A Little More On Recent Worldcon Stuff

I just did a tweetstorm about the recent contretemps involving Worldcon. As many of you know, there was a dustup about programming (among other issues) for which the head of the Worldcon apologized and took action on, including bringing in a team headed up by Mary Robinette Kowal to help fix things. Here’s what I wrote about that, formatted here in essay form.

Also, while I’m on the subject of the Hugo and Worldcon, I see some various turdlings out there are gleeful about the recent dustup re: the Worldcon program. “The SJWs are eating themselves!” is the basic line of the turdlings. In fact, something entirely different happened.

Which was: When the problems cropped up (and they did) and people started to complain (and they did), the Worldcon, within a day, acknowledged that various mistakes had happened and actively moved to correct those mistakes. Not perfectly or instantly, but it still happened.

Which is what you want to happen! In an ideal world, mistakes don’t get made, but we don’t live in an ideal world and none of us is our ideal self. The next best thing is, when mistakes are pointed out, you move to fix them and to learn from them.

The turdlings who are gleeful at the Worldcon’s temporary woes don’t care about anything other than an institution they dislike and tried (or are still trying) to sabotage having a stumble. That’s because they’re basically awful, whiny menchildren. No surprise there.

Many folks who like or feel invested in Worldcon weren’t pleased about the stumble, and moved prior to the Worldcon itself to help address the problem by offering up their programming slots to folks who didn’t have them. This exemplifies the best aspects of the SF/F community.

What is not laudable about people saying “it’s important that we have more and different voices in the mix, and I’m ready to share my time and space to make it happen”? Is this not what you would want to see?

“It’s just virtue signaling!” One, it’s okay to signal that you support bringing new people and perspectives into the genre’s mainstream. Two, giving up your space to make space for others isn’t just signaling, it’s action. Yay, virtue actioning!

Equally as important, the folks running this year’s Worldcon, the premier lit-focused convention in the genre, listened and followed up with action of their own, and took help offered to change for the better. Mistakes were made, but action to improve is worth noting.

This action is not caving or retreating or [insert other negative spin here]. It’s *learning*. There’s more work to be done, and not everything will be done perfectly, but the situation is already better than what it was a few days ago. Worldcon 76 wants to be better. Good.

We all stumble, and the test is what we do after. We’re seeing some people point and laugh, because that’s who they are. We’re seeing others use their position to help, because that’s who they are. And we’re seeing an organization trying to improve, because that’s what IT is.

So, yeah. A lot of people in science fiction and fantasy have revealed themselves in the last few days. It’s been instructive. For myself, I can say I’m supporting Worldcon 76 trying to be better, and supporting those working to make it happen.

The Big Idea: Craig DiLouie

One of the great questions in literature, genre or otherwise, is: What makes a person a monster? In One of Us, author Craig DiLouie takes a crack at the question… and the answer.

CRAIG DiLOUIE:

My novel One of Us began as a misunderstood monster novel and ended up a much more ambitious examination of prejudice.

What if monsters lived among us, but were only monstrous in appearance? If they had extraordinary capabilities, would they be admired or feared? If they were abused enough and responded with violence, would that violence be justified?

In One of Us, a disease in the 1970s produced a generation of monstrous children that years later are living as teenagers in orphanages throughout the rural South. Rejected and scorned, they are coming of age without rights or opportunity, while those exhibiting extraordinary powers are exploited by the government.

When they’re pushed too far, they finally react, with horrifying consequences.

The result is a visceral dark fantasy about human monsters and monstrous humans told as a Southern Gothic. Violent, dark, and excessive, this type of lit features prejudice, the grotesque, and a society in decay, making it ripe for this novel.

What I wanted to do with the story was pull the reader into a world where a fantastical, sympathetic group is victimized by extreme prejudice, and then let the reader process it with their gut, not their heads.

The idea behind using monsters was to create an extreme example of a group the reader might find threatening but otherwise have no preconceived notions about, allowing greater empathy as we get to know them as individuals.

Unlike typical monster stories in which the monster is innately evil, in One of Us the monsters turn out to be just like you and me. The story therefore becomes an examination of what makes a monster a monster, and what it means to be human.

One of Us had many inspirations, among them To Kill a Mockingbird, with its theme of prejudice making good people do bad things; The Island of Dr. Moreau, with its questions about what it means to be human or a beast; and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, with its violent, cathartic uprising against slavery. One of the things that makes these works great is a striking question lies at the heart of their big idea.

While the novel has several strong themes that include prejudice, the idea here wasn’t to preach or even put theme in front of the story. There are few clear-cut “good guys” and villains. Like the stories that inspired it, it doesn’t claim to have the answers. These will ultimately come from the reader.

In my view, a novel’s chief purpose is to entertain. But by the end of One of Us, I hope readers will ask: Where does prejudice come from? How does it affect my life? If I feel prejudice, is it based on reality or self-reinforcing myths? Is violence ever justified—either by a group oppressing another, or by that group pushing back? And then apply what they think and feel, with fresh eyes, to their lives and today’s America.

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One Of Us: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.