Category Archives: william sanders is a bigot

Resolution For Helix Authors

Ithe wake of the horrifyingly unprofessional bigoted comments of Helix editor William Sanders there was a lot of talk on what authors could do if they no longer wanted to be associated with Helix because of Sanders official comments. A few folks requested their stories be removed and we saw what happened there. Another suggestion was re-posting the stories elsewhere, since Helix’s contract is non-exclusive internet rights, and changing links to point to the new location. So it’s been announced today that a group of both current and former Helix published authors have set up an alternative website to archive Helix fiction – Transcriptase

The Current Author List-
Elizabeth Barrette
Beth Bernobich
Maya Bohnhoff
Eugie Foster
Sara Genge
Samantha Henderson
Janis Ian
N.K. Jemisin
Vylar Kaftan
Ann Leckie
Yoon Ha Lee
Margaret Ronald
Jennifer Pelland
Vaughan Stanger
Rachel Swirsky

Go check out the stories, it’s what I’ll be doing.


Yesterday I was laid low some horrible stomach thing so I stayed at home curled in a ball around my twisty-painfilled-stomach. I’m better today still a little nauseaus and my throat is sore as all get out – from praying to the porcelain god – but I’m back at work. Low energy so today I’m focusing on some other stuff I have to get done.

For the latest in the the Sanders/Helix farcas go here:

Too Through…

Let’s go through the list shall we, now due to Sanders open and outright bigotry many no longer want to be associated with Helix magazine. Yoon Ha Lee requests that her story be taken down from the website. Sanders replies and does this but in the letter says how he never liked it in the first place, it didn’t make sense and he only bought it to increase writers of color in his magazine…and a lot more, basically he acts like an 8 year-old. (Yoon Ha Lee’s journal)

Then yesterday Sanders makes a public post claiming it was his idea to allow people to removes their stories from the archive, says anybody who wants to remove their story should email him and he’ll take it down.There’s also a lot of insinuation in the post about people being greedy and this all being some attack -because yeah Sanders is that big, everyone wants to attack him that’s what it’s all about. He says to act now because he’ll decide capriciously when this offer ends and if you don’t like it you can shut your pie-hole, classy and professional! (Yoon Ha Lee’s journal)

Tempest describes what was left on the pages of the stories that were removed and in a post today Sanders says that anyone who wants a story removed must pay $40 to the webmistress Melanie. Now keep in mind that just yesterday his letter said Melanie shouldn’t have to deal with this and he would take care of everything. My guess is that either a bunch of folks sent in requests and he’s trying to stem the tide by charging or his petulance is growing exponentially as he discovers most folks now know he’s a bigot.

Tobias Buckell weighs in and suggests sooe sort of drive for folks who want their story down but can’t afford the $40.To Sanders $40 may be nothing but to a lot of us it’s the difference between eating actual food this week or Ramen. Many in the comments urge folks not to pay anything because it would be like paying Sanders for his bigotry.

Kate Nepveu suggests since most folks say the contract with Helix is for non-exclusive internet rights that any authors who’re unhappy or don’t want to be associated with Helix any longer can post the stories on their blog or anywhere they want and redirect all their links there. Which personally I think is awesome.

 Other things in the SF/F world:

Kate Elliot starts a dialog on reviews and what readers would like to see in their reviews. While this may seem only tangentially about SF/F, it is a post by a well-known and fa I find the ideas in the post align with my thoughts a lot because I critique a lot of things here and I think for some people that reads as if I hate these things but no, I love them, that’s why I critique/review them because I want them to be better in regards to power/privilege/oppression. Anyway, go join the conversation let Kate know what you like/dislike about reviews.

Yoon Ha Lee links us to someone starting a new on-line magazine specializing in “literary adventure fantasy–character-driven stories in secondary worlds”, paying SFWA pro rate for stories, opening to submission on August 1st called Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I’m thinking of submitting one of my stories to them after some major edits.

Science-Fiction & People of Color; Rejection Letters

Sometimes when I tell people I’m into SF/F and that I primarily write in that genre I get this weird look and the statement “Black people don’t like Sci-Fi” or something similar despite the fact that I’ve just told them at least one black person loves it. Then of course I state how plenty of POC that I know love Sci-Fi. Now if I’m talking to someone who is a white SF/F I often get the “Then why don’t I see them at conventions?”

Well if you want my opinion on one big reason (not the only one by far) for both why POC don’t attend conventions and why we need POC space head over and read Tobia Buckell’s post: Asimovs Forum Ickiness on what’s going on in the Asimov’s forum in regards to Sanders and Helix. When POC see this kind of blatant white privilege and refusal to acknowledge our pain or anger over bigotry and racial slurs in the industry that doesn’t exactly make us feel welcome. And that the posts that decry us as “oversensitive” and “PC Nazis” are full of sexism and racism within themselves especially when they’ll only attack Tempest (a WOC) but ignore anyone else talking about the Helix issue.

It’s even worse that it’s in Asimov’s forum because Asimov is considered one of the “big three” in Sci-Fi magazines and one of the main commenters, Dave Truesdale, has his own online column at F&SF (another big mag) where he talks about how SF/F is “too gay” and other Limbaugh-esque intolerance. So – I’m a Person of Color who loves SF/F, and decide to head over to Asmiovs forum to talk to other fans and join the SF/F community and this is the kind of vitriol I see then I’m going to assume all SF/F fans are like this. So am I then likely to head to a convention full of these folks? Hell, no.

Just go read the post and I suggest you read all the comments to because they’re really enlightening.

Also related to the Helix debacle but not rage-inducing and actually really funny Shaun CG @ Nostaligia for Infinity has declared today Post A Rejection Letter Friday!:

Apropos of the ridiculous focus on whether or not posting rejection letters is common practice/professional/legal/cuddly/appropriate/blue rather than on the exposure of crude and offensive racist language, I’m officially declaring it Post A Rejection Letter Friday.

Mine aren’t that interesting because #1 I haven’t gotten that many because I haven’t submitted that many place, which will change this summer I have 5 or 6 stories I’m gonna submit in the next month and #2 all the rejections I’ve gotten have been short and kind of standard form letters. You know the whole “not right for us” thing. But I want to join in so here’s mine:

Thanks for your submission, and I’m very sorry for taking so long to
respond to it; we received over one hundred stories for this anthology,
and it took us longer than we had expected to give each the consideration
that it deserved. Unfortunately your story is not quite what we’re
looking for at
this time. I wish you the best of luck in placing this story elsewhere.
Take care!

So…Today’s Post

So I had a post for today. No really I did, I hadn’t written yet but it was all planned out about the whole diversionary tactics a lot of people are using in the Helix debacle. There are a bunch of folks completely ignoring the bigotry to focus on whether the author should have posted the letter in the first place. I was gonna talk about how most editors and authors I’ve met talk about the sharing of rejection letters all the time and it’s the content that’s getting people up in arms and this is really just a straw man argument. I could also talk about the published book of rejection letters I own but I digress

So yeah the post was gonna be about that but Tempest beat me to it so go here and read her great post: Dear People On The Asimov’s Boards and Elsewhere…

We can spend the next week quibbling over whether or not rejections are private correspondence and whether it’s unprofessional to post one to public or private spaces. (I don’t believe it is based on the fact that, since I’ve been a writer, writers have shared rejections, either in whole or in part, in forums relating to writing. Also, I agree with those who’ve said that once a person says truly despicable, racist things in letter form, professionalism is already off the table.) It may very well be true that, from a legal standpoint, Luke didn’t have the right to do what he did. But, again, would anyone care if it hadn’t revealed what it did?

And if you’re interested in reading what editors have to say about the sharing of rejection letters go to the link in the quote. The consensus seems to be that while it may not be completely legal on copyright issues it is something that most editors expect to happen so they wouldn’t write anything in a letter they wouldn’t stand behind. They also understand that those are professional correspondence that reflect not only on them but on their publication as well.

Now just a few interesting, useful or just plan weird links

100 Web Tools For Writers – Haven’t read the whole thing yet but it looks interesting.

Humans only use 10% of their brain – Bullshit!

How To Turn Your Vacuum Cleaner Into A Bazooka! – For when the Zombie ‘Pocalypse goes down!

And finally a weird little online Neopets-like thing were you get to raise a dragon! I know dragons are trite and all that but come on raise a dragon from egg on how can you say no?
Adopt one today!

-Isms in Sci-Fi: Take #1,896

I spent sometime this weekend worrying a little over my review of Empress up at Fantasy Magazine because of my calling out the race issues. It’s that same old conflicted feeling of: #1 yes this stuff should be called at but #2 I do want to work in this industry someday so will my being so vocal hinder my chances. I occasionally have bouts of this and then blow it off because talking about these issues are so important, everywhere in SF and in other spaces. This time however the feeling popped up while I was hanging out with my friend bankuei on Saturday. When I voiced my concerns he said something that crystallized everything for me, paraphrased here:

“Those people who would reject you because of what you say weren’t gonna buy your fiction anyway.”

Now on the heels of this comes the exposure of a rejection letter sent by Helix editor William Sanders which is full of such bigotry that it makes my head spin. I’m gonna quote part of what my homegirl Tempest quoted of it over at her blog:

I’m impressed by your knowledge of the Q’uran and Islamic traditions. (Having spent a couple of years in the Middle East, I know something about these things.) You did a good job of exploring the worm-brained mentality of those people – at the end we still don’t really understand it, but then no one from the civilized world ever can – and I was pleased to see that you didn’t engage in the typical error of trying to make this evil bastard sympathetic, or give him human qualities.

(whole letter also here*)

Wow! Really?
And I didn’t even quote the part about “them” (Muslims) being incapable of honesty and sheet-heads. Will WIlliam be called out for his racism/religious intolerance?
In the SF/F community you never really know and more than likely if he is called out it will be a slap on the wrist that’s forgotten by most in a couple of months, except by everyone who saw the letter and was horribly offended and hurt but they don’t really count anyway, do they? Bad behavior in the SF/F community often blows up into a huge stink, then the perpetrator offers a prefunctory (and often false) apology and no lasting consequences are placed on the him. So others get the notion that they can continue/start their own horrible behavior with no problems. I’m thinking specifically of the Connie Willis/Harlan Ellison instance but there are plenty other examples that float through my mind.

If these folks can continue to spew this racist, sexist, classist, -ist bullshit then I can continue to call it out.

*Here you’ll also get to see Sanders attempt to defend himself {anonymous}, I find his calling of the letter poster “son” patronizing as hell but that’s just me. Also as an editor he should know that words are key if he’s talking about extremists/terrorists mentioning the Q’uran and referencing “those people” was a very bad choice on his part because it focuses it on Muslims unless he’s assuming all terrorists are Muslims or vice-versa. Plus like phrases like “those people” and “civilized world” (which puts a place to the bigotry and makes it seem about race as well as religion) send alarm bells up for anyone with the least amount of anti-oppression training

Also see author/managing editor of Helix Lawrence Watt-Evans {livejournal user lwe} try to justify the letter by saying it’s not racial, it’s religious. Which makes it okay?? Because religious intolerance is so much better than racial intolerance?

That argument ignores the connections made between Islam and brown people throughout the last millenia. Also his argument that Islam is sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic points to a complete lack of understanding of Islam, because there are extremists in all religions that are sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic. We always talk about the extreme religious right in the US but I guess they aren’t as bad? But I’m blanking on why…

This argument also points to a pretty large misunderstanding of Islam and the fact that within the religion there’s much discussion on tradition versus religiously required practice with many advocates calling for the end to honor killings and other practices seen as horrible by those within the religion. Islam is not a monolith, just like race is not a monolith. Oops! There I go connecting race and religion again.