20 August 2012

On Weird Tales

It was a sad day when Ann VanderMeer and the rest of the staff at Weird Tales were fired when the magazine was bought by people who wanted to change the direction away from the great innovations Ann et al. had brought to it and instead return the magazine to publishing, apparently, Lovecraft pastiches. Apparently, Ann and creative director Stephen Segal winning a Hugo for their work wasn't good enough. The new owners wanted, they said, to return the magazine to its roots.

Well, Lovecraft was a thoroughgoing racist, and apparently those were the roots editor/publisher Marvin Kaye had in mind, although in his mind it's actually "non-racist". Sure, keep telling yourself that. [Update: Weird Tales has taken Marvin Kaye's post down from their website, so the link there doesn't work. However, there's a Google cache. I'm happy the publisher has apologized, but I'm not a fan of memory holes.]

For a better chronicle of the awful, see Nora Jemison's post on the topic. I'm sure there will be more. I'll update this post as time allows.

For now, though, I'm going to follow Nora's lead and post my story "How to Play with Dolls" here on the blog. It was published by Ann in WT 352, and it is one of my proudest publications. But I want it to be free from association with Weird Tales in its current incarnation.

Update: Completely, totally, and hurriedly stealing some additional links from Shaun Duke:

Given that Revealing Eden would not generally fall under WT's genre purview and that the prose and story are hardly so transcendant as to justify making an exception, it’s impossible to read Kaye’s decision to reprint the first chapter as anything other than a defense of racist writing. It is just barely possible that Foyt may have had the best of intentions and been genuinely taken aback when her book was called out for displaying her unconscious racism. Kaye, however, has no such excuse. This is a calculated statement of scorn for non-white authors and readers and their allies, and it stinks.
Update 2: Weird Tales backpedals.

Update 3: Ann VanderMeer resigns as senior contributing editor of the new WT.

5 comments:

  1. I posted something about it as well, albeit from an ignorant perspective (not familiar with the novel in question and have no immediate personal connection to Weird Tales). I'm taking the step to try to read the book, because I don't feel comfortable making a judgment based on what others are saying (in part because what some have been saying about the book seems to come from a knee-jerk space -- not all are like this, mind you).

    That doesn't change the fact that the wording of Kaye's article is questionable at best, and damn fishy and condescending at worst. You don't write a post defending yourself from cries of racism *before* the cries even begin. If you're really that concerned about a particular piece, you might say "nah, we'll pass" OR ask the community. Throw aside all the racism talks going on and you've still got an utter travesty of public relations...

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    1. I stopped having anything to do with WT when it changed hands -- I'd been excited by Ann, Stephen, and the staff's work on it, and completely disagreed with the approach Kaye wanted to take. It was a heartbreaking moment. I've only read about 1,500 words of the book in question, and so am not willing to pass judgment on the whole, but what I read was ghastly, as much from the bad writing as the premise. So Kaye's current decision just added the straw to make me want to free my story.

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    2. Oh, I agree with their change of editor-ship. That was some dirty crap (was that last year? Feels closer).

      Will have to try to read it for myself, but I strongly suspect my updated, informed response will be along the lines of a lot of the folks throwing down the gauntlet. I don't have much patience for hackneyed attempts at changing the gaze. It's one of my fears for a story I wrote for that Future Fire anthology of SF/F stories of colonialism from the POV of the colonized -- terrified I got it horribly wrong and people will hate me for it...

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    3. The other thing is that it really says a lot about Kaye's editorial acumen that of all the things he could think to publish, of all the work he could solicit, of all the serials he could find ... he chose this.

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    4. That's a really good point. I mean, I get the desire to maybe push the envelope (cliche #1), but there's certainly a limit. If you suspect people will go apeshit over something, don't publish it or at least consult the community to see if there's a way around it all.

      I strongly suspect Weird Tales will go the way of Realms of Fantasy now, only for its own stupidity. RoF was actually a decent mag...

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