Ongoing discussion

I was in two minds about whether to speak up and say something, but hearing this morning of another incident where a migrant was subject to a racist tirade has helped make up my mind.

I have to speak up.

I’ve read a lot of brouhaha recently regarding a column by Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg in the SFWA Bulletin. I’m not specifically going to comment on exactly what they said: I’m not an SFWA member, nor eligible to be one, nor aspire to be one, so I’m not going to tell a private membership organisation what they can and can’t put into a journal I don’t have a legitimate desire to access.

I’ve read some of the online discussion of this article.

One, by Foz Meadows, irked me a little when Foz said,

“two old white guys in their seventies who I’ve never heard of before”

and I think this cuts to the heart of one of the issues.

I’ve read all of this stuff, but what I haven’t read is anyone trying to have a reasoned, mutually-respecting conversation with Resnick and Malzberg about why they do not agree with the sentiments they viewed.

I have seen a response that I believe would make a large amount of people defensive if it was directed at them, and in light of this I can understand the very defensive, circling the wagons tone of the second SFWA piece.

So while those challenging Resnick and Malzberg may have a valid argument, I feel that the messages being conveyed aren’t the most conducive for mutually respectful dialogue on the issue.


While I doubt that I agree with everything that Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg say and believe, I respect their contribution to SF, the genre I love. I respect their work, I must have first read their stories over 20 years ago. I respect their achievements.


ADDITION: All comments welcome, however house rules are that every commenter should be willing to put their name to what they say.

Disclaimer: Barry N. Malzberg wrote the introduction to Invisible Kingdoms at the request of the late Steven Utley. Mike Resnick will be writing the introduction to the forthcoming Bittersuite collection at the  request of author Lezli Robyn. Both titles published by Ticonderoga Publications.

5 Replies to “Ongoing discussion”

  1. Well, I do feel they set the original semantic course of all folowing discussions (AKA open the floodgates) by their use of qualifications first, ie: “lady” editor, “writer who is also a woman”. In terms of that which is welcome in SFF, “lady writer” is as valid and loaded a description of *let me foreshadow quality issues* as “old white guy I’ve never heard of before kind of writer”.

    People are angry, and Barry/Mike are going to be lightning rods for it, I don’t disagree that these are lovely folks in the flesh, but their standard (and offensive!) boilerplate responses that have previously worked against un-ladylike ladies have articulated all that is wrong with attitudes currently being helf in genre writing and publishing, and culture in general.

  2. Why do you think they are somehow more entitled to courtesy than the -women- who have asked in vain for that same respect from them? It might have been a better idea to phrase your post in asking for respect to be shown on both sides. Because I have seen *no* respect proffered by these men to their critics. They have conducted themselves poorly, they have declared that anyone pointing out their sexism is equivalent to thought police and oppressive dictatorships and they have made it very clear that they do not think they have done anything wrong.

    As the poster above points out, if they do not wish their discussion to be critiqued in terms of their gender and age then perhaps they should stop framing their discussion in gender and age, specifically as regards to women.

    Or perhaps I should play the barbie doll (the toy apparently modern women should model themselves on) and maintain dignified silence. Emphasis on the silence.*

    *Suggested by one of the men you’re defending.

  3. I’m not suggesting that any side of this argument is entitled to any more or any less respect than any other – to suggest otherwise is just misinterpretation of what I am trying to say. Nor am I seeking to defend anyone – to suggest otherwise is also misinterpretation.

  4. I am not sure its possible for their to be a mutually respectful dialogue. 1) The gents started the dialogue(and I am not sure that it was a dialogue) and showed no respect for their opponents 2) chiefly because Resnick and Malzberg play within the sandpit of the Bulletin and those arguing against them seem to have had to go outside the organisation to get an appropriate response. They are talking in different rooms as it were.

    For their to be a dialogue there has to be a willingness to engage from both sides and Resnick and Malzberg were only ever voicing their opinion and expecting to be deferred/listened to( I think).

    As for respectful dialogue/argument against their column/stance Jim Hines has a good cross section of links.

    “While I doubt that I agree with everything that Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg say and believe, I respect their contribution to SF, the genre I love. I respect their work, I must have first read their stories over 20 years ago. I respect their achievements.”

    I haven’t read them. But should their contribution to the field be a defense against harsh, disrespectful criticism of their pretty off colour views. They show a distinct lake of respect for women sff writers,and no goodwill in engaging with their critics. I haven’t noted criticisms from LeGuin/Atwood, perhaps they had this dialogue long ago and found they were talking to a brick wall?

    I can respect their contribution and still call them on their being sexist dinosaurs. I think we all should, perhaps those closest to them need to be taking them aside and having a frank discussion.

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