A Nebula Question

I'm confused about the Nebula Awards. Recently I've seen writers posting lists of their Nebula eligible stories on their journals and blogs, and I've considered posting a list of my own stories from the past year. Unfortunately, even after reading the lists of others, and the new Nebula rules, I'm not sure what is required for eligibility. Recent comments over on HWA forums have implied that the SFWA requires that in order for works to be eligible for the Nebula, they must come from some list of acceptable, professional publishers, yet I see no sign of that in the rules, nor in the lists of eligible stories that others are offering up.

I think, from what I've read of the rules, that stories from a Canadian anthology should be eligible, although not published in the US, but I'm not 100% sure.

Can anyone give me the "for dummies" version of how things work?

The SFPA: What the Association is, and is Not

I try not to respond to reviews.  Heck, I try not to respond to posts, even when... no, especially when, something said in them infuriates me.  The internet is a breeding place for Hell Storms and flame wars, and I really can't handle such things

But lately there have been a rash of what can only be called attacks on the SFPA executive, and Debbie Kolodji in specific that have prompted me to speak, despite my wish to remain quietly hidden.

I don't approve of everything about the SFPA.  I was a vocal (breaking my own rules again) supporter of a change of name for the association, and I believe that there are many other ways in which the group as a whole could be made better and stronger.  I am hugely in favor of promoting a more inclusive, less antagonistic feel throughout the association, and I truly can't wait for a strictly moderated discussion space.  I came very close to leaving the SFPA over the actions and behaviors of some of its membership, but more importantly, over the fact that the less volatile members tried to stay out of things instead of condemning the misbehaviors of the few.  That's obviously unfair and hypocritical of me, with my own tendency to hide from things, but what the heck, I'm human.

However, at no time have I blamed the SFPA executive for the bad behaviors of some of the members.  Why?  Because the SFPA executive is not made up of either baby sitters or police.  While I want (and I believe they are working on) a moderated area, the existing area used for SFPA discussion does not even belong to the SFPA, but only to one of its members.  It is up to him, and him alone, as to whether that area should be moderated.  What's more, many of the worst and most commonly brought up misbehaviors have happened in areas not even remotely associated with the SFPA, such as on personal Live Journal accounts.  When two children who attend the same school get into a fight well outside of the school grounds and school hours, does the school have the right to hunt them down and punish them?  Other authorities have jurisdiction.

The SFPA executive, as far as I know, has no right to penalise its paid members for anything.  It is a speculative (yes, my strike for a name change!) poetry group only.  It doesn't even have the constitutional right to limit membership, as some of the other associations do, by professional sales.  It is a group as much for poetry appreciators as for poetry professionals. 

Which is great.   The world needs poetry appreciators, as well as poets and editors.  And it needs an open association like the SFPA, at least in my opinion. 

But again, what this means is that the executive, and Debbie, can't play Big Brother from 1984.  They can't play thought control or speech control police, unless they set up a specific place where the rules are understood upon entry, and which does not in any way detract from the normal and more open rights of the membership.  If they were to try to do so, they would be open to legal action, and, since the association is not (yet) a non-profit, any legal action could be passed straight through to the executive, none of whom could afford to be sued.

This means that they can't toss anyone out of the association, nor can they limit their basic rights as members, such as participating in membership events, like the SFPA Online Holloween Poetry Reading.  There's some great stuff up there, by the way.  Take a look.

As for some of worries brought up in recent reviews, well, reviews are bound to offend some people.  That's a given.  Just as almost any publication will hold some pieces that offend someone.  Star*Line, the official publication of the SFPA, has, in the past, published an awful lot of poetry with the potential to offend.  It has published poems told from the POV of serial killers, sadists, and world destroyers.  It has published poems full of politics,  xenophobia, racism, and sexism, and in spec fic where there can be huge numbers of races and sexes, believe me, that opens things up for a whole lot of offensiveness.

And you know what?  If there was some way to come to a consensus as to what makes something too political, racist, sexist, speciesist, violent, creepy, sick, or twisted, and every poem that had the potential to offend someone was removed, the issues would become awfully short, bland, and boring.  Which is why I don't think that the SFPA executive exists to act as censors of poetry any more than they do to act as censors of member behavior.  They, and more importantly the editor of Star*Line, exist to promote good (and yes, that's a very subjective term) speculative poetry.  If they were to start writing or including sexist, racist, xenophobic, etc editorials or rants in the pages of Star*Line, or on the SFPA website I'd yell as loudly as anyone, but speculative poetry is, by definition, speculative, and fictional.  It does not and can not be seen as reflecting the views of anyone involved.

With any market, writers have the express right to decide if they want to submit, and if they want their work read in such a venue.  I respect that.  I also respect my right, and that of others, to decide what organizations to join and belong to.  Each of us has different buttons, sore points, and requirements.  And sometimes we can try to nudge publications and organizations towards being more what we want, through great, thoughtful poetry, and through other, equally thoughtful means of communication.

But, to me, attacks on the SFPA exec for things over which they can have no control, or which really are not part of the SFPA mandate, are a bit too much.  I think we are very close to simply losing the exec as a whole, because they are being berated for supposed failing in things they never signed up for.  There comes a point where I know that I, were I a member of the exec, would simply throw up my hands and leave, or at least go into hiding to the point where the things my position did require were left undone.

Enough.  Can we please, all of us, start giving each other the benefit of the doubt, and (gasp) treating each other as we'd hope to be treated ourselves? 
  • Current Mood

Gibsons: World's Best Town

I have, in the past, been known to comment that I live in the best place on Earth. I've mentioned the beauty of Gibsons, nestled in lush, thick greenery, with a sparkling ocean to one side, tall hills to the other, and a view of towering mountains, snow tipped even in the heat of summer.  I may well have talked about the wonderful small town feel, and the fact that, though we often curse the all too imperfect ferry system, it does protect us from becoming just another city suburb.  I may even have cheered a bit when our drinking water was rated world class.

Over all, despite acknowledging that my town does have a few flaws, I've always found it a pretty great place to live.  And it turns out I'm not the only one who thinks so.  The United Nations approved International Awards for Liveable Communities just named Gibsons BC as the best place in the world to live, among communities with fewer than 20,000 residents.

Me, proud?  Well, ok, just a bit ;)

Reading at White Dwarf Books

For anyone in the Vancouver BC area, I will be at White Dwarf Books (3715 West Tenth Ave!) on Sept. 26th, at 2pm, reading from my Aurora shortlisted fantasy poetry book, Through the Window:A Journey to the Borderlands of Faerie (Double-Edged Publishing).  Better yet, I'll be sharing the reading time with the brilliant Eileen Kernaghan, who will be reading from her own new book, Tales from the Holograph Woods: Speculative Poems (Wattle & Daub Books). Her work really is exquisite, so, though I know that very few people on my friend list are from this area, maybe if folk spread the word it can reach people who will enjoy one or both of the books being read :) Not to mention that a trip to White Dwarf Books is always fun, if filled with high levels of temptation ;)

So I guess I'm giving the SFPA another try

My decision is based upon three factors, really.

First, the messages from people here, in other forums, and in emails, both those asking me to stay in, and those supporting my wish to leave.  The general good will shown by all really helped me.

Second, the news that the SFPA as an organization does not condone the confused, and agressive ugliness I've seen, and that there will soon be moderated discussion areas.  Without that, there's no way I'd consider remaining a member.  Just not worth the frustration and pain.

Third, the fact that the SFPA president is an amazing, sincere, caring, strong, and thoroughly awesome woman.   And damned good at inspiring loyalty and trust.

Let's see what happens.

Snipers versus grenade launchers.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about why I find it less off putting to see someone verbally attack another person by name, rather than mounting a general verbal attack against a wide category of people.   I know that there are a lot of people who find more generalized, non-finger pointing arguments to be less offensive and more polite, so this comes down, probably, to yet another cultural, environment, age, and gods know what else etc. thing.

But I thought that I should at least try to put my thoughts into words, so here I am.

What it comes down to, for me, is that a named, obviously targeted verbal attack is like that of a sniper.  The bullet hits the enemy, and yes, it's ugly, nasty and tragic, and may well lead to retaliation, but it's still relatively small scale.

A generalized verbal attack, of the "anyone who could think blank is obviously blank,"  or perhaps the "everyone involved in this is a blank, who is out to blank," type, is more like chucking a live grenade in the general vicinity of your enemy.  Yes, it will probably get them, but it will also probably get at least a few people you weren't necessarily out to get.  And, as with the victims of the grenade, it doesn't really help afterwards to say, "yeah, but I wasn't actually aiming at you, so you shouldn't feel bad."  

By the way, this post is not meant as a reopening of any type of war-fare, nor is it an invitation to start naming names and squeezing off bullets.  I don't like, and I won't allow, gunfire of any type (always having been far more interested in low tech weapons anyway ;) in my topics.

But I think it's interesting to think about the fact that various really nice, polite, great people would look at verbal attacks in a very different way.  It's an interesting world, but it does make communication tough.

Edited to add that, yes, I know my analogies are trite as all hell, and none of this is new to anyone, and it probably didn't need in any way to be posted, but it sorts things out in _my_ mind, at least.

Tired of cruelty, intentional or no....

I've been trying to keep my temper, trying not to let the insults hurt, and trying above all to make my points in the SFPA name debate as gently and good-humoredly as possible.  I don't know if it's the heat, or the latest round of insults, but I think I've had it.

If one more person points out that people (like me) who were confused by the name of the SFPA are stupid, or unintuitive, or in some other way not the sort of person to make a good poet/member of the association, I'm seriously thinking about quitting.  I don't need this.