I wrote last year was from the first-insect PoV of a cockroach. Still eligible for enlistment?

  21. Hawk, some cons have a writing workshop associated with them. E.g., FogCon and WisCon. There are a few writing workshops on-line. The one that comes to mind right now is actually called Online Writing Workshop.

    Another possibility is to get to know your fellow local writers, perhaps at a nearby con. They may be able to point you to a critique group looking for new members or maybe you all can start your own.

    Of course, there is Clarion, Clarion West, Viable Paradise, and Odyssey. They are a serious time and money commitment though. (All of the above except for VP are six rather intense weeks long. VP is one incredibly intense week.) I’m an alumnus of both Clarion and VP and I found both workshops absolutely worth everything I put into it and more.

    You may also want to consider a writing class. Some of them are terrific. E.g., Boston has a creative writing center called Grub Street that offers classes. There may be something similar near where you live.

    I should point out that none of this is strictly necessary. Lots of writers have been successful without any of this. I don’t want to reinforce the impression that workshop training is the only way to go.

  22. I have said that I wouldn’t join the SFWA even were I eligible (and I’m not, yet, being an indie) if it meant I was paying dues simply to have to argue for my right to be a member as a newly-published minority woman. No thanks. Have dealt with enough of that crap in day-to-day life to want to pay for the “privilege”.

    But joining the Insect Army? Sign me up!

  23. *scrit scrit scrit*

    Not big on joining or tribalism, but SFWA is an org I would be proud to join once I qualify, and I will labour as an insect warrior in the meantime.

    Now, back to the word mines.

  24. Marshall Ryan Maresca @ 11:19
    (*cough* if you click on my name it goes to a contest where you can win a free copy of it)

    Also, my kids now want the t-shirt, so can it come in smaller-than-adult sizes?

  25. What the actual fuck? Look, I know we’re trying to make light of this, but this is becoming infuriating. To the point where I want to grab these troglodytes by the collar and scream at them to grow the fuck up. I find myself wondering what critical minimum number of members SFWA needs to operate efficiently, so they can invite these asshats to kindly leave the association if the prospect of not getting be be a vocal asshat is so terrifying to them. If it really is just Mary’s 12 weasels, perhaps it’s time to call them out with that request. Let em form their own little club.

  26. There are no organizations of any size without members who other members would rather not have there. And without miscommunications, misrepresentations, and people who sign petitions out of personal loyalty or high-minded ideals without reading the whole thing or doing the background research. (Also, apparently there were two versions of the petition circulated, one far more objectionable than the other?)

    Which is not to say there aren’t some SFWAns with attitudes that are incomprehensibly privileged–of course there are. But racists, sexists, homophobes, transphobes, and bigots of any stripe do not represent the majority of SFWA members. And with the burgeoning of the Rainbow Age of SFF, the RSHT bigots become more and more of an annoying whine rather than an actual force in the organization.

    The last time I ventured onto the SFWA forums, I got into a flame war with some folks about why more new writers weren’t joining SFWA–and when I explained (I was in my early 30s then–it was nearly 10 years ago) that it was because SFWA was perceived as a haven for racists and sexists and homophobes, a lot of people were very upset with me.

    (And several very wonderful ones listened to what I had to say, and I want to mention Tamora Pierce and Harry Turtledove in particular as established writers who went out of their way to be incredibly supportive, in public and in private.)

    Now those new writers are joining, and some of the same people who were upset with me then are really upset to find out that the people who are joining want an organization where they feel comfortable.

    SFWA evolve, or SFWA die.

    tldr: Sign me up as a mantis, please.

  27. Along with mythbri, I noted the “name withheld”. I’m not sure which is better, but I’m beginning to lean towards including the name when calling someone out on unpleasant things that they’ve said publicly (noting that “on the internet”=public). Anonymity dilutes the cleansing power of sunlight.

  28. Ya know, I saw that “insect” post from the source a couple days ago and was thinking of forwarding you a link to is. And then I figured, nah, it wouldn’t bother you anyway. I did not foresee this embrace-while-mocking as a possible response though.

    Can I be one of the dinosaur-era insects? Didn’t there used to be dragonflies with a 2 or 3 foot wingspans or something crazy insane like that? Air cav, man. If I say its safe to surf this beach, Captain, then its safe to surf this beach!

    Hm. Maybe China Miéville would let you use a khepri for one of the recruiting posters.

  29. I’m a SFWA Affiliate, so I guess I’ll settle for being a soldier ant, if not full cockroach.

    Any word on if “Name Withheld” is still employed by “Publisher Name Withheld” as of this morning? Or if, at the very least, he had an uncomfortable meeting with his bosses?

  30. Not SFWA eligible, but I will join up!

    I claim the Egyptian Scarab. Yes, it’s a dung beetle, but it’s also a symbol that means “to evolve” (because of the way hieroglyphics work, which I will explain if anyone’s interested, which they probably aren’t), and that’s why Egyptians wore faience ones as pendants…to remind them to keep evolving. I use it both to mean “progress as a person” (which is the Egyptian sense, I suspect) and to symbolize my recognition of the truth of biological evolution.

    I do not claim exclusivity on this species. We can be the Scarab Legion of the Insect Army!

    Dinosaurs (meaning archaic dinosaurs, not counting birds) lasted a hell of a lot longer than humans have so far, or are likely to. And THEY didn’t destroy themselves, as we’re likely to; they were just unlucky.

  31. I am not fearless, so I guess I will remain a mouse.

    Or maybe a wombat. If you all haven’t read Ursula’s Digger series, go forth and do so at once.

  32. That quote from SFF conjures a lot of images. A lot, too many for me to describe here. There is one common factor, however, in all of them. They’re all old. Past their time. Last, desperate gasps of a fading era.

    It’s sad to observe their choleric ramblings, their embarrassingly dated arguments and that childlike propensity for base cruelty. Like grumpy Benjamin Buttons, progressively turning younger, smaller and meaner until their presence is so tiny and insignificant that they might as well be gone already.

  33. Here’s the thing… Every industry has “chauvinists, racists, and bullies.” The reason it is so visible in SFWA and geekdom in general, is because people are actively fighting it. And it’s working.

    The difference in the way this latest mess has been received vs. when I was first in office as a secretary? Huge.Same type of bile, but instead of being told it’s “part of the price” people are calling it out and not letting the bad behavior stand.

    There’s a tiny, tiny group of people who want things to stay the same. They aren’t ready for the insects.

    Let’s take over the world, shall we?

  34. Pro writer without SFF sales to qualify for SFWA yet, but that is on my agenda.

    Sign me up as mean ol’ Texas yellow jacket, never to be confused with the ladylike MRK, alas. Fortunately for SFWA they had her and not me riding point on this thing, because fuck off and die would be my most likely response. [wry smile]

    I’m in. Will be blogging and showing off my shiny new insect army status on my site.

  35. Not eligible for SFWA membership by a long shot (maybe when I’m REALLY elderly at the rate I’m going) but I think I’d be a mantid. Or a cockroach. A Madagasgar Hissing Cockroach.

  36. You know, if one person, just one person does it, they may think he’s an icky insect, and they won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re a whole new icky insect species, and they won’t take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Join the Insect Army and walking out? They may think it’s a genus. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Join the Insect Army and walking out?. And friends they may thinks it’s a whole phylum, and have to refigure the entire Linnean system of authors.

    Rick Moen

  37. Greg, the three consonants spelled by the scarab hieroglyph are Kh-F-R, usually pronounced Khefer, because we have no sure knowledge of the vowels. I suspect that’s where Miéville got the name for the Khepri (/f/ and /p/ being quite similarly articulated and a likely sound change in either direction). (The words for ‘scarab’ and ‘evolve’ have the same consonants with different vowels, but they only wrote the consonants.)

    Jerome, as I said, join the Scarab Legion! No special requirements other than a belief that organizations must change or die!

  38. Representing the order of Zoraptera. (It’s my favorite insect name, what can I say.) I’m not eligible for SFWA membership, but I think my credentials will likely make some dinosaurs’ heads explode (indie GLBTQ female writers of color, represent!).

    Also, echoing everyone who says that Ursula Vernon is awesome. I guessed the insects were hers even before I saw her signature on them. :)

  39. I’m reminded of Patti Smith’s rallying cry in the early days of punk: “We created it. Let’s take it over.” Count me in.

  40. I worried about moving into speculative fic from (what I thought) were the relatively safe confines of YA & romance. I know all about the risks inherent with being a newbie entering a field that’s been fiercely guarded by the dinosaurs. I say, bring it.

  41. Several members of my women’s group, myself included, would like a We Can Do It poster to hang above our desks. So I’m glad to hear t-shirts etc are under consideration, and am making big pleading eyes now…

  42. Did you whip those pictures up quickly or did you have them lying around waiting for an opportunity to use them? Or (gasp) you are an army in waiting and have been all along!

  43. Sounds awesome.

    I’ll be a maggot. Scorned by the ignorant who see only the surface and let old, knee-jerk reactions rule their attitudes, maggots are actually healthy to have around. Since they consume only dead flesh, they can help a wounded organism heal by clearing away necrotic tissue, making way for healthy new growth and healing. Fitting, I think.

    Also the larval image works, since I’ve sold fiction at pro rates, but not to SFWA approved markets. Getting there. :)

  44. I’m in!

    Mason bee, here. Hard working, largely solitary, unaggressive but will sting hell outta anyone messing my nest.

    Mind, I’m “published” only on teh Toobz, but since the current battlefield IS teh Toobz, I’m hoping to see action in a regular unit.

    Strictly grunt material here, though. No OCS or noncom nonsense for me.

  45. I hereby apply to enlist as an insect. I’m not really an sf writer, but neither are a lot of those people in the discussion that warned about the insects, so it’s only fair. Please let me be an insect, please.

  46. If folks over there aren’t afraid enough of “insects” I’d be happy to send them a copy of Armor by John Steakley…

  47. I call dibs on the “light brown apple moth”, Epiphyas postvittana, described by Wikipedia as “a highly polyphagous pest”. :D

    Because I like apples, and I am indeed also polyphagous, and if I get to be a pest, ALL THE BETTER!

    And now I shall flutter off to reblog the hell out of this post.

  48. Does anyone know who “name withheld” is? I did some quick Google searching and couldn’t find it. I would like to know so I never purchase anything of his.

  49. OK, I’m gonna recant the Mason Bee thing. I think on further study, I will stake out the genus Scolopendra.

    I DO have great legs.

    But for sheer “creep out the hominids” value, I think we Scolopendrans RATE.

  50. Still working towards eligibility, but once I get there, you’ll have a new Mantis in the army. Now it’s time to get this chapter finished, because I am in the most boring training in history. Seriously, this thing is so useless and boring, I may actually fall so deeply asleep that when I wake, the morlocks and eloi will be fighting for dominance.

  51. Sign me up!

    You’ll update when there’s a shirt, John. (provided the proceeds go to a good cause)

  52. Wait… so it has John AND Mary AND OH EM GEE URSULA TOO? That’s it, that’s so good deal that I can’t pass it!

    Where do I sign my name? Not a writer (yet, surely I’ll dabble with that in future too), but I’m a decent minion! I can do piccys!

    Oh and I’ll be the eight-legged NOPE! in the corner web of your room. Arachnids have such glorious history too…

  53. Poots: You are a man of wealth and taste!

    My fiction writing ambitions have largely stalled out, but I’m still plugging away at my musical ones. Sounds like you’re taking all willing joiners, and you can’t have just one Yellow Jacket, you need a whole nest of them. Sign me up.

    (I’ve even got some excellent yellow attire for this: my daisy colored Gamma Rabbit t-shirt.)

  54. ‘They are numerous, adaptable, highly successful as an order[…]’

    This is erroneous. You should say that they are highly successful as a class. Might as well use correct taxonomy if we’re having a discussion about insects!

  55. From the Anthills of Hollywood: Sign me up! We’ll cover your flank on the Left Coast!

    I choose… whale!

    (PETER COOK: “Here’s another interesting fact. The whale is not a fish. (a beat) It’s an insect. And it lives on bananas.”)

    Oh, and in tribute to MRK, the most excellent insect in the first illustration should also be holding a fountain pen.

  56. That artwork is awesome. Love, love, love it.

    With all this talk and fear mongering (on the opposing side) of an Insect Army, my mind immediately began bombarding me with images of the countless horrors perceived by the opposing side during the ugly battles that are currently underway, and those that are no doubt to still come.

    A great many of the images and statements in the linked video are disturbing and might cause young Insect Children distress, and Insect Army viewer discretion is strongly advised. But these are the images of our WAR and the words of the Dinosaur Army we face. Watch and learn, and know that, no matter the loses, we WILL win!

    And please let me know when I can get a coffee mug, or a t-shirt.

  57. Xopher: the three consonants spelled by the scarab hieroglyph are Kh-F-R, usually pronounced Khefer

    Did not know that…

    I suspect that’s where Miéville got the name for the Khepri

    That little devil.

    Yep. They are known as Meganeuropsis.

    Zomg! Want! So glad that wasn’t a misremembered non-fact.

  58. I kind of want to be a spider. If I promise not to eat anyone* can I join?

    *Other than the occasional orc.

  59. I don’t write but I edit. Assuming you’ll institute a Non-Writer’s Auxiliary Corps, kindly sign me up as a Wasp (of the Eric Frank Russell sort).

  60. …and some mammals have been hunted to extinction…

    Still working on sales to get into SFWA, now that I know it’s not a haven for misogynistic and racists arses. (I had decided against joining once I had my eligibility.)

    For now, I think I’ll be a mud dauber – it’s a type of wasp. I don’t know what the actual scientific name is. All I know is that if you don’t bother them, they don’t bother you for all that they look fierce and are well armed.

  61. Ryharr: if you go to the SFFdotnet link of the whole sordid conversation from the daily dot article, you’ll find it in article 6187. You may not want to avoid their books as switch to wearing a beret or toque, is all.

    John, if that’s too clear a citation, my apologies, and mallet away, obviously.

  62. Honestly? Honestly? There are just not many more ways this person could have hit clueless old bully bingo squares.
    It’s really all there, including the nice double square for the general “they don’t know their place,” sentiment *and* the use of an elaborate metaphor to disguise the sentiment. It’s even a pretty cliched metaphor, so triple square.

    I get through meetings with known clueless old bullies by actually making a bingo card, btw. Feel free to steal the idea, anyone who needs a coping mechanism. Maybe next time I get a blackout I’ll buy myself an Insect Army t-shirt as a reward for my lack of homicide.

    I claim the bumblebee because it gets shit done and serves as an excellent reminder not to listen to people who don’t check their facts. (The rules of aerodynamics don’t in fact say it can’t fly, look it up. Also look it up because the ways bumblebees get around the purely mathematical obstacles are pretty cool)

  63. Not even remotely eligible for SFWA, but I have been using this process as a way to discover “new” authors. And I’ve been defending SFWA in the blog-mines against people saying “I can’t imagine why anyone would join SFWA” – because it’s the same mess that we are fighting in fandom in general. The realization that no one should have to put up with that kind of treatment, and the refusal to let our community be defined by assholes.

    So yes, we need some kind of auxiliary. *waves feelers in support*

  64. I’m in! I’m not nearly as fearless as I could be, but maybe with my insect brethren that can be remedied. I would like to be a hornet, please because they’re gentler than their reputation.

    I don’t yet qualify for SFWA but I’ve been planning to join as soon as I do for a long time.

  65. I’m working on both my writing and my fearlessness, with hopes of going pro someday, so I guess I’ll sign up with the auxiliary for now.

  66. I don’t write much beyond RPG scenarios, but I have been making up my reading list from insectoid authors of late, and I try to bring the things I’ve learned into my games. Socially conscious Call of Cthulhu anyone? I’d be honored to wield my stinger in the fight, or at least tie a chitinous ribbon round the old oak tree.

  67. SMTFU! (Sign me the **** up!) I’m rather partial to the honeybee, myself. Hardworking and productive, with a sting if they piss you off. Make my code name Queen Bee!

  68. Do I write? yes.

    Am I fearless? No. I am intrepid, and willing to take a pounding.

    So I was wrong, not a fellow traveller, but standing in the ranks. Perhaps a Rhinocerous Beetle (I’d like to be a mantid, but I am not patient enough when it comes to responding to fools. I beat them to death with fact and argument rather than simply eating their heads).

  69. Well, I have always been fond of chiton, though I think it’s appropriate that I not spread my wings until after I’m done with the upcoming ballots.

    And speaking of chiton, I recommend lapel pins over t-shirts, perhaps something shiny and based in the beetle family.

  70. I was honestly a little on the fence about re-upping. Now I have. Insect, reporting for duty.

  71. Chittering to vote for establishment of an auxiliary in which supportive non-writers may enlist!

    I can’t claim to be in any way fearless; does it count if you’re willing to take a deep breath, swallow your fear, and march out to do battle?

  72. I’m in.

    I am but a simple human, unfortunately. I have, however, managed to perfect a shrink ray and domesticate a Brazilian bullet ant, which shall serve as my steed in the battle to come. His name is Vrzntphrtl, if I smelled it right.

  73. Sorry about this, but the Pseudomonas Aeruginosa colonising my lungs have entered an objection, on the grounds that, since they are the most ubiquitous organism on the planet, it’s disgraceful discrimination to exclude them from the action.

    After prolonged negotiations they have agreed to sign up, provided that at some point Ursula Vernon brings them Internet fame by chronicling their adventures. Fortunately, being immortal, they’re not too fussed about the time scale…

  74. I would be an Ant. There was an old group on AOL, the Antagonists, that I used to contribute to. So Ant all the way. Huge strength to mass ratio.

    The saddest thing about this whole issue is how on there are a number of female authors who appear to be acculturated to the dinosaur way of thinking. I wonder, how does one become so entrenched in the dominant mindset that you work against the group you ostensibly represent? Thoughts?

  75. I have the impression that it doesn’t matter if you’re in SFWA or not–you can still be an writer-insect (I’m I’m quite sure I’m one of them, membership or not–hell I’m an MWA insect too!)

    Therefore, Corporal Ant reporting! (We always need ants!) *clack clack* I wave my antenna in the general direction of all naysayers and infest their SFF with icky girl cooties!

  76. I’ve not yet completed my transformation from larval to adult form, and thus not yet eligible for SFWA, but I’ll join your army. When I can.

    I’ll be the inchworm! And eventually morph into a geometer moth!

    Except, I know nothing about math, or geology, so I’ll be a terrible geometer moth! But that’s ok. I will be the Moon Moon of moths.

  77. While I admire those willing to fight within the organization to make it better, there’s a part of me that wonders if it wouldn’t be better to break off and form a new group and let this one just die away as it becomes more and more irrelevant when the only ones left are like the guy that inspired this post. Who I’ve never heard of before all of this, and while I’m sure he’s in turn never heard of ME, I suspect that he’s a lot more concerned with being a “nobody” than I am.

  78. Oh, dear. Should I join up with the Locusts – I feel a spiritual connection there – or go out for the Venezuelan Poodle Moth Squad? Their uniforms are so pretty.

    Perhaps the Ladybugs instead. Also pretty, but a bit more practical, and the Almighty does have an inordinate fondness for beetles…

  79. I want to be a honeybee.

    “Honeybees are . . . sort of cute. They’re furry, and they have those classy striped uniforms. And they’re armed with their stings, just like little swords, which makes people respect them.”
    – Lord Miles Vorkosigan (A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold)

  80. I, too, question the “name withheld” choice. Yes, yes, Mr Scalzi is being nice and sparing the creator of the quotation from the consequences of their actions, but this is- in my view- failure to rightfully credit an author for a copyrighted work.

    The work in question, though a publicly made statement on a semi-public forum, is an original work and (depending on policy) the writer (may) hold copyright (but is nonetheless the original creator). While excerpting it here is “fair use” under US law, it- technically (as I understand it) should be properly attributed to the author.

    Alas, I don’t have time to read the policy faq, but now I wonder if Mr. Scalzi himself is- as a result of the above niceness– violating terms-of-use by not crediting the author.

    (Oh yeah: Very well played, John & Mary!)

  81. I’m in! Only… is it okay if I’m a scorpion, John? I know it’s not an insect, but I really wanna be a scorpion. If not, I’m pretty okay with being a Tarantula Hawk.

  82. I reckon I’m qualified to join SFWA, but never felt it was particularly relevant to a Brit.

    However, I totally want a Rosie the Roach mug, so I’m in. Air support, Bumblebee Squadron (have you seen the size of a bumblebee queen? Exactly.)

  83. Count me in! Well on my way through finishing the first draft of my first novel and this whole SFWA debacle has had me reconsidering joining the organization at a later date. The Insect Army, though, is highly appealing!

  84. @uldihaa

    (by which I mean, Zerg for the win.)

    I shall join the ranks of auxiliary arthropods seeing as I’m not SWFA eligible. ^^

  85. I only write professionally in languages understood by machines so I’m not likely to ever be in the SFWA, but if you need backup from my cyber-feline overlords and the rest of enlightened engineering-dom you need only call.

  86. I am, as always, deeply envious of Ursula Vernon’s talent.

    I’m a SFWA member and happy to join the insect army. What’s the laziest insect? Maybe it’s the headache and the cold talking, but I’d like to just lie here and wait for someone to move their neck right beside my pincers.

    Glad I re-upped.

  87. As a potential future SFWA member (working on it, working on it) I’ll sign up. I’d like to be an eyeless warrior termite, spraying toxins at my opponents through my skull nozzle. Insects are awesome.

  88. I do hope scorpions are included, if only because there’s a scorpion species called the deathstalker. If we’re sticking with actual insects, the asian giant hornet currently has my vote for the most badass.

    The “insect” reference in the original quote reveals a lot about the mindset of the author. To me it says, “I don’t care if people like that are a majority of writers or readers; until they become more like ME they don’t get a voice.” It’s an attitude that’s the essence of entitled gatekeepers. Over the walls, insects!

  89. @K R Green –

    You could be a Meganeuropsis americana with the longest insect wing ever found and a length of 27 inches while Greg could be the Meganeuropsis permiana which is the largest known insect. Or, given the way that sexual dimorphism usually works in the animal kingdom, perhaps he should be the M. americana and you should be the M. permiana

    @Harry Connolly –

    The insect that you want is the ant lion also known as a doodlebug. After they build their traps, they lie in wait for food to just tumble into their hungry jaws…

  90. @Danjite: I don’t think attribution is required by US copyright law at all, even for fair use claims. It’s a custom, not a requirement.

    Be that as it may, I suspect Mr. Scalzi would be quite willing to identify the individual concerned if they so wish, or they could comment here and identify themselves.

    As a more general comment, I think it’s easy for those on the outside to think that recent events display an upswing in racism, sexism, etc etc etc. within SFWA. I don’t think that’s the case. When bigoted attitudes are thoroughly in charge, it’s generally done quietly. Nobody’s rocking the boat. The bigots don’t feel threatened.

    It’s when the bigots feel that they’ve lost that they get this loud. They’re fighting a rearguard action, hoping to slow the inevitable. The noise you hear is the noise of change.

  91. “they bare their pincers” ??


    To bare arms is to go sleeveless, perhaps as in boxing or in an Old Testament where God bares an arm to punish evil.

    To bear arms is to take up arms, perhaps to punish or defend.

    Bear arms could also be a bear’s arms, not too insectoid.

    Bare arms could be naked weapons as in naked pincers? I sort of see this, but can’t help wonder what one would add to pincers.

  92. The graphics accompanying this post are fantastic.

    I just rejoined SFWA after years away, actually, inspired by the recent contretemps.

  93. Since a few people have made the case against withholding the name of the person quoted, I’ll at least note an argument on the other side: Leaving the name withheld puts the focus on the quote, not on the person who said it. So instead of the reaction being all “That person’s a dickhead and I will react to them on a personal level” it’s “That statement’s idiotic, and here’s why, and let’s make something positive out of it.”

    If what you want to do is shame someone, then naming them certainly helps. If you want to critique a particular position, then focusing on the position, rather than the person who took it, helps. There are times and places for both.

    This seems to be more about rallying the insect army than about getting lots of people to say “Boy, [name withheld] is a tool!’

  94. When I had my first pro sale, the first thing I did was join SFWA as an affiliate (well, the second – the first thing I did was dance around for a while). You welcomed me personally. I’m still working on making full member. I’m still keeping the ‘be a full SFWA member’ goal despite the recent horrible stuff because you and others continue to be such good allies to women in SF. I want to be part of the new wave of SF.

    If I’m an insect, well, so be it. I live in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. We’ve seen what locusts can do.

  95. Ellen Klages

    The bacteria colonising my lungs would like me to point out that they vastly outnumber beetles. Since I’m endeavouring to muster the largest army in the known universe in support of said beetles, not to mention all other forms of insect life, I feel obliged to follow their wishes on this one.

    Personally, I’d like to be a scorpion, because scorpions are cool, but there are times when one just has to go with the flow..

  96. I am in, though I have to work on the fearless part. I think the positive peer pressure should tip the balance in favor of (my) growing courageous.

  97. Green: Can there be more than one Meganeuropsis?

    Sure. It’s air cavalry. If there was only one, it would be air horse or in this case, just dragonfly. The more the merrier.

    We’ll get tiny loudspeakers mounted and play Cry of the Valkyries. da daa DAA da, da daa DAAA da, da daa DAAAA da, da daa DAA DAAAAAAA

  98. Happy to join the Insect Army while I wait to have the qualifying sales to join SFWA! Though I do now hear Tom Lehrer’s folk song parody in my head “Oh we are the Insect Army! Everyone of us cares! We all hate poverty, war and injustice, unlike the rest of you squares!”

    I’m thinking Ladybug. I promise to leave the Army Aphids alone.

  99. I am an insect. A pretty, pretty butterfly.

    (Runs off to knit pretty butterfly shawl I’ve been wanting to knit. Can I knit and still be a feminist?)

  100. Please, sir, may I join the few? (or in this case, the many) Not sure what kind of bug I am. I’m a good scout, so maybe a scout ant.

  101. Carriev: You can totally knit! I know manly men who knit. Everybody knits! Except me. I just card and spin. Terrible knitter.

  102. I don’t qualify (yet) for SFWA but I am proud to be part of the fandom community for SF/F so I’m joining up. I think I may even share this idea with my students in Science Fiction/Fantasy Writing in the fall as a way to introduce them to the community with their eyes open.

  103. I’m a minor, never been published, generally nobody…

    But if you’ll have me, I am SO in. If you allow crustaceans in…well, Klingons are technically distantly descended from crustaceal aliens. And there’s always the Parshendi lobster-people from the Stormlight Archive…

    If crustaceans aren’t allowed, I’ll be a Thri-kreen (from the D&D Dark Sun campaign setting). Always loved them ever since I played that on in that Dark Sun campaign with my brother…

    Also, our Lord Host, may Your name be praisèd: May you die well, mighty warrior! ThlIngan maH! Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam! This is an utterly awesome idea.

  104. Not being American, I didn’t pay very much attention to the Bulletin troubles of last year other than to note, once again, that American culture has surprising reactionary lows and progressive highs. (Oh, we have similar things over here, just not as sharply defined.)

    The recent petition, again, didn’t seem to matter very much. It sounded mostly like those computer-generated “documentaries” where you can see the last living seconds of dinosaurs writhing in pain as the flames from the asteroid impact at the KT boundary engulfs them.

    The list of signatories to the petition, however, caused me quite a bit of heartbreak. Some of the names on that list represented people I’ve read and admired since, oh, the early eighties or so. I firmly believe in Bob Dylan’s statement that “Just because you like my stuff doesn’t mean I owe you anything”, but I still can’t help feeling betrayed and a little lost. Today, I posted a quick note on CJ Cherryh’s Facebook page, not to tell her that she is a *whatever* (I wouldn’t do that…), but simply to tell her goodbye from a former fan.

    Which brings me, finally, to my point, which is that it is quite a comfort despite this to see rational, enlightened, witty people like you and Mary Robinette Kowal weighing in. You give me hope in spite of all. Good luck and long live the Insect Army!

  105. Not a SFWA member here, or even a writer, but I still want my Gamma Rabbit Insect Army shirt!

  106. Richard Norton: perhaps “brandish” is a better word than bare?

    [lurk, lurk, lurk (arthropod auxiliary)]

  107. Josin: “If there are insects present, they’re almost certainly in the majority, and gaining numbers all the time. Just because you can’t see them behind the walls or in the tress, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”

    Or (as the saying goes) crawling up your back, to lay their eggs in your living flesh………………………………………

  108. @carriev — knitting gives you two sharp pointy things in your hands, plus material for a garrote. Anyone trying to give you grief for that should fear for their structural integrity, say I! (Yarnbenders unite!)

    –A.Beth, mantis. (Because they wash their faces like cats after they eat, and the teeny ones are fearless! One tried to jump on me when I put my face down to get a good look.)

  109. Happy to join the Army if it’ll have me. Doubtless I’m fairly eligible for SFWA at this point, though I confess to being uneasy about rejoining at this point — the last time I joined, I wound up running a Nebula banquet. As Willie Rushton used to say, “Never Again Just Yet.” …If we get to choose insects, I’ll take the Dark Dagger moth. Dramatic name, retiring exterior. :)


    I absolutely LOVED your “Rihannsu” books. And I will always prefer the “Dark Mirror” version of the MU to DS9’s version.

    Please never retire. PLEASE. What with Destiny, and Typhon Pact, and the other crap they’re peddling these days…

    Star Trek NEEDS YOU!!!!!!

  111. Not a writer, but do you need someone for the “S” part of SFWA? Then I’ll be a Drosophila.

  112. Since Mary is indirectly responsible for my eligibility to join the SFWA, I am happy to be part of her insect army.

    I think I’ll be a firefly. Glowing-butted misandrists of the insect world.

  113. Huzzah!

    I don’t qualify for SFWA, but I propose being the first in the insect-ish navy. Caribbean lobster, as it is warm there in the sea.

    Exoskeleton multi-legged beasties unite!

  114. Not a SFWA member yet, but I hope to be some day. Forward with the evolution! Insects will inherit the earth!

  115. Reblogged this on Awkward to Awesome and commented:
    General Scalzi has summoned all insectoid sci-fi/fantasy readers and writers to enlist in the never-ending battle against the dark forces of stupidity, sexism, bigotry, and all-around unpleasantness. I, for one, am ready to join, offering up whatever aid my meager writing skills may bring:

  116. Well, I definitely don’t qualify for SFWA, but I have my bug type picked out already (hint: who am I?)

  117. Nebbo/Nancy F (I presume you to be both, as WordPress also swaps me in and out of name on Whatever): I can’t really knit (I have the basics, but my joints balk at enough practice to be skilled), so I spin.

    It is far from mere, how else shall knitters, and crochety people have the yarns they need (I happen to be a manly man: tautology for the win).

  118. It’s a good thing I don’t work in an office, because I was laughing so hard reading this that it would have been a problem. (Ursula Vernon is indeed awesome and I want a T-shirt.)

    Also: “A steampunk novel with a Pakistani-American as the heroine? Who would want to read That?”

    Alia, get it out there somehow, I’ll buy it. Sometimes agents are idiots too. But there are often agents waiting who are much smarter.

    Note to those who are disappointed with the signers — I am too, but apparently, they are unable to remove their names from the ill-thought-out petition, even though some of them would seem to like to. So before you make that not-buying decision, consider perhaps wider quotes from the person elsewhere. C.J. Cherryh did not make me happy, but she also opened opportunities for countless female writers in SF and fantasy in her career. And K. Tempest Bradford said something that I have also experienced — that not always but often someone whom she vehemently argued with on civil rights issues comes back to her a good bit later having finally dropped the defensiveness and started to listen to the words of other people and realized that those words supported their beliefs, not threatened them. And something I have also experienced — people who can be really horrible on many civil rights fronts, but also champion others and might possible change. I like to think that there are possibilities for process.

    You don’t have to be an author or a member of SFWA to be in the army. Just part of fandom. Because this isn’t an attacking army; it is, like the ants, an army building a path to actual equality and actual free speech, (insects are the architects and engineers of the world — we learned everything from them.) In the present, in the past, people are silent, they don’t speak out for their civil rights because they are scared of what they know will happen if they do, and because legally and socially they usually weren’t allowed to speak out. When they can speak out, it is only for some things, not others, but over time, when there are enough of them, they speak out even more.

    Some people, like Mr. Truesdale and the person who gave that quote above, are invested in the silence and work to keep it as much as possible, to block that free speech and declare it invalid and with no power to ever encourage listeners to change. But others are simply used to the silence, bewildered by the speaking and the anger of it, unwilling to see the dangers to the speakers, uncertain how to behave and returning to try to silence the speakers so that they don’t have to think about what they themselves are saying. And they talk about their friends, who are silent with them, who they are treating as unequal, to try to stop the words.

    When there is an army building a dialogue of speaking on equality, an army of diverse folk, it’s much harder to be dragged back into silence and the inequality that comes with it. Harder but not impossible, unless the building continues. So I will join the Insect Army and I will be a cricket, because everybody knows that I never shut up. :)

  119. I want to be a weta. Wetas are cool, and the ones that live in caves can come after your jugular in the DARK, so there.

    I’d totally wear that Rosie the riveter one if it were on a t-shirt.

  120. I kind of love seeing an insult being turned into a positive… and while I’m probably just a grub who dreams of being a butterfly, I’m in!

    I find it interesting to note that I wasn’t familiar with Mary Robinette Kowal before this, but last night I bought Shades of Milk and Honey and realized how awesome it is…

  121. so with the insect army being adaptable etc and the dinosaurs tied to the old way then you should be a big fan of self-publishing and other models that do not depend upon the old style of using a publisher

  122. It seems several good things have come out of this unpleasantness lately. I have taken a few authors off my someday-to-read list and added several I’d never heard of. I also bumped up MRK to my immediate-to-read list and picked up her first book. Also, it was almost worth it just to see Ursula’s art.

  123. Well, clacketychirp, I suppose.

    Can I be a cicada, if I promise to actually submit something to a publisher this year? I’m a writer like I’m a breather, but I take enough editorial heat IRL that my loins need a bit of extra girding before I subject myself to it for fun.

    Still, I’m not willing to let the dinosaurs make all the noise.

  124. The Scarab Legion is growing! “Evolve! Evolve!”

    Greg, or as someone sang to me years ago,

    We fly through the night skies,
    Showing our bare thighs,
    Picking up dead guys,
    There goes one now!
    On a wagon we load ’em,
    Take ’em to Odin,
    To see if he knowed ’em,
    Sometimes he does!

    (Cleaned up slightly from original.)

    Nadya, me too! As soon as I saw the phrase!

    carriev: Can I knit and still be a feminist?

    It makes you every bit as fake and hypocritical as Mary Robinette Kowal.

    I wouldn’t worry about it, in other words.

    Peter, I share your grief over C.J. Cherryh. I can’t imagine what she was thinking when she signed this. But listen to Kat Goodwin (5:16 pm); she speaks wisdom.

    Kat, Much wisdom and comfort. Thank you. Also,

    So I will join the Insect Army and I will be a cricket, because everybody knows that I never shut up.

    May it be ever so.

    WhoReallyCares, let me just help you back onto the rail there. GNNNGGHH! There we go. Should be OK now.

  125. I would love to be part of this lineage, surely tracing back at least as far as Josef and Karel Capek. That marvelous and politically savage work “The Insect Play” and the creator of the word robot (from the czech word for slave).

  126. The Insect Army
    lyrics by Cat Faber 2014

    On SFWA’s old Internet forum,
    some folk let their prejudice free
    Some dinosaur talked about insects,
    meaning regular people like me
    I would have just shrugged and said “moron”
    but Scalzi locked on and attached
    Mocked it and then he embraced it
    and the Insect Army was hatched.

    The wasp and the mud dauber Air Force,
    the dragonfly first bombardiers
    The shock troops are mantis and scarabs,
    an arachnid auxiliary nears.
    The ever adaptable cockroach,
    the near-indestructible ant,
    We are the Insect Army–
    you think you can win, but you can’t.

    Rosie the Roach says we’ll do it;
    she’s sure we can give them the boot
    I flourish my sword, and my raygun,
    as I whip out a snappy salute
    We’ll write the tales of tomorrow,
    we’ll rule the world in due course
    We are the insect army–
    reporting for duty in force!

    Writers adhere to three models:
    the dinosaurs flourished of old
    The mammals are tops at the moment,
    but insects the future unfold
    We’re tired of dinosaur logic
    and dinosaur roaring and fuss
    We are the insect army–
    the future is written by us.

  127. I followed Mary Robinette Kowal’s diaphanous pheromone scent trail over here from Facebook. Don’t know why, but whatever My Queen tells me to do, I’m here. For the good of the Respectable Polite Colony, of course.

    Dr. Phil

  128. [Deleted because a) troll, b) who evidently has trouble with numbers larger than three — JS]

  129. Brenda, you’re very welcome, in both senses!

    Eben, many of us don’t have pub creds. We’re just enlisting right now. The orders will come later!

  130. Insects? I think your army is more like the little rodent who wanders in front of a group of dinosaurs in that Far Side cartoon. Most of the dinosaurs are pointing and laughing, while one looks up at the sky to see the first few flakes of snow coming down.

  131. For reasons too complex to discuss while I’m fighting a nasty cold I was once known as “The Mother of Insects,” so it is altogether meet and fitting that I join your horde. Count me in. – BugMom

  132. Oh, hey, I’m in. And I’m with the guy (I use that in the gender-neutral eighties sense of my high school days) who wants to be a dinosaur-era dragonfly with massive wingspan.

  133. Does this mean I have to write publishable fiction and then try to get it published? Well, I can try, at least. I’m naturally good at writing non-fiction and lousy at fiction, but I do sometimes try.

    I, too, would love to read the steampunk book with the Pakistani-American protagonist!

    So. Not actually qualified for SFWA, but more than willing to be part of the insect army in whatever capacity!

    Now I’m torn about the insect, though. Dragonflies have been one of my things for a long time, but there are plenty of persuasive arguments for scarabs in this thread! Maybe I also need a scarab tattoo. I already have a dragonfly tattoo. And the next tattoo I’m getting is Ursula Vernon’s Happy Cthulhu! Whenever I have the money for it and find a tattoo artist I like.

  134. In honour of my ancestry, I’m going to be a Highland midge, the fabled midgie*. Those things are UNSTOPPABLE. And yet, they generally leave me alone, so I think they sense a kindred spirit. Active at sunset, doesn’t like rain and wind, best in spring and summer? That’s me. Annoying as all get-out? You bet.

    They travel in large swarms of females, so feel free to join me, ladies!

    *That’s Scots for no-see-um but even bitier.

  135. Bugs bugs bugs bugs!
    Bugs bugs bugs bugs!

    The skills of an insect are nifty and neat!
    We’ve got two antennae and six little feet!

    Bugs bugs bugs bugs!
    Bugs bugs bugs bugs!

    Our skeleton’s hard, external and chitinous
    We’re brave and heroic and nothing can frighten us!

    Bugs bugs bugs bugs!
    Bugs bugs bugs bugs!

  136. So, uh, if hypothetically I just got a five-figure check to write a fantasy novel, but the check came from a grant and not from a publisher, does that entitle me to join SFWA? Because I’m totally in if it does. :-) And I’m in on the insect army in any event. Always wanted to be a grasshopper.

  137. (And yes, I just looked on my own, and no, it doesn’t. But I’m still so full of squee over here that I don’t actually care. I’m still in on the insect army.)

  138. Not yet published, but I would like to be part of the Insect Army. If the rules can stretch enough so that trilobites would count, I would like to be a trilobite. Otherwise, uhm…I will go with the seven-spot ladybird.

  139. @Jerome O’Neil That would be great! I would be very interested to hear what you come up with.

    I would also like to read the steampunk book with the Pakistani-American protagonist.

    I think cicada would do for me. I go through periods of inactivity and then sing a lot.

  140. I am very much reminded of the Dandelion Conspiracy that sprouted in the late 80’s/early 90’s when the filk community was looking for more respect from conventions and fandom at large.

    Given the increasing number of conventions with filk/music guests and program tracks (including at least two Worldcon filk guests), the fact I can name at least three authors who are openly active in the filk community, and the fact a filk album recently notched a Hugo nomination, the comparison is intended as a compliment. 8-)

    (And nice song, Cat!)

  141. Bugs Mr Rico! Zillions of ’em!

    Well done to all that are or may soon be part of this army.

    I, for one, welcome our new Insect Author Overlords!

  142. Reblogged this on Doomsday Writer! and commented:
    As I said over at Mr. Scalzi’s blog, I want to be either a trilobite (the Ute Native Americans of Utah used to wear them as amulets against disease and bullets and called them pachavee (little water bug) according to Wikipedia) or a 7-spotted ladybird, which is the state insect of Ohio. That’s right, we got a state insect! And a state fossil, which is the trilobite appropriately enough.

  143. Diane Duane … Big fan, especially of the feline wizards books! I’m one of the folks who bought an eBook copy of the Big Meow.

    Not SFWA, my pro writing sales were all non-fiction, mostly in anime magazines. Lots of fan fic. One novel almost done, probably end up as an eBook.

    Was thinking of Meganeuropsis… I love dragonflies. Bur on the other hand – few insects can drive you as crazy as a mosquito. So…tiger mosquito here, first in the mosquito squadron!

  144. I’m not a writer or even much of a fighter. I prefer consumption of the texts to production. So count me in as a member of The Locusts.

    – Air Cav, son! Air Mobile!

  145. Go ahead and change my division name to Coccinellidae, some clueless stuff worth nomming probably think ladybugs are wussy. Think again!

  146. [Deleted. Stevie, you need to pay attention to the fact that I deleted the initial comment for a reason – JS]

  147. John
    I seem to have cross posted, but please delete as necessary, though if you can keep the bit about the High Command, please do so!

  148. It’s not a very good insult, really. Certainly according to JBS Haldane “God has an inordinate fondness for beetles”. (Referring to the fact that insects massively outnumber all other forms of animal life)


  149. John

    My apologies; when I started writing that post you hadn’t deleted. I’m sorry I didn’t know, not least because if I did I wouldn’t have wasted my time, or yours…

  150. I sort of feel bound by Central Casting to be a wasp, so (with all respect to E Rose) I’m going to dibs the bumblebee wolf. Because, seriously, tell me that is not an awesome name that might as well be attached to a Jaeger. OH THAT’S RIGHT: YOU CAN’T.

  151. You know these dudes just don’t get it. Well, they don’t get a lot of things but in particular their choice of insults. Given the reproductive powers of rabbits and insects, it won’t take long for them to realize that it isn’t a circle of friends, they’re being surrounded.

    Put me down as a Cicada because we like to make noise all night long.

  152. Totally awesome! I am a fearless reader – I’m happy to join the Readers Auxiliary Insect Army!

    ps – I now love Cat Farber!

  153. Not a SFWA member as I keep being told that roleplaying games don’t count, but that’s what comes out when I sit down at a keyboard. And occasional short fiction set in the game world. But insect army. Yeah. I’ll go with the bombardier beetle, capable of making a lot of racket and a big stink if messed with. Where can I find the two petitions that circulated, and get more background on this?

  154. I am proudly an Insect. The whole reason (and I mean, the *whole* reason) that I finally joined SFWA was because of the change in tone and priority that came with your and Mary’s leadership. I *finally* felt like SFWA was relevant to me. Happy to enlist in the Army.

  155. Another insect reporting for duty in the Readers’ Auxiliary! I claim Citheronia Regalis — gorgeous in my adult form, but horrifying as a juvenile. (Sometimes I just feel childish.)

    And my wife wishes to report as a Xerces Blue butterfly — currently listed as extinct, so when she shows up, the Army will have the solid backing of the EPA, rushing to protect her habitat! Extra firepower is always useful. (And also, she’s pretty.)

  156. @Gary –thanks!
    @ Scott–glad you like it! I write lots of songs but you’ll have better luck looking up Cat Faber than Farber.

    The insects are out for an outing
    a cloud that can cover the sun
    A carpet that will not stop crawling.
    A sensible reptile* would run…
    The end’s just a matter of time here,
    the dinosaur’s badly out-massed;
    Outed and out of his league, and
    out-witted, out-numbered, out-classed!

    *(dinosaurs are not actually reptiles, but “dinosaur” won’t scan here, and besides “reptile” alliterates too.)

  157. (name withheld) seems to believe that pincers (like high-society Victorian “limbs”) are supposed to be swathed in fabric rendering them unusable, and therefore ‘baring pincers’ is against, oh, all kinds of “proper social order” (to wit, that which supports whichever shibboleth zie is in favor of). But, as any self-respecting insect can tell you, pincers are tools, and are thus useless when swathed.

    Dragonfly Air Corps to the air! (do we get to learn trick flying?)

  158. I’ll never, ever write fiction – heck, won’t even write anything for any purpose except my own private enjoyment – so I won’t ever qualify as a true member of the Insect Army, but I am totally willing to serve in a support capacity. I’ve got some minor skills at planning/logistics, and I figure I can bring mud to the mud-daubers, deliver dung to the dung-beetles, arrange living quarters, coordinate transport and so on. An army, even an army of insects, lives on its stomach, and I will gladly undertake to help keep that collective stomach happy and content.

    Oh, and by the way, this comment thread has left me incredibly frustrated that WordPress apparently lacks any kind of “Rate This Comment Positively” function, because I would SO like to go through and commend so many of the clever and quick-witted folks who have preceded me in responding. Slightly off-topic, and I apologize – but Mr. Scalzi seems to bring out the best in his readers, and I purely do wish I could express my appreciation for all the grins you’ve given an old curmudgeon this evening.

  159. Diane Duane fangirl squueeeeee!!

    Also would totally read a Pakistani-American steampunk novel!

    Also, as I am also a carder, spinner, and yarn bender, and as yet unpublished, I shall join the Insect Army as a caddis larvae of the netspinner variety.

  160. I joined SFWA partly because of crap like these recent comments from whomever they are coming from. “Be the change” and all that. It would be an honor to be an insect in this army.

  161. Are spiders allowed to join, if we promise not to eat any of the insects?

    Either way, count me in. I just renewed my SFWA membership, but this will be my last year if the old guard can’t learn to play nice with the new. I worked so hard to qualify, yet now I find myself embarrassed to publicly admit membership.

    Humanity is evolving in its understanding of the world and of itself; our arts and entertainment need to run parallel to that advancement if they expect to remain relevant. I believe SFWA (or some replacement organization) needs to embrace change wholeheartedly and stop being cowed by the outrage of those too thin-skinned from years of carte blanche to gracefully alter outdated behavior and language when asked to do so. They may not have noticed, but the “golden age” they look back on with such yearning has turned a little green around the edges.

    Digging in your heels does not stop the flow of time. Survival requires flexibility. Speculative fiction is meant to be the bleeding edge, the “what if,” the boundary-pusher. It’s not meant to be comfortable. And a speculative fiction organization can’t afford to be reactionary.

  162. Please add me to the fire ant ranks!

    For my two cents, I think the fundamental disconnect between the dinosaurs and the insects is in how community, versus one’s place in it, is valued. Dinosaurs are vehemently clinging to a disappearing exclusive community, in which they can command large, ego-stroking spotlights and never need to worry about personal growth. Insects find life far richer, more intriguing and inspiring, in an inclusive and diverse community, even if it may mean smaller spotlights.

    I’d much rather be an insect now, and join the SWFA community that you and the other “new generation” writers are rebuilding when I’m able.

  163. @stoicjim we’d be there to help, just leave our wiring alone and we’ll provide fire support :) or does this come down to the scorpion and the frog…

    afraid all things considered I’m more of a mammal than an insect so I’ll just have to help out as best I can…

  164. I joined SFWA because of the changes I saw during John’s term as president, and the good things Mary made happen. And seriously, as hard as I worked to get here it’s going to take a hell of a lot more to scare me off than being called a bug or a non-person.

    I embrace my bughood and all that it embodies. Count me in as one of the predatory species of katydids.

  165. Aak! Of all the things to typo… SFWA. (Hangs head, wiggles back into nest, waits to graduate from larva to adult fire ant.)

  166. I truely love how y’all roll with this sort of nonsense. And wish that it wasn’t necessary that you do so so often.

  167. Volunteering for the Readers’ Auxiliary, species: Bactrocera tryoni, otherwise known as the Queensland Fruit Fly. Persistent, adaptable and hey, there are entire government departments trying to get rid of them! (I spent/wasted an entire researching for one…)

  168. Oh now this is something I’ll join. I’ve been put off joining SFWA because…I mean yes, be the change and all that, but godsdamn I don’t have the energy to fight on two fronts. I’ve been getting stick in PMs in certain places and I’m not even a member. Do I really need this crap in my life? No. I just want to bloody well write.

    But I can certainly put myself behind this, and when I see that kinda crap I generally try to hose it down.
    So put me down for a Bombardier Beetle.

  169. Put me down as an Allied Trades auxiliary. I’ll go for the most SF creature on the planet – the Saharan Silver Ant. It’s one of the most heat-tolerant species on the planet, it’s got a really sophisticated navigation system. It moves at 50cm/100body lengths a second (human-scale equivalent would be 280mph). And it’s /chromed/

  170. After reading a lot of the thread on, I really wonder if much of this is way out of context because Sean Fodera clearly has big anger issues with MRK based on some unspecified past dealings with her vis-a-vis SFWA (things he wanted to do for SFWA, presumably related to his expertise with copyright, which he believes were stymied by her) which predate the sexism flap last year and the Truesdale petition. I can’t say that this anger is warranted, but I think what he wrote is more about his anger at MRK and not so much about sexism and/or censorship at SFWA.

    Anyway, I’m currently reading Neal Asher’s Polity series, which has a very nasty alien arthropod race, and since you’re talking about insects, I was having a Baader Meinhof phenomenon moment.

  171. This is ultimately one of the main reasons why I abandoned the fantasy genre that I had grown up with as a child. All that lazy world building that ultimately results in “genocide-by-omission” of every other culture except Eurocentric ones (ie Tolkein which I loved as a kid but grew disillusioned with as I grew older and saw nothing of myself in any of the literature). To each their own and I don’t begrudge them their stories, but at least in sci-fi one typically has to acknowledge the existence of other races and cultures even if just to paint them as the feared “Other”.

  172. I’ve only read the first of the Asher Polity series, but it has an human/AI society (The Polity) a bit like the late Iain Banks (yes, I know Banks’ “humans” are really not Earth humans, but I still think of them as such), but Asher’s society has separatists who don’t trust or like the AIs and while the Prador arthropods are the feared “Other”, I suspect that the core of the books will not be about just the Polity vs Prador.

    And just so this doesn’t stay totally off topic, I also think most of the conversation was less about sexism/censorship as much as in general that they were unhappy with the SFWA leadership and that they wanted the SFWA leadership to be more concerned about providing resources on things like copyright, teaching new authors about the processes around getting published, the migration off sfwa private forums to (which I think they considered bungled). I read several hundred messages, and relatively few of them were concerned with sexism and the Truesdale petition.

  173. Reporting for duty, Sir and Ma’am! Inspired to keep working on my stories (yes, I am a woman). I will also have to check out Mary’s books; always on the lookout for good sci-fi / fantasy, esp. written by women.

  174. Isn’t a Firefly an insect? Ain’t Jayne a girl’s name? Can’t River kill you with her brain?

    “You can’t take the sky from me …”

  175. As a biologist, hearing that insects are adaptable makes me giggle — after all, a few of them are, but a lot more are hyper-specialized.

    As someone with a grasp of the non-scientific English language, I heartily approve.

    May I be a dragonfly nymph? Terrors of freshwater, they are, and they have this really nifty folding jaw…

  176. I’m in! Caddis fly, I think — apparently they make jewelry.

    Whee! Love the poster.

  177. i am utterly, totally bugaphobic. no, seriously — like, i run away from moths. i run screaming from roaches. and yeah, it seems a little silly, but as i keep trying to explain to people, PHOBIAS AREN’T RATIONAL.
    [as a note: no, spiders are NOT bugs, and are perfectly awesome. because they EAT bugs. also: butterflies? to quote Heinlein, they aren’t bugs, they’re self-propelled flowers.]

    OTHER THAN THAT, i’d love to join. erm. maybe i can be a self-propelled flower?

  178. Dibs on Diamma bicolour, the blue ant. Which is blue, but not an ant. It’s a pretty, pretty flower wasp, with a nasty sting in the tail. I promise not to parasitise my fellow soldiers, even the crickets.

    Cross-genre writer, published by a small press which doesn’t qualify as a SFWA membership market. But with sales enough to qualify for RWA Pro membership, and disqualify myself from Writers of the Future. Writer enough to join the auxiliaries, methinks.

  179. I write comments, and lots of sub-rosa ficiton. Plus I come with decades of rhetorical combat experince and I have a respectable collection of actual custom and antique swords. I call dibs on the Lexx! (Hey, you never said it had to be a real insect.)

  180. As an entomologist, aspiring SF writer, woman and a variety of other diverse things (Australian being one) this is frankly, the most awesome thing I have seen on a blog for quite sometime. I’ve watched with perverse awe the flailing of some in the SF arena who see diversity as some sort of threat and accusing those wanting bigger representation (or in many cases just a reflection of real life) in SF of ‘destroying the joint’. Laughable really. Where can I sign up for this new insect army?

  181. I would love to be part of the insect army – how do I sign up (though not eligible for the SFfy thing)? Insects are awesome – and useful and many are downright beautiful!

  182. I’m kinda confused by the piece which has spurred this. If someone is a) publishing work in SF/F and b) in North America and c) not the sort of contemptible shunt chunnel who would bring the organization into disrepute by their membership, why *shouldn’t* they be a member of the SFWA?

    Is (name withheld) complaining that the newer members dare voice opinions contrary to his own, as opposed to sitting quietly until more senior members tell them what to think? I’m not familiar with the SFWA’s organizational structure, but that smells like ass to me.

  183. @Annalee Jerome O’Neil has been putting together a melody and backing track, so chances are good there will be a recording somewhere pretty soon. :-) is the most likely landing site for such a thing, at the moment.

  184. Seems to me that another way to deal this would be to say, yah know what – your right. We shouldn’t have introduced all these female type persons, or all these other writers. Our bad, we will leave and form our own organisation.

    Oh, and anybody who doesn’t want to live with the description “sexist, with delusions of talent” that has been so thoughtfully placed upon us – come and join us.
    ISFWA anybody

  185. Someone WAAAAAY up thread (sorry, I can’t find him now), commented that the dinosaurs are all old. Not according to Juliet E. McKenna:

    “Having read getting on for 200 SF books over 2012-2013 as a Clarke Award judge, I found a range of attitudes from socially conservative/sexist/veiled-racist to adventurous, progressive, informed and thought-provoking social commentary. There was absolutely no correlation between the age and gender of the author and the presence of outdated or offensive ideas.”


    Also: Sign me up in the reserves. I’ll join whatever battalion/squad/swarm of locusts there are in the ranks. We shall devour the sexism, racism… all the -isms in our path!

  186. Malcolm:

    Why on earth would people leave an organization that they are now in control of? You understand that’s the impetus for this recent bout of pissiness, correct? The quote from which the insect army has been spawned, I should note, is from someone who isn’t even in SFWA.

    This is coming dangerously close to me commenting on current SFWA stuff, so I’ll leave it at that. But I can say what I’ve said before: Rear guard actions are always the loudest.

  187. Man, sign me up. I’d like to be a praying mantis or maybe a non-dung-type beetle or…

    Oh. Apparently I’m a bumblebee.

    Oh well. To war!

  188. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m entering the army–the Insect Army! Thought I’d sign in as a bee, but then remembered the mighty Wheel Bug, so a Wheel Bug I am.

  189. as a fan/supporter -sign me up. I’ll be a scorpion. I don’t write – but I BUY sci-fi. So, I’m not eligible to be an insect- but a bad-ass arthropod none the less.

  190. What an appropriate analogy for diversity – many insect species have non-(human-)traditional gender ratios; gender power relations and roles; and societal structures.

    And they’ve inspired an awful lot of excellent SF, and the occasional excellent fantasy (the Wurts / Feist telepathic species comes to mind…)

    I’m in – I may never write SF, but I’m happy to support!

  191. @JT Tran said what I was thinking – I also grew up on Golden Age scifi (my father’s shelves were packed with Heinlein, Burroughs and Asimov) and I learned a lot about physics from them. But after college I drifted away from scifi, and I really never read fantasy – because all the covers featured nearly naked blonds with watermelons for breasts. (And I’d had enough of that in Burroughs.)

    What brought me back? Pratchett. N.K. Jemison. Farscape. And now I’m once again browsing the SFF categories, and mostly buying on Kindle, and enjoying the new voices and new stories. I found SFF that didn’t limit itself to the world of my grandfather, and that made me a customer again.

    (It’s the same reason I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live since the 80s. I’m not really interested in the same frat boy jokes over and over and over. If they get real about diversifying their cast and writers, maybe they’ll write humor again.)

    Fellow insects, we are stronger than we appear! Brave writers, we readers have your backs!

  192. PS. And because of all the fooforah, I was introduced to Ursula Vernon’s Digger webcomic this week! Squee!

  193. Totally in. I am partial to Zerg myself but if we’re sticking to reality I have to go for the Meganeuropsis squadron.

  194. Thinking very hard for a day now (even after declaring that I’d join the not-a-writer auxiliaries for the moment) about what insect would best represent me (something, btw, that also stumped my husband, who declared that he just couldn’t think of me as being stoic enough to be an insect –he’s obviously never met a yellowjacket, but wev), I’ve finally decided. The butterfly aircorps was appealing, but just not quite right.

    I’ll join the cricket brigade. Chirp, chirp!

  195. Bruce:

    I can’t say that this anger is warranted, but I think what he wrote is more about his anger at MRK and not so much about sexism and/or censorship at SFWA.

    But he didn’t talk about his anger at MRK blocking his efforts. He talked about her body, about how she supposedly flaunted her body, about how her speech about sexism was therefore false, and he derided her credibility as someone anyone should listen to because she was a nobody writer, despite her books, awards, etc. He deliberately went after her on the basis of her gender and the issue of sexism. So it is actually very related. And it is also related because the people who objected to the sexism in the Bulletin, were doing so because they also want the SFWA to be a professional organization and focus on digital rights, copyright, etc.for all members, rather than write about how sexy some women writers are and how they shouldn’t criticize men ever, the little tyrants.

    Let me see if I can cricket this for you:

    Long way back, a handful of decades ago, women writers of SFF were told that it would be better if they wrote under a male pseudonym because fans (all of whom were erroneously assumed to be men,) didn’t want to read women’s writings.The threat was that they could have free speech (use their real names and show that they are women,) or they could have a successful career, hiding as men among men. You could do that back then, write anonymously under a pen name and not promote and still make a living, because of the wholesale market. And that was what was politically correct. So it was U.K. Le Guin, C.J. Cherryh, Andre Norton, James Tiptree Jr., etc., and they stayed silent under the threat.

    But you can make a better living if you do promote your work, go to conventions, stand up for awards, etc., so women started to partially or fully decloak and risk their careers for a better, more equal one with the men by promoting as themselves. They used their free speech. And the new women authors who came in, having that as role models, then sold their work as themselves. They came out of the shadows and refused to be scared by the light of the threat. And what was politically correct, changed and became more equal (and professional.) Although the discrimination didn’t totally go away.

    But women writers were still frequently told that they shouldn’t write about certain subjects in certain ways. They shouldn’t write about sexism in society or issues related to their lives, nobody wanted to hear it from women and it wasn’t reasonable or fair. The threat was, you could have free speech (write about sexism or whatever you wanted,) or you could have a career. That was what was politically correct. But some women wrote about it anyway, fiction and non-fiction, and formed a movement called feminist SF that sold both in the field and in academia where they were sort of starting to realize it might actually be worth studying more female writers. And other women writers coming into the field also felt free to write about those subjects or to write about different subjects that had previously been declared men’s territory. And what was politically correct, changed and became more equal (and professional.) Although the discrimination didn’t totally go away.

    But women writers and publishing folk and fans were still frequently told that they weren’t very important in the field or society, and that they should not object to men patting their bottoms or groping them at conventions or propositioning them or talking about their bodies and sneering that they were nonentities. It was unreasonable and exaggerated as a problem. The threat was, you could have free speech to object to the treatment, (and the assault,) or you could have a career. And that was what was politically correct. But some women spoke out anyway and objected, and allies objected. And new women writers coming in, seeing that their fellows had made things safer for their free speech, also spoke up and objected. And standards of professionalism towards women in the field slowly developed. And what was politically correct, changed and became more equal (and professional.) Although the discrimination didn’t totally go away.

    I mean, it doesn’t entirely go away, even with women at the helm. So a woman editor okayed and designed, and a male president, who was JS, signed off on and didn’t catch/think about, threats in four issues of the Bulletin, the professional trade journal, threats that violated SFWA’s standards and policies. The threats were best expressed by Mr. Henderson, the Barbie guy, who told women members that the key to career success was to be like Barbie and never blame Ken for discrimination effecting her career. In other words, you can have free speech or you can stay silent and have a career. But women writers and their allies did speak up and object that this wasn’t professional, or equal, or what they needed from SFWA — nor what SFWA was allowed by its policies to do.

    I doubt Mr. Henderson would feel that he made a threat, any more than Resnick and Malzberg did — he would probably characterize it as advice, but that particular type of “advice” — a threat against free speech, happens all the time. It’s happened to me here on Whatever, for instance, when a person I’m talking to brings up the advice that unless you are really, really nice and mostly quiet in talking to men about sexism, they won’t listen or help improve equality.

    JS could have threatened defensively. Instead he apologized for having okayed threats to free speech. He helped set up a task force to work towards more equality and professionalism in the Bulletin and no threats to women and other vulnerable members. Some people still can’t forgive him for letting the threats go through and have gone away and aren’t coming back, as is their right. Others decided that he had understood the objections and worked to get back on track. And most are waiting to see how Mr. Gould does.

    Then came the petition, which was a fairly blatant threat — give up free speech and stop being offended by sexist speech and unprofessional treatment, or everybody’s careers will be tanked and the field ruined. Tell us who is on the advisory committee so we can stop them. Tell us the standards even though we already know the standards because SFWA already has the standards, etc. Women should behave. Feminism ruins everything. Vigorous debate should happen as long as women know their place in the comments section.

    Mr. Fedora didn’t threaten MRK with sexist speech. Mr. Fedora threatened incoming women writers who might see MRK as a role model. Since she was an influence as a former VP of SFWA, he declared her an unreasonable and hypercritical radical who had no real influence and sexualized her body — she’s not worth professionalism because she’s female. Because her career is successful despite her free speech, he argued that her career wasn’t successful. If you asked Fedora if that’s what he intended to do, I’m sure he’d say no, and he would honestly believe it to be so. After all, it was a casual conversation; he wasn’t pushing the petition. But that’s because these sorts of threats — free speech or your career, your family, your life, are so ingrained and ubiquitous towards women and disadvantaged groups, they’re habit.

    So even though it was completely unprofessional to trash one of his house’s authors, he did it. Because women need to know their place, just like when J.K. Rowling was told, still, in the 1990’s, to pretend to be a man so that boys’ parents would buy her books, (nobody caring about the girl readers because they are girls.) Should she not have decloaked and used her free speech, do you think? She’s had a horrible, unprofessional career, having done so, and really should be given no respect. Because even if you are the most successful author on the planet, possibly ever, the threat gets made — your free speech or we talk about you in a bikini.

    If the people on in that thread really do care about having a trade organization tackle professionally digital rights, copyright issues, royalties, marketing, etc. — and representation and encouraging diversity which benefits the field and its profits — then they should have totally supported the outcry over the Bulletin about those very things, and the formation of a task force and an advisory committee, and upholding the standards SFWA already has. Instead, they are making threats to discourage free speech.

    The insect commentator, who may be a woman, is quite open about that. Women writers are cockroaches, insects to be crushed if they make noise, who should be silent and hiding in the shadows and scared. But instead, they and their allies come out of hiding and speak up. And this isn’t new, despite what the commentator claims — it’s always happening. Because the threats don’t make things better, more equal, more professional, more full of choices and increasing reading audiences, etc. for women or male authors. They are just threats that cause a lot of damage and stagnation, that keep women authors from, say, getting as good royalty rates, marketing and digital rights deals as men. It’s the next frontier, and they’re swarming in. Chirp.

  196. Readers Auxiliary recruit here! As I Black Witch Moth (Ascalapha odorata) I volunteer for nocturnal reconnoissance. I discovered MRK and several other wonderful new authors through the Big Idea features on this blog, for which I will be forever grateful to Mr. Scalzi.

  197. I’m in, but not sure if as a Danaus Plexippusas (monarch butterfly) or as a Paraponera Clavata (bullet ant) Aw, who am I kidding? Wiki notes: “The pain caused by this insect’s sting is purported to be greater than that of any other hymenopteran, and is ranked as the most painful according to the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, given a “4+” rating, above the tarantula hawk wasp and, according to some victims, equal to being shot, hence the name of the insect. It is described as causing “waves of burning, throbbing, all-consuming pain that continues unabated for up to 24 hours”.”

  198. Kat – I would send you cookies right now in a heartbeat. Except that might be odd – so, just a thank you.

  199. Kat, that was awesome. Well, to be honest, everything I’ve seen you write on this topic is awesome, but that was extra awesome.

  200. iiii:

    I so want to shovel your front walk right now.

    I’m going to take that as a literal offer to shovel my front walk. In which case, thanks, we’re expecting ice pellets up here. :)

  201. I’m in! Not a SFWA member… yet… we’ll see about how the whole self pub thing goes there… but *ponders* ladybug (because good luck) or black widow (because badass but wait, not technically an insect) or… *evil grin* do we have a Praying Mantis Division yet? >: )

  202. Fearless librarian here- reporting in from the Fighting 595.7th (That’s the Dewey Decimal class for insects)!

    In solidarity from the stacks, keep on fighting the good fight…

  203. poorwm:

    There once was a Swede named Linnaeus:
    Inspired by some mischievous deus,
    He tagged all of nature
    With binomenclature,
    A devious way to betray us!

    For example, the Danaus plexippus
    (In some books, Anosia plexippus)
    Is called D. menippe
    In South Mississippi,
    And elsewhere is called D. archippus!

    –Nat B. Frazer, Ph.D. (a relative of mine, I’m proud to say)

  204. Kat, that was a well thought out, insightful commentary. Thank you for your clarity and contribution. You, as Nina pointed out, ROCK.

    (Also; I wanna be a spider. Can be part of the insect army and still be a spider? if not, I’ll happily settle for a grasshopper.)

  205. In the midst of boosting the signal, I forgot to enlist! Private Cricket, reporting for duty! I would also like to express my admiration for Kat for her very properly detailed explanation of why we insects need to band together. Chirp! Chirp!

  206. Incidentally: though not (yet) qualified to join SFWA, I’d be proud to serve in the Insect Army. Dibs on the Hickory Horned Devil. (Warning to the squeamish: the linked caterpillar is very aptly named.)

  207. I have to say, my knowledge of the entomological world has expanded significantly thanks to this comments section!

  208. I’m gonna hire Kat G. to do all my postings for me. I’ll splutter something and she can translate it into killer prose.

    I wonder what the quoted induhvidual thought of the recently Hugo-nominated story “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”, which is about insects and was written by a woman. The horror.

  209. Count me in the Readers’ Auxiliary Meganeuropsis Air Cavalry!

    Kat G. that comment is awesome.

  210. This is awesome. Put me down for a ladybug in the readers’ auxiliary. Not because they’re cute (they are), but because I loved the ladybug character back in Cricket magazine back when I was in that demographic.

  211. I realized I did not pick a sub-species. I’ll be a Japanese burrowing cricket. They smuggled themselves into the U.S. It seems somehow appropriate.

  212. I volunteered without specifying which division I’d like to be. Oops. Since I feel all sorts of warm fuzzies towards Kat I think I’ll just wander over to wherever she suggests… as long as it’s not squash borers. That’s the only bug I will not be.

    Antenna aloft, good gentles.

  213. (stashes the deep-fried cricket snacks) Ah, you guys are just being silly.

    I’ll add my appreciation to that of the Kat groupies. Well said indeed.

  214. I’m in! But I wanna be some awesome SF bug, like a tanker bug or Ooryl Qrygg or a Ceti eel. Or maybe Ooryl Qrygg riding a tanker bug while snacking on Ceti eels.

  215. Hmm, the infantry and air support are robust, but we seem to be low in naval forces. I’m joining the Reader’s Auxiliary as a water skimmer.

  216. Reader Auxiliary, needed bug of the moment Glorin salutes! This thread is leading to further unpacking of my knapsack, which is always a good thing.

  217. Australian allied auxiliary reporting for duty!

    I will be a bull ant. 1.5 inches long, huge mandibles for biting, stinger on the abdomen for very painful stings, extremely aggressive (because Australia, that’s why).

  218. Alia:

    Since I feel all sorts of warm fuzzies towards Kat I think I’ll just wander over to wherever she suggests… as long as it’s not squash borers.

    Excuse me, when did I get to be the General? I don’t even know how many squadrons we have at this point. Has anyone been keeping track? (Heesh, I’m overthinking this.) Fine, Alia, you can be a monkey hopper (also called an airplane grasshopper,) which are bejeweled creatures from the Latin American rain forests:
    or a pradka grasshopper, an insect that summers in Pakistan and has dramatic white and black stripes patches and looks kind of steampunky:

  219. It seems that the original metaphor is deeply and hilariously flawed.
    Because while insects _as a group_ are extremely successful, each single roach is utterly expendable and thoroughly miserable in its short and inglorious life. It lives in darkness, eats shit and dies under somebody’s dirty-socked heel. Oh, and even as a group an insect is forever restricted to smallness by peculiarities of its physiology.
    Just the thing to wish upon aspiring SF writers, isn’t it? Especially career-wise.

  220. This is all fantastic and I applaud it. But, speaking as someone with only a Visitor’s Pass to the sf/f world [my world’s kid lit], I wonder why on earth y’all don’t abandon the SWFA dinosaur to sink, ranting, into the tar pit, while y’all form a new, progressive, inclusive organization? Or all join an organization which already exists, such as Broad Universe? There’s this wonderful thing called boycotting. I’m old enough to remember when my community boycotted racist transit companies, restaurants, shops. SWFA only has the power you give it. In my sincerely naive opinion, being as I’m a stranger in a strange land, if y’all just blew SWFA a big, fat raspberry and left, the only members remaining would be the bigots and misogynists and their enablers, who’d rant to the emptiness until they’re extinct, while the rest of y’all are busy building a brave new world.

  221. I’m fascinated. I never knew that cockroaches are unhappy, nor that they are inevitably doomed to dying from contact with a dirty sock, but it makes it all the better cause to fight for; this is exactly the right time to lead the fight. Our minimum demands now include death by Manolo Blahniks, Loubutins, or, in a pinch, Jimmy Choos…

  222. For the folks asking, I checked with Commander Scalzi over on Twitter about spiders being a part of the Insect Army. Arachnids are go! I’ve gleefully enlisted as a longhorned orb weaver.

  223. @FG: I politely refer you to our host’s comment above: “Why on earth would people leave an organization that they are now in control of?”

    The revolution is coming from inside the house.

  224. Mr. Scalzi: Thanks for the response. “Why on earth would people leave an organization that they are now in control of?” Sorry, gotta just shake my head here. I still say, leave the old for the old and create a new organization.

  225. FG: As Scalzi already pointed out, the nexus of this latest incident is people who are not SFWA members. Leaving to spite them would be like boycotting an establishment because people you disagree with are standing outside throwing eggs at the windows.

    “Just leave and do it yourself” is a common chorus when people complain about discrimination. People of color and white women in comics, gaming, tech, film, and yes, genre fiction have been told over and over that we should just quit and go our own way. The hidden message in this advice is that it is incumbent on the oppressed to bear the costs of starting over.

    It can take years or decades for a new organization to build the same kind of platform and reach that existing ones have–and they’re very likely to fail before they do it. Sometimes that’s the only option, and sometimes it pays off. But more often it’s a way of dismissing real concerns and discouraging people from trying to change the institutions that already exist.

  226. FG, to use your example, the disgruntled are like people who just couldn’t get over the fact that with integration, they now might have to sit next to a Neegrow on a bus and are, in effect, petitioning the bus company (and the African-American president of the bus company) to make some accommodation so that the uppity black folks stay in their place. You don’t start a new bus company to get rid of the grumblers. You acknowledge that some people are going to grumble and you go right ahead running your bus company as it should be run.

  227. Kat G, that was fantastic.

    Is there an Artists’ Division to the Insect Army? If so, sign me up under Division Commander Ursula.

    Chitter chitter chitter.

  228. I sort of wonder why I ought to care (much) about the opinion of someone who dismisses the SF genres as, “kid-lit” which is phrased in a way to both demean SF, and those who write YA. It’s as if one were to, “put away childish things” when one grows up (though as Huxley said, one must sit down before the facts as a little child).

    That said SFWA is.

    In it’s time it has become a strong, and functional, voice for the authors of the SF genres, to splinter off does no one any good. SFWA suffers, for lack of effective leadership. The new group struggles (for lack of history as well as being seen as malcontents; and the difficult sort who aren’t willing to work inside the system to fix it).

    The new author is faced with bedevilling problems. Join the old (with it’s established relationships and infrastructure), and support it’s less than stellar ways; perhaps continuing the entrenchments of those ills Kat so splendidly enumerated, or join the new, and lose the benefits of SFWA’s history and connections.

    Splitting the difference does no good, because a union needs to be unified.

    If one sees SF as a literary field of merit, then one (as a producer, as a consumer or as one who is both) has to care about SFWA; because it’s there. It’s the elephant in the room because it exists, has existed and; barring it’s actual dissolution (which won’t happen over this sort of thing) it can’t be ignored.

    It could be left to fester, until it fades to irrelevance, but that will do more harm that fighting to bring it to what it could (and should) be, a group which best represents the interests and needs of its members.

  229. FG: Plus another great reason for folks like Scalzi and MRK not to leave SFWA: that’s exactly what the dinosaurs want. Why should they give up all the forward progress their work has gained over the last several years? What would the point have been if they just shrugged their shoulders and walked away now? That would be some truly bizarre strategy: storm the castle, plant the flag, leave the other side throwing rocks at the walls from outside the gates…then just walk away because the sound of the rocks hitting the walls is mildly annoying.

  230. You can count me in! I usually only write short stories, typically to go along with pictures I or a friend has drawn, but I’ve been thinking about and trying to develop characters for a full length novel, maybe even a comic if I can get the character designs consistent.

    Hrm….such a hard decision ahead though…what insect do I want to be? The one that shoots boiling acid from it’s butt? A spider that looks like a ladybug until you see it’s eyes? So many choices…

  231. Thanks, y’all, but I’m a member of an organization begun after a debacle very similar to this. I do know how organizations are created, their chances of survival, etc. I also know that starting such organizations typically has nothing to do with spite, nor is it a great burden, but very often it’s a joyous new beginning and a world of fresh air. (Sorry, but I can’t name the organization, because this is me speaking, not it).

    I know that this is about people outside SWFA, but I also know, as a person of color, that SWFA itself has a lot of problems concerning inclusiveness and representation. If you’re in control now, as you say, then after this is over will you get around to clearing your own house? (Addressing how NDNs are depicted in sf/f/urban fantasy would be a nice start.)

    Annalee: “’Just leave and do it yourself’ is a common chorus when people complain about discrimination.'” Amen, honey, and don’t I know it. That’s why a lot of organizations exist now that didn’t when I was coming up. Why bash your head from the inside when you can create beautiful headspace elsewhere?

    BW, I know you mean it kindly, but please, please don’t explain bus boycotts to me, not unless you were there too.

    I understand what you’re trying to do. As I said, bravo and I support your endeavors. I just think the door shouldn’t be closed against another option.

  232. Because the organization has power. There is a power struggle within it. Do you want to cede all that power to the other side?

  233. @ pecunium,

    “I sort of wonder why I ought to care (much) about the opinion of someone who dismisses the SF genres as, “kid-lit” which is phrased in a way to both demean SF, and those who write YA. It’s as if one were to, “put away childish things” when one grows up (though as Huxley said, one must sit down before the facts as a little child).”

    Not sure if that’s in response to my mentioning kidlit being my particular world, and many apologies if it wasn’t, but as a part of the kidlitosphere we writers and illustrators of kidlit use the term kidlit. Which includes writers and illustrators of sf/f kidlit. If someone else used the word in a derogatory way then booo to them.

  234. Another Kat Goodwin admirer here. Also a John and Mary and Ursula admirer.

    I don’t qualify to join SFWA yet. Someday, someday…. Meanwhile, sign me up for the Fire Ant Brigade – “It’s the ants, sir!”. (I was a one-term member of the Fire Ant Research Team as an undergrad.) Even so, it was a hard decision. The Meganeuropsis Squadron is SO attractive!

  235. FG: I certainly agree with you that the SFF community (including the SFWA, but it’s a community-wide problem) still has a lot of house-cleaning to do.

    I understand looking at the work left to be done and going “NOPE.” The responsibility for making the community welcoming and inclusive lies with the people who are already included. And you’re right to be mindful of the sunk cost fallacy. Working within existing structures isn’t always going to be the best way to change things. It should always be a tactical decision.

    In this particular case, though, what folks are trying to say is that it’s tactically advantageous to stay. Yes, the house still needs cleaning. But the whole point of the ‘insect army’ gag is that we’ve already got critical mass, or at the very least it’s imminent. The strength in numbers here isn’t that we can swarm the house and occupy it; it’s that many hands make lighter work. We don’t need to build a new house if we’ve got enough people on hand to clean up the house that’s already here.

  236. serebryakov:

    It seems that the original metaphor is deeply and hilariously flawed.
    Because while insects _as a group_ are extremely successful, each single roach is utterly expendable and thoroughly miserable in its short and inglorious life. It lives in darkness, eats shit and dies under somebody’s dirty-socked heel. Oh, and even as a group an insect is forever restricted to smallness by peculiarities of its physiology. Just the thing to wish upon aspiring SF writers, isn’t it? Especially career-wise.

    Yes, the original commentator who set this off did create a metaphor that was deeply flawed and silly, because it was meant to be insulting. That person deliberately chose an insect that he or she regarded as super disgusting and therefore the metaphor for female writers and others who object to sexism and other discriminations. (Even so, the individual cockroach is actually a perfectly happy creature that fulfills a vital function in the ecosystem, loves the dark, enjoys its diet and can survive a nuclear blast. It also can fly, comes often in bejeweled colors and can be turned into all sorts of jewelry, inks, medicines and other handy stuff.)

    That’s why we swore in to the Insect Army. We’re making fun of the metaphor. By owning the insult, we show just how flawed and ridiculous it is. We are not at all restricted to the cockroach, versatile as they are, but to many flying, large, innovative, art making, happy and blood-thirsty insects. Because insects are everywhere, the most populous animals on the planet, and they cover every possible idea and offering on that planet. So in the end, the insult is actually a very great compliment — something that is dismissed and abused, but actually is so very vital and has the last laugh. While it eats your corpse.

    FG: As has been pointed out, this isn’t about one organization. It’s about all of the SFFH field and the community of writers, publishers, fans and media within it. And it’s about the larger world in which we all live, which you know quite a lot about. We don’t want to leave SFFH and stop reading the fiction, we don’t want to boycott it. We want to open it up. That’s going on, but dinosaurs like to roar. It’s worth pointing out that the insects lasted and the dinosaurs didn’t, metaphorically because the former are more adaptable and inclusionary.

    More to the point, women can’t leave the battleground because it is all our lives in every area. (And same with racism and all the other isms of discrimination.) They can build things, but building things in your own ghetto doesn’t help much if it’s a ghetto and you’re blocked from anything else. When you boycotted companies that refused to serve you, you didn’t just go off and build your own restaurants; you already had those thanks to segregation. You were boycotting for the right to enter that restaurant that was forbidden to you, to change the restaurant, or if not that restaurant, then all the other ones by the boycott example and leverage, and the laws themselves that forbid you places. And along with those boycotts were sit-ins where you occupied a space you weren’t allowed. There were marches into spaces where you weren’t allowed — entire states where you weren’t allowed. If we abandon spaces, they will not necessarily wither and die. Sometimes they just consolidate power. They stay the norm, and what we build separately is nice, but outcast, blocked.

    SFWA was part of the system of WA organizations. Some of those, like the MWA and HWA and the WWA have declined and has less impact. But because of fan interaction, specialized media and conventions for the SFF area, the RWA and the SFWA have remained more influential. The SFWA is just one writers organization; there are others you can join that also do a lot more on the legal issues. But it is SFFH’s organization in the largest SFFH market. It’s symbolic. Some people have boycotted it in protest, and it’s been noticed. But SFF writers need a lot of help these days with business and marketing issues. And SFWA has the infrastructure to assist them, so having been shoved out, they are shoving back in — it’s a sit-in.

    If they don’t win, they will continue to leave and then SFWA will probably die off and other organizations will be, are being created to serve the function. There certainly should be groups that support disadvantaged groups; we’ve seen that with WisCon and other areas. But change can be done to SFWA too, and by changing them to more inclusion, less discrimination, they can effect the larger community, the innate, habitual, unthinking views people have about women writers, black writers, characters, etc. Right now, the people who have a major voice in SFWA are not the dinosaurs; if that can continue, SFWA can continue.

    But regardless, the Insect Army is about all of SFFH. It’s about whitewashed YA covers because some idiots in bookselling, with no market data whatsoever and complete contradiction of school teachers and librarians everywhere, claim book covers with non-white figures on them don’t sell, even if the characters in the stories do. And then idiots in publishing go along with that idea because it’s easier. It’s about reviewers unconsciously reviewing fewer female authors than the men. It’s about a lot of stuff — how fans characterize authors, how minority authors get shoved into the special ethnic sections of the bookstore, and gay authors get stuck in gay studies, all of it. When you can build a good example against that kind of thinking, and when you can object in speech to that kind of thinking, it creates cracks in the armor, it creates examples — examples that let other people know that they aren’t alone, that there are resources.

    SFWA may be one of those examples. Or it may not be and other, newer organizations will be those. Or both. We can’t really know what will be the most effective without trying various ideas out. And the Insect Army, as I understand it, is about trying all of them out.

  237. If anyone is interested I have some extra honey bee charms. I’m adding one to my barge lanyard to show my allegiance. I’ll mail the other three out first come first serve. Er free, since I think this is awesome.

  238. OOh -thank you Xopher. I’m totally a cricket~
    “So I will join the Insect Army and I will be a cricket, because everybody knows that I never shut up.”

  239. FG: I wonder why on earth y’all don’t abandon the SWFA dinosaur to sink, ranting, into the tar pit, while y’all form a new, progressive, inclusive organization? Or all join an organization which already exists, such as Broad Universe? There’s this wonderful thing called boycotting. . I’m old enough to remember when my community boycotted racist transit companies, restaurants, shops.

    I may have misunderstood the point of the old bus boycotts and the like, but I thought the point wasn’t to start a new transit company or restaurant, but rather to get the existing ones to stop their shitty behavior.

    Depending on who you ask, the issues with SFWA stem mostly from a about a dozen or so very vocal members, but total SFWA membership is, I believe, close to two thousand. Numerically speaking, it would seem to make sense to stay and fix the problem. Which seems to be what SFWA did. The immediate problem was sexism getting into SFWA media, and SFWA as an organization creating a process intended to prevent that sort of nonsense from happening again. The ruckus now seems to be the dozen or so very vocal members being very vocal about how upset they are that they lost.

  240. Wendy, I was quoting the great Kat Goodwin. I myself am a scarab (rolling shit but trying to evolve).

  241. I’m in, as Osmia lignaria, the mason bee. Doesn’t have much of a sting, but more efficient as a pollinator than the honey bee. Not published yet, but I have hopes.

  242. There are also polyester bees. Nope, not making that up, and they actually do make polyester. If only some genius entomologist/chemist had figured that out in the 1700s….

  243. Folks, I’m away for until 3/3, so comments are being suspended for now. If you post one it’ll go into moderation. Don’t worry, I’ll release the ones on this particular thread when I come back to the site (unless you plan to troll. In which case… I won’t).

  244. “Bare their pinchers” … ??? Revisited.

    My musings upthread did not stimulate discussions where I thought they might go. The original Pincer-comment alluded, I had guessed, against a popular phrase understood by men-lechers, envisioning women as Godiva-like ‘baring breasts,’ not pincers. (I was exhausting the other possibilities.) The complaint hints a disturbing transmutation.

    I interpreted it as Freudian. Here’s how I saw it. Mommies can make sharp comments to get boys to behave – and such ‘female attacks’ might be seen as pincer-like, pruning bad fruits out of naughty boys. In the vision of females having pincers instead of breasts this might be seen as an ‘unfair’ throw-back for ‘grown-up boys’ who think they’ve paid all dues already and now want females to conform more comfortable roles. The comment may be more about someone throwing a tantrum because a FEMALE he had encountered (or envisioned) had reverted back to something more uncomfortable. The vision was crowding. Well, maybe it’s best the thread didn’t derail onto all this.

    Kate: wonderful essay.

    However, about what was said elsewhere: putting mittens on pincers is just downright weird.

  245. I’m already part of the army and didn’t even know it. Independent and pincers out since 2010.

    “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges! Vamanos!”

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