Edmund Schubert, IGMS, and the Hugos

Edmund R. Schubert, editor of Intergalactic Medicine Show, has withdrawn himself for consideration in the category of Best Editor, Short Form.

My understanding is that it’s too late at this point to actually withdraw; his name will be on the printed ballots. But he no longer wishes to be in the running, and therefore would prefer people not vote for him.

Why am I posting about this? Because he’s put together a free sampler of material from IGMS — basically the stuff he might have put into the Hugo Voters’ Packet had he stayed in. And there’s a story of mine in there: “A Heretic by Degrees,” the first Driftwood story I ever published.

Schubert approached me ahead of time and asked whether I would be willing to let him reprint that story in the sampler, given the controversy around the Hugos. I told him I was fine with that, and in turn, I asked and received his blessing to talk about my relationship with IGMS.

As many (but possibly not all) of you know, the full name of IGMS is Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. And Card, as many (but possibly not all) of you know, has become increasingly vocal over the years about his homophobia. This is, to put it mildly, not a position I support — which makes my relationship with the magazine complicated.

When I sold “Heretic” to IGMS, Card’s homophobia and other offensive behaviors were not fully on my radar, and I had not yet begun to think through such matters to the extent that I do today. I was just looking for a place to sell the story, that would pay me a decent rate. Later on, that changed: I knew full well what he was like when I sold them “Love, Cayce,” which is the other story of mine they’ve run. By then, my decision hinged on two things:

1) Card’s name is on the magazine, but he isn’t the editor. He hasn’t been the editor since 2006, and while he has occasionally selected a story for the magazine, this is rare. The vast majority of what you read in IGMS is there because of Schubert, who is not taking his marching orders from Card.

2) It pleased me to take money from a magazine bearing Card’s name for a story that has a lesbian relationship in it. (It’s a small detail, not the focus of the story — which is part of why Schubert didn’t pick “Love, Cayce” for the sampler. But it’s there, and it’s treated as both positive and unremarkable.)

And this brings us back to the sampler. Schubert told me his reason for putting it together was, he wanted to showcase what IGMS stands for, under his leadership. Because he is not Orson Scott Card, and he is not running a magazine that stands for homophobia, racism, misogyny, or any other kind of bigotry. I’m not claiming IGMS is a flawless paragon of diversity and progressive ideals; to be honest, I don’t read it regularly. (These days I don’t read any magazines regularly, not even BCS: most of my fiction consumption has been novels.) But it is not a microphone for Card’s views. Nor is it the kind of straight white male conservative bastion the Puppies seem to love so much. Schubert was not asked if he wanted to be on the Puppy slate; he does not applaud their tactics. And he does not agree with their bigotry.

Jim Hines posted recently against the polarization of the field, the sense that you have to “take sides” (and of course in that view there are only two sides, with no crossover or nuance or conflicting agendas). In the end, I think of my stories in IGMS, and my professional interactions with Schubert, as being a rejection of the notion of “sides.” As I told Schubert in email, I have no idea what his politics are, and I don’t care. Or perhaps it would be better to say: what matters to me about his politics is how they influence his professional behavior. I have seen no sign that he’s using his editorial position to promote bigotry; on the contrary, he deliberately crafted the sampler to be 50/50 men/women, and a quick glance shows me at least four non-white writers on the TOC. Nor has he been so publicly hateful that I can’t avoid knowing about it, a la Card. Could I judge him for keeping company with Card, for being willing to run a magazine that bears the name of a man who is so interested in hurting gay people? Sure. And I’m sure there are people out there who judge him in precisely that way. I can’t really fault them for that. But if I’d let that stop me back in 2011, IGMS wouldn’t have run a story about a bunch of second-generation D&D-style adventurers, one of whom happens to be a lesbian, getting into all kinds of trouble.

I don’t want to help build the echo chamber. I’d rather tear the walls down.

So that is where I stand. I haven’t sold IGMS anything since 2011, though I did send them one piece in 2012. Whether or not I send them anything else will depend on how much short fiction I manage to write, whether I think any of it fits with the magazine, and whether think I can sell it somewhere else that will pay me more — no offense to Mr. Schubert. ๐Ÿ™‚ They aren’t my top market, but they aren’t off the list, either. And I’m happy to see “A Heretic by Degrees” included in the sampler, because I’m happy to be an example of what Schubert wants IGMS to stand for.

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