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Old 04-22-2017   #301
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Ancient History View Post
So a petition largely pushed in ignorance prompted a response that was pure cowardice. Now it's a tree.
Hm. What alternative solution would you prefer? I mean, the old award doesn't seem that fitting to me even without the racism issue.
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Old 04-22-2017   #302
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Ancient History- I seen some discussion of all that, there was definitely some awareness of those things. Part of the problem is that the "Fantasy" name of the award has shifted the focus of the sort of work they cover. A lot of people don't know how much horror is in the nominations.
But ultimately, none of this makes any difference to whether people are comfortable with getting a sculpture of Lovecraft as their award, even to some of those who are fans of him.

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Old 04-22-2017   #303
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Ruina View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Ancient History View Post
So a petition largely pushed in ignorance prompted a response that was pure cowardice. Now it's a tree.
Hm. What alternative solution would you prefer? I mean, the old award doesn't seem that fitting to me even without the racism issue.
Lovecraft's image wasn't chosen for the award because he was a racist; it does not celebrate or promote his racism, any more than US currency bearing the image of our racist Founding Fathers is designed to promote their beliefs and attitudes about race. Lovecraft's image was chosen because of the group of people that founded the award - because of his substantial influence on the field of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and weird fiction - and because of his constant support and encouragement to his fellow writers, especially amateurs and fans as well as pulp professionals.

Which should be his legacy, and which should be acknowledged. And why his image, crafted by Gahan Wilson, was chosen for the award.

That creative legacy has only grown in recent years, because of the widespread popularity of Lovecraft's fiction and the Mythos he helped to create and foster. So has grown the awareness that Lovecraft was a human being, not a saint; he had flaws, and one of the most prominent to contemporary sensibilities was his racism.

That can make people uncomfortable. Most people that have to confront the past as it pertains to them find out it is uncomfortable. Everybody alive today is descended from people that were racist by contemporary understanding. Everybody alive had ancestors not too many generations ago that participated in racial segregation, or were members of the Ku Klux Klan, or believed in and supported scientific racialism. Reach a little farther back and people owned or were slaves.

Lovecraft was not exceptional in this regard. He was racist. He was also a kind-hearted grandfather figure to young writers like Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, R. H. Barlow, and James Blish. We remember Lovecraft's legacy of racism, because it is important to know his life as it was, and because there are still lessons to be learned about what he believed and why that are applicable to speculative fiction today. Lovecraft should not be swept under the rug, or relegated to the closet like the picture of a racist grandpa.

If nothing else, Lovecraft's image as an award is testament to the courage of fantasy fiction writers in facing and acknowledging the unpleasant past - to know where we've come from, and what we still need to remember as we look forward.

...which is the kind of thing I wish the World Fantasy Award folks had actually said. It's their authority, they have the right to change it. But I wish that they had the courage to actually address the issue, instead of gutlessly accepting the ignorance behind the petition.

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Old 04-22-2017   #304
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I suspect the WFC didn't release a statement about the change because it had little to do with the petitions. Those making a fuss over Lovecraft's racism might have delivered the final push to swap, but it seems to me that most simply felt that Lovecraft's fiction was too narrow in scope to adequately represent the fantasy genre. Whereas I question the decision to use a tree sculpture that looks like it's missing a glitter covered jack-o-lantern with LED eyes, I think that if the WFC was truly caving to the crowd condemning Lovecraft they would have went ahead with a bust of Octavia Butler.
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Old 04-23-2017   #305
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Speaking Mute View Post
Whereas I question the decision to use a tree sculpture that looks like it's missing a glitter covered jack-o-lantern with LED eyes
Hilarious!

Those who insist on judging the mores of the past with the culture-bound eyes of the present are even more stupid than those they condemn.

All of this programs the death of reading. And reading is the drinking of strange wine.
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Old 04-23-2017   #306
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I read a long time ago a really clever suggestion- replace the Lovecraft bust with a Cthulhu one. It seems like a solution that would please everyone- Lovecraft's work is respected, but no excessive adulation of the man himself, which might make certain people a tad timorous. Everyone wins.

People talk about the difficulty of separating a writer from his/her work, but it's not really that hard- literary critics have been doing it for a long time. We need some Wimsatt and Beardsley!
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Old 04-23-2017   #307
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Frankly, they should have just kept the bust as it was and maybe just came up with a variant bust for people who wouldn't want to accept the original (which I still feel would be a small number). That way everyone wins. But no.....

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Old 04-23-2017   #308
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Why did they even change it (I'm too lazy to read through the whole thread)? Why couldn't they have simply left it alone?

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 04-23-2017   #309
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I think one of my issues with this whole thing (and I know I've ranted about this at length in the past but what the hell, I love a good rant) was that the people who wanted the bust changed had no idea how to win graciously (and of course, knowing how to win in a gracious manner is just as important as knowing how to lose in a gracious manner). Or how some of the followers of the people who wanted the bust changed were comparing them to famous civil rights pioneers (utter nonsense of course, but I guess to some of today's young writers putting your name on a Change.org petition or placing a "Black Lives Matter" over the mouth of the Lovecraft bust and posting the resulting picture on Facebook is the same as putting your life on the line). Or how some of the people who wanted the bust changed were painting anyone who wanted the bust to remain as it was as out-of-touch backwards conservative straight white guys (when, in fact, some of the most prominent defenders of keeping the bust as it were included S.T. Joshi, Caitlin R. Kiernan, W.H. Pugmire, and so forth: hardly right-wing straight white males). But I'll stop here for now as it's something I can argue about for hours.

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Old 04-23-2017   #310
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

"conservative straight white guys"

Who are by definition evil?

All of this programs the death of reading. And reading is the drinking of strange wine.
-Harlan Ellison
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