If you’re not familiar with SFWA’s official statement on Galaktika, here it is. If you’re unfamiliar with the situation overall, here is A.G. Carpenter’s write-up and here is Bence Pinter’s Hungarian article.
The SFWA statement is the result of a lot of work behind the scenes on the part of SFWA’s Grievance Committee, and I’d like to use this opportunity to both thank that committee and explain why it’s one of the answers to “why should I join SFWA?” (There are, in my opinion, a number of others.)
When I first became aware of what Galaktika had done, at first I had difficulty comprehending the scale of it. Surely it had to be a few stories rather than just one or two…but no, it was, literally, dozens. Then three figures worth of stories. Holy criminently.
The excuses that were sent to me as well as others over the course of the investigation chronicled here were manifest and sometimes a bit whiney. I was told that one author’s had been told their book had cost the company money and that therefore they owed it to the company to allow their work to be reprinted as advertisement for the other work.
In all of this, my hands were tied. What, realistically, could SFWA do, given legal and travel costs?
The answer was, actually, a decent amount in terms of keeping those affected informed and negotiating on their behalf, mainly because of the ninjas of Griefcom. Griefcom is the informal name for SFWA’s Grievance Committee, a small group of volunteers led by John E. Johnston III. I love John, whose politics are diametrically opposed to mine and with whom I share amiable political bickering and frequent recipes, and who feels as fiercely as I do that writers deserve both pay and control over their own work.
Griefcom’s members handle different areas: Ian Watson was the point person for the Galaktika issues and drafted the report on which I based SFWA’s formal statement about the magazine after much discussion with Johnston, Watson, and the SFWA board. Other members include Michael Armstrong (Novels), John Barnes (Work Made For Hire/Bookseller Relations), Michael Capobianco (Special Projects), Elizabeth Anne Leonard (Mediator), Lee Martindale (Senior Mediator), Ron Montana (TV and Film), and Eric James Stone (Short Fiction). Right now we are looking for someone experienced with game issues; drop email@example.com a line if you’re a member interested in volunteering.
Griefcom’s main weapon is the fact that it operates behind the scenes, and goes public only when necessary, which is why they came and asked me to make a statement about the situation. From my vantage point, I get a better picture than most people of what Griefcom does, and it’s a lot. Want to protect yourself so you won’t need their intervention? Read your contracts and never sign anything you don’t understand. Griefcom has been negotiating with Galaktika on behalf of several writers for months; they finally decided it was time to say something publicly.
Will Galaktika shape up? It remains to be seen. I hope so, and SFWA will revisit the matter in three months to follow-up and let folks know what Galaktika has done in the interim.
Is this actually a matter that SFWA should concern itself with? Absolutely. Recently it’s been underscored for me that people perceive SFWA as an American entity, but the truth is that we have a substantial international contingent. Worldcon in Finland poses a chance to spread that message, and so here’s a few things that I’m doing.
- SFWA members scanning the most recent copy of the Singularity, SFWA’s bi-monthly e-newsletter for members, to find volunteer opportunities, will have noticed that I have a call out for translators. My plan is to get the SFWA membership requirements and questionnaire translated into as many languages as possible; I have commitments for Chinese, Filipino, Finnish, French, Klingon, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish versions and am pursuing others. If you’re interested in helping with that effort, please let me know.
- At the suggestion of Crystal Huff, I’m thinking about programming that might spread the message, such as a panel on the internationalization of SFWA. Such a panel would work for many conventions, I would think, but debuting it in Finland seems like a great idea (although we might sneak peek it at the Nebulas next May in Pittsburgh.)
- I’m mulling over what form something connecting translators and F&SF writers might look like. Translating fiction requires not just ability with the language, but a writerly sensibility, an understanding of how to make the sentences fluid and compelling and three dimensional. So maybe something where potential translators could submit a listing of translation credits along with sample of their own work, translated into the languages they’re adept in, backed up with the ability for SFWA members to post testimonials. This seems like something the field needs; if anyone’s aware of existing efforts along these lines, please let me know?
- Maybe it’s time for a new version of The SFWA European Hall of Fame, this time The SFWA International Hall of Fame. That seems like something for me to discuss with our Kickstarter contact. She and I have been discussing a 2018 project, reviving the Architects of Wonders anthology, but this might make a good interim effort. (Speaking of Kickstarter, SFWA partners with over three dozen institutions and companies, including Amazon, Kickstarter, and Kobo to make sure member concerns and suggestions are passed along as well as new opportunities created. If you’d like to be on the Partnership committee handling these monthly check-ins, drop our volunteer wrangler Derek a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I’m actively soliciting feedback and suggestions for other ways to help spread the world that SFWA isn’t just for Americans. Let me know what you think.
(And, gah, I know I need to poke the gamewriting stuff along. I thought the Board was getting it done in my absence. I apologize, gamewriters. We ARE working on it. So many plates, all spinning so busily.)