To Be Diverse or Not Diverse, That is the Question – by Dave Truesdale


To Be Diverse or Not Diverse,
That is the Question

by Dave Truesdale


Like many of us, I suppose, I’ve always found a certain degree of disconnect between two opposing positions from Libs and especially the Woke crowd. On one hand they plump for Diversity, the assimilation of all kinds of people into society regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual proclivity or identification. (Except for diversity of thought, of course, but we’ll set that aside for the moment.) On the other hand, these Woke Libs plump against any sort of Cultural Appropriation, or as Wikipedia defines it:

“Cultural appropriation, at times also phrased cultural misappropriation, is the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture.”

On one hand the Diversity they seek seems more of an inclusive nature, while on the other hand the Cultural Appropriation they rail against seems more of an exclusive, or non-inclusive nature, if you will.

Please note that hyperbole raised to the level of a reductio ad absurdum level of argument can often be an effective tool in presenting one’s argument. I now ask you to consider that on the one hand, and where the SF field is concerned, that Liberals, most especially their Woke and highly vocal and activist faction, claims a lack of diversity in the field—the SF field created by, maintained, and overseen by white people, mostly white men1.

That this is patently absurd even on its surface is laughable, but if you say something often enough and loud enough and have the media on your side…. But on the other hand they do not realize that, by their own definition and that of wikipedia, they are appropriating the distinct culture of the SF field, which is an inviolable crime in their eyes.

Using the Libs and their most vocal Woke spear carrier logic, they seek to achieve their goal of diversity in the SF field (except for thought) by blatantly and without regard to the specific cultural phenomenon that is the SF field—which is a unique sub-culture unto itself—to appropriate the field by intimidation and other unethical means, among them belittling and smearing the sub-culture they seem to dislike but wish to become a part of, by attempting to alter or destroy from within many of this specific sub-culture’s most honored institutions, awards2, and its most revered personages.

And over time it has come to the obvious attention of all with an even passing acquaintance with the SF field, its fandom and inner workings and history, that this forceful appropriation (and then destruction) of the field’s awards, founders, and institutions comes not from a love or true affinity for the SF genre and the kind of literature that has spread to worldwide prominence since its formal inception in 1926, but to promote its own social and political agenda with the express intent to destroy and remake and promote the field using its social and political dogma to now define the field, with no intellectual departure from theirs tolerated, including in the field’s in-house publication of record, the SFWA Bulletin, where in recent years what amounts to an overseer censorship panel comprised of its members has been created where none had previously been found necessary since the organization’s founding in 1965, more than half a century ago.

The SF field has always been open to everyone at every level, so the basic anti-diversity claim from the Woke crowd is an outright lie. This has been pointed out to them on numerous occasions over the years, yet they persist in the lie, repeat it often and ever louder, thus revealing their own disingenuous nature, and all the while labeling anyone who disagrees with their viewpoint a racist, sexist, homophobe, because these are the tried and true strawmen guaranteed to shut down any argument.

They scream and holler about cultural appropriation when it comes to the white oppressors in SF, yet use smears and intimidation3 to aid in their attempts to appropriate (and thus balkanize–divide and conquer) the SF field in service to the lie born of the double helix comprised of their social/political agenda of non-diversity in the field.

Speaking of that diversity word again brings to mind how the word itself has been mis-appropriated by the politically correct and holier-than-thou endowed Woke community now enjoying every freedom the SF field has always offered them. A handful of years ago, give or take, some in the SF community (both pros and fans) loudly complained of the relative non-diversity in the novels that had routinely been winning the Hugo and Nebula awards. The non-diversity manifesting itself in a general similarity in the types of themes explored, points of view espoused on certain issues within novels, and a general sameness of approach.

Many more social SF stories were being nominated or winning the awards and had drifted away from true quill SF but maintained their genre bona fides as they masqueraded as SF via a future time stamp or were perhaps set on other worlds or on spaceships, with less and less straight SF types were being considered seriously. The “new” SF had to deal with feelings and emotions and character interaction from a very narrow and limited spectrum of acceptable viewpoints to make the cut.

Very few fans had even read the eventual award winners and few can recall their titles to this day. And many of the winners invariably were published by one, or maybe two, major publishing houses with deep pockets for advertising, word of mouth, and the purchasing of voting memberships for their staffs—year after year after year.

So a cry for change went up and was quickly smothered by calls of racism and sexism and homophobia leveled against, you guessed it, old white men, who, they opined, wanted nothing to do with diversity, that old reliable strawman always riding in to save the day. But do you see what the Wokies did there with the way they interpreted diversity to their favor?

The original long-standing complaint was the lack of diversity (in a broad sense) of story type when it came to the two major SF awards. It had nothing to do with lack of diversity as the Wokies used it: as those who hated people of color, or gays or lesbians or any others to be included under the ever-growing LGBTQ crowd, or women. To be accused of racism or sexism and all the rest of it was a hard act to overcome and make your voice heard above all the orchestrated against how utterly evil you were. But this mis-appropriation of the original use of diversity by those complaining of the sameness of much SF was entirely lost in the dust of the windstorm swirling around them. And it lingers to this day. And is totally unjustified.

Diversity is fine and to be sought and applauded. But not when it is used in a hypocritical nature to justify the takeover of an entire genre of literature, nor when its use is suborned to exclude diversity of thought. Controversial subject matter has been the bread and butter of the most fondly remembered—and awarded—stories and novels in science fiction history. But not now. Authors are afraid—outright intimidated—to pen anything truly radical and outside the realm of the accepted PC Woke orthodoxy of themes and treatments. Stories are being trunked, hidden away and not sent to publishers or editors for fear of instant rejection.

And it all has its basis on the big lie of the field being non-diverse in who can write it and who has been horribly and systematically oppressed by it. Hogwash. The forces that led to more men than women writing SF, or people of color getting into the field, didn’t come from within the field but from what real life was taking place in the real world outside the field. When folks of any gender or color found their way to SF, either through its early magazines or conventions or later its films, they were always welcomed with open arms.

We were the one place where nothing mattered but one’s love of science fiction or fantasy. We had always been a safe place from the outside world when we attended a convention for a weekend, or immersed ourselves in a book, or spent a few hours in a darkened theater as our imaginations soared and took us away from our day to day problems.

But that has all changed, at least within the confines of the literary SF world. We welcomed in those with a different social/political philosophy with open arms, welcoming the diversity that has always been endemic to the field. But these new “fans” and authors didn’t wish to assimilate but to overcome the existing status quo and destroy it utterly from within—while not allowing the diversity of thought they so loudly and righteously campaigned on. And now the awards mean almost nothing, for they are selected based on a set of superficial demographics and accepted Truthink instead of literary merit. And even some of the more rational liberal set have come to recognize the fact. But it may be too late. The Hugo and Nebula awards are lost. The trade publication of the genre, the Science Fiction Writers of America Bulletin (of which I was once editor long before things went south) is now a heavily censored “state” arm of the Woke ruling class (after having excised two of its longtime columnists for the use of what someone considered a sexist characterization, and forcing its female editor to tender her resignation) and is now rife with milque toast Samethink pablum for its new members who don’t know the score yet.

Speaking of new members, there are always new fans coming into the field for one reason or another and they may need some help navigating the do’s and don’t’s so they can make friends and enjoy their experience in SF to its fullest. Wilson (Bob) Tucker wrote the classic Neo-Fan’s Guide to Science Fiction Fandom back in the 1950s and Tucker (1914-2006) updated it seven times over the decades (to make 8 editions), but the most recent update was way back in 1996. I think it’s time to write a brand new one because the old one, while it brings back fond memories of what it meant to be a fan, included a lot of fan history, an early fannish lexicon, and how to behave at conventions and what fandom was about in general, it is now almost a relic of a forgotten and glorious past. All I need is a title and a little help from my friends and I could make it happen. I’m thinking of The Woke Neo-fans Guide to Rightthink Science Fiction Fandom for the Age of Diversity. Too much?


1The widely (but wrongly) accepted wisdom in many parts of the SF fan and professional ranks today is that from its inception the genre has actively discouraged anyone not straight, white, and male from writing or editing science fiction, or attending (at its beginnings) small local SF clubs and then its first conventions in the 1930s. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in fact the opposite is true if photos, stories, fan and professional activites by women are to be believed. They are part of the historical record and go back to the field’s official beginnings in the 1920s.
From the introduction to her collection Women of Futures Past (Baen, September 2016), editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch quotes from Eric Leif Davin’s heavily researched Partners in Wonder: Women and The Birth of Science Fiction 1926-1965 (Lexington Books in 2006), where she says that Davin “begins with a list of two hundred and three known women who published in U.S. science fiction magazines between 1926 and 1960.” She then writes: “Amazing Stories’ first issue appeared in April of 1926. In the June 1927 issue, Clare Winger Harris became the first woman to publish a story in a science fiction magazine.” Rusch then quotes Davin: “It was the beginning of a popular and rewarding science fiction career for Harris,” he writes, “(in) a field still so young that it was composed of only a single magazine. Nevertheless, she was there, almost from the beginning, with her name splashed on future covers to attract readers.” [Davin, page 29]” Rusch writes: “Gernsback was deeply aware that he had a female audience for his magazine. He wrote this in his editorial for the September 1926 issue: “A totally unforeseen result of the name (Amazing Stories), strange to say, was that a great many women were already reading the new magazine. This is most encouraging.” [quoted in The Battle of The Sexes in Science Fiction, Justine Larbalestier, Wesleyan University Press, 2002, page 23]”
Again, from Rusch: “In addition, he [Davin] lists twenty-six women who edited “science fiction, fantasy, and weird” magazines in the years between 1928 and 1960.” … “In other words, women not only published stories at the dawn of the modern science fiction era, they edited stories as well.”

2Even political liberals in the SF community who have put up with (or agreed with) some of the Woke shenanigans thus far (the redesigning of at least one award trophy because it was a bust of one of the most iconic figures in horror literature who espoused racist views in the 1920s, and the renaming of two other awards named after highly influential contributors to the field, one a man {an editor} and the other a woman {an author}, because of what are now unacceptable views or actions in either their professional or private lives many decades ago) have begun to cry foul in recent years due to the devaluing of the field’s two major literary awards, the Hugo and the Nebula.
Many (in a non-partisan voice) have asserted that these awards mean nothing now, so co-opted and plainly given only to those whose social or political philosophies align with the Woke Left—or who are writers of non-white ethnicity (mostly female)—that their literary worth is virtually an afterthought if thought of at all.
The past three or four years of Hugo and Nebula fiction award winners bear this out unequivocally. If you are white (and especially those males who do not kow tow to the Woke’s party line PC ideology), you’re out. No awards for you. Belong to a minority (even an artificial one—are you a member of the diabetic minority and has the SF field oppressed or overlooked your work?—they seem to pop up all the time these days), are a person of color, or a woman, and we see that you’re Woke, then you’re one of our kind of people. You wrote someting last year? Great, we’ll see about getting you on the ballot—after all, diversity.

3Documentation abounds of cases where fans have been suspended for a period of time within the dates of a convention or outright ejected from a convention, or professional authors disinvited from their Guest of Honor roles because a lone person has pointed out to a convention committee something objectionable (in their eyes) that the fan or author has said, or written in a story or book, sometimes years in the past. Must every fan or author now adhere to a specific social/political agenda in their speech or written words or be blackballed as a racist or sexist (without proof or given a chance to confront their accusers or rebut such onerous slurs) and ostracized from the community for what amounts to Wrongthink (ala 1984)? Is the accusation now enough in the enlightened Woke world? The evidence continues to mount that it is.
Dave Truesdale has edited Tangent and now Tangent Online since July of 1993. It has been nominated for the Hugo Award six times, and the World Fantasy Award once. A former editor of the Bulletin of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, he also served as a World Fantasy Award judge in 1998, and for several years wrote an original online column for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Now retired, he keeps close company with his SF/F library, the coffeepot, and old movie channels on TV. He lives in Kansas City, MO.

20 responses to “To Be Diverse or Not Diverse, That is the Question – by Dave Truesdale

  1. > He wrote this in his editorial for the September 1926 issue:

  2. I’ve posted lots of objectional things over the years. Some of them were wrong. I don’t have a problem with being shown objective facts that I might not have known at the time, that end up changing my opinion on issues. I’ll apologize for hyperbolic insulting adjective use, but I won’t apologize for the basis of the post. My failure to grovel sufficiently probably doesn’t set well with the Progressive Left.

    • EVERYTHING is objectionable if one of the ‘woke’ (fuck, I hate that term) objects to it. That’s their secret. You are instantly evil, excommunicated, cast into the outer darkness, along with any who dare speak to you other than to condemn you.

    • Timothy E. Harris

      When exactly did being objectionable become divorced from anything objective? Seems to be a purely subjective opinion these days.

  3. Diversity is fine and to be sought and applauded.

    Why? Be clear and specific about what you mean by “diversity,” and why you think it “should be sought and applauded.”

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Diversity is the combination of tolerating homosexuals and burning them alive.

      Grins, ducks, and runs away.

    • Yeah, that was the first word into my mouth too. Why?

      “Diversity” is what happens naturally in a free and open society, specifically in SFF where people are (supposed to be) welcome to write and read what they want to. Lots of different stories and participants.

      Wokesters claiming that women and minority -readers- are systematically and deliberately excluded from the field are just lying. We get this.

      Since dead-tree publishing is a closed shop with gatekeepers, an argument could be made that woman and minorities were excluded, but that argument founders on the rock of Reality: editors and publishers dealt with authors by mail, for the most part. They didn’t know James Tiptree Jr. was a lady.

      So again, they’re just lying.

      “Diversity” used as a noun is a name for something that is inherently stupid and wrong-headed. What they actually mean is A) they want a Special Deal for women and minority authors, and B) they want to punish straight/white/male/Christian/conservative readers and authors.

      Deliberately seeking and celebrating that stupid, wrong-headed notion is something Leftists do. I’m disinclined to participate.

      • This, exactly. Special carve-outs for women and chosen minorities, punish the straights, religious believers, and anyone who won’t play by the Woke and ever-changing rules.

    • Because specialization is for insects.

    • See, that’s where they’re all wrong. University is what’s fine and should be sought and applauded, not diversity. But then, I doubt they understand the etymology of the words.

  4. The view that all humans are people is not universal to all cultures that have ever existed.

    Either you are not willing to impose cultural or religious values, or you are not willing to demand that all humans be treated as people.

    This thing of tolerating other cultures because of common humanity, and demanding on that basis that religious or cultural values will not be imposed is hypocritical nonsense.

    This demand for diversity is a similar sort of hypocritical nonsense.

    If it is ‘their culture’, my culture can absolutely be destroying populations that act contrary to America’s foreign policy interests. In the formulation that is not for civil discourse between people who can agree to disagree, people only oppose imperialism, colonialism, and genocide out of racial hatred. Likewise, Zinn said it was my culture, so you are a bigot to have a problem with it.

    Why must I care about addressing diversity?

    Okay, my personal interests are Really Cool TM, and anyone else who simply thinks that they are Really Cool, and wants to talk about them because of that is someone I’m potentially interested in listening to, and the other parts of them don’t matter. Deliberately discriminating on race, sex, or sexual preference would rob me of interesting information sources. My interests can be narrow enough that there is no reason to think that the sample I am in contact with must represent the parameters of the over all population.

  5. You know, all respect and so forth to Dave Truesdale, but reading this makes it pretty clear to me that I’m not part of Fandom, capital F. I’m some guy that loves Science Fiction and Fantasy, but isn’t a joiner and doesn’t seek out other people who love SFF.

    If there was a club for people that hate clubs, that you can’t join and they can’t kick you out of, I might be interested in that. Like Sad Puppies, but less organized. ~:D

  6. I have noticed that very few groups have more than token wallaby representation. There is also a notable insufficiency of mythical creature participation in most forums. Dragons, oddly, seem disproportionately present — not, I hasten to say, that there is anything wrong with that.

    Until such issues are corrected I refuse to engage in head-counting.

  7. It’s brutally simple: the entire ‘diversity’/ ‘cultural appropriation’ riff is simply the Woke saying “we’re the Cool Kids, and you can’t join out lunchroom table by playing by the rules, because the rules are whatever we say they are from moment to moment.”

    I was fortunate enough to not go to a high school where this was a Big Thing, but I’ve heard stories from people who did run into it. And one think that keeps popping up is, if a nerd activity suddenly became prominent, the Cool Kids were sure to tray to take it over and/or ruin it.

  8. When people show up who openly claim to be your enemies, one should be quite unsurprised that their tactics include the Big Lie and all the other propaganda tricks. They hate you and want you gone. They say so. Believe them.

    Their power comes from the assumption, quite common in normal humans, that they can’t be all bad, that they must be acting from good intentions, that perhaps there’s *some* truth in what they say. That’s the power of the Big Lie — you make it big enough, and people assume the truth must lie somewhere in between the extremes, so you’ve changed their mind.

    Everyone projects.

    Totalitarians accuse the liberty-loving of lying, of conspiracy, of wanting to put people in camps, of vote-stuffing and voter suppression, because they know that’s what they’d do.

    The liberty-loving say of totalitarians that “they must be acting from good intentions”, that “they’re trying to do the right thing even if I don’t like their methods”, that “we just need to accommodate them and we’ll compromise”, because that’s what we’d do.

    Remember the tale of the scorpion and the frog.

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