This is the April issue; as I write this, it is June 5. We’ve managed to lap ourselves: I’m putting the finishing touches on this issue after beginning work on the next one. Sigh.
We actually have a plan worked out whereby we will be back to our regular schedule (with the issue coming out late in the month on the cover) by the end of July. It will be somewhat demanding, especially this month—I hope to have the May and June issues both out by the Independence Day holiday weekend—but it’s achievable.
One thing the last few months have impressed on me is how thinly stretched the NYRSF staff is. All of the people listed in the masthead are smart, skilled, and dedicated to the magazine, but they are also incapable of being in two places at once. As a result, this month’s Work Weekend was attended by only one staffer (beside those who were already living in Valentine’s Castle). This has left us behind on many vital tasks in addition to issue production: sending out review copies, reorganizing the back issues that were hurriedly moved out of David Hartwell’s office at Tor, working on the electronic archives, and many others.
As such, we’re once again making an explicit call for more volunteers. We can use more volunteers in person at our monthly Work Weekends here in Yonkers—science fiction! banter! sushi!; we can also use more volunteers who are able to do electronic editing. If this seems like something interesting then please, please drop me a line at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
On another matter: I’m sure that any of you who are interested in the Hugo Awards already know that the coterie of vandals who spoiled last year’s finalist lists have returned with (nearly) as effective a bombing run on this year’s ballot. Because the vandals are not very bright, they apparently believed that sf fans would be scandalized when Chuck Tingle, pseudonymous author of bizarre metafictive gay porn ebooks, ended up on the ballot. But Tingle has risen to the occasion, hitting back at the vandals with an immediate response book (Slammed in the Butt by My Hugo Award Nomination) and a stream of mockery making it clear they had called up what they could not make go down. For more details, I recommend this “explainer” from Vox Magazine: <www.vox.com/2016/5/26/11759842/chuck-tingle-hugo-award-rabid-puppies-explained>.
That’s one of the few bright spots. The vandal leader’s tactics this year were slightly more sophisticated than those of last year, resulting in some genuinely first-rate work getting onto the final ballot, in hopes of blunting the “vote all of the vandal nominees behind No Award” response that carried the day last year. (And in some categories, there were enough votes to push genuinely excellent work onto the ballot despite the vandals.) If you’re voting in the Hugos, vote your conscience, but please bring particular skepticism, even suspicion, to anything closely affiliated with the vandal leader’s publishing house. Those works in particular are only on the ballot because of a concerted effort to make the Hugos meaningless; don’t reward them.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to figure out where to go from here. Several reforms to the Hugo voting process were started last year, but the initial number crunching on the most ambitious of them makes it clear that the silver bullet has not been found. That’s unsurprising; as more and more of the world is making clear, it’s far easier to launch attacks against specific targets than it is to defend against all possible attacks. Jim Henley’s recent essay “Hugo McHugoface Has Sailed” <highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2016/05/22/19209> draws direct lines among the famous “Boaty McBoatface” poll, the Hugos, and online harassment brigades. There are people who just want to watch the world burn, and it doesn’t take a lot of them to set at least a few things on fire.
It’s unlikely that a silver bullet will be found. But very few complex problems are solved (or even lessened) by a single countermeasure; compared to online griefers, syphilis was simple. But the World Science Fiction Society isn’t limited to a single change, and I have a fair faith that they’ll end up creating a new system that is still recognizably the Hugo Awards.
(Note to all sf writers: If your future doesn’t somehow address the problem of distributed harassment networks, you’re not taking the present seriously enough.)
—Kevin J. Maroney
and the editors