Con Harassment and the Greying of Fandom

Much has been made in the blogosphere over the past couple of years about the problem of sexual harassment at science fiction conventions. Now, despite the way the sides often get portrayed, I don’t see anyone seriously arguing that sexual harassment is a good thing. Rather, the debate focuses on just how serious the problem is and what (if anything) should be done about it. With the caveat that I think any incident is one too many, and that I think this is something that should be addressed, I’m not here to weigh in on that debate. What I want to point out is that the mere perception of cons as hotbeds of sexual harassment is feeding into one of our other huge problems in fandom: our inability to appeal to younger fans.

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Why Diversity Matters

I’d like you to imagine for a moment that you could go through your local bookstore and get rid of any book you don’t like. And then imagine you could go through and get rid of any customer you don’t like. You’d be left with your perfect, little bookstore, where every book is wonderful and everyone who shops there is your friend, right? Now, ask yourself honestly, how long would that bookstore stay in business? Do you and your buddies really spend enough on books to keep the lights on, the shelves stocked, and the staff paid? Continue reading

My One and Only Filk

As you’ve probably heard by now, Anne McCaffrey pased away on Monday. She was one of the first “adult” authors I was introduced to as a teenager (by a friend who decided it was time I graduated from the Star Trek tie-ins to “real” books). Specifically, she told me to buy a copy of Crystal Singer, which I read and truly adored. In fact, I loved it so much that when I was 14 or 15 I actually wrote a song inspired by the book. Yes, that’s right, I wrote a filk. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind never, ever to perform it in public. But, in honor of the woman who started it all, I’m throwing caution to the wind, and I’m making a .pdf of the song available. How better to say “I love you” than to give the world ammunition to use against me for years to come?

This should go without saying, but the song uses copyrighted characters without the author’s permission, and is intended for the enjoyment of fans and may not be used in anything even vaguely resembling a commercial manner without the permission of both me and (most importantly) the Anne McCaffrey estate. That said, if you do record it, I’d love to hear what you did with it, and if you’re ever filking at a con I happen to be at, please let me know so I can come share the blame with you as you get heckled for performing it.

I’d like to think I’ve matured a lot both as a poet and as a composer since the mid ’80s, but the world will never know, since I can’t imagine I’ll ever write another filk for comparison.

Thank you, Anne McCaffrey, for being one of the voices that led me into my lifelong love of my genre and medium of choice.