- Written by Michael Z Williamson
Here's the scenario.┬á You're running an event, and on TWITter or Fecesbook, someone calls out a guest and states, "I wouldn't feel safe with this person at the con!"
You must immediately ban this person from the convention.
No, not the guest. The person making the public scene.
This person is arrogating a lot of significance to themselves. The statement assumes that the guest in question either knows this person or will seek them out, and has time allotted for the purpose of interacting with them, any desire to do so, and such interaction must be negative. All of which are almost certainly utterly false assumptions.
For myself, it doesn't matter to me one way or the other how the complainant feels. Their statement alone makes it clear that interacting with such a person is of utterly no interest or consequence to me. I can find much better people to interact with. Actually, let me rephrase that: I can find PEOPLE to interact with.
In fact, they're almost certainly well aware they're perfectly safe, and attempting to drive political opposition into the shadows.
Well, no one ever accused Nazis of honesty.
Furthermore, they've passively-aggressively created an interaction where none existed.
They have, in fact, created an interaction with the guest, and an interaction with you, in a public scene.┬á Imagine if they walked up to you (or the guest) at the con, and shouted, "STOP HARASSING ME!"
You must assume their intent is to lay groundwork to CREATE a scene they can attempt to blame the guest, or you, for.
In reality, no professional should feel safe with such a person at a convention, and since the professional is the draw, not the nobody, the nobody should be immediately banned for the safety of the guest, the staff, and the other attendees.
Because, if you actually have a legitimate issue with someone, here's how it is handled, speaking from experience.
Most conventions ask their guests in surveys, privately, "Is there anyone you don't want to be on a panel with?"
I have a very short list of people who I simply can't get along with. If the convention wants to put them on a panel, I can do a different one. No harm, no foul.
There was one time when I did have a legitimate legal issue with another person (long resolved, it was merely administrative).┬á What I did was contact the event PRIVATELY, inform them of the issue, and tell them, "This person is not to approach my booth, and I will not approach theirs.┬á I do not anticipate trouble, but if they enter my booth I will shout for security at once as a safety measure for us both."
In one case, I actually was harassed by an individual whose stated purpose in showing up at the con was to harass certain "conservatives," me among them, even though I am not conservative. I went quietly to Con Ops, explained the issue, and the individual was informed not to approach me or my family again.
In no case did I whine like a worthless fucking attention whore to the world, pointing a finger like a body snatcher and shrieking like an angry toddler.
As we've seen at least three times now, knuckling under to this type of crybully is like trying to appease a toddler or terrorist.┬á Once you give in once, you have delegated veto power to them and the TWITter dogpile.
At which point, the reasonable (non-public) response may become public itself, thus giving you...instant controversy.
Your only rational, immediate response to avoid "controversy" is just to ban the person making the public scene. They've already told you by this action that they intend to cause trouble for at least one of your guests and that guest's followers.
"I wouldn't feel safe with this person at the con!"
"We're sorry you feel that way.┬á Here's a full refund.* We hope to see you at a future event."
Then stop responding. You'll only give attention to an attention whore.
Having seen this happen to guests at least three times, any future guest invitations I accept will involve a signed cancellation clause and a cash penalty for doing so, because once a guest has made arrangements for your event, they can't schedule something else, and you're eating up their writing/art/production time. They are there for YOUR benefit, not you for theirs. In my case, I currently have three novels, a collection, an anthology, all contracted, another novel offer, three on spec, an article request, three short stories and a lengthy stack of products to test and review, and an entire summer of professional bookings. I have a not-quite four year old and a teenager. Don't waste my time then roll over for some worthless whiner.
┬áI encourage all other pros to implement the same policy. My attorney has a sample you can use.
*Assuming they've even reserved space or intended to, rather than just harassing your convention for "justice," as happened at least twice.
The guests are professionals. It's time the conventions started acting the same way.
ADDENDUM: I was contacted this morning (May 16, 2018 ) by a convention who is proactively taking this step. Of course, they're the type of convention for whom this would never be an issue. Which is why they're confident taking it.
- Written by Michael Z Williamson
Forged in Blood, Best Anthology, Preditors and Editors readers' poll.
The credit belongs to the amazing group of authors who wrote it. It was an amazing experience to work with all of them.
On behalf of them and myself, thank you very much.
- Written by Michael Z Williamson
As a vendor, sales were amazing. While I do have some competition on cosplay grade swords, I'm the only one with both functional replicas and actual antiques. There are, in fact buyers for such at an event of this magnitude.
As a writer, I saw an upcoming anthology that listed my name right below David Drake's, and I was on a panel about "Real SF for Writers" that involved me, Timothy Zahn, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. ┬áI can only hope that some day all of this will pay off to being a "real" writer who can dare to hope to be invited to literary conventions.
Both girlfriends were with me, and someone not clear on what that meant asked me, "Isn't that dangerous if they meet?" No, not at all, since we were all in the same room. How does that work, you ask? ┬áWonderfully. Thanks for asking.
There were some amazing cosplays, including Teenage Mutant Stormtrooper Turtles with kilts, a Deadpool/Assassin's Creed/Jedi mashup, and someone doing a great Randy Savage outfit.
I tried some new to me Scotches.
Off site, I got to show off my cape gun and a Lefaucheux 12mm pinfire to several writers who also share an interest in firearms.
There was a mass signing for Black Tide Rising, AND for Forged in Blood. The latter with myself, Larry Correia, Mike Massa, Chris Smith an Kacey Ezell.
I may have a paid interview gig on SF for another outlet.
The drive back wasn't too bad on top of that.
No food poisoning this year.
Already booked for next year.
- Written by Michael Z Williamson
It is good advice for any writer to look for patterns in reviews.┬á If a number of readers all complain about the same matter, even if their interpretation is incorrect, it means the writer either did not explain the issue properly, or failed to reach the correct audience.
At the same time, a reader should comprehend the subject or genre enough that axiomatic issues don't need to be explained because they are axiomatic.
To see an example of this, we need look no further than modern "liberal" science fiction readers and Heinlein's novel, "Friday."
I first read this in high school, and understood it on several levels.┬á But, as of the mid 1990s, I've heard repeated complaints, most of them around the assumption, "No woman falls in love with her rapist."
Well, first of all, women do that all the time, and with non-sexual abusers, too. There are a variety of psychological discussions as to why this is, but they're outside of my field and beyond the scope of this post.
The important point, and Heinlein was not at all subtle about it, is that Friday is not human, she is an alien.
She is an Artificial Person, required in every society in her world to carry ID stating so, and discriminated against in levels from being forbidden to vote or own property, all the way to slavery or sanctioned extermination.┬á Due to her job as a clandestine agent, she has fake ID that says she's human, and she's well aware of the privilege she holds over others of her kind, and is ashamed and guilty about it.
She is so very aware of her non-human, unperson, unclean status that even the act of being raped and tortured doesn't bother her emotionally.┬á It's just a thing, like getting wet in the rain or having debris fall on you. Artificial entities that are not people don't feel emotion, or so she's had beaten into her her entire life.
Except of course, at another level, she actually is human, and is grasping at personality and self worth.
It's a constant matter of discussion for the character. "How do you feel about Artificial Persons?" She could as well, within the last century, asked about gays, Jews, blacks, and the question would be as relevant.┬á She asks this because she looks like a "normal" human being, and is, as are the others, even when a society doesn't recognize that.
Her boss/father figure constantly reassures her she is normal and human.┬á She's genetically engineered to the point where she is smarter, faster, stronger, fitter and more durable than almost anyone around her, but this vulnerability is the vulnerability of spirit, and no amount of labwork can fix or prevent that.
Further, the rapist she eventually falls in love with was himself both an Artificial Person, and a slave, being ordered to perform the task. It's made very clear he isn't happy with it, and would like to treat her decently, but is forbidden the opportunity.┬á He also is not "human" for purposes of the society.
Nor was Heinlein particularly subtle about it. Every chapter has an interaction with a family, partner, friend, associate on how frustrated she is at not being human, not being accepted, considered a thing, only of worth as a machine to be used and discarded.
The failure of readership is that despite the very obvious presentation of a character as an outsider to the society, not only unsuited to it, but ostracized by it, all those particular readers see is "female body, ergo female human."
Exactly the same issue so many of them claim to care about and rail against in other contexts.
They are literally so privileged they are unable to grasp the point of view of the underclass even exists, much less what it is.
This supports an hypothesis of mine that most such "social justice" types are themselves exceptionally shallow, narrow-minded bigots.┬á When something even more blatant than "Friday" comes along, and they are forced to be aware of their own human failings, they over-react, as does the reformed alcoholic or druggie who suddenly "Finds God" and obsesses over religion (versus faith or piety) to the point where it's apparent it's merely a substitute addiction.
Once aware of their own failings, their form of denial is to project their shortcomings onto all "normal" people, who obviously feel as they do, about those "non-normal" people they suddenly realize were in fact human beings all along.
If anyone dares to say, "Yes, I knew about this, and your sudden obsession is disturbing," they still struggle with their own internal ignorance, reluctant to accept their error, and can only assume their antagonist must not actually grasp the wrongness.
When I began writing this, my thought was, "These people shouldn't read science fiction. They're obviously incapable of comprehending it."
But I think instead, they should read science fiction, rather than the crap they have replaced it with, where every culture and cast is stratified into the "correct" ratio and recognition.
Because that type of society is exactly the problem, and they still don't get it.
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