As he learned from his Mommy, Johnny thinks that if you pretend to embrace an insult, you are totally showing the big meanie that he can’t hurt you. Because if you put on a big enough production, no one will notice that you’re crying yourself to sleep at night.
“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.”
— (name withheld) on SFF.net, during the recent unpleasantness.
Heh heh heh. I realize, of course, that the person who wrote the comment above meant “insect” as an insult. But what do we know about insects? They are numerous, adaptable, highly successful as a class, and, when they put their mind to it, absolutely unstoppable. No wonder this person seems terrified.
As it happens, I have for a long time said that there are three types of writers: dinosaurs, mammals and cockroaches. Dinosaurs are the writers who are tied into an old model of the writing and publishing life, and when that specific model dies, so does the writer’s career. Mammals are the ones who ride the wave of a new writing/publishing model into success and prominence — but if they tie their fortunes to that one model, they’ll find themselves transformed into dinosaurs soon enough. Cockroaches, on the other hand, learn and adapt and thrive in every circumstance, in part because they know that things change. If you’re a writer, being a cockroach is the way to go.
And so, oh! The irony! Of calling writers the thing that (metaphorically) it is awesome to be, careerwise.
For the record (and because it is referring to my time in office, which I can speak about): I am immensely proud to have, along with Mary Robinette Kowal (my VP for two thirds of my administration) and the rest of the board and volunteers, through our efforts on behalf of our membership, helped to bring so many of the writers this person so dismissively refers to as “insects” into SFWA. These writers are talented, opinionated, smart and adaptable, and not coincidentally write some really great things, and were already in my time doing good for the organization. If this person wants to put me at the head of this insect army, I’m delighted to accept the commission (as is Mary! I asked her! She said yes!).
Mary and I are no longer officers of SFWA, but I think our commissions at the head of the Insect Army are still in effect: After all, not every “insect” is in SFWA (yet). And so I say to you: Join John and Mary’s Insect Army! You must write! You must be fearless! You must stand your ground in the face of deeply silly insults, clacking your pincers derisively at them! And, if you believe that every person — writer, “insect” and otherwise — should be treated with the same dignity and honor that you would accord yourself, so much the better. Together we can swarm to make science fiction and fantasy awesome!
Insect is an apt term for them. They are nobodies and no-talents led by mediocrities who have careers by virtue of smoke, mirrors, and being chosen by other mediocrities due to their ideological affiliations. We’re not talking about China Mieville here. We’re not talking about Charles Stross or the late Iain M. Banks, left-wing writers of genuine talent. We’re talking about the nattering nothings. Scalzi is lying when he says: “These writers are talented, opinionated, smart and adaptable, and not coincidentally write some really great things.”
They’re not talented. They’re not smart. Most of them are barely even published. They’re not adaptable, they’re intolerant, and most of them don’t even write as well as the definitively mediocre Scalzi, who produced this award-winning dialogue:
“Man, I owe you a blowjob,” Duvall said.
“What?” Dahl said.
“What?” Hester said.
“Sorry,” Duvall said. “In ground forces, when someone does you a
favor you tell them you owe them a sex act. If it’s a little thing, it’s
a handjob. Medium, blowjob. Big favor, you owe them a fuck. Force of
habit. It’s just an expression.”
“Got it,” Dahl said.
“No actual blowjob forthcoming,” Duvall said. “To be clear”
“It’s the thought that counts,” Dahl said, and turned to Hester. “What about you? You want to owe me a blowjob, too?”
“I’m thinking about it ,” Hester said.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it now takes to win A PARTICIPATION HUGO!
After taking over the SFWA with their bureaucratic swarming thanks to the McCaffrey rule, the insects made the same mistake that all the indebted college students are making today. They think the credentials and the awards matter and they don’t understand that those things were only ever significant because of what they symbolized: SF excellence. A Nebula once meant something. A Hugo once meant something. Now, they’re the reward for meaningless swarmings. The insects mistake the awards for the literary accomplishment.
That’s why the Old Guard’s petition, the Old Guard’s disgust, was so hurtful to them. Because it is an undeniable reminder that the insects cannot live on the stolen glory of their elders and betters.
And now that the gatekeepers don’t matter any longer, now that everyone has equal access to the SF/F readers, we will crush them beneath our iron-shod feet.
As for Mary Puppinette Kowal, the reason she’s a complete nobody is because nobody actually gives a damn what she writes. Nobody reads her except her fellow insects. For all her awards and bureaucratic involvement and being pushed by the biggest genre publisher, her most recent book is ranked #268,486 on Kindle. She’s a nasty little nothing and never-will-be who doesn’t even write SF/F, she writes miscategorized Regency Romance.