As usual, I will be covering as many of the nominated works in the Hugo Awards as I can here. Like last year, several categories in the awards have been destroyed by the Nazi troll “Vox Day” managing to persuade 200 people to abuse the rules, and so “outvote” 4000 other people. Thankfully next year the nomination system will be changed, but for this year we have what we have.
I am writing about the works here before the Hugo Packet becomes available, because in this category (as in a couple of others) the works listed deal with subjects for which people may want a trigger warning — so me covering them without going into details may help people who otherwise would feel obliged to read works which, in some cases, may greatly disturb them. Please note that the rest of this blog post contains mentions of child sexual abuse and incest.
As “Day’s” choices make up all five finalists in this category, and several of them are works from which he benefits financially, I shall be voting No Award in this category, and not ranking them any further. Handily for my conscience, they are all also worthless.
Mark Aramini’s Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe 1951-1986 has been spoken of by one or two people as actually being good. However, it has been published by Castalia House, “Day’s” vanity press, and its author has stated publicly, on multiple occasions, that no other publisher considered it worth publishing, that he didn’t consider it worth self-publishing, and that it would never have got onto the ballot without “Day” cheating it on there. This shows a remarkable self-awareness for a writer who in the same breath will compare himself to Herman Melville, even though by his own actions he has chosen Chuck Tingle and “Wisdom From My Internets” as his peer group. But it does mean that from the author’s own words I have no reason to consider this at all, so I won’t.
The same goes for “SJWs Always Lie” by “Day” himself. He has nothing to say worth saying, as has become more than obvious to anyone who has paid him any of the attention he craves.
“The First Draft of my Appendix N Book” by Jeffro Johnson is the only one of these five that I will link here. Johnson writes for Castalia House too, but there is nothing in his work that is particularly offensive, apart from rants about “political correctness” and similar. It is, however, an utterly tedious work — Johnson going through all the books that inspired the original version of Dungeons & Dragons and looking at them from a gaming-inspired point of view. This might even be worthwhile, if Johnson showed any sign of having any analytical ability, insight, awareness of any literature that *doesn’t* relate in some way to role-playing games, or ability to craft a sentence. Fundamentally Mr. Johnson is just a very, very, very stupid but harmless man who is being used for the second year running by “Day”.
Now we get on to the two pieces that actually require trigger warnings.
“The Story of Moira Greyland” is utterly, utterly heartbreaking. Greyland was repeatedly sexually abused by her parents, who also abused many other children. One of those parents was the fantasy writer Marion Zimmer Bradley. What was done to her is sickening and horrific, and will upset anyone who reads the first half of her post.
The problem is that in the *second* half of her post she argues that her parents abused her because they were gay and believed that everyone should be turned gay by rape during childhood. This may well be what they told her. But she goes on to use this as an argument that all LGBT people, and those in the BDSM scene, and “leftists”, hold the same opinions as her parents and want to behave in the same manner.
What happened to Greyland is utterly, utterly, horrific, and not something I would ever wish on anyone, and one can only hope that the damage she suffered will eventually heal. But that doesn’t make her blog post any less an example of hate speech, and nor does it really even excuse it given the number of abuse survivors who *don’t* turn into bigots.
Given the nondescript title, that blog post is the one reason I’m actually bothering to write about this category — to warn both abuse survivors and people in the communities Ms Greyland attacks that they may be seriously triggered by her post. *I* found it upsetting, and I am a cis vanilla man who has thankfully never directly experienced sexual abuse.
And finally, “Safe Space as Rape Room” by Daniel Eness is a series of blog posts on the Castalia House blog which try to imply that SF fandom is a haven of child molestation, by linking together three actual child molesters in fandom (Bradley and her husband Walter Breen, and the convention organiser Ed Kramer), Arthur C Clarke (who was accused by a tabloid of child molestation, though they later retracted the accusation — he was a victim of the gay=paedophile false equivalence), Samuel Delaney (who has advocated a lower age of consent, as he had what he considers consensual relationships with older men when he was young and considers this not to have harmed him, but who has never himself harmed a child or expressed any sexual interest in children), a director of a low-budget SF film who has no interaction with fandom, and the *son* of a prominent SF author, who has no interaction with fandom and was found to have child porn on his computer more than a decade after his famous father’s death.
The posts try to use sneers and innuendo to suggest that SF fandom is tainted, top to bottom, and is really little more than a pretext for child abuse. Given the paucity of the evidence the posts provide, it pretty much proves the opposite. But along the way it provides enough details of the horrific acts that Breen and Bradley committed that no-one could read it and not feel revolted.
Breen and Bradley’s crimes were real, but they were the exception, not the rule, and their being used to further the aims of Nazi trolls is almost as sickening as their own acts. At least in the case of Greyland’s piece, one can make allowances for the fact that it’s a reaction to her own treatment. Eness’ piece is just pure vicious bile.
My advice to everyone is not to read any of these, not to rank them, and just to vote No Award. But at least now if you choose otherwise, you’ve had some warning.
Castalia delenda est
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