(Thanks to Mike Glyer for helping me track down some of the info of these events)
Gregory Benford thought he was just speaking on another panel, something he’d done dozens of times over the last 40 years of his career, especially after his novel Timescape won the Nebula Award and has since been hailed as one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written. The topic is The New Masters of Sci-Fi, letting panelists know who in the current day takes on the mantle of the greats like McCaffrey, Heinlein, and Pournelle, and having a robust discussion among authors and friends alike.
It should have been a fun time had for all, as LosCon had a wonderful line up of panels this year that many other conventions could do well to take note of, but for those who attended this panel at LosCon, they’ll only remember one thing for the rest of their lives– a moment soured by identity politics. Another convention ruined by outrage culture and the extreme left doing anything but allowing people to have a good time.
In the context of the discussion, Bedford made an innocuous statement, not to anyone in particular, but talking to himself about what makes science fiction great. He simply uttered the words,”If you write sf honey, gotta get the science right.”
Most of us reading along will nod our heads along with that statement. Of course, the science is important to at least maintain a certain veneer of accuracy. But for a woman in the audience, Bedford’s words triggered her.
She started ranting about sexism, about the word “honey” as if it were some kind of insult. Even though nearly all of the new modern classic authors mentioned by the panelists were women, somehow women couldn’t get their fair shake with this panel. A long time champion of fandom, Barbara Landsman described the incident: “I couldn’t believe it. My heart started pounding and I knew nobody else was going to say anything. When I caught Benford’s eye I knew that I was just going to do something.Somebody had to stop her. But it didn’t work. She came in there with a political agenda. She wasn’t happy with anything that anybody on that panel said.”
But she didn’t stop. She took over the panel. Ruined the atmosphere. Ruined several fans’ times who were just there to debate who’s the greatest of the great authors. This is what the religion of social justice and their alt-left extremists do wherever they go. You can’t just have a convention. You can’t just have a panel talking about science fiction. They have to make a scene, they have to destroy the fun.
It’s unfortunate, because while most convention committees have given into this political terrorism that festers in sci-fi fandom, LosCon actually had a slate of panels mostly FREE from identity politics. Other than inviting Literally Wu, it seemed like a pretty good slate. It was just going to be a fun weekend. But people remember when their fun gets ruined by these crazies, and the people stay away from conventions. I don’t know what occurred at years past, perhaps such outbursts or commentaries were commonplace, but LosCon is suffering now due to this ever-outraged political tyranny. Their attendance was reported as low to begin with.
This kind of energy doesn’t help. Readers want fun. Fans want fun. If they can’t get that, they leave. It’s a simple statement in every scenario. In this case, people wanted to listen to what an accomplished author like Mr. Bedford thought qualified as a “modern master” of sci-fi. They wanted to think of their favorite books, not get riddled with some feminist rant. The scenario escalated, and, according to one of the greatest authors working in the field today, David Weber, “someone with the con had felt justified in marching Greg Benford out of a con — out of a SIGNING, in fact — and telling him he he had to leave the con immediately because of an alleged incident in a panel discussion.”
Someone, probably the shrieking woman herself, went to the con comm and demanded his removal. And like every instance when someone is accused, they send security to deal with someone. I can’t fault the con comm too much, and it does turn out that they rescinded that decision, but the heartache, the pain, the hassle they caused Mr. Benford is unacceptable in any context. This is what happens when the feminists get out of control– because they are in control of these conventions at the end of the day.
It’s going to be hard for us all to get back into fun in 2018. The political is the personal now, and vice versa. The rabid fake news media has sent us all into spirals of anger and panic over everything. Nothing can be left untouched. We even have a man who is probably going to be the next president of SFWA calling Tolkien “racist” in recent days. The absurdity of this kind of behavior from the leaders of the field is to blame, and it’s why so many reasonable people walk away, turn to comic cons and indie books on Amazon, rather than deal with these dying establishments.
For Mr. Benford, it settled down, but did anyone really do anything to repay him for his time and effort he put into the convention? The man has been quiet and saintly through this, and he deserves your reader support at the very least.
This is just another example in the culture war we’ve been fighting since I called out a convention in 2017 for their absurd identity politics, but we’re here to Make Science Fiction Fun Again. No one tells me what I can and can’t write. No one tells me what I can and can’t do. And I’m going to bring readers fun, and when I speak, I’ll bring fans and audiences fun as well. Ain’t no harpy ranting about words like “honey” gonna stop me.
Make sure to pre-order my short fiction collection, Make Science Fiction Fun Again. Out Thursday. It’s bound to trigger the SJWs so badly they might not want to inhabit this planet anymore.
Follow Jon on Instagram: @jdelarroz