SFWA stands for Science Fiction Writers of America, and the organization is one of the most prestigious in science fiction. Apparently it’s also a boyz-own club where the odd female writer may be tolerated, but never truly welcomed.
As an Indie, I’ve never taken much notice of the SFWA because Indies aren’t welcome either. That’s one reason I had no idea of the $hit storm brewing over at the SFWA until I read this article on the Passive Voice this morning. Once I’d read the excerpt, I followed the link to the original article, which you can find here.
Now I’m not a rabid feminist, but some of my all time favourite science fiction writers are women. Ursula K. LeGuin opened my eyes to the wonder of ‘social’ science fiction. Margaret Atwood blew me away with The Handmaid’s Tale, C.J. Cherryh introduced me to cloning, and Mary Robinette Kowal finally made me see the beauty of short stories.
Just for the record, Mary Robinette Kowal won a Hugo award for her short story ‘For Want of a Nail’, and you can read my review here.
So you can see that I have enormous respect for Mary Robinette Kowal, which made her treatment by the SFWA all the more shocking.
Science fiction writers used to be avant guard. They used to push the boundaries. In some ways, breaking out of mental straitjackets used to be the raison d’etre of science fiction. My, how things can change in just a few decades.
To be honest, I haven’t read much traditionally published science fiction in the last two years. Not because of any political motivation, but because the science fiction that truly excited me was being written and published by Indies. Social science fiction, cross-genre science fiction, political science fiction, philosophical science fiction, literary science fiction. All from Indies.
I did try reading one of the novels recommended by John Scalzi on his blog, but I couldn’t finish it. The story was well written, in terms of craft, but the plot bored me to tears – a sort of cross between James Bond and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But I digress.
Until this morning, I believed this renaissance of science fiction was due to Indies being able to write what they wanted to write, instead of having to conform to the arbitrary standards imposed by traditional publishers. However it appears the straitjacket was also being tightened by the SFWA old guard. Little wonder then that the truly innovative writing is coming from Indies who don’t ‘belong’.
I think it’s time we had a new organization, one that is open to writers of any gender, race or publishing platform. We could call it the IISF – International Indies of Science Fiction. Okay, that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but I’m pantsting it here.
What do you think? Are you sick of the same old, same old? Are you sick of fanciful space battles and ‘hard’ tech that is just one step removed from a sorceror’s wand? Or do you think I’m biased in favour of Indies because I am one?
Don’t let my rant put you off. I’m open to different points of view, especially if they come with recommendations for truly innovative, traditionally published novels. So have your say, I promise not to bite.