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In Which Edmund Schubert Withdraws From the Hugos

Edmund Schubert is a dear friend and has been since IGMS was but a twinkle in Orson Scott Card’s eye. For this reason (and because he has no true platform of his own from which to speak), I am posting this on his behalf.

I fully support Edmund in his decision. He continues to have my love and respect.

–Alethea

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Hugo AwardMy name is Edmund R. Schubert, and I am announcing my withdrawal from the Hugo category of Best Editor (Short Form). My withdrawal comes with complications, but if you’ll bear with me, I’ll do my best to explain. I am withdrawing because:

1. I believe that while the Sad Puppies’ stated goal of bringing attention to under-recognized work may have been well-intentioned, their tactics were seriously flawed. While I personally find it challenging that some people won’t read IGMS because they disagree with the publisher’s perceived politics (which have nothing whatsoever to do with what goes into the magazine), I can’t in good conscience complain about the deck being stacked against me, and then feel good about being nominated for an award when the deck gets stacked in my favor. That would make me a hypocrite. I can’t be part of that and still maintain my integrity.

2. Vox Day/Theodore Beale/Rabid Puppies. Good grief. While I firmly believe that free speech is only truly free if everyone is allowed to speak their mind, I believe equally strongly that defending people’s right to free speech comes with responsibilities: in this case, the responsibility to call out unproductive, mean-spirited, inflammatory, and downright hateful speech. I believe that far too many of Vox’s words fall into those categories—and a stand has to be made against it.

3. Ping pong. (Yes, really.) A ping pong ball only ever gets used by people who need something to hit as a way to score points, and I am through being treated like a political ping pong ball—by all sorts of people across the entire spectrum. Done.

Regrettably this situation is complicated by the fact that when I came to this decision, the WorldCon organizers told me the ballot was ‘frozen.’ This is a pity, because in addition to wanting ‘out’ of the ping pong match, I would very much have liked to see someone else who had earned it on their own (without the benefit of a slate) get on the ballot in my place. But the ballots had already been sent off to the printers.

Unfortunately this may reduce my actions to a symbolic gesture, but I can’t let that prevent me from following my conscience.

So it seems that the best I can do at this stage is ask everyone with a Hugo ballot to pretend I’m not there. Ignore my name, because if they call my name at the award ceremony, I won’t accept the chrome rocketship. My name may be on that ballot, but it’s not there the way I’d have preferred.

I will not, however, advocate for an across-the-board No Award vote. That penalizes people who are innocent, for the sake of making a political point. Vox Day chose to put himself and his publishing company, Castalia House, in the crosshairs, which makes him fair game—but not everybody, not unilaterally. I can’t support that.

Here’s what I do want to do, though, to address where I think the Sad Puppies were off-target: I don’t think storming the gates of WorldCon was the right way to bring attention to worthy stories. Whether or not you take the Puppies at their word is beside the matter; it’s what they said they wanted, and I think bringing attention to under-represented work is an excellent idea.

So I want to expand the reading pool.

Of course, I always think more reading is a good thing. Reading is awesome. Reading—fiction, specifically—has been proven to make people more empathetic, and God knows we need as much empathy as we can possibly get these days. I also believe that when readers give new works by new authors an honest chance, they’ll find things they appreciate and enjoy.

In that spirit, I am taking the material that would have comprised my part of the Hugo Voters Packet and making it available to everyone, everywhere, for free, whether they have a WorldCon membership or not. Take it. Read it. Share it. It’s yours to do with as you will.

The only thing I ask is that whatever you do, do it honestly.

Don’t like some of these stories? That’s cool; at least I’ll know you don’t like them because you read them, not because you disagree with political ideologies that have nothing to do with the stories.

You do like them? Great; share them with a friend. Come and get some more.

But whatever you decide, decide it honestly, not to score a point.

And let me be clear about this: While I strongly disagree with the way Sad Puppies went about it… when the Puppies say they feel shut out because of their politics, it’s hard for me to not empathize because I’ve seen IGMS’s authors chastised for selling their story to us, simply because of people’s perceptions about the publisher’s personal views. I’ve also seen people refuse to read any of the stories published in IGMS for the same reason.

With regard to that, I want to repeat something I’ve said previously: while Orson Scott Card and I disagree on several social and political subjects, we respect each other and don’t let it get in the way of IGMS’s true goal: supporting writers and artists of all backgrounds and preferences. The truth is that Card is neither devil nor saint; he’s just a man who wants to support writers and artists—and he doesn’t let anything stand in the way of that.

As editor of IGMS, I can, and have, and will continue to be—with the full support of publisher Orson Scott Card—open to publishing stories by and about gay authors and gay characters, stories by and about female authors and female characters, stories by authors and about characters of any and every racial, political, or religious affiliation—as long as I feel like those authors 1) have a story to tell, not a point to score, and 2) tell that story well. And you know what? Orson is happy to have me do so. Because the raison d’etre of IGMS is to support writers and artists. Period.

IGMSOrson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show—is open to everyone. All the way. Always has been, always will be. All I ask, all I have ever asked, is that people’s minds operate in the same fashion.

Consider this the beginning then of the larger reading campaign that should have been. To kick it off, I offer you this sampling from IGMS, which represents the essence of how I see the magazine—a reflection of the kind of stories I want to fill IGMS with, that will help make it the kind of magazine I want IGMS to be—and that I believe it can be if readers and writers alike will give it a fair chance.

If you have reading suggestions of your own, I heartily encourage you help me build and distribute a list.

(Yes, I know, there are already plenty of reading lists out there. But you will never convince me that there is such a thing as too much reading. Never.)

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My Capclave 2011 Schedule

Here is my schedule for Capclave 2011. I’d also like to note that this is my very first Kaffeeklatsch. Which is just FUN TO SAY. And if no one shows up, I get to have coffee alone with Edmund. It’s a win-win situation!

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Kontis, Alethea
Saturday 10:00:00 AM Kontis/Schubert Kaffeeklatsch
Saturday 12:00:00 PM Kontis Reading
Saturday 3:00:00 PM Alethea Kontis/ Barbara Chepaitis Author Table (come buy fun stuff!)
Sunday 12:00:00 PM Writing Genre YA
Sunday 2:00:00 PM Stealing from the Best

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Still Not An Award-Winning Author

But I still get to be part of this anthology! It includes the top four Intergalactic Medicine Show readers’ choice stories, some more award winners, and other favorites. I’m a favorite! And in seriously good company. AND I’M ON THE COVER.

Table of Contents:

“Trinity County, CA” by Peter S. Beagle
First appeared in IGMS issue #18

“Sister Jasmine Brings the Pain” by Von Carr
First appeared in IGMS issue #17

“The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived” by Keffy R. M. Kehrli
First appeared in IGMS issue #19

“The American” by Bruce Worden
First appeared in IGMS issue #20

“Silent as Dust” by James Maxey
First appeared in IGMS issue #7

“Horus Ascending” by Aliette deBodard
First appeared in IGMS issue #8

“End-of-the-World Pool” by Scott Roberts
First appeared in IGMS issue #12

“A Heretic by Degrees” – by Marie Brennan
First appeared in IGMS issue #10

“The Never Never Wizard of Apalachicola” by Jason Sanford
First appeared in IGMS issue #20

“Beautiful Winter” by Eugie Foster
First appeared in IGMS issue #13

“Blood & Water” – by Alethea Kontis
First appeared in IGMS issue #9

“Mean-Spirited” – by Edmund R. Schubert
First appeared in IGMS issue #16

“Robot Sorcerer” – by Eric James Stone
First appeared in IGMS issue #10

“Aim For The Stars” – by Tom Pendergrass
First appeared in IGMS issue #15

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[Update: You can preorder the anthology here from Spotlight publishing — it will ship mid-December.]

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Genre Chick Interview: Edmund Schubert

One of the original items on my to-do list that launched May 2011’s Month of Writers here on the site was a series of interviews I planned with the contributors of How To Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion.

Are you familiar with the Magical Words site? If you’re a writer, you should be! The contributing bloggers there are some very experienced folks who have exceptional insights about all things wise and wonderful in the world of publishing.

So this week in the Month of Writers is special — It’s Magical Words Week! Every day I’ll be hosting an interview from a contributor from the Magical Words website. Today, my guest star is the exuberant Edmund Schubert! (You might remember him from the most infamous Genre Chick interview ever, back in 2008…)

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Mac or PC?
PC (though more and more people I know are going Mac).

Coffee or Tea?
Tea, unless there’s a bottle of Kahlua handy.

Travel the World or Travel Outer Space?
Outer space, no question. I haven’t talked to Elvis in years.

Fantasy or Science Fiction?
Yes.

Music or Silence (while you write)?
Absolute silence. I am constantly amazed that anyone can write down one set of words while another set of words is flowing over them in the form of music. I would build and write in a sensory deprivation chamber if I could.

What weird food do you like?
I’ll eat almost anything that doesn’t eat me first. However, at a Chinese buffet the other day I did decline to eat the baby octopi.

What is one of your most irrational fears?
Bab octopi. I also have a deathly fear of the best-seller list. Fortunately I’ve  been able to avoid it thus far.

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? Why or why not?
I got up at 4am when Chuck and Di tied the knot back in ’81, and one royal wedding in this lifetime was enough for me. Funny thing, it looks exactly the same on video at 9am as it does live at 4.

How many novels/short stories/screenplays/poems/etc have you published?
Well, my “stories published” count goes WAY up if you count the stories I’ve published as an editor. Minus those, it’s something like one novel and 35 short stories.

How much do you write every day?
As much as people will pay me for.

How much do you WISH you could write every day?
A LOT more.

What are you working on now?
A YA fantasy novel for my kids. I’m not going to say any more than that because I’ve learned the hard way that the more I talk about something I’m writing, the less actual writing I do.

If you could write like one author, who would it be?
J.K. Rowling for the paycheck, Ray Bradbury for the prose, and Richard Matheson for the fun of it.

If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower, who/what would it be?
Is there a superhero who can slow down or reverse time? If there is, I want to be him or her.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Went hang-gliding on the sand dunes at Kitty Hawk, NC, right near where the Wright Brothers first flew. Crashed into a dune hard enough to damage the glider, too. It was awesome.

What’s the coolest thing you’re about to do?
Answer your question about three things to do before I die.

Name three things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
Gasp, wheeze, then make a short but moving farewell speech.

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Edmund R. Schubert began his career as a writer in 2001. Since that time he has published approximately 35 short stories in a variety of genres, in magazines and anthologies in the U.S. and Britain. In 2006 he took over as fiction editor of the online science fiction and fantasy magazine, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show. In early 2011, a collection of his short stories titled, The Trouble With Eating Clouds, was published by Spotlight Publishing. He is currently writing a YA novel, and two new anthologies are also in progress.

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While You’re Listening…

…I’ll add a bit more to your podcasty day.

There’s a great interview on Pendragon Variety on writing and editing and sundries with my good friend Edmund Schubert, writer and editor of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. I highly recommend it. There are some good things in here. Plus, Edmund has a GREAT speaking voice. Hearing it just made me miss him all over again.

My favorite line: “The extent of my qualifications was that I was willing to give it a try.”

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Guest Blog Up At Magical Words

You’ll have to do some work for your blog post today: “Let The Right One In” is up over at the Magical Words writing blog, so you have to click to get there.

If you’re a writer and haven’t bookmarked Magical Words, you should. There is a wealth of fabulous information over there from some fantastic writers, both inside and out — C.E. Murphy, David B. Coe, Faith Hunter, Lynn Flewelling, and the illustrious Edmund Schubert, who graciously lent me his blog entry today to guest star in.

Enjoy!

[Edited to add: you have to register at the Magical Words site and log in to post a comment.]

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Genre Chick Interview: Edmund Schubert

In October of 2005, Orson Scott Card launched Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show—an online magazine featuring spectacular science fiction and fantasy tales, gorgeous professional artwork, and an original story from Card’s Ender universe in every issue. Less than a year later, he named SF bad man Edmund Schubert editor of the now-quarterly ‘zine. A new anthology compiles a selection of fantastic stories from IGMS (written by Tim Pratt, David Lubar, David Farber, among others), as well as all of the scenes from the Enderverse.

I honestly don’t know what else to say. I’ve been waiting for an interview like this for four years. Enjoy!

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Alethea Kontis: How did you meet Orson Scott Card?

Edmund Schubert: In the summer of 2004 we were both in Antarctica, at McMurdo Station. Orson had been invited down by the American commander to do a reading and signing, and I happened to be in the area researching the mating habits of snowflakes for a BBC documentary. At dinner that first night, it turned out we both had a taste for fire-roasted penguin. But there was only one left in the station’s larder so the commander made us arm-wrestle for it.

AK: How did you get the gig as IGMS editor?

ES: I won the penguin arm-wrestling contest. Orson really wanted that last penguin pretty badly, so he said, “How about I make you the most powerful man in the world and hire you to edit my online magazine?” I was tempted. Being an editor had been a lifelong dream of mine for almost four years. When I found out just how extensive the god-like powers of being an editor were, I knew that penguin was as good as his.

AK: What are the best and most challenging parts of your job?

ES: At first, the biggest challenge was learning to read. But once I realized I didn’t have to know how to read in order to be an editor, I just settled in and had fun with it. At this point I‘d say the most challenging thing is figuring out what to do with all the money. You wouldn’t believe how much money editors make, especially in the field of short fiction. When my wife and I had to build a new room over the garage to hold all the money, I thought I was going to go crazy. It was terribly inconvenient.

The best part of the job? I’d have to say doing interviews like this. The opportunity to open up and share my innermost thoughts without having to worry about being judged is exactly what my therapist says I need.

AK: How does IGMS work?

ES: You buy it, you read it, you love it. Pretty basic, really. Probably you should start by logging onto the Web site. It also has pretty pictures (no extra charge).

AK: How do you choose the stories for the magazine?

ES: It starts with my cat, Patches. We call him Mr. Patches now because people always assume that cats are female and he was getting a little gender-confused, showing up in evening gowns and that sort of thing. The other cats were starting to make fun of him and when the mice started mocking him too, I knew we had to take action. But to get back to the point, Mr. Patches is in charge of the first round of decision making. I print out all of the manuscripts, fling them across the floor, and then he plops down in the pile and starts gnawing on them. At first I thought it was random, but it turns out he was chewing up the bad ones at a prodigious rate, so I put him on the payroll.

The second round of reading is done by my children, Roweena and Uganda, who are 164 and 99 (we started counting in months when they were born and it was so cute that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to stop). Anyway, they take the rest of the stories to school and let their friends pick out their favorites. This tends to slow down the process in the summer months, but we live in an imperfect world and have to make the best of what we’ve got. It’s either that or I to learn how to read, and nobody wants that.

AK: What are the pros and cons of having an online magazine?

ES: The pros are the people who write for the magazine. There is an organization called the SFWA, which sets certain minimum levels of pay and distribution to qualify as a professional magazine, and IGMS meets those criteria, so the writers are considered pros.

The cons are the weekend-long meetings that take place in cities across America where people go to meet their favorite writers, buy editors drinks at the bar (my favorite part), play games, and dress up in costumes. I think the official term is “conventions,” but somewhere along the line somebody decided it was too big a word so they shortened it down to “cons.”

By the way, this was an odd, one-off kind of question. What’s up with that?

AK: How were the stories chosen for the print anthology?

ES: At first I was going to try to balance things out; you know, a certain number from each issue, a certain number of SF stories and a certain number of fantasy stories. But then I got this box in the mail. All it contained was a freshly roasted penguin and the business card of one of the authors from issue four. Once word got around that he was going to have two stories in the anthology (you’re welcome, Mr. Eric James Stone), suddenly the penguins started coming out of the woodwork. At that point it simply became a question of who could season the penguin the best, who used the most creativity on concocting penguin-based meals (who knew penguin ala mode was best with rum-raisin ice cream?), and who simply could get their hands on the most penguins (high tally was 16, by James Maxey, who would have never made the anthology otherwise).

AK: Tell us about Side Show Freaks.

ES: Wow, talk about a loaded question. I think I’m going to go for the unexpected and reply with a straight answer. Side Show Freaks is my blog. Usually I write about things related to either IGMS or writing in general, but once in a while I’ll also delve into personal things. For instance, I rode the length of the Sky Line Drive and part of the Blue Ridge Parkway on my bicycle last summer and posted a few photos from the trip.

I think my favorite thing on Side Show Freaks is running essays from the authors in each new issue of the magazine. I invite them to write about the creation of their stories (much the way I did in the IGMS anthology). I have always been fascinated by the stories behind the stories. Plus, it was a good way to trick the authors into writing extra words for me with out having to pay them extra money get extra exposure for these valued authors and their brilliant stories.

AK: Will this be a yearly event?

ES: I try to post to Side Show Freaks about twice a week. No one would read a blog that only had one post each year. Again, an odd, one-off kind of question. Where do you come up with these?

AK: There are certain authors you’ve published more than once or twice…do you have a “stable”?

ES: Wow, that’s really sweet. It’s been a long time since anyone called me “stable”–or even used that word in a sentence that had anything to do with me…

AK: If you could be any superhero, who would it be?

ES: Penguin Man, Penguin Man,
Does whatever a penguin can
Swims in seas, full of ice
Catches fish, just like Japanese fishing trawlers chasing whales in clear violation of international law but hiding behind the flimsy veneer of “science”
Watch out

Here comes the Penguin Man.

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