Saturday, 21 April 2012

WOTF/SFWA update and thoughts.


Thought I'd keep you up to date with my attempts to draw whatever attention I can to the alarming allegations of torture that put the 'firewall' between Writers of The Future and Scientology in doubt. (Note- it's worth looking at those last two links- the first as summary, the latter as the lengthier meat of it- if you want to get a handle on what I'm frothing about).

I got a reply from Science Fiction Writers of America President John Scalzi the day after I sent the email. I can't speak about the content of it, due to the fact it isn't an official SFWA response (Poor guy had just woken up, too. No one should ever have to wake up to me), but it's nice to get a reply.
As for the official response... still waiting.

But I'm not surprised, really. The SFWA must tackle a hundred issues a day, and when deciding precedence the amount of public concern is a vital consideration. Frankly, the SF community hasn't aired its reactions in any way resembling how one would expect allegations of human torture to be received.

Odd, considering how SF's Internet presence is willing to display its opinion on, well, just about any bloody thing ever. Indeed, at about the same time one might have expected a tumultuous uproar over the WOTF scandal, fandom was more aflame with the old man-grumble of Chris Priest over the Clarke awards and its inevitable (and equally inconsequential) counter-batteries.

To my knowledge, only DS Moen and Jim C. Hines blogged anything about the WOTF scandal. A few tweets from Nick Mamatas here and there, an Ansible link. Little else.



Over at SFF Chronicles I posted about the scandal and got a handful of reply posts. They proved very interesting, especially if they are any indication of the grassroots attitude to the matter. Bear in mind we're still talking about cruelty to fellow humans here.

One poster (Probably best if I don't even reprint their online moniker) argued-

Very few large organisations are blemish free. What some cult does to its leaders that fall from grace really does not concern me too much, none of these people are being killed it would seem. 

Some of these people according to the article, still stay in the church after being through their re-education process; which is what it seems to be. So some personal choice is being made here. No-one is forced to join. I accepted leaving has problems but people have and do.

Startling. Let's give this guy the benefit of the doubt and say he thinks Stockholm Syndrome is a Norwegian techno outfit.

Another, however, wrote-

Are we saying the competition is by default "evil", regardless of the positive results new writers gain from it, because it's associated with a group that's done some evil things?

Right. Let's call this one the, er, 'autobahn argument'.

One visitor, thank heavens, wrote in reply to the above-

The punishment sector is involved in the judging of the competition. I do see a problem with that.

There's still sense out there.


People will make all kinds of justifications for doing something they deep-down know to be distasteful. Channel 4's nightly scheduling being a case in point.

I guess it's the ugly side of this aspiring writer gig we're in. To pursue a writing career one needs a formidable ego: the self-assurance of an innate talent (one probably encouraged by teachers from infant school onwards) marching towards a glorious dawn of public recognition. And if a few bodies should lie on the sides of this path? Take a breath and look ahead to that manifest destiny, the one promised by every How-To-Write book.

The reason something like, say, the Racefail controversy can ignite online fandom and the WOTF scandal doesn't is, with Racefail, there is nothing to lose.  Everyone, progressive and reactionary, got to wave their principles around and duly went home with no scars on their writing careers.

But confronting WOTF is an entirely different prospect. Unless you're a hypocrite, you can't enter it anymore whilst other aspiring writers can. Voila:  they've stolen a march off you, because you've crippled yourself on your own ethics. WOTF winners go on to have a hell of a pedigree- why miss out on that?


And what pampering! As a nominee, they measure you up for a tuxedo, fly you to LA, the works. Heck, they even stage your story as an interpretive dance! (That part actually made me submit a tale a year back- My story! As a dance!!!). And that's just the ceremony. There's that writer's retreat in luxuriant climes too, plus the prospect of your story being in print far longer than it would anywhere else. Which author wouldn't desire that for their mindbabies?

Well, not me. A career in writing is pretty much the apex of all my hopes, but I'd throw it aside in a blink if I knew another human was suffering because of it, no matter how distant the connect. Maybe I just don't want it enough.

Mark my words: the David Miscavige incarnation of Scientology will end in ignominy and very probably arrests. Maybe not soon, but one day. Then, the facts--whatever they are--will be naked and unavoidable. On that day, SF Lit's 'sensawunda' will gain an irrevocable patina of greasy disgrace. You think it's bad outsiders think we dress as Klingons and live in Ma's basement? Just wait, guys, just wait... 

(As a side note, it's become clear to me I'm no kind of activist. I emailed the Village Voice articles (plus my blog post) to Dave Langford's wonderful SF site Ansible, only to be told, very politely, that the VV articles were already there (Hijacker: 'Take this plane to Cuba!'. Pilot: 'It's, er, already going to Cuba, sir.'. Hijacker: 'Well... erm... good.'). Note to Spool- Check first!)


  1. Your problem is you've got too many negative Gagroms in your spleen, put there by Zagros the Alien Defiler.
    If you popped into one of their friendly centres, they'd sort your wellness levels out and let you understand this issue more clearly.
    Also, your writing would be more like, and more closely associated with that of good ol' L Ron. What SF author wouldn't like that?..

    1. You're right- my thetans are all over the metapsychological shop. Time to tell my dark lord Xenu where to get off.