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On the 2018 Nebula Award Finalists Controversy

There is a budding controversy in SF that is on the verge of become a minor scandal. It seems a Facebook group called 20Booksto50k may or may not be the source of a slate of nominees for the 2018 Nebula Award. I was going to write a post covering this issue, but then I found Cara Buhlert’s work and Camestros Felapton’s posts on this topic and was no longer sure I could do better.

Writing about fandom really isn’t my thing, so perhaps this is just as well.

So instead of a post, here’s a recommended reading list to help you catch up on the story. (Since the FB group in question is closed, and thus can’t be read by non-members, all of the links lead to blog posts.)

You should start with the thoughts and musings section at the end of Cora Buhlert’s post from 21 February. Then go read Camestros Felapton’s post from 21 February on the not-a-slate. Then read Buhlert’s reaction post from a week later, and head over to File 770 to read the official statement from the SFWA and a statement from the originator of the "slate".

I have been distantly following this story since the finalists were announced a couple weeks ago, and I am a member of that group (since April 2018, to be exact). I don’t beleive that either an official or unofficial attempt to nominate a slate. The group in question is dedicated to helping authors _legitimately_ achieve commercial success through writing stories that people want to buy.

I do not believe this was an attempt to game the system, but that is, however, what ended up happening.

image by JSJ1946 via Flickr

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Joe Lewis March 2, 2019 um 11:17 pm

There’s a response to that file770 post. It’s unsettling.

Erin March 6, 2019 um 4:15 pm

Yikes. That is detailed and I feel bad for the authors who are going through this without any clue of how this drama works and unfolds, especially fueled by Twitter.

Chris Lopes March 4, 2019 um 8:26 pm

This isn’t about slates, it’s about the fact that a whole bunch of people not connected to traditional publishing are actually selling books when members of SFWA aren’t. My guess is the SFWA will find a way to lock the independents out of the Nebula, and said independents will just go back to making money. Then the Nebulas can remain as relevant to SF as the Hugos are.

Nate Hoffelder March 5, 2019 um 9:16 am

"when members of SFWA aren’t"

You have absolutely zero evidence to back up that claim, but if it makes you feel better to tell yourself that, knock yourself out.

Chris Lopes March 5, 2019 um 12:41 pm

I don’t care etheir way actually, but your reaction is a tell.

Nate Hoffelder March 5, 2019 um 2:54 pm

Then why did you make a baseless claim that spun the situation as "successful indies being excluded by failing SFWA clique"?

If that wasn’t your goal then you should really be more careful with your word choice.

Chris Lopes March 5, 2019 um 3:07 pm

The problem is you have a supposedly professional organization that doesn’t seem to trust its members to act professionally. SFWA isn’t WorldCom. A bunch of alt-right trolls aren’t going to buy their way in to nominate some dipstick tome about space raptor butt sex. So I ask myself why SFWA is over reacting to a recommendation list. It smells like fear.

Nate Hoffelder March 5, 2019 um 3:13 pm

What has the SFWA done besides release a neutral statement?

Chris Lopes March 5, 2019 um 3:25 pm

The statements of some of its members have been far from neutral. In any case, an organization that doesn’t trust its members doesn’t deserve to have any.

Nate Hoffelder March 5, 2019 um 3:32 pm

You made a classic logical flaw when you conflated persons and the group. They are not the same any more than a random Democrat on Twitter is the same as the Democratic Party. (This kind of political thinking is why I am glad I don’t write about fandom.)

Also, the SFWA does trust its members:

And finally, when it comes to every Nebula Awards ballot, we ask that you judge each of the works with care and consideration. The work that stays with you, that moves you, that work that you love the most should earn your vote. It is our hope that you will join us on this very first step, showing just how strong we all can be when we work together.

Chris Lopes March 5, 2019 um 3:49 pm

If the members aren’t the organization, then this is all to do about nothing. There is obviously no controversy and we can ignore the chatter.

Disgusting Dude March 5, 2019 um 6:22 pm

The problem with attributing the deeds of some members of the SFWA to the whole organization is that the SFWA membership includes Indies and has since 2015.

Check out the requirements:

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