Late last night, author Mary Robinette Kowal announced that she had offered to assist with programming for Worldcon76 following various debacles & kerfuffles, and her assistance has been accepted by the committee.

This morning, John Picacio (artist GoH and founder of the Mexicanx Initiative) announced that he had offered his own assistance to Kowal, and that has been accepted.

Amazing Stories take:

I was the only Amazing Stories rep attending the con that had been scheduled for program events – a “Walk with the Stars” around the dealer’s room and a panel on addressing “Fannish Tribalism”.  I was pleased to be included on programming.  I queried the members of File770 as to whether or not I ought to give up those events in order to make room for others and responses both on File 770 and in emails received strongly encouraged me not to do so.

I’ve written to John and expressed my support for whatever final decisions he and the rest of Mary’s team come up with.

Programming at any convention is a difficult, complicated and onerous task (I ought to know, I gave up on being program head for the Heinlein Centennial because it was just too much.)  However, I do know one thing and that is, programming is supposed to be about celebrating our community, not about advancing the careers of individuals.

The two goals do not have to be mutually exclusive:  being exposed to a new author, for example, during a reading, or on a panel addressing new author issues, readily lends itself to both informing and entertaining the community and advancing the writer’s career.

We should expect to be offered opportunitities to meet and be exposed to the latest and greatest – and newly minted award Finalists certainly fit that bill.  (I’ve got a vested interest here – I want to meet those new voices and encourage them to submit to the magazine!), but there is also room – or should be – for the well-established and well-recognized.  I think some of the most informative, entertaining and valuable panels I’ve ever attended have been a mix of the old and the new;  I can ground myself in the familiar AND become informed of new perspectives and approaches.

Besides, are we no longer paying at least lip-service to the idea that this genre stands on the shoulders of giants as it creates new ones? Our entire being rests upon the notion that everyone involved is deserving of a voice and that we are stronger for taking the longer and more difficult path of trying to be inclusive.

I think programming is in good hands now.  I also think it important to acknowledge that while naysayers are chortling with glee over what they see as a failure of Fandom’s “identity politics” (their word, not mine) is actually a near-perfect example of Fandom’s willingness to speak out, and perhaps more importantly, it’s willingness to acccept criticism and at least make an atttempt to address problems.

It’s not pretty, it’s not all sweetness and light and not everything will be addressed to everyone’s satisfaction at this juncture. But it does highlight the fact that we all have a choice to make.  We can choose to participate in an organization and a community that, at the very least, has demonstrated a willingness to address its screwups and acknowledge that it can and has made mistakes, or we can choose to become insular and factionalize – take all of our balls and leave the playground.  I for one find playing kickball by myself to be kind of pointless.  I hope the rest of you do as well.

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