Thursday, February 20, 2014

"And All Of Fandom Was Plunged Into War!" - The Latest SFWA Flap

The current situation in SFWA, from an ancient and former fan's perspective.

No. No comment. I used to be a fan, until The Great Purge of Minicon, but now I'm not. And this current flap, as well as a number of other unsavory incidents, is one of the major reasons why I'm still not a 'fan'...


  1. Replies
    1. The 'old guys' in SFWA are at feud with the 'new guys', more or less. For a better idea of the internecine struggle, may I suggest: - scroll down to the 'Sean Fodera' post by Ken White


      Sigh. It's a mess, and not getting any better.


  2. Yeah, it's sad. It's as if the world broke and never healed after the so called "race fail" where nobody came away unscathed.

    Do I even dare ask what The Great Purge of Minicon was all about?

    1. Minicon used to be one of the five big regional F/SF conventions, along with Boskone, Loscon, and two other East Coast cons. It was nominally run by the Minnesota Science Fiction Society (usually referred to by the abbreviation 'Mn-Stf'), a 501(c)3 non-profit chartered for the 'advancement of science fiction and fantasy literature in all of it's many and varied forms'.
      The reality of the situation was a little at odds with this; over the years, the thirty-some people in the group had become very inward-looking and self-referential. The convention was being run by what amounted to a separate fannish group, much like those of us in the fan group referred to as 'The Permanent Floating World Con Civil Service' who were in effect semi-professional con runners.

      Some of the people in Mn-stf, the self-styled 'Gang of Ten', made the decision to 'fix Minicon' by expelling everyone that they didn't approve of. This included 'media fans', gamers, costumers, nd everyone else who didn't subscribe to the same 'sex and drugs and rock and roll' lifestyle that the Gang of Ten espoused. This was very successful, in their opnion - Minicon went from over 4,000 attendees down to about 300, thus making the convention into the "party for us and 250 of our friends' that the Gang of Ten wanted.

      Mn-stf still can't figure out why so few people come to their convention, to this day...

      That's a summary of what was a traumatic time in local fandom; the deep scars are still with us today...

      Minicon still floats around 300 to 400 people attending, while the expelled masses went off and started their own convention, Convergence. This is one of the largest fan-run conventions in the US, with about 4500 attendees every year.

    2. Ah, I see. Thanks for the summary.

      It's sad to hear stories like that. Often they sound good, with "core fandom" and such at heart. But, fandom has always been a very inclusive and eclectic community and trying to limit that has always ended badly, even when the idea was "good" to start with.

      At least Convergence is around...

    3. I agree; it did end very badly for 'core fandom', but the larger fan community in the Twin Cities really benefited from it after the initial trauma.

      There is a sad little personal footnote to the whole mess; after I was told by the Gang of Ten that - being a costumer, gamer, and Star Trek fan - I was not welcome at 'their Minicon, I stopped going to meetings and got on with my life and helping set up Convergence. Later on, that summer, I got a call from one of the Minicon Programming Committee people, wondering why I hadn't been showing up at meetings. They really missed me, especially as they needed my technical support for their new and improved convention.

      (I was, at that time, working in the show production business, and had been donating a lot of time and equipment to the convention to help them with costs.)

      After I tried to explain the situation to this person, she told me that the Gang of Ten had found that the actual work involved in running a convention had been too much for them, and they were no longer associated with the convention. I explained that I found this odd, especially when I had videotaped their announcement about The Great Purge at the previous convention and during which they had all stated quite specifically that they were all committed to running the convention "for the long term".

      She was quite insistent that the convention really, really needed me, and that I was welcome once again at "their Minicon". Further conversation revealed the heart of the matter; the convention had had to move to a new hotel, due to not having signed the contract with the old one for the coming year, and they'd submitted my contract for production services to the hotel - their assumption was that I was ripping them off, and that they could get the same level of equipment and services from the hotel much more cheaply.

      The hotel's estimate for what I had been providing for a flat $15,000 per year came back, and the 'new' Minicon Committee freaked out; the hotel wanted over $56,000 for the exact same level of support. I had been donating a lot of time and equipment for nothing, which the Gang of Ten had 'overlooked'.

      So, all of a sudden, I was popular again. And very, very welcome at the 'new' Minicon.

      I simply smiled sweetly, and reminded the programming person of the high ideals of the Gang of Ten, and how Minicon needed to be purified of the 'fringe fans' that had caused all of the problems.

      No, I didn't go; they had to do without. And I've never been back; I don't miss them. At all.


    4. Jesus...

      Good call, Jeff. Good call...