Sunday, April 01, 2007

Tossing My Hat Into The Ring

I'd really hoped it wouldn't come to this, but in all honesty, the field of candidates eager to be elected the next president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America has left me profoundly underwhelmed. Which is why I'm now announcing my write-in candidacy for president of SFWA. My credentials speak for themselves: I've been a member of SFWA since 1997 and an active member since 1998. I've volunteered as the SFWA Net Ring Master since around 2002 or so and for the past year have served as the SFWA Media Director, heading up the publicity committee. Beyond that, I've experience in the fandom roots of the genre, having worked numerous conventions and running AggieCon 22 back in 1991. I've a decade and a half's worth of experience as a journalist, published short fiction, non-fiction and a book. I've done reviews and criticism, essays and pop culture riffs. I edited fiction for RevolutionSF for three years, publishing such writers as Gene Wolfe, Joe R. Lansdale and Stephen Dedman. In short, I've got the widest range of experience of any of the announced candidates, not to mention a tremendous sense of history and a vision for shaking off the ossified shell of the moribund organization. The publishing world has changed greatly over the past decade, yet SFWA still functions as it did when Damon Knight founded it nearly five decades back. Here are my platform proposals by which SFWA will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the modern era:
1) Short fiction will no longer count toward Active Membership. Short fiction is a dying art, kept on life support by dying markets. SFWA should no longer encourage writers to pursue this dead-end form out of misplaced nostalgia, instead encouraging writers to pursue more viable forms. Short fiction sales will continue to count toward Affiliate Membership and requalification.

2) Active Members must sell a minimum of three (3) pieces of short fiction or one (1) novel to professional publishers in the preceding five-year period to maintain active status. If a member fails to meet this modest requirement, their membership will be downgraded to non-voting Affiliate Membership.

3) All online publication of fiction, be it via established webzines, blogs, podcasts, vidcasts or other downloadable forms will be considered "professional sales" as long as they have a payment option available. Online publication IS the future, and SFWA must take a leadership role rather than continue to hold it at arm's length.

4) The Nebula Awards Weekend will permanently rotate between New York City and Los Angeles. These are the United States' two largest media centers, and SFWA does itself little good by holding the annual ceremonies in such publicity backwaters as Santa Fe, New Mexico and Austin, Texas.

5) All short fiction categories will be eliminated from the Nebula Awards ballot (see proposal 1), replaced by awards for Best Podcast, Best Blog, Best Webzine and Best Vidcast (see proposal 3). Additionally, SFWA will also name a "Member of the Year" (not a Nebula) at the ceremonies, recognizing one of the rank-and-file who make the organization what it is.

6) Works will become eligible for the Nebula Award at time of payment. Publication is nice, but payment is what keep writers from eating dog food.

7) The Nebula Awards bizarre "rolling eligibility" will be eliminated. Instead, works remain eligible in perpetuity, which benefits writers who a) publish mainly via the small press before landing mass-market distribution and b) writers who only gain popularity late in their career, or posthumously. Once a work receives sufficient nominations to make the preliminary ballot, or enough votes to reach the final ballot--provided it doesn't win the award--the totals are reset to zero and the nomination process begins again. I call this the "Philip K. Dick" clause.

8) There will be a five-year moratorium on all bylaws amendment proposals. These contentious events are divisive to the membership, which has demonstrated aggressive apathy toward them in recent years. Imposing a moratorium will allow lingering ill feelings to subside and allow the president and board of directors to manage the organization without the specter of rules changes every six months.

9) The president will serve a five-year term, with the board of directors serving staggered four-year terms. Elected officers may not seek reelection, but may serve non-consecutive terms. The greatest obstacle preventing SFWA from reaching its full potential is the lack of continuity inherent in single-year presidential terms, with presidents leaving office before initiatives come to fruition. With this simple change, SFWA's presidential administration focus can change from short-term and reactive to one of long-term strategy. In the event of officer maleficence, said offender may be removed from the held position by a simple two-thirds majority vote of all Active Membership.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my position statement. Your attention is gratifying and I humbly look forward to your support.

Now Playing: Ettore Strata Music from the Galaxies


  1. An April's Fools Joke perhaps?

  2. Okay, the first time I read this, I didn't know what to make of it. For all that I know of the SFWA, those might be reasonable suggestions over there. But the timing was off, and that puzzled me.

    Then I looked at the date.

    Well played, sir! Well played!