Debarkle Chapter 22: The SFWA Civil War Part 1

From 2013 to 2014, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America engaged in a series of very public controversies that dwelt on the issues of sexism, racism and public conduct of its members. Events in 2013 occurred in parallel with each other but really covered two distinct issues, whereas 2014 managed to synthesise new issues as well as the on-going fall out from 2013.

We will get to the events of 2014 in due course. The two controversies of 2013 were:

  • Sexism (and other issues) within the SFWA Bulletin — the official magazine of the SFWA
  • Calls for the expulsion of Vox Day (Theodore Beale) from the SFWA

The controversies ran through the year and overlapped the end of John Scalzi’s term as president and the presidency of Steven Gould. However, rather than present them intertwined together chronologically, I will look at them separately. There is a basic sense in which these controversies were distinct, it was entirely possible for either of them to have occurred in different years and have different outcomes. However, in another sense they were absolutely part of a single phenomenon, something which would become clearer in 2014.

This chapter will focus on key character in the Debarkle: Vox Day. In the next chapter, we will replay the SFWA’s stormy 2013 but this time follow the events around the SFWA Bulletin.

When we last looked at Vox Day he had more overtly embraced the politics of the so-called ‘Manosphere’[1] and had started an additional blog dedicated to ‘game’ i.e. pick-up artistry and misogyny. He had also escalated his rivalry with John Scalzi by writing multiple posts on his own blog referring to Scalzi as a rapist. Day, at the start of 2013, had also declared his candidacy for the Presidency of the SFWA.

At the end of 2012, Day had also ended his regular column at World Net Daily. He bowed out with a column claiming that many of his predictions had come true but that now he wanted to concentrate on writing his novels[2]. A different gig had come to an end for Day also. Under the penname of ‘Theo”, Day had been a regular reviewer at the fantasy fanzine Black Gate. However, in his bid to push boundaries, Day found himself in hot water after posting an essay in December 2013 entitled ‘SF/F Corruption Part 1’. Ostensibly this essay was about Amazon banning authors from reviewing their own books. However, he quickly pivoted to a complaint about the SFWA’s Nebula Awards:

“The problem isn’t merely one of authors sockpuppeting and heaping praise upon themselves under false identities. I am a member of the SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, and I have had the dubious privilege of sitting upon three of its Nebula Award juries in the past. More importantly, I have had access to the SFWA Forum, and its updated list of Nebula Award nominations, for more than ten years. And one of the things that rapidly became obvious to anyone who attempted to participate honestly in the system between 2000 and 2010 was that the Nebula Award is, first and foremost, a means for various small groups of people to shamelessly and dishonestly promote the works of themselves and their friends.”

https://www.blackgate.com/2012/12/27/sff-corruption-part-i/

Complaining about ‘logrolling’ in the Nebula Awards has been so commonplace that this opening salvo was not really controversial in itself. These were more truism that had been often cited but Day rapidly drifted to his older bête noire, former SFWA President Catharine Asaro’s 2002 Nebula winner Quantum Rose. He then was highly critical of Jo Walton’s 2012 Nebula winner Among Others and bemoaned why the likes of “Neal Stephenson, Charles Stross, and China Mieville” hadn’t won. In the comments people noted a certain pattern in Day’s choice of ‘bad’ winners and the authors who Day felt had been overlooked. Day expanded his thesis in the comments and promised to name more names in part ii. He claimed that two forces were corrupting the Nebulas, Tor books and a group of women eventually saying explicitly:

“Correction: have corrupted the Nebula. I’ve got no shortage of rec lists proving it. The same women were always recommending the same authors every chance they got”

ibid.

As Jo Walton went on to point out to Day, she wasn’t even a member of the SFWA and hence couldn’t possibly have been promoting her own book on the SFWA forums nor could have it been promoted as a form of quid-pro-quo ‘logrolling’. Day partly backtracked claiming that the reason for his suspicion was because “your book was published by Tor Books is enough to make its Nebula Award suspicious on its face, given that the SFWA President and Vice-President are both closely associated with Tor.” Although Day had claimed a major scandal was brewing which he christened “Nebula Gate”, his evidence appeared to be little more than a negative impression he had of a book he hadn’t read because it was published by one of the biggest publishers of science fiction in the US (and because of the gender of the author). Day also was confused about when Catherine Asaro had won her Nebula Award, incorrectly stating that “She just happened to win while she was President of the organization.”

Day had some general support in the comments at Black Gate. Notably, the editor and founder of Tangent magazine, Dave Truesdale added weight to Day’s concerns:

“Theo is correct when it comes to the inbred logrolling. As SFWA Bulletin editor from 1999-2002, I can attest to this first hand. A small clique and their “in” friends control quite a bit of what goes on in SFWA (at least it did back then and I have no reason to doubt that things have changed).
This is why the Hugo, to my mind, is the more desired award and better represents the feeling of genre readers. Vote-trading, at least to some small degree, always occurs, but Nebula Award voters have honed this aspect to a fine art.”

Dave Truesdale, ibid [4]

With Day’s announcement of a run at the SFWA presidency, his motives behind attempting to gin up a “Nebula Gate” based mainly on discontent from a few years prior and antipathy towards Tor Books, was so that he could cast himself as an anti-corruption candidate. In a blog post announcing the first five posts of his platform, four of the five were about the Nebula Awards and the fourth demanded greater transparency:

“ELIMINATE THE APPEARANCE OF CORRUPTION IN THE AWARD PROCESS: Closing the nomination process to the membership and the public made the appearance of corruption worse, not better. Reducing the number of recommendations to reduce logrolling was a good idea, hiding the results from the membership created more harm than good.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20130627145739/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2013/01/sfwa-platform-first-five-points.html

Overall though, his five points were not overtly ideological or extreme. His third point calling for expansion of SFWA membership to self-published writers based on Amazon sales, was an idea others had proposed and the SFWA would later implement a similar idea.

Meanwhile, Day continued to write a multitude of post targeted at John Scalzi accusing Scalzi of being a rapist and calling the commenters at the Whatever blog ‘rabbits’[5]. Meanwhile, Scalzi had been joining in with a project run by author Jim C Hines where Hines would mock sexist cover art in genre books by posing as close as he was able to the absurd positions women were often shown in[6]. In January 2013, Hines and Scalzi, along with authors Patrick Rothfuss, Charles Stross and Mary Robinette Kowal, recreated the cheesy Baen cover of Poul Anderson’s Young Flandry, inverting the picture of a fully dressed young man surrounded by scantily clad young women, to a besuited Kowal surrounded by scantily clad beardy sci-fi authors. This led to further confusing accusations from Day around Scalzi’s sexuality. However, if Day had been primarily motivated to run for SFWA President as a way to have a direct contest with Scalzi, he was to be disappointed when Scalzi declined to run again[8].

Day would continue to troll Scalzi through his blog amid other posts on politics, promoting paleo-diet food bars (‘primal cocoanut’[9]), sowing fears about the swine-flu vaccine[10] and saying women shouldn’t be allowed to vote (even Margaret Thatcher[11]). Scalzi responded by using Day’s trolling to raise money for charities dedicated to a range of causes, leading to international media coverage[12].

The media coverage portrayed Day as troll and his apparently obsessive behaviour and the doubling down on his more reactionary views would appear to be a bad strategy for getting elected President of the SFWA. It is true that Day had long held an animosity to Tor Books and to Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden because of the roasting he received on Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s blog in 2005[13] but Day had managed to remain relatively amicable towards John Scalzi for nearly seven years. So why was Day acting out now?

The answer is visible in this Salon article from the time:

“Here’s how you beat the trolls: Turn their hatred into cash for charities they despise. That’s what science-fiction writer John Scalzi has done — and in the process, he’s raised more than $50,000 in pledges for Emily’s List and the Human Rights Campaign, specially chosen to earn the ire of a blogger Scalzi calls “my racist sexist homophobic dipshit.””

https://www.salon.com/2013/02/06/sci_fi_writer_makes_50000_for_charity_off_of_his_troll/

Actually, it’s not the text of the article that helps explain Day’s behaviour but rather the image at the top of the article. To illustrate the conflict between Day and Scalzi, Salon used images of books by each author. Vox Day’s Throne of Bones published by an obscure Christian press would not have normally got such publicity. Day began his more severe trolling of John Scalzi on 27 October 2012, it was in some ways opportunistic but it was also just 12 days after Day had announced that Throne of Bones would be published in December[14].

Politics and Day’s animosity to Tor and dislike of John Scalzi were still part of the picture. Day had wanted recognition for his writing, he had put effort into engaging with the Nebula Awards as a jurist and with broader fandom as a reviewer at Black Gate. However, even the relatively mild shifts towards gender equality in the SFWA were going to make it unlikely that Day, whose extreme views on women had been known among many SFWA members since 2005, would ever win a Nebula. What Day could do though was make use of the animosity towards him both to antagonise his detractors and promote his fantasy novel to a right wing audience.

Day was keen for his novel to tap into a Christian market but to make use of the more violent aesthetics of works such as George R R Martin’s Game of Thrones. The darker aesthetics of Day’s fantasy novel even caused some problems for Day’s publisher who was told by one Christian writer’s organisation that it would lead to the published being taken off their list of approved publishers[15]. At the time, Day took this phlegmatically saying that he was used to being ‘blackballed’ by publishers.

In the meantime, John Scalzi endorsed author Steven Gould’s run for the SFWA presidency[16]. Gould was a longstanding member of the SFWA and like Scalzi was also a teacher at the Viable Paradise writer’s workshop.

Beyond the SFWA Officers election, other conflicts were raging within the SFWA and in science fiction, which we will get to in the next chapter. Author Sarah A Hoyt, feeling that the left within SFF had gone too far, declared in April of 2013 that:

“The civil war turning hot just means one side is not being iced out. It’s a sign of freedom, and a sign this field might yet become healthy again.”

https://accordingtohoyt.com/2013/04/13/when-the-civil-war-turns-hot/

Naturally Day agreed. By this point, Day had been busy stoking the fires and given his strong views on women, sexuality, race and immigration, he had become an increasingly polarising figure in his election campaign. In response to Hoyt’s civil war theme, Day took an even more apocalyptic tone:

“The gatekeepers are failing, the gates are swinging open, and the right-wing horde is rapidly approaching the citadel. It won’t be long before the sneering writers of SF/F cease their endless snarking and start crying out for mercy.

At that point, it will fall to us, we established writers of the right who have somehow managed to surmount every obstacle and survive every stone and missile hurled our way throughout what passes for our literary careers, to remind them that it was their decision to declare “no quarter”. We didn’t make the rules, we are merely playing by the ones they established.  I won’t take any pleasure in their suffering, but neither will I shed any tears.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20130429135705/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-ideology-war-in-science-fiction.html

On May 3, the SFWA announced the results:

“SFWA is pleased to announce the results of this year’s Board elections.
President: Steven Gould
Vice-President: Rachel Swirsky
…”

https://www.sfwa.org/2013/05/03/sfwa-election-results/

If science fiction was in a civil war the first battle had not been a victory for the right[17]. The war was far from over and nor was the impact of Day’s presidential campaign. However, Day’s immediate reaction was phlegmatic. Gould had won 444 votes, nearly ten times Day’s 46 votes but Day had had little expectation of winning[18].

Meanwhile, in Australia…

N.K.Jemisin was the Guest of Honour at the Continuum convention in Melbourne. Her headline speech dove into the issue of racism. Australia’s history of white supremacy isn’t America’s but it is no less shocking and no less violent. It was not until the 1960’s that the right for Indigenous Australians to vote in Federal and State elections was fully recognised[19]. Jemisin’s speech started with her father’s fears for her safety if she visited Australia:

“This is not a safe country for people of colour. It’s better than it was, certainly, but when the first news story I saw on turning on my first Australian TV channel was about your One Nation party’s Pauline Hanson… well. Still got a ways to go.”

https://nkjemisin.com/2013/06/continuum-goh-speech/

Jemisin’s theme was not to castigate Australia but to highlight the long struggle and efforts to improve:

“And Australia may have classified the peoples of the Koorie and other nations as “fauna” until very recently, but Australia has also made tremendous strides lately in rectifying this error. I’ve listened in fascination to the Acknowledgements of Country made at nearly every public event I’ve attended since I’ve been here. I’ve marveled that indigenous languages are offered as courses for study at some local universities. I am awed that you don’t shove all of your indigenous history into a single museum, where it’s easy for people not of that culture to avoid or ignore, because that’s what happens in the US. So as horrified as I am by the nastier details of Australian history… I am also heartened, astonished, inspired, by the Australian present. You’ve still got a long way to go before Reconciliation is complete, but then again, you’ve started down that path. You’re trying.”

ibid

And this comparison with the macro scale of a nation coming to terms with its long history of racism served as a segue into talking about the current struggles at a smaller scale of the science fiction community. Jemisin focused in on the struggles consuming 2013. Her main focus was the issue around the SFWA’s magazine but within that issue she looked at Vox Day’s election campaign:

“Now, to put this in context: the membership of SFWA also recently voted in a new president. There were two candidates — one of whom was a self-described misogynist, racist, anti-Semite, and a few other flavors of asshole. In this election he lost by a landslide… but he still earned ten per cent of the vote. SFWA is small; only about 500 people voted in total, so we’re talking less than 50 people. But scale up again. Imagine if ten per cent of this country’s population was busy making active efforts to take away not mere privileges, not even dignity, but your most basic rights. Imagine if ten per cent of the people you interacted with, on a daily basis, did not regard you as human. Just ten per cent. But such a ten per cent.”

ibid

Bringing her speech back to the initial theme, Jemisin offered a proposal:

“So I propose a solution — which I would like to appropriate, if you will allow, from Australia’s history and present. It is time for a Reconciliation within SFF.”

ibid

Vox Day did not respond well when he learnt of Jemisin’s speech.

In a post entitled A Black Female Fantasist Calls for Reconciliation, Day insulted multiple people including Teresa Nielsen Hayden and John Scalzi. He answered Jemisin’s specific point about him by quibbling over her term “self-described”. Now it is true that up to that point, Day had not literally described himself as a misogynist or as racist and hadn’t really described himself as an anti-Semite[20]. He has also never called himself “a few other flavours of asshole”. In Day’s terminology, Jemisin was using ‘rhetoric’. Day’s ideological objection to women was well known and he was quite open about it. Likewise his belief in racial theories and racial separation. Day often cloaked himself in a kind of ‘philo-Semitism’ pro-Israeli position common to American evangelical conservatives but he was also critical of what he regarded as an excessive Jewish influence in American politics. Jemisin’s “self-described” term was disputable but the categories that followed were defensible[21].

Day took his racial-cultural determinism even further in the post saying:

“Being an educated, but ignorant half-savage, with little more understanding of what it took to build a new literature by “a bunch of beardy old middle-class middle-American guys” than an illiterate Igbotu tribesman has of how to build a jet engine, Jemisin clearly does not understand that her dishonest call for “reconciliation” and even more diversity within SF/F is tantamount to a call for its decline into irrelevance. Nor do the back-patting Samuel Johnsons wiping their eyes and congratulating her for her ever-so-touching speech understand that.

There can be no reconciliation between the observant and the delusional.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20130624073226/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-black-female-fantasist.html

This was all bad enough but Day promoted his response via an official SFWA Twitter account designed to allow members to promote matters of interest. He also took to the SFWA boards to argue his point, arguing with author and fan-writer Jason Sanford and demanding an apology from Jemisin[22].

The SFWA forum moderators took down his posts and locked his account. Meanwhile, having spent the last several months alienating much of the SFWA membership and trolling its President, the backlash to Day calling Jemisin an “ignorant half-savage” was substantial.

Canadian author Amal El-Mohtar called for Vox Day’s expulsion from the SFWA:

“I believe the act of singling out this particular post for dissemination by SFWA Authors to be an act of deliberate, malicious trolling with intent to cause embarrassment to SFWA’s officers and the organization as a whole. I further believe this act should have consequences that SFWA is in a position to deliver.”

https://amalelmohtar.com/calling-for-the-expulsion-of-theodore-beale-from-sfwa/

Others agreed. Jim C Hines was more ambivalent and was unsure whether the SFWA even had the power to expel members but after considering the rules thought that it could be done[23]. Author and fan-writer Foz Meadows made a more stark statement of the issues at stake:

“If Theodore Beale isn’t cast out of the SFWA immediately, then that organisation is worth nothing.”

https://fozmeadows.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/reconciliation-a-response-to-theodore-beale/

By this point, the SFWA presidency had shifted with John Scalzi’s term in office officially coming to an end. The new SFWA President, Steven Gould, now had to consider the expulsion of his electoral opponent Vox Day. The board began appointed an investigator to collect evidence and produce a report. Meanwhile Day was threatening legal action.

The SFWA board forwarded their report to Day as part of the due process of considering his expulsion. Day responded by posting sections of it on his blog and ‘crowd-sourcing’ responses from his followers.

On August 14 Day announced he’d been expelled from the SFWA[25] but this was just one of the conflagrations facing the organisation.

Next Time: Civil War Part 2


Footnotes

51 thoughts on “Debarkle Chapter 22: The SFWA Civil War Part 1

  1. You remind me that SFWA’s public announcement didn’t name Day — we only knew it for sure because of Day’s own statements. (No need to work that into your account, I simply recall wondering how I would have reported that story without a confirmation, since SFWA wasn’t going to give one.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That seems kind of an important point to make.

      SFWA didn’t publicly embarrass Teddy, he outed himself.

      One sentence explaining that in the text would do it.

      Like

      1. They didn’t name him publicly to reduce their exposure to litigation, if this is going to be mentioned.

        Like

  2. but day promoted his response via an official SFWA Twitter account designed to allow members to promote matters of interest.

    This is incorrect; he didn’t use SFWA’s account, he used a #SFWA hashtag — but that of course ensured that his abusive tweet would appear in the feeds of anyone checking that hashtag.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. No, no – it really was an SFWA account ” @sfwaauthor” – it was an account for reposting things from members.

        How did that work? Surely they didn’t give the account password to a couple thousand members?

        Like

      2. You sent an email to an address and then it would tweet your link out I think.

        “SFWA maintains the @sfwaauthors Twitter feed to help spread the word about members’ blog posts about writing, fiction/reading (reviews, reading recommendations, etc), or publishing, or about their own writing or publishing news. If you’re a member who would like to have the writing and publishing posts from your blog included in the @sfwaauthors stream, please send an email totwitter@sfwa.org.”

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Well, that was certainly a painful way for SFWA to learn that auto-posting content on your official feed without first reviewing it is not a great idea. 😬

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I wonder if Day knew for sure that the tweets were completely auto-posted from email with no human review when he sent that, or if it was a coin flip that he thought would stir some shit either way.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Jim C Hines was more ambivalent and was unsure whether the SFWA even had the power to expel members but after considering the rules thought that he could be.

    “…it could be done.”

    Like

  4. Goodness me! Having Day’s activities documented like this really emphasizes exactly what a trash human Day is.

    Day found himself in hot water after posting an essay in December 2013 entitled ‘SF/F Corruprion Part 1’ -> Corruption

    saying women shouldn’t be allowed to vote (even Margaret Tatcher -> Thatcher

    In a post entitled A Black Female Fantasist Calls for Reconciliation, Day insulted multiple people including Theresa Nielsen Hayden ->Teresa

    This was all bad enough but day promoted his response -> Day

    Like

  5. Typo patrol.

    posting an essay in December 2013 entitled ‘SF/F Corruprion Part 1’.

    s/b Corruption

    the right for Indigenous Australian’s to vote

    s/b Australians (no apostrophe)

    a nation coming to terms with it’s long history of racism

    s/b its (no apostrophe)

    multiple people including Theresa Nielsen Hayden

    s/b Teresa

    Like

  6. Joining the conga line of pedantry:
    “He bowed it with a column” – ‘it’ should be ‘out’ I think

    Like

  7. “ authors Steven Gould’s run” – author Steven Gould’s run
    “SWFA Officer’s election” – SWFA officers’ election, though you could probably go with no apostrophe at all.

    How Beale does live down to one’s expectations at every opportunity.

    Like

    1. The same, I have heared about it. Beale is still telling people that he wasn’t exspelled (or was telling them that)
      Jo Waltons answer to the conspiracytheorie is another highlight. (You may not like Among Others but a book writen by a woman is not atomaticly cheated on the ballot, if you don’t like it)
      And so we see the descent of Dave Truesdale begining here. (That was the guy who did have enough cload to get a lot of famous writers to sign his petition, and ended as a paria)
      Today we can say that Beale falled as a writer and publisher and Torgerson taugh that would be a good rolemodel.
      Wrights choosing of Catalana over Tor was another not very clever choice.
      There is one rule here. Never get Beale on your site (Stross was very clever in retroprospekt)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I thought I’d put Truesdale’s anti-PC essay in the RaceFail chapter but I must have cut it out for space. But yeah, and he’s the protagonist for part 3 of the civil war

        Like

      2. StefanB: [Truesdale] was the guy who did have enough [clout] to get a lot of famous writers to sign his petition, and ended as a pariah

        It was even worse than that; a number of authors who signed the petition said the document they signed was not what was publicly posted. In other words, Truesdale did a bait-and-switch to get authors to sign onto something that was much more extreme that what they’d actually read and signed.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I had forgotten how intense and creepy Beale’s fixation on Catherine Asaro was, because it was later eclipsed by his fixation on John Scalzi. This honestly makes me wonder what Catherine Asaro has ever done to him beyond writing a book he disliked and winning a Nebula.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When Day got into it with the Making Light commentariat, he claimed that women didn’t/couldn’t write hard SF because they couldn’t hack the science. Dr. Asaro was used as a counter-argument by some of the commenters, as she was both a female writer of hard SF and a scientist who could hack the science far better than he could. I believe she dropped in for a couple comments of her own.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. THREE fields: successful/award-winning SF writer, honest to gosh physics PhD, and person who had a musical group people apparently enjoyed listening to (music based on her books).

        She’s also danced professionally.

        Like

  9. I sometimes feel like my life would be better if I had remained blissfully ignorant of the existence of Beale or any of that crowd. But there are two images in this chapter that I adore, and am glad you made me aware of:

    1. That “Young Flandry” cover parody.
    2. Vox Day thinking (or pretending) that Christian publishers couldn’t possibly be sincerely uncomfortable with ultra-grimdark material and therefore he must’ve been “blackballed”.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. “He had also escalated his rivalry with John Scalzi”

    I would say that this is a bit off-base phrase-wise. There was no rivalry with Scalzi to escalate, except in Beale’s mind.

    Beale made some headway in the right wing mediosphere with World Net Daily, etc. But I doubt he left off writing for them because he “wanted to concentrate on his novels.” Writing for the World Net Daily was a key part of publicizing his novels for the best target audience. Either they got less enchanted with him or he got frustrated and jealous about other writers doing better than he did at these publications. Given past reports of his whining about his publication record compared to other right wing figures, it was probably at least partly the latter. He had some success in the manosphere and I think he thought that he could bring that over and be a leader of a right-wing faction of authors in SFF. (The actual leaders, much bigger name authors than he, didn’t really bestir themselves too much except in regards to the Bulletin incidents and later on regarding conventions after the Puppies were done.)

    But because Beale was used to dealing with the extremism of the right wing mediasphere, he didn’t get or chose to ignore that any right-wingedness he wanted to trumpet in SFF circles worked better as dog whistles, not out and out screams about women being inferiors who should be controlled with acid and deprived of the right to vote, etc. He refused, with his manosphere credentials, to accept that women in SFF had much standing and might give him an earful back. Or at least he figured that condemning them and their objections would somehow help him, (and in the end it did a bit because of Larry.) He wasn’t an established SFF author (like Ringo) or critic/category media person (like Truesdale) or publishing professional, so things that were often put up with from such folks in the field were not considered reasonable coming from him by most.

    And his publications with a small Christian publisher, a market that is largely separate from SFF publishing, did not burnish his credentials in the mainstream. That he actually managed to serve on not one but three Nebula juries is something that I would like to see more explanation on because he must have been a nightmare on them. It speaks to perhaps the difficult and moribund climate of SFWA at the time, a climate that caused authors like Jo Walton not to join the organization and was directly related to the Bulletin uproar.

    Meanwhile Scalzi was rapidly building a large audience for his SF and becoming a major figure in fandom as well, becoming president of SFWA, getting award attention and being an effective and comic speaker at workshops and conventions. He also had a large blog following that overlapped with but went beyond his readership. And Scalzi was also leaning more left and supporting civil rights than he used to, especially in the wake of RaceFail and in supporting codes of conduct at conventions. So it seems that Beale got it into his head that going after Scalzi, claiming Scalzi as a leader of the left propped up by his publisher in return for his politics, and positioning Beale himself as the voice of sanity of the right would, as you note, help him get publicity and sell to right-winger SFF fans, ones who wouldn’t mind the extreme violence, etc. of his books, unlike the fiction part of the Christian pub field.

    But Scalzi mostly just ignored Beale. So it wasn’t really an escalating feud between them. Beale simply wasn’t important enough in SFF until his run for prez/expulsion incident which led to Larry giving him the opening to take over the Puppies and wreak some havoc. Scalzi was, though, amused (and a bit pissed) by Beale’s McRapey error/attempt, and did use the situation to raise some money for charity (I am a gamma rabbit.) Which made news off of Scalzi’s fame and non-SFF sexism and homophobia issues in the media being of interest, which Beale surfed on a bit. That probably did help Beale when Gamergate took off to get some influence in that movement, influence he used to get voters for the Puppies’ slate gambit. But it was always a very one sided thing with a troll probing for influence opportunities by going after a major public figure, trying to rig the algorithm so to speak.

    In going after Jemisin with the language he used, (which shows he chose not to understand that writers and fans of color are generally way more knowledgeable about the SFF field than white authors and fans,) he did get some sympathy rumbling from those of a right-wing bent who did not like a white man being expelled from SFWA over a black woman author. (Mainly because of the Bulletin incident also that year.) But the majority of the sentiment was that some pipsqueak barely anyone knew was going after a prominent author with racial slurs and that this made everybody look bad and he should slag off. (Which he did partly, going to Gamergate.) I think Beale really thought that Jemisin was going to engage in some sort of trash talk war with him over her character and intelligence like the comments at Breibart that he could use for publicity. He did get some publicity out of it, but I don’t know that it was anything near what he had off of Scalzi.

    It was Larry again, using his bestseller status, who threw open the door to SFF people having to listen to Beale further, and by that time he had some Gamergater influence, which is what Larry wanted (plus just pissing everyone off by claiming Beale had been misconstrued and wronged purely for political views.) In this, Larry was much like Republicans who thought they could use and control extreme right wingers and then were surprised when the extremist started taking things over, (to go with one of Camestros’ main themes.)

    Also to note for the next chapter, Truesdale did not write the petition entirely on his own gumption. He and Silverberg went at it, based on a false bit of propaganda concerning the Bulletin, Silverberg edited it and Silverberg misled several of his author friends to get them to sign it without really reading it. Why he did so, I don’t get, he could have just written something more coherent (but no less heinous) himself. In many ways it was a far more embarrassing incident than the Puppies themselves because it came from well known major authors.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Whenever Scalzi started referring to the “rabid homophobic dipshit” — at that point it was already a feud. Scalzi just knew better than to try and win it by living in the mud with Beale…he would take a turn when he could do something to count coup, like raise a bunch of money for charity by doing a parody of embracing whatever he’d been accused of at the moment.

    That’s a good point about Silverberg using Truesdale as a stalking horse, though.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Thank you. I see my memory has faded. When I set the filter at my blog to block this phrase, I only used the last word — since I had to do it in a away that wouldn’t prevent a lot of other kinds of discussion.

        Like

  12. “The board began appointed an investigator”

    Did you mean “The board began by appointing” or “The board appointed”?

    Like

  13. Beale’s antisemitism is an odd beast–he tends to flit between the New Guard’s attempts to confuse the issue through Israel-boosting, and the Old Guard’s view of Israel as a subversive force, sometimes leaning one way, sometimes the other, sometimes trying to create a consistent position between the two. My suspicion is that Beale’s age is the key issue here, joined with the fact that his antisemitism is something of a side-interest at best–he was raised among the paleocons and thus is predisposed to the latter view, but has spent most of his adult life with Israel as a right-leaning nation and Islam as the increasingly more prominent target of white racism. If he were younger, older, or more emotionally committed to it, I suspect he’d have landed somewhere more consistent.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The neocons only “like” Israel for being opposed by/to Islam, and because they need a Jewish state to exist before the Rapture can come. Once the Rapture happens, the Jews are fair game for anything since they’re infidels like anyone who isn’t Born Again.

      IOW, they’re all antisemitic (synagogues still get shot up), but they give lip service to Israel as a tool.

      Israel as a country: fine
      Israel as a people: not fine

      Like

    2. I suspect, personally, that VD’s bigotry and viciousness is sufficiently free-floating and opportunistic that he would easily switch no matter how old he was.

      For example, I’m pretty sure he’ll totally side with white Europeans (in the broadest sense, including Americans of European descent) decrying the violence of Muslims against women and homosexuals, and then flip and side with the virile men (who just happen to be Muslim) who defend their “honor” and “masculinity” with violence against women and homosexuals.

      Similarly, with Israel, I suspect that when he thinks of Israel as a mostly European-mode “Western” nationalist ethnostate defending itself with violence against Arab incursion, he sides with Israel, and when he thinks of Jews as being alien rootless cosmopolitan globalist bankers financially exploiting people of European descent, he sides with anti-semites.

      Like

  14. Did Teddy really decide to stop writing his WingNutDaily column to work on his “books”, or did he get pushed out once his felonious daddy went on trial/to the big house/etc?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.