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Interzone

New Science Fiction & Fantasy INTERZONE ISSUE 276 OUT NOW!

POLLS AND AWARDS: INCLUSIVITY AND THE TRAP OF SILENCE

23rd May, 2014

POLLS AND AWARDS: INCLUSIVITY AND THE TRAP OF SILENCE

The late comedian Linda Smith was a deft exponent of the metaphorical boot to the groin of political hypocrites and talentless scandal magnets. On one panel show, a fellow guest suggested she temper her scorn as it might give her subject “the oxygen of publicity”. Her response: “I’m not that happy with him having the oxygen of oxygen, actually.”

Criticising those whose views you find abhorrent is always a stroll through a minefield. But, to misquote someone much smarter than ourselves, silence can make you guilty of complicity.

We’re delighted readers, writers and critics think enough of Interzone to include us, once again, on the Hugo Award shortlist (for Best Semiprozine) but perplexed at finding ourselves on a page of nominees with Theodore Beale, the writer also known as Vox Day. Since the nomination of Day’s ‘Opera Vita Aeterna’ for the Best Novelette category, much has been written about the rights and wrongs of allowing an author’s politics to adulterate one’s assessment of the value of their work.

We share the view that publishing should be genuinely inclusive, and we fully respect the view that inclusivity must be based on an acceptance of views in opposition to one’s own. It is not however always possible to apply the maxim that writers should be assessed independently of their politics. In the case of Vox Day we are not talking about differences in opinion on rates of taxation, unemployment benefit, NHS funding or the role of austerity in eradicating a fiscal deficit: the hostile reaction to the inclusion of Day is triggered in part by his hate-fuelled rants against people purely on the basis of their identity.

Day has been openly hostile to minorities in the US, comparing Mexican immigration to the Nazi occupation of Europe in WW2. He has said many rape victims are “stupid” and have colluded in being attacked. He considers women’s rights to be “a disease that should be eradicated”. He has suggested African-American writer and critic N.K. Jemisin is “not equally” homo sapiens sapiens, and has described people “like her” as “half-savages”. All this from a writer who asserts “politics don’t belong in science fiction” and assumes there are shared, apolitical, “common sense” values (his values) that simply cannot be up for debate.

Vox Day and Larry Correia have acknowledged using their blogs to encourage tactical voting: in fact they are openly celebrating their success in engineering the inclusion of more right-leaning writers on the Hugo lists. Smart thinking and effective tactics, but hardly in the spirit of the Hugos? If we do belong to a literary and artistic community, shouldn’t the whole point of the awards be to celebrate the ability of writers, artists and editors to bring us new insights into the human condition and its possibilities?

We’d like to congratulate all Hugo nominees, and wish the best of luck to all those who share a sense of common humanity with all their fellow writers, readers and editors.

On an unreservedly positive note, we’d like to congratulate Nina Allan on winning a well-deserved BSFA Best Short Fiction award for Spin (TTA Press). It’s a magnificent piece of work. Why not buy a copy and find out exactly why?

We’re also cock-a-hoop to report an increase in voting in this year’s Readers’ Poll. Sadly there were a number of disqualified votes, owing to suspicious voting patterns, but this has not affected the outcome. So we’d like to congratulate joint winners Sean McMullen (for ‘Technarion’) and Jess Hyslop (for ‘Triolet’).

The Editors

First published in Interzone issue #252, May 2014

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