John has announced he’s a SFWA President Write-In Candidate and I’m supporting him, mainly for this:
1. Philosophically, I’m opposed to having only one candidate for a leadership position of any organization I am involved with. [...] As there is only one other person running, I feel obliged to put my hat in the ring if only to offer a reasonable and notable choice for the position.
2. I don’t believe that Michael Capobianco, the fellow running for SFWA President, is at all the right person for the job. Let me note again that this is not a reflection on his personal character; I’ve not met him outside the online SFWA newsgroups and a few other online venues, so I cannot speak as to whether he is a nice guy or whatever. I’m sure he is. Likewise, Mr. Capobianco is a past president of SFWA and has won the organization’s service award, which suggests that in the past, at least, he has been viewed as a reasonable choice for leading the organization. The question in my mind is not his past service, of which I have no experience (it was before my time) but whether he’s the right person to lead SFWA forward now.
I don’t think he is for two reasons. First, he hasn’t had a novel published in this century; his last published novel, White Light, which he co-wrote with William Barton, was published in hardcover in 1998. Essentially, he’s a decade out of practice with the practical aspects of publishing science fiction. This matters if one believes, as I do, that SFWA should primarily be a professional service organization; it particularly matters if one believes, as I do, that the publishing world in the 21st century, even this early on, is manifestly different than it was in the 20th century. I have books professionally published in both centuries; I know how much it’s changed, and I deal with the publishing world on a daily basis.
Second, I believe that based on what I’ve read from him Mr. Capobianco is fundamentally afraid of the changing publishing world, and the changes in the world of speculative fiction, and that this fundamental position will cause him to make his tenure as SFWA backward-facing and defensive, rather than forward-thinking and innovative. This will make SFWA even more irrelevant to working writers — that is, the people who are shaping science fiction — than it already is.
Simply put, the professional organization of speculative fiction should not be headed by people who believe their job is to hold back the future. I believe strongly that Michael Capobianco sees it as his role to hold back the future and to maintain the status quo in publishing and in speculative fiction. That battle has already been lost; the publishing world has already irrevocably changed from when Mr. Capobianco last published. It’s time that SFWA moves forward with leadership who understands this.
I’m not keen on being SFWA president. But I’m even less keen on Mr. Capobianco being SFWA president, enough so that I’m willing to offer myself for the position.
(I believe similar things about Andrew Burt, who is the fellow running for Vice-President; however, I’m not offering myself for that position, so I’ll leave it at that for now.)
I will say this: 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; 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. I want to be very clear about the fact I have no compunction against saying “see ya” if I don’t think SFWA’s membership is serious about SFWA. I’ll resign the post and go back to my plow. So make no mistake that a vote for me is a vote for an obligation to SFWA by you. If I have to stop thinking about my membership as an affectation, I think you should have to, too.
Damn. If he keeps this up, I may have to seriously consider running for VP, because he’s right– SFWA has spent a lot of time stuck in neutral or looking backwards. It’s bad in any industry, it’s deadly in a field that’s supposed to be pointing towards the future. Damn.
The proof of John’s position, ironically enough, is that he may be able to win the vote simply because he’s using these tools that Capobianco is worried about. John will simply be able to move faster and get a stronger turnout because of his use of the Internet.