Trigger Warning: Racism, sexism, homophobia, rape apologism, some truly heinous stuff. Approach with caution.
Today, the Hugo Award nominations were released. Given how strong a year it was in science fiction as well as for fandom activity, the finalists are ultimately a strong and diverse bunch, although there are notable exclusions. The lack of YA, for example, is glaring given how well science-fiction driven stories have fared in the category recently. Still, there was much to celebrate. Ann Leckie’s universally adored debut Ancillary Justice was nominated for best novel, as was Parasite by Mira Grant, the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire, making this her 4th consecutive nomination at the Hugos. Fan writers such as Mark Oshiro, Foz Meadows and the wonderful Book Smugglers also received much deserved acknowledgement for the great work they’ve put in, and we’re delighted for them all.
Theodore Beale, known best by his pseudonym of Vox Day, is a science-fiction writer and a bigot. He has described homosexuality as a “birth defect” and that others must “help them achieve sexual normality”, claims that “it is absurd to imagine that there is absolutely no link between race and intelligence” and says there is no such thing as marital rape. When author N.K. Jemisin (a woman of colour) called him out in a speech she gave at Continuum in Melbourne, Day responded in terms I can only describe as abhorrent:
“It is not that I, and others, do not view [Jemisin] as human, (although genetic science presently suggests that we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens), it is that we simply do not view her as being fully civilized for the obvious historical reason that she is not… The laws [Stand Your Ground Laws’ are not there to let whites “just shoot people like me, without consequence, as long as they feel threatened by my presence”, those self-defense laws have been put in place to let whites defend their lives and their property from people, like her, who are half-savages engaged in attacking them.”
There you have it. Vox Day dismisses a woman of colour and calls her an uncivilized half-savage who shouldn’t be surprised when she’s shot. This man is a sexist, racist homophobe rape apologist who has the gall to claim he is a victim while dragging good people like Jemisin through the mud for daring to call out his bigotry.
He’s also just been nominated for best novelette at this year’s Hugo Awards.
This man ran to be president of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) and 10% of that organisation’s voters were fine with nominating him. He was eventually expelled from the group, although as this Hugo nomination shows, clearly there is still some level of support for him.
I fully understand the uncomfortable paradox that comes with being a fan of something or someone that is extremely problematic, to say the least. This is nothing new to publishing itself, let alone science-fiction. Orson Scott-Card, anyone? Some of us have the ability to bridge that gap and turn off our brains, allowing us to enjoy the art separate from the artist. However, that’s not what’s going on here. This is essentially the sci-fi community validating the heinous words and actions of Day, even as they took active steps to say No to his bigotry. This is rewarding a man who viciously verbally attacked a woman of colour by implying she should be shot because oh look he’s such a good writer.
This is not on.
There’s only one way to deal with people like Day, who see themselves as above basic human decency, and that is to cut them out of the community like a tumour. Shun them, ignore them, no-platform the hell out of them. Our conventions, our fanzines, our anthologies, our community is not open to people whose racist arguments could have come straight from the mouths of slave-owners.
To do anything less is an insult to those who attacks those who we claim to be allies of.