Reanimated; The SFWA Bulletin Kerfluffle Lurches Back to Life

I wrote about this in June of 2013, I think. I thought it was dead. The Science Fiction Writer Assocation (SFWA) issues an association journal called The SFWA Bulletin. It’s a house-organ, basically, aimed at providing useful information on the profession of writing to speculative fiction and fantasy writers. Back last year, SFWA got burned by what was, essentially, an inattentive editor who made a series of bad choices (two at least, probably three if you count the “impassioned defense” issue).

After lots of hoopla, SFWA removed that editor. Case closed, right?

Well, you’d think so.

Now, SFWA is advertising for an editor for the Bulletin, and some guy out of nowhere has raised the whole issue again. Because the job description states that the editor needs to be able to work closely with the President or “other readers or volunteers” designated by the President, this guy is screaming “censorship.” He whipped up a petition and wrote an 8 page letter to go with it, and has gotten a number of famous 1960s vintage SF writers to sign off on it.

Then many other members of SFWA were startled, shocked, hurt and outraged when they saw who signed the petition, and they started debating back.

Here’s one thing that’s funny; the guy who did all this isn’t a member of SFWA.

There are many other things that are funny; blogs are frothing, tweets are flittering, and its quite the Big-Gulp-sized tempest. When all is said and done, a minority of SFWA members want to control a procedure that is clearly spelled out in the association’s by-laws, and is being handled appropriately by the President, Stephen Gould. At least one of this minority seems to think that his status as a Grand Master means he should get his way.

Both Gould, the current president, and John Scalzi,the former president, have behaved admirably and with integrity during both generations of this flutter.

What is so strange, though, is that this issue still has legs.  (And when I say “this issue,” I mean the issue of whether a professional organization has the right to exercise control over the professional journal that bears its name, and whether they have the right to make management and personnel decisions regarding the running of the journal.) Maybe zombies are real, after all? Maybe months after you die, you can lurch back to life and shamble through the neighborhood, randomly biting your neighbors. Who knew?

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