On Friday Morning Tor.com announced that they had once again begun taking submissions for novellas. Now when I was growing up all of my favorite authors were seemingly being published by Tor; so when I saw this I was pretty excited. But you know there's something odd about this announcement.
At this time, we are particularly seeking science fictional novellas of all varieties. Lee Harris is particularly interested in space opera, time travel thrillers and interesting new approaches to classic science fiction themes, while Carl Engle-Laird is seeking near-future science fiction and technothrillers that trace their lineage from cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk, as well as space operas with the sense of grandeur and mystery that remind readers of the closeness between space opera and fantasy. We will also be happy to accept fantasy and urban fantasy stories, though we will be prioritizing the SF submissions.
In addition, both Lee Harris and Carl Engle-Laird actively request submissions from writers from underrepresented populations. This includes, but is not limited to, writers of any race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class and physical or mental ability. We believe that good science fiction and fantasy reflects the incredible diversity and potential of the human species, and hope our catalog will reflect that. (Engle-Laird)
That bold text up there appeared in the original posting that hit the web on Friday.
I'm sure that putting that out there was specifically aimed as a blow in connection to the Hugo Award controversy that's going on right now but . . . to my eye it reads like they just wrote, "We want anyone except for you cock swinging, lady breeding, crackers." Which is, like, the weirdest thing I've ever read. I mean we're talking about a company that publishes books and that wants to make money, right? Shouldn't their goal be just the best stories regardless of the author's race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class, physical or mental ability? Why should they give a flying fuck if I'm a black, transsexual, woman who's also an atheist or if I'm a white, straight, guy who's also a Muslim? Shouldn't those things be secondary to whether the story is any good?
You might think I'm alone in this reading of that paragraph but I'm not. When this first came up in my Twitter feed this morning I passed it along to a really talented author I know who deserves to get a break and find himself published by a big company. He was excited when he first heard about it and then it all went away as he finally ended up declaring, "There's no way. They want it from underrepresented populations."
That completely sucks.
See this is the tangible result of these controversies we keep throwing ourselves into with such wanton disregard for their consequences. Sides dig in, and suddenly their political agendas become more important than just putting out the best product. These last few years have been overly political with people on both sides of the aisle trying to force their agendas on everyone else and it's clearly a pox on all our houses. Just think how many times you've seen someone one write, "You can't work with this person they're toxic," or "Don't dare associate with her. She believes the wrong things."
I've lost count.
I am so very tired of this nonsense. We are living in the 21st century. We are on the cusp of electromagnetic engines that can let us travel to Mars in weeks. We have computers that can store more books on their hard drives than any 100 people could read in their lifetimes. I can communicate with people across unimaginable distances and see them on my computer screen in real time. We have a space station and laser guns! Why the fuck are we still letting ourselves be sidetracked with this bullshit?
[[EDIT 5/2/2015 5:40 PM EST]] After talking about this issue with +Russ Morrissey and +Matthew B I've come to the conclusion that I over reacted to the bold text. Most likely I was projecting my own insecurities onto their statements since I actually want to be published one day by one of the big book publishers and I want the people I like published too.
Please accept my apologies for my overreaction and for talking to you with my head shoved firmly up my ass. I'm sure it was hard to hear me clearly when I was so muffled. ;)
Works CitedEngle-Laird, Carl. "Tor.com is Open to Novella Submissions!" Tor.com. 5/1/2015. Web.