Suddenly, Sci-Fi Has a Leadership Debate

By Neal Comment

When author John Scalzi received his ballot for electing new officers to the Science Fiction Writers of America last week, he was so disappointed in the slate of candidates for president and vice-president—which is to say, only one nominee for each position—that he decided to offer himself up as a write-in candidate for the presidency.* In doing so, however, he’s quite possibly the least enthusiastic presidential candidate since George Washington: “I am not particularly keen on serving in this position,” he writes. “I’ve been a SFWA member long enough to know that it’s a fairly thankless position, with lots of herding cats and dealing with aggravating minutiae, and I have a career to look after at the moment. I’d just as soon not be president of SFWA, and if I am elected president, you should know now that I will view the position as something I am doing in addition to my writing career, not something of equal importance.” Also, his daughter thinks he’d be a terrible president.

That isn’t to say that Scalzi doesn’t have ideas for what he’d do if he were running the organization. He wants to revisit the SFWA policy towards online excerpting of authors’ works, develop initiatives to increase readership for science fiction (especially among younger readers), restore the prominence of the group’s annual Nebula Awards, and revamp the SFWA website, among other goals. “If you’re a SFWA member, don’t vote for me if you’re not willing to have me come in and stomp around and try to get these things done, and not necessarily be the most politic guy when I do,” Scalzi warns.”Likewise don’t vote for me if you are not willing to pitch in when I come asking for your help, which I will. I’m not going to try to get this done on my own; if I look out among SFWA members and I don’t see people willing to step forward and make the organization useful and relevant to their careers and the careers of other science fiction writers, I’m out of there.” Meanwhile, he’s opened up his website to publish official candidate Michael Capobianco‘s campaign platform, and plans are underway for the two to engage in a Q&A at a neutral website. How will this all play out? I guess we’ll find out when the SFWA convenes in New York in mid-May to hand out this year’s Nebulas…

*Full disclosure: Scalzi’s one of several SF writers of whom I’d describe myself as a friendly fan.