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06 September 2016 @ 12:25 pm
To enter a Barnes & Noble is to wonder whether reading is an affliction of the young. There is a large YOUNG ADULT section and perhaps a bit more room allotted to those who have not outgrown the habit

Thus I am unsurprised that Worldcon fandom is considering an award for the best YA novel of the year. For reasons that I am perhaps happier not knowing, it is supposed to be Not a Hugo but voted on at the same time, like the Campbell (the one for most promising writer, not the one for the novel JWC would have liked least).

There is thus a question of what to call it, and some segments of fandom appear to have learned nothing from the late unpleasantness about the World Fantasy Awards. Whom shall we name it after? Andre Norton was suggested, but she is already the eponym of a similar award given by SFWA. So how about that other great recruiter of the young, Robert A. Heinlein?

No. It would be as misguided as believing that references to spicy oriental tales are still amusing. It would give unintentional offense and spur much public remembrance of that ghastly book he wrote out of a sincere desire to attack racism that is now thought of as That Cannibal Book.

Call it the Rocket. Call it the Atom. But don’t open that can of worms that would come from associating it with an individual.
Bill the bold bosthoonwcg on September 6th, 2016 06:30 pm (UTC)
Would That Cannibal Book have the initials FF? (Asking sincerely. I've never come across the reference before, but having read a lot of what RAH wrote, I'm guessing.)
El Coyote Gordo: thumbsupergee on September 6th, 2016 08:19 pm (UTC)
Ulrikaakirlu on September 6th, 2016 07:15 pm (UTC)
Personally, I don't much care what it's called, but I do get tired of this knee-jerk need to pre-cater to the overdeveloped intolerance of the ignorant. That instinct isn't serving Wiscon well, and it's unlikely to serve Worldcon any better. If you give the Screaming Mimis an inch they'll want an ell.
Joshua Kronengoldmneme on September 6th, 2016 09:15 pm (UTC)
I don't think anyone's seriously considering Heinlein for this.

But as much as people can embarrass you (and for that very reason among others, I think it's better to have a dead person than a living one be honored by an award) , there's a long and mostly honored tradition of honoring our greats with award names and/or trophies (in this case, I'd rather the trophy was, as the Hugo rocket is, iconographic).

If we do pick a YA author to honor, my picks are L'Engle and Diane Wynne Jones, who, yes, each have their own flaws, as every real person does, but are also hugely influential on the field and its readers. (note, btw, that there's a big difference between the World Fantasy award, where the bust and it's design meant that winners needed to put a Creepy Lovecraft Bust somewhere in their homes, and an award named in honor of someone that does not have them Looking Right At you; despite his politics sometimes being problematic, nobody I know of has objected to the Skylark award, named and shaped based on the works of E. E. "Doc" Smith; partially because, lets face it, the award is shaped like a magnifying glass). Of course, calling it the Tesseract would both honor L'Engle and honor a basic n-hedral figure (although not one one can accurately represent in 3-dimensional space).
blue shark of friendlinessckd on September 6th, 2016 11:59 pm (UTC)
An unfolded tesseract (or a wireframe 3-d projection of one) could look pretty cool as a trophy, I think.
browngirl on September 7th, 2016 03:47 am (UTC)
"The Tesseract" is such a beautiful idea that I've tossed my planned comment out the window in favor of cheering your thought.
Joshua Kronengoldmneme on September 6th, 2016 09:18 pm (UTC)
FWIW, the reason we've defaulted to a not-a-Hugo is that people have rejected the idea of a YA Hugo 4-5 times since 2010, and IIRC more before that--because it doesn't fit with the length-based categories the rest of the written fiction are based on. Going with a not-a-Hugo would let something win this new award, and still legitimately compete for a hugo against adult works (and sometimes, if rarely, win) in its length category.
Joshua Kronengoldmneme on September 7th, 2016 06:50 am (UTC)
BTW, ckd, browngirl, anyone else who wants to weigh in -- the current YA name surveys are here:

Survey 1: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfdW7tCPg8Lmg9N1EP1RCZdMr_ncEnjEvTp24u4jMh_hXNBYg/viewform

Survey 2: http://bit.ly/worldconya
Young Geoffreyed_rex on September 7th, 2016 07:33 am (UTC)
"sincere desire to attack racism"?!?
Knowing the larger body of work as I do now, I suppose that makes sense - but laird t'underin' Jayzus, when I read Farnham's Freehold as a wee (white) Canadian lad of 10 or 12 or so, even I (who at that point had probably met no more than a half-dozen black people in his life) was stunned by the vicious stereotypes at the heart of the story.

I admit, was so appalled I never looked at it again (though, I also admit, I read quite a lot more Heinlein), so now I'm tempted. If you say it was intended as a "sincere desire to attack racism", I'm inclined to believe you. In which case, wow, did he blow it.
Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Danielresonant on September 8th, 2016 01:07 am (UTC)
RE: "sincere desire to attack racism"?!?
When I read it in the late 80s, I sort of saw the attempt at tolerance. A (presumably white) female character praised a POC as being the most mature and intelligent of the group, and briefly considered sleeping with him before deciding not to. Which probably would have been controversial in the 1950s. But it still struck me as unacceptable by the enlightened standards of the 80s.

I tried re-reading it a week ago, OMFG it did not age well.
Young Geoffreyed_rex on September 9th, 2016 05:14 pm (UTC)
Re: "sincere desire to attack racism"?!?
I'm morbidly curious, but I think I'd be happier going back to The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag or The Past Through Tomorrow.
Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Danielresonant on September 9th, 2016 11:11 pm (UTC)
RE: Re: "sincere desire to attack racism"?!?
Young Geoffreyed_rex on September 20th, 2016 12:10 am (UTC)
Re: "sincere desire to attack racism"?!?
Maybe it's just my mood, but what I managed to get through (to the place where bears and wildcats were being dispatched), I didn't find it much in the way of offensive, but I did find it boring, something I haven't encountered before in early(ish) Heinlein.

That was a powerful lot of exposition, that was!
Johnjohnpalmer on September 13th, 2016 03:17 pm (UTC)
Re: "sincere desire to attack racism"?!?
With great respect toward Mr. Heinlein, I'd say that makes it a *perfect* example of privilege, and the blindness it encourages. That he could blow it, so completely, so perfectly, while trying so sincerely, shows that he couldn't put his mind into a situation of which he had too little understanding.