A while back I wrote a short post about the crowdfunding of Lightspeed Magazine’s issue on queer writers ‘destroying’ science fiction. I also mentioned that the year before they did the same for women writers. (You can read the thread here.)
Among other reactions, I was told that women have always written science fiction–which is true, though often women writers have to hide their gender behind neutral initials or male pseudonyms.
I mention this discussion as a sort of tangential introduction to the topic of the 2015 Hugo Awards.
Those of you who are avid science fiction readers are probably all up to date on the controversy, and thus need no primer. For the rest, this article on Wired has a pretty decent sum up–though there are a few issues, some of which were corrected and addressed in the end notes.
Here is a link to a series of tweets by an author who happens not to be a straight white male. The link opens a tweet in the middle of the conversation; I suggest scrolling up and then reading the whole thing.
@rosefox is referring here to women, and people of color, and all the writers who do not, and did not, conform to the white cis hetero male image.¹
Thus, the many many female science fiction (and other genres–see Ellis Peters) writers publishing for decades under gender neutral and/or male pseudonyms (see Andre Norton). I’m willing to bet that many readers did not know for a long time that those writers were female when they read their stories for the first time
There are a number of conversations going on right now about the ‘dominance’ of women/poc/queer writers, and how they are taking away/discriminating against straight white male writers–conversely, there are a number of conversations about how the preceding statement is bullshit, as proven by history.
When you are a voracious science fiction and/or fantasy reader, and can name several dozen male writers (or writers with male sounding names) off the top of your head, yet you can only name the same handful of women writers…well, there is a problem.
When you can go back to the beginning of science fiction awards lists, and be blinded by the whiteness, as well as the maleness…yeah, there is a problem.
I really like Foz Meadows’ blog post (Hugos & Puppies: Peeling the Onion) on why these conversations are often frustrating to have:
When it comes to debating strangers with radically different perspectives, you sometimes encounter what I refer to as Onion Arguments: seemingly simple questions that can’t possibly be answered to either your satisfaction or your interlocutor’s because their ignorance of concepts vital to whatever you might say is so lacking, so fundamentally incorrect, that there’s no way to answer the first point without first explaining eight other things in detail. There are layers to what’s being misunderstood, to what’s missing from the conversation, and unless you’ve got the time and inclination to dig down to the onion-core of where your perspectives ultimately diverge, there’s precious little chance of the conversation progressing peacefully. After all, if your interlocutor thinks they’ve asked a reasonable, easy question, your inability to answer it plainly is likely to make them think they’ve scored a point. It’s like a cocky first-year student asking a 101 question and feeling smug when their professor can’t condense the four years of study needed to understand why it’s a 101 question into a three-sentence answer. The problem is one as much of attitude as ignorance: having anticipated a quick response, your interlocutor has to be both willing and interested enough to want to hear what might, at least initially, sound like an explanation of a wholly unrelated issue – and that’s assuming you’re able to intuit the real sticking point straight off the bat.
~ * ~
¹ The mention of Arthur C Clarke surprised me, because I did not know about his sexuality, at all. It was one of those things that were never mentioned–but it’s not a coincidence that he ended up living so far away from the prejudices, and laws, of his native England–where not too many years earlier a war hero (Alan Turing) was chemically castrated after being caught in a homosexual relationship.