Other than my opinion on books, I rarely take the time to write a reactionary piece. Those things that might inspire me to do so tend to be controversial and really, I am not a confrontational person. Perhaps it is the upcoming National Voter Registration Day event I am holding at the library that has convinced me to do something different this time. One of the graphics being used to promote the day is a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
So here I am, responding to the September 5th notice that the SFR Galaxy Awards are ending.
Founder Heather Massey gave two reason for the dissolution:
1) There was a short paragraph on ‘Life Stuff’ needing to take priority. I totally get and respect this. Family and self should always come first.
2) There were three more longer paragraphs discussing the lack of diversity/inclusion in the awards. As you might guess, these three paragraphs are what prompt me to write this today.
But first, I must say that I have the utmost respect for co-founders Heather Massey and Laurie Green and all the work and enthusiasm they have put into making the awards such a fun and always exciting event. Even before I became a judge, it was entertaining to check out the variety of SFR books that were recognized. Bad for my TBR list, but fun nonetheless!
I would also recognize my fellow judges, all readers and bloggers just like myself, who put their hearts and spirit into the events, resulting that aforementioned ever increasing TBR list.
In response to #2 above, the first thing I will say is that, as a judge (and, admittedly, fringe social media user), I never once heard or read any discussion of the flaws present in the SFR Galaxy Awards. I have always been perturbed when people talk about me behind my back. I know this may be an extreme reaction, but really, if someone has on opinion about something I (or other judges) said, wrote or did, have the courtesy to let me/us know personally. There is more than one forum that could have been used so we could all be aware of the debates. I feel like this all came out of far, far, far left field.
The thing is, Science Fiction is, by its nature, diverse. SciFi authors have been known to write characters that are blue- or green-skinned, have various planets of origin, occupations, religions, gastronomic preferences, have horns, claws, pointy teeth and large ears, or lack teeth, have tiny ears and three toes, possess psychic abilities….the list goes on. And that is just for organics. There are AI’s, robots, androids, nanobots, and automatons. Combine the organic and inorganic and you get cyborgs and bionic beings. And since we are talking about romance, we can add various mating rituals and an assortment of reproduction methods.
Note, I wrote all that without once referring to “race, gender, sexual orientation and #ownvoices”, the four areas of diversity that Ms. Massey would like to see more of. I am not in disagreement with her. I am saying that Science Fiction expands the definition of diversity. It also expands on bias. These expanded definitions are brought to light in those great stories that highlight the few sentient being/human conditions that I personally hope we can all recognize. For me, SFR romance is not about promoting diversity. It is about dealing with differences and having decency, tolerance, understanding, acceptance and kindness come out on top.
The thing is, I am sad about the loss of these awards. Not just because I was a part of them, but because this was a singular venue for SFR authors to be recognized for who they are. Brilliant, creative, witty, emotional, adventurous, devious, funny and visionary writers who persevere in their genre because that is what they are called to do.
So it is my sincerest hope that the finality of the SFR Galaxy awards leads to something other. Something about doors and windows comes to mind…..