Weird Tales Pulls Novel Excerpt Following Fan Uproar

Weird Tales Pulls Novel Excerpt Following Fan Uproar

weird-tales-359aIt’s been an interesting day for Weird Tales, the oldest genre magazine on the market.

It began with the abrupt resignation of Ann VanderMeer as a senior contributing editor, “due to major artistic and philosophical differences with the existing editors.” As reported here last year, VanderMeer was replaced as editor by Marvin Kaye as the magazine transitioned to new Publisher Nth Dimension Media, run by John Harlacher. While Ann commented that her resignation “has been in the works for several months, ever since I was removed as the editor-in-chief,” it was apparently hastened by Kaye’s decision to publish an excerpt from Victoria Foyt’s novel,  Saving the Pearls: Revealing Eden. The “Pearls” in the title refer to whites, who find themselves a persecuted minority after an ecological disaster. In praising the book, Kaye wrote:

Weird Tales seldom prints SF, but this story is a compelling view of a world that didn’t listen to the warnings of ecologists, and a world that has developed a reverse racism: blacks dominating and detesting not just whites, but latinos and albinos, the few that still survive of the latter are hunted down and slaughtered.

[Kaye’s post, and the comments it generated, have since been removed from the WT site; a Google webcache of the page is here.]

Reaction from fans was swift and strongly negative. In her lengthy blog post, This is How You Destroy Something Beautiful, author N.K. Jemisin wrote:

All my pleasure and pride at having been published in WT is gone. Goes without saying that I won’t be submitting there again, ever, but at this point I’m ashamed to have my name associated with the magazine at all. And that pisses me off especially, because something I really cared about has been destroyed.

By mid-afternoon, publisher John Harlacher had moved quickly to limit the damage with the following announcement:

Weird Tales will NOT be running an excerpt from Victoria Foyt’s novel in our upcoming issue… I have not read the novel, but have gone over its online presence today. I have no need to read it. I saw the blackface video and read the excerpts the author and publisher chose to make available. I must conclude that the use of the powerful symbols of white people forced to wear blackface to escape the sun, white women lusting after black “beast men,” the “pearls” and “coals,” etc., is goddamned ridiculous and offensive. It seems like the work of someone who does not understand the power of what she is playing with… I deeply apologize to all who were offended by our association with this book. I am offended by it. I fully respect those who have been writing negative things about us today. You are correct.

Comments continue to accumulate on the announcement page (72 as of press time), with emotions running high on both sides. But while I expect there will still be a few folks who shake their fists at WT for a few days, Harlacher’s swift action likely contained the worst of the fallout.

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Theo

Amusing and troubling, albeit not in the way the point-and-shriek crowd appears to think. Are we to believe that science fiction is fine with all sorts of utterly impossible and implausible scenarios, but one that is not only within the realm of scientific possibility, but is also in line with linear demographic projections, is intrinsically “goddamned ridiculous”?

I haven’t read Foyt’s novel, nor do I intend to do so, (it sounds about as poorly written as The Hunger Games and other idiot YA novels that nevertheless sell very well), but it is laughable to insist that a novel which deals with the end of the white race should be deemed literally unthinkable, especially in a formerly white country where white births have recently become a minority. Nor is the black slaughter of albinos a fictional concept, as they are already hunted for their body parts, which are believed to contain magical properties, throughout Africa. “The right leg from an albino can sell for $2,000 and an arm about $800, according to an investigative report by a BBC team.”

How low does the percentage of white births need to fall before the basic concept of the novel is officially deemed thinkable? It is presently 49.6 percent in the USA. Below 25 percent? Below 5 percent?

Of course, the “coals” vs “pearls” idea is silly on its face because the percentage of black births in America is also falling. A scientifically sound concept would concern the disappearance of blacks and whites alike, in favor of Arthur C. Clarke’s ubiquitous browns. In fact, it wasn’t much more than 100 years ago when many progressive, “right-thinking” individuals believed the black race was in the process of vanishing.

Come to think of it, it strikes me that no one threw hissy fits over Clarke’s similar postulate concerning the disappearance of the white race in Imperial Earth. Foyt’s book may very well be dreadful and serve as a prime example of the problem of nepotism in publishing, but the fascistic and anti-intellectual reaction to it is indicative of the ideological sickness that presently pervades science fiction and fantasy.

pmcnamee67

Between this and some other comments in the press on a different story, I sometimes wonder if we’re really in the 21st century.

Then I remember that we might not be, and the world will leave us (the U.S.) behind.

eruditeogre

Theo: Come to think of it, no one threw a “hissy fit” about IMPERIAL EARTH because it’s a completely different book that does not childishly invert racial stereotypes and put characters in blackface.

I love it when people condemn others’ opinions without even the most cursory examination of the subject matter.

James Enge

A weird tale, indeed. Kaye’s behavior is baffling to me: how could anyone think this was a shrewd move? And the book, along with its flat-out ridiculous racism, seems to be mediocre-to-inept in its execution.

A sad day for a magazine with a great history.

James Enge

The idea that phenotypes would merge and be reshuffled in the future is really not new or controversial. It’s there in Niven’s Svetz stories and, if I’m remembering right, as far back as Asimov’s CURRENTS OF SPACE. And the Erudite Ogre is right: it has nothing to do with the lickerish racism of Foyt’s “pearls and coals” or the understandable outrage roused by WT’s pushing of her wretched book.

Barbara Barrett

Hi John,
Thanks for posting this. I read your article plus all the links you gave and then all the links to the links and their comments since it is a subject that interests me deeply. . Since I believe that any subject is fair game for science fiction and often social problems can be seen more accurately when they are set in a different time, my interest became more focused on the racism in the book itself instead of the Weird Tales’ controversial blog posted on August 15th but I’ve included the dates the blogs were posted.

I found some thought provoking, detailed analyses. One of these is by Margaret J. R. Bates, dated August 2nd who reviews the book in detail on her blog: http://legendarywomen.org/content/racist-issues-victoria-foyts-save-pearls-revealing-eden

On July 30th, Adrianne Russell’s website gives specific instances of racism she found in Pearls: http://thewritersrepublic.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/more-like-clutch-the-pearls/:

“Besides making me wonder what hope the YA genre has if we keep peddling this kind of stuff, here’s why I have problems:
-Racially coded language: “Dark-skinned” oppressors calling themselves something that conjures images of disgusting, environment-polluting, lung-rotting filth while the white oppressed are referred to as rare, highly-sought after gems…
-Not to mention the Purity Myth-enforcing/Biblical symbolism of the name “Eden Newman…”
Along with the reckless characterization of white women as helpless and perpetually victimized, by dark-skinned men no less…
-Plus the loathsome idea that a woman should be put to death if she’s not attached to a man by the ripe old age of 18…
-And casting Eden’s father as the great white humanity’s hope…
-Then crafting her crude “enemy” as a lusty, wild, uncontrollable Mandingoed object of affection.
-BONUS: The horrifically-insensitive-at-best-effing-racist-at-worst trailer, book cover and potentially civil-rights-violating “mating” channel on YouTube. Seriously, Midnight Luster?!”

Dated August 1st, on her website, Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Love Stories in Color, Alicia McCalla offered what I thought was an especially insightful look into a book that purports to look at reverse racism:
http://www.aliciamccalla.com/index.php/110-from-white-racial-superiority-to-mother-of-an-evolved-species-a-critical-analysis-of-save-the-pearls

“Eden, the protagonist in the story, might well have been named Lily or Lilith. In my bubble tweed on my Kindle Fire, I tweeted several lines within Book 1 where Eden’s mindset is not one of an oppressed minority. Her thinking is one of entitlement and anger. She harbors both resentment and intense racial hatred. Further, she sees herself as being the center of beauty even when her prospects for a mate are limited. As a side note, it is rather suspicious that in this “black world”, the blond, white woman is still considered to be the standard of “true” beauty as evidenced that the black males treat her as the most desirable trophy.”

Last December, I posted a five part article “Robert E. Howard and the Issue of Racism in His Poetry.” In the first part I went into great detail regarding the mindset of that era and sadly, it showed how deeply ingrained racism was in the American culture. (http://rehtwogunraconteur.com/?p=15811) Unfortunately, racist images never seem to go out of date.

Thanks again John for posting this essay. Barbara

TW

Dang…I had October in the SF/F Fandom Outbreak of Self-Righteous Indignation (for 2012) pool…

Foyt chose poorly in her attempt to be racist (or speak about race, or whatever lame excuse she has), if she had chosen properly she could have won a Hugo (or at least half of one) and have been applauded.

I do find it fitting that a magazine probably best known for publishing Lovecraft would go for something that seems as racist as “Saving the Pearls” seems to be (at face value…sorry 😉 ). Maybe in 100 years there will be a bust of Foyt given out as a prize.

And for Weird Tales to retreat in the face of the outcry is disappointing. After all if you are going to be controversial stick to your guns, backing down is a sign of weakness and just allows you to be bullied more in the future.

andy

So has Foyt said anything about all this yet?

TW

Lord O’Neill,

I guess what I would say is that I think they are screwed no matter what they do…

RadiantAbyss

I agree with the idea here that Foyts’ story fails for it’s execution.

Which is the ultimate reason any story ever ‘fails’ for.

People should look up ‘sf race fail of 09’, for further insights into what an iceberg ‘race’ is in Weird shit.

I can understand why Foyt may not have got the memo, but Kaye?

Kaye wants to be captain of Weird Tales + and he just overlooked that ‘race fail thing’?

Further I am liken to ONeill in that I think there is a ‘political’ aspect to this.

Kaye + Harlacher had a coupe striping VanderMeer of a prestigious role in ‘genre’.

Kaye the new captain makes one false move
+ now the (still) powerful VanderMeers’ ( among others ) are now enemies of the Weird Tales brand it seems.

This is important in a ‘art politics’ sense because both VanderMeers’ have been building a church where they are the authorities on Weird shit.

Nasty stuff.

RadiantAbyss

ONeill –

Those are or are to be some of the ‘holy relics of the Weird See of VanderMeer’

Be it known that I mostly approve even enjoy the VanderMeers’.

When they aren’t trying to tell me what to think, or feel…

Which goes for everyone really.

Tyr

All this just made me laugh. Is there similar outrage towards the equally vile propaganda spewed forth in The Land Leviathan? Of course not. That book fed into the insatiable white guilt of the Left. The real ideological sickness Mr. O’Neill is found in criticism today. Criticism which condemns one evil but is either silent or actually welcomes the other evil. Its the sickness that condemns the evil in Nazism but embraces the far bloodier Marxism and then labels libertarians ‘fascist’. Criticism that whips up hysteria about a rock thrown through an abortion mill window but acts as if the murder of a pro-lifer by a crazed homosexual is a non-event. I’ll take this tempest in a teapot seriously when the same people throwing a fit over this ridiculous book also condemn the relentless and pervasive hatred of people of European descent, Christians, and other bogeymen of the Left.

C - Foxessa

> So has Foyt said anything about all this yet?

She’s blogged about it on the HuffPo.

Quite a few other bloggs writing about this have posted the links.

Love, C.

C - Foxessa

<a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victoria-foyt/judging-a-book-by-its-cov_1_b_1721066.html”Here’s one of Foyt’s HuffPo posts, the first one I think. There is at least one more, later one. I haven’t been paying all that much attention because, you know, YA, etc.

The Stop Bullying Authors with Bad Reviews Good Reads people have posted a lot in Foyt’s defense.

Theo

It’s not the premise that’s under attack, but the execution.

I understand the book sucks, or am at least quite willing to grant the assumption. The question is, how on Earth is this sort of massive hissy fit justified just because a book is badly written?

I wonder how much of the anger being vented has its roots in the feeling that reactionary forces have recaptured a minor bit of the genre high ground.

Perhaps I’ve been living in Europe too long, but seriously, even the Africans here think the American left are complete lunatics about race. One of my Nigerian teammates used to tell a hilarious story about how he couldn’t get people to stop calling him African-American when he was visiting there.

“I’m not African-American, I’m not anything-American you crazy people!”

Theo

the understandable outrage roused by WT’s pushing of her wretched book.

Why is the outrage of a wretched book being pushed understandable? That’s precisely the point I am having trouble understanding. If I happen to think one of your books is wretched, or if you happen to think one of mine is wretched, would we be equally justified in being outraged by Black Gate pushing them?

It’s one thing to say that you think the book is bad and that she didn’t handle racial issues with the delicacy you believe they should be handled. That’s fine. But that’s very different than pointing, shrieking, and screaming “fire everyone involved!”

jeffreycrogers

Apologies if this is off-topic, but I would dearly love for Theo and/or Tyr to do a review of SANDMAN SLIM by Richard Kadrey.

And oh yeah, those poor white European Christians, boy they sure have had it rough over the last two millennia!

Barbara Barrett

Theo,
“I’m not anything-American you crazy people!” What a rude reaction to people trying to be polite. A simple correction: “No, I’m Nigerian” would have sufficed. I guess we Americans aren’t the only visitors to foreign countries whose manners can be Ugly. They come in all sizes and from everywhere on the planet.

As for the expression “African American”: when I was younger, the word “negro” was a perfectly acceptable word. Then it became “Blacks”, Black Americans and currently African Americans. Perhaps I’m wrong but the way I read it is: “An American whose heritage is African” or an American whose heritage is that of the “people who lived here when the Europeans landed” in the case of Native Americans. I would prefer to call each person by his or her given name without any label, but for someone whose heritage was almost wiped out by slavers and prejudice, and yes, even the American Government and missionaries, for God-knows-how-long, it might be important to identify with and find value in their cultural roots as well as to remind us that each shares in the full entitlements that comes from being an American citizen.

I don’t know if that old saying “birds of a feather, fly together” is solely an American one but it’s what thought of when I read your statement, “even Africans here think the American left are complete lunatics about race.” Perhaps Theo it’s the company you keep that feels that way. I’m acquainted with many Europeans who believe the American Conservative Right are lunatics about almost everything. Both are generalizations that have a tendency to label people, usually to their detriment — which brings us back to the statement: “…you crazy people.”
Barbara

Mike Allen

Theo, you seem to completely miss the point with every post you make.

I can’t imagine John ever being so foolish as to suddenly volunteer to publish an excerpt from a self-published novel that’s been widely, and rightly, criticized as clumsily executed and blatantly racist.

GreenGestalt

And this from Weird Tales that published cool stuff like CAS’s “Zothique” that had this wonderful (as in “horror-show”) island called “Naat” that besides necromancers had a tribe of blacks who’d evolved longer arms and naturally fanged teeth and preferred to eat the flesh of men…?

I’m really biting my lip bloody not to go off on some very long very rabid rant. Just I’m about to launch my “Project” inspired by this website a ways back and hammering out the last details. http://www.blackgate.com/2010/06/02/goodbye-realms-of-fantasy-again/

But my motto, then as is now is; “Death, Death, DEATH to P.C.!!!”

Furthermore while I don’t really have time to get into this novel to give it the fair shake it deserves, I do in part share the sentiment… Being real careful here, but I do think there’s truth to the allegation there’s some kind of counter assault on “The White Race” with lots of races being hyped up for revenge on us while most white people soundly reject the racism/supremacy of the past and totally bought the “Global Sweatshop” marketed as the “Global Village” lies… I’m not for racism and genocide, but fear it’s “Divide and conquer” by global elites that see only slaves and the wealth they can produce for them. I think the “PC” stuff is meant to create a backlash and undo the progressive social movements of past decades by ramming the absurd excess into people and breeding race backed crime and attacks. Then the ‘races’ keep fighting while the swine rob and enslave both of them.

Furthermore, hearing how bad “Whitey” is… Well, I’m mainly IRISH. The race the British practiced on for millenia before their rampage around the world. My personal ken moved out even before the Potato famine and went to the wild areas as mountain men, “Civilization” catching up to us TWICE. From the blood of barbarians, savages, vagabonds, bandits, bards, all that and more and with pride… But no massacre of Indians, no plantation with black slaves, matter of fact some being sold NEXT to black people… I’m quite convinced they only made the Irish “White” to deny any chance of “Reparations” since a while back it became likely they’d someday have to give them to blacks…

Thus while deep inside I’m very “Liberal” and “Progressive” I really have my BS alarm at all the forced PC stuff these days. And I do sense dark, terrible conspiracies.

Theo

“I’m not anything-American you crazy people!” What a rude reaction to people trying to be polite. A simple correction: “No, I’m Nigerian” would have sufficed. I guess we Americans aren’t the only visitors to foreign countries whose manners can be Ugly. They come in all sizes and from everywhere on the planet.

Do you really think he didn’t try that? You’re not understanding, people continued calling him African-American after he had told them he was Nigerian.

Here in Europe, people seldom say “black”, they usually just say “African”. And the amusing thing is that many visiting Americans get very, very nervous about this, to such an extent that I’ve even heard Americans say “African-American” about Africans here.

Theo, you seem to completely miss the point with every post you make. I can’t imagine John ever being so foolish as to suddenly volunteer to publish an excerpt from a self-published novel that’s been widely, and rightly, criticized as clumsily executed and blatantly racist.

John wouldn’t publish an excerpt from a poorly written novel, period, because he has good literary taste in the genre.

As for the idea that I am the one missing the point, the tremendously amusing thing about all these claims of racism is that the novel is openly racist, albeit not in the way everyone thinks. It is fundamentally based upon the literal superiority of the black race. This is why Foyt is so palpably confused about all the hate she’s encountering. I suspect she’s an Obama-voting progressive who considers herself anti-racist and is absolutely bewildered by this reaction to her book.

[Checks Internet] Yep. She was even an Obama donor in 2008.

Theo

I would dearly love for Theo and/or Tyr to do a review of SANDMAN SLIM by Richard Kadrey.

Looks pretty interesting, actually. I like Jim Butcher, and based on the reviews it looks like an amoral Dresden.

Mike Allen

“It is fundamentally based upon the literal superiority of the black race.”

See, Theo, this is exactly what I meant about missing the point. That isn’t what Foyt did at all.

She might think that’s what she did (which is where you may be half-right.) But what she actually did was create a story that imagines a ruling class of black people who all behave according to crude stereotypes taken straight out of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, told from the point of view of an innocent, jeopardized white flower (who could also have been cribbed from Griffith) who longs for the days when her kind was rightfully acknowledged as superior.

Theo

See, Theo, this is exactly what I meant about missing the point. That isn’t what Foyt did at all.

I understand that is what you meant. The problem is that you’re provably wrong. I am a little shocked that you could somehow manage to miss it. The basic concept of the novel is that global warming has rendered the planet nearly impossible to live on for those lacking sufficient melanin. Since only those of sufficient African descent possess enough melanin to protect their skin and survive, this basic concept intrinsically postulates black evolutionary superiority.

The novel may be an excruciatingly simple play on environmentally-driven natural selection. But it is overtly and expressly based upon genetic black superiority. This cannot be denied and the stereotypical behavioral patterns of the racially superior blacks doesn’t change that undeniable fact.

And yet, have we seen a single person throw a fit about the book’s intrinsic anti-white, anti-Latino racism? Is it truly more racist to postulate some stereotypical behaviors than the innate inferiority and near-extermination of entire races?

Theo

I understand that you’re bewildered at their anger and rage. But attempting to trivialize their extremely well articulated viewpoints by pointing out that whites died out because of a lack of melanin in this novel isn’t going to fly.

Just to be clear, I’m not defending the book here or trying to tell anyone what they can or can’t be angry about. I’m perfectly happy to lob a stone or two at Ms Foyt and Marvin Kaye. I’m merely dubious that if the colors were reversed in the book and the entire black race save one were exterminated, many of the angry critics would be much happier with it.

This is not a book that postulates black evolutionary superiority.

Very true, as there is no speciation. Mea culpa. The mate talk precludes that. What it does postulate is superior black fitness as the description is one of textbook natural selection: mutation, environmental change, die-off of genetically disfavored group. Of course, postulating superior black fitness in a specific environmental scenario doesn’t mean that whatever ooga-booga nonsense the woman produced isn’t racist as well.

And if you think about it, I’m really just handing the critics another hammer with which to hit Ms Foyt if they like. But if they prefer to focus on the stereotypes and poor execution, that’s fine by me.

Mike Allen

I just want to note, Foyt has also been hammered for bad science. ;-p

C - Foxessa

John — I just provided information.

I don’t endorse that GR group.

Also, Foyt’s book is — well, to put it mildly, execrable, when not risible, in these racialist matters. Shuddersome, even.

Can’t we ever grow UP!!!!!!!

C - Foxessa

Maybe you all might be interested in reading this article in the Atlantic Monthly.

It could explain a lot to you who don’t have a lot of close friends who are of color as to what racism in this nation is all about, and why this book is objectionable.

Barbara Barrett

Foxessa,
Thanks for the link to the Atlantic Monthly. It’s a long and detailed article but riveting in its message. I’ve just bought a book THE MEASURE OF MAN by Stephen Jay Gould. I borrowed it from my library but decided I wanted a copy of my own.

“When speaking of reoccurrences of the theories of biological determinism, he writes:

The reasons for recurrence are sociopolitical, and not far to seek: resurgences of biological determinism correlate with episodes of political retrenchment, particularly with campaigns for reduced government spending on social programs, or at times of fear among ruling elites, when disadvantaged groups sow serious social unrest or even threaten to usurp power. What argument against social change could be more chillingly effective than the claim that established orders, with some groups on top and others at the bottom, exist as an accurate reflection of the innate and unchangeable intellectual capacities of people so ranked?
Why struggle and spend to raise the unboostable IQ of races or social classes at the bottom of the economic ladder; better simply to accept nature’s unfortunate dictates and save a passel of federal funds; (we can then more easily sustain tax breaks for the wealthy!)?…The groups so stigmatized may be races, classes, sexes, behavorial propensities, religions or national origins.”

The prejudice expressed against people of color, women, the mentally ill, ethnic groups and other religions is frightening as well as sickening in its capacity for hatred and anger but most of all the Fear it generates. I would imagine though that the lack of understanding regarding the insidiousness of prejudice and its effects on the human psyche, even by *sympathetic* whites who consider themselves nonracist can be even more cruel. Thanks for sharing the article.
Barbara

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