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Transcriptase

Interesting update on the William Sanders/Helix mess from a while back. A number of authors (it looks like fifteen) have chosen to make their Helix-published work available at Transcriptase. Some have removed their work from Helix, while others have chosen to let it remain (for a variety of reasons, including obligation, Sanders' refusal to remove the stories -- which he is within his rights to do, or because they still love the magazine). The author statements are also worth reading.

Reaction to this mess has been interesting. The blogosphere has been pretty strong in its condemnation. In another area, I've watched discussion begin with "What's the big deal" and devolve into people making slut/ho jokes. And in Sanders' newsgroup, I've seen accusations that the only people getting worked up over this are wannabe losers trying to make themselves feel important. To that last accusation, I think it's worth noting some of the names involved in Transcriptase, including Eugie Foster, Jennifer Pelland, Beth Bernobich, and Janis Ian, among others. The author statements are worth reading as well, and I think it's important to note the range of reactions.

Would write more, but I've got a book deadline in 24 hours.

ETA: First paragraph edited to try to reduce my own biases. Thanks, shsilver.

Comments

shsilver
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:06 pm (UTC)
You note that some of the authors at Transcriptase left their work up at Helix either out of obligation or because they couldn't get it taken down. You seem to ignore that fact that those aren't the only reasons. Jennifer Pelland notes that she left it up because "But I’m also happy to have my stories remain in the Helix archives alongside so many wonderful authors’ wonderful works. I still love the magazine."

And many of the authors at Transcriptase have not (as of this writing) declared any reason for either leaving their story up or participating in the new project.
jimhines
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
Fair enough. I've edited that paragraph. Thanks!
beth_bernobich
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC)
Many of us decided that the general statement was sufficient. Some might decide to add their own statements later. (Me, for example.)

michaeldthomas
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
From what I read, Helix seems like a great webzine. I can't imagine many other outlets publishing something like jenwrites's "Captive Girl." It's a shame that this controversy overshadows that.

I guess I can still seperate the artist from the art. OSC's crazy rants againt gay marriage doesn't change the fact that I loved Ender's Game. Likewise, Sanders's views don't change the fact that Helix was publishing some wonderful stuff.


nick_kaufmann
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
Of course, but sometimes it really is about the company you keep. As a writer, I wouldn't publish anything with Helix at this point, as it would be tantamount to saying, "Sure the editor's racist and misogynistic, but heck, this story was too good NOT to send him!"

I made a similar decision not to submit anything to specialty press Bad Moon Books after the editor there revealed himself to be a raging homophobe who called Poppy Z Brite a "faggot" and then defended himself when called on it by saying everyone was out to get him because "I'm straight and don't have AIDS." Say what now?
rachel_swirsky
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
Heh, as a writer, sending something to Sanders at this point would be... um, well, given how he's treated writers during this mess... in my opinion, publishing with him at this point is tantamount to inviting abuse.
michaeldthomas
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC)
And yet, how many people are going to stop publishing in OSC's Intergalactic Medicine Show? Nobody is attacking those writers.

According to Sanders, Helix already has a sizable backlog of stories. I just don't think it's fair to abuse those upcoming authors.






pendamuse
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
No one is abusing the upcoming authors.

Some are just choosing to no longer read Helix nor donate to keep the magazine going. People can choose where to send their stories and their money, and Helix is consequently off many people's lists.

Authors can still have their credit with Helix and hopefully will put up their stories someplace else where others can read them.
michaeldthomas
Jul. 31st, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
I think it's fair for people to choose not to read Helix. Sanders said uncool things, and then made it much worse by mishandling the situation.

I hope that you're right and people will refrain from abusing those upcoming authors.

nick_kaufmann
Jul. 31st, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
And yet, how many people are going to stop publishing in OSC's Intergalactic Medicine Show? Nobody is attacking those writers.

With all due respect, this is a bit of a straw man argument. We're not talking about OSC here, we're talking about Sanders and Helix. Dragging in another name, even if you think it's tangentially related, does little but muddy the waters of the discussion at hand and drag things off topic. It also makes it very easy to ignore or belittle what's being discussed, instead of addressing it.

According to Sanders, Helix already has a sizable backlog of stories. I just don't think it's fair to abuse those upcoming authors.

Are people abusing those authors?
pendamuse
Jul. 31st, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
I may be the first to say this, so be it.
No one is abusing those authors, but I think it's safe to say that blindly standing by as this swirls and proclaiming that the two are separate (the editor's views and the magazine which seem to hinge on the editor's views) taints everyone involved.

I have no problem with an author who wants to leave thier works up but decries what Sanders did.

I cannot say with certainty that I will not look at an author published in Helix who claims that this issue is nothing more that whiny authors looking to get attention over a rejection letter with a favorable eye. I've come across three so far, and I while I may not have picked up their work before, I can't be certain that I won't avoid them in the future. I'm human and therefore fickle.

Much like it's hard to read Lewis Carroll's work without the tickling that he may have had an unhealthy thing for little girls. Much like it's very difficult for me to read anything by Orson Scott Card knowing how he feels about issues I in turn feel very strongly about. (Yes these names are "tangentially related", as you say, but still make the point)

Silence isn't an option. Not speaking up about what happened only says the problem doesn't exist or it doesn't matter or it's a non-issue. I can't see how that's acceptable.
michaeldthomas
Jul. 31st, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
Fair enough. The OSC stuff is fresh in my mind, and I just find it interesting that I'm not hearing anything about authors pulling their stories or boycotts of the market. It makes me wonder if the reaction to Sanders's bigotry would have been different if he was more famous and Helix was a SFWA-eligible market.

As for making it easier to ignore or belittle the Sanders stuff, I'm pretty sure that it has been discussed in thorough detail. I believe he deserves all of the criticism. He said horrible things and acted like a jackass when he was caught.

Are people abusing those authors?
Nobody is abusing those authors yet, but I'm afraid that people will think these authors are "inviting abuse" once their stories are published. I just don't think that author should be chastised for the independent jackassery of their editor.

(no subject) - nick_kaufmann - Jul. 31st, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - michaeldthomas - Jul. 31st, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shsilver - Jul. 31st, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nick_kaufmann - Jul. 31st, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
rachel_swirsky
Jul. 31st, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
You misunderstand me.

Sanders has abused the writers he's worked with, some of us tacitly, others explicitly. I would never work with him again because he is abusive toward his writers.
pats_quinade
Jul. 31st, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
Agreed, at least with what I think you're saying (so if I go off on a strange non-what-you-said tangent, it's me getting it wrong).

I think, as a judgmental self-righteous person who tries to be aware of the fact that I am same, I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm more likely to pick up something by someone who spoke up. I'll try to give the benefit of the doubt to people who didn't pull their stories and didn't issue any kind of statement -- I'll treat them like the friends of the guy who's acting like an asshole at the party, assuming that they aren't assholes but are uncomfortable with their friend being an asshole and aren't sure what to do about it.

The people who defended him do not get that same benefit of the doubt. You want to stand there silently and uncomfortably because you don't feel comfortable taking a stand? Cool. There are issues where I'm like that. But if you jump in to defend Sanders, you've picked a side, and that side is wrong.

So no, I won't be boycotting anyone still on Helix. I just won't be reading anyone who stuck up publicly for bigotry.
rachel_swirsky
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
There was only a period of like 2 days in which to remove stories and poems... though I admit I probably wouldn't have done it anyway, mostly out of feeling it wasn't a very effective form of protest. (Though I don't criticize those who chose to have their work removed, of course.)

I didn't contribute a statement, but I have growled about this in other fora. As someone whose primary work is fiction who published only a poem in Helix, I feel that my investment in the situation is less than that of a lot of other involved authors, so I generally prefer to defer to their lead.

I may add links to my livejournal and political blogging posts about the subject, the most recent of which is here.

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