Just a few things to mention in the aftermath of the Weird Tales debacle. I’m speaking for myself only in this, not for Ann VanderMeer. And if you’re not interested—no worries. There’s lots of interesting stuff upcoming on the blog that has nothing to do with this issue, including updates on Weirdfictionreview.com.
I’ll start with some links that I think are relevant:
—Adam Mills puts the entire incident into a wider context, which lacks only a few items, such as Marvin Kaye posting on author walls on Facebook soliciting stories prior to the announcement of the change in editors; the new editors discarding the electronic submissions portal; imposing erratic submission windows; and offering a terrible e-issue for last year’s World Fantasy convention made worse by a bizarre postcard advertisement that implied Neil Gaiman (or “Neil Fucking Gaiman” as they referred to him) and other World Fantasy Con guests of honor were in the e-issue (they were not). Maybe some of the information in Mills’ post and here will be of use for aspiring magazine editors re what not to do. Although, frankly, most of this appears to fall under the category of Duh.
—Larry Nolen offers up a cogent analysis of the controversial novel itself, with which I concur. There are certainly controversies that arise in which the interpretation is debatable. This is not one of them.
—The Guardian also offers a review that hits on some key issues.
“KateG” in the SFWorlds discussion perhaps sums up the situation best: “The controversy is that Weird Tales magazine, a magazine with one of the older histories of speculative magazines, and a magazine that had [recently been] presenting multiple kinds of voices, winning a Hugo, has now in its new launch under a new editor…decided to excerpt the first chapter of this book — without a lot of context as has been noted, although many think the context is even more problematic — and associate this work with Weird Tales in a justifying editorial. It’s further complicated because of this new editor’s publishing history with reference to controversial projects…And even beyond the issue of the story’s approach and controversial content, as a simple post-apocalyptic SF story, it was not the sort of story that had any interest for Weird Tales’ readers in the first place…Essentially, in the SFFH publishing community, nobody cares very much about this novel, although a number of them have read the novel. The grief is over Weird Tales and that one of the leading SFFH magazines we have left, a very distinctive magazine, has essentially hung a sign on the door telling non-white SFFH authors and those who support them that they aren’t welcome anymore. That was, it is understood, not necessarily the immediate intent of the editorial staff, but that is the result.”
The rest of the discussion is also interesting, including the bits that talk about censorship/boycott and the unfairness of piling on, so to speak. I’m not fond of boycotts or censorship, personally. It’s just not in my make-up, although to each their own. On the other hand, I get to decide where I send my fiction, and there are always going to be places I favor over others—just as I try my best not to wind up in anthologies with little or no diversity.
The fact is: Foyt’s book is still available and nowhere did the word “boycott” occur that I’m aware of except in an io9 headline. But the fact is, also, that the series of events outlined by Mills had left many of us with precious little patience for or confidence in the new editor. For Ann and me that was exacerbated by a mind-blowingly awful dinner conversation with Kaye and John Harlacher in New York City in May. The point being: the problematic elements of Foyt’s novel are only one component of the vehemence of my personal response.
For those who may think this is some personal feud of some sort, I’ll point out that Ann worked closely with Kaye and with Harlacher during the transition, despite the difficulties, and had planned to stay on as a senior contributing editor. And we had planned to cross-promote Weird Tales at our own Weirdfictionreview.com. In short, everything had been proceeding in as constructive a way as possible until it became…impossible. (It is worth noting that Ann offered Kaye and Harlacher several useful bits of concrete advice over the past few months that might have saved them grief in other ways…none of which either of them ever took.)
Anything else I’ve already said in the prior post.