The irrelevance of SFWA

Well, I think this should suffice to explode any remaining vestiges of the perceived importance of the SFWA concerning one’s prospective career in writing science fiction. Barely one week after the release of QUANTUM MORTIS: A Man Disrupted, Amazon has ranked me as the ~1* author in Science Fiction. First time that’s ever happened.

It also demonstrates, to a certain extent, the lack of an absolute need to distribute books through bookstores. As it happens, the 96 94 ranking applies to all books; the ebook-only ranking is 77. Conventional print distribution is still desirable, of course, but it isn’t absolutely necessary anymore. And it is going to become even less important when Barnes & Noble finally goes the way of Waldenbooks, Borders, and B. Dalton.

The punchline is that in addition to relative nobodies like me cracking the top 100 Most Popular Books in Science Fiction, the #1 author in the category is someone nearly as well-beloved by the SFWA pinkshirts, Orson Scott Card. And the #3 author in Fantasy? None other than the SFWA-spurning master Monster Hunter himself, Larry Correia. Note that the SF author listed just above me, Aaron Johnston, is playing in Orson Scott Card’s universe.

Sure, the pinkshirts have still got George R.R. Martin to top the fantasy list and Tor will continue dutifully trying to push its dreadful Pink SF on everyone, but how long will that last? While it is still easier to make obeisance to the pinkshirts and their ever-changing PC standards, the point is that their approval is no longer necessary and will eventually become undesirable. By way of example, look at how rapidly and completely McRapey changed his tune with regards to self-publishers. Were we not all creators last year too? Now that the gatekeepers are crumbling and people are given a broader range from which they can choose what sort of science fiction and fantasy they prefer, I expect Blue SF to absolutely foxnews the hell out of Pink SF.

And setting aside new distribution models, just wait until the effects from the new shared revenue translation model begin to come into play. There are already no less than 10 translations in the works from Latin to Bahasa Indonesia; here is a short selection from one of them:

Vuonna 2810 ensimmäisen kerran asutettu ja terraformoitu Rhysalan kehittyi nopeasti tärkeäksi planeetaksi Kantillonin alasektorissa Terran Laajemman Keskusvallan reunamilla. Strategisen sijaintinsa vuoksi planeetta oli kiivaan sotilaallisen toiminnan kohteena ja vaihtoi haltijaa useita kertoja ennen kuin lopulta vakiinnutti asemansa itsenäisenä planeettana vuonna 2935 Keskusvallan 21. laivueen amiraalin Beze Davenantin, ensimmäisen Rhysalan Herttuan, alaisuudessa.
— Thucidean Marc, ”Rhysalan Herttuoiden historia”

It was certainly a fascinating discussion trying to determine whether ‘valtapiiri’, ‘valtakunta’, ‘imperiumi’ or ‘keskuvallan’ was the best way to translate ‘Ascendancy’. As you can see, we went with the latter. Also, if you’re ever being chased by a Finn, just tell him he’s got an extra umlaut in a word and be sure not to tell him which one. It’s like scattering salt in front of a leprechaun. If the Russians had only known this trick back in the days of the Talvisota, they would have captured Helsinki in a week.

As one translator wrote: “I’m interested in being an active part in the Blue SF Revolution”. There are no shortage of languages still unaddressed, so if you’re a native speaker of one of them and you want to take an active part too, get in touch.

*For varying quantities of ~. To be more specific, No. 94.