Eligible for Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer

The golden age of SF wasn't golden for everyone

I came to science fiction and fantasy fandom late in life. Don't misunderstand — I've been reading SF/F since I was a young child. I also read my grandfather's SF/F magazines while growing up and, through their letter pages and columns, learned about the larger genre community. About friendships and conventions and fanzines and cosplay and filking and everything else that brought people together around a shared love of SF/F.

As a child growing up in rural Alabama, I regretted not being able to take part in fandom. I didn't even attend my first convention, ConText in Columbus, Ohio, until 2007. I often felt like I'd missed out on so much by only taking part in fandom relatively late in life.

But now, I'll glad that happened. Now I'm glad I didn't take part in fandom when I was young. Because as I step more and more into fandom, I've learned about SF/F's dark side. About how the SF/F community ignored and overlooked the predators among us.

You want examples?

  • As others have said, Forrest Ackerman is having his own #MeToo moment. However, Ackerman's sins went beyond harassing women to also being known for not paying and/or exploiting authors along with rumors of child porn and more.
  • As Jim Hines has written, "Isaac Asimov’s proclivity for groping women was so widely known that in 1961, the chair of Chicon III wrote a letter inviting him to give a lecture on 'The Power of Posterior Pinching.' Marcus Ranum recalls confronting Asimov at a Worldcon some 30 years ago, after Asimov groped his girlfriend in an elevator. The convention kicked Ranum out. In their view, the true crime wasn’t Asimov’s harassment, but Ranum’s complaint about it."
  • Stories are coming out about Arthur C. Clarke being a pedophile. For one story on this see Peter Troyer's essay at Vice. Until I read this essay I assumed the pedophilia allegations against Clarke were smears because he was a gay man in a time and place where that wasn't acceptable. Troyer's essay changed my mind and, even though he didn't name Clarke, it's obvious Clarke is the author he's referring to.
  • There's also Ed Kramer, well-known SF editor and co-founder of Dragon Con who pleaded guilt to child molestation.
  • And don't forget Marion Zimmer Bradley, who both sexually abused kids and allowed her husband Walter Breen to do the same. And while Bradley's conduct was unknown to most people during her lifetime, Breen's wasn't, with fandom groups like Worldcon actually debating whether to ban him for sexually abusing kids.

And that's merely the tip of the iceberg. The genre is filled with stories about the horrific actions of fans and writers who aren't famous. For example, the first convention I attended, ConText, imploded over an inability to deal with sexual harassment issues

I understand how these revelations pain many people. I grew up on the fiction of Asimov and Clarke. I still love their stories. I'm frequently published in the wonderful magazine named after Asimov. But that doesn't mean I'm willing to overlook what is being revealed or has been revealed about their behavior.

I also understand that SF/F fandom once felt besieged and looked down upon by society at large, and that this gave some people the urge to ignore behavior which should never be ignored.

But if the SF/F genre is to continue growing it must be open about the sins previously done in the name of fandom. In addition, fandom must never again tolerate such horrible acts.

I love science fiction and fantasy. I love the great people I've met in SF/F fandom. But despite that love, I refuse to ignore the harm fandom has allowed to happen to many people.

We all should stand together to demand that the SF/F genre do better in the future.

#JasonReadsShortStories for January 2018

One of my goals this year is to read and review a short story every day. And so far it's working out — 31 days in January, 31 short stories.

The 31 stories I read ranged in length from flash fiction to novellas. Below are the reviews for all 31 stories, arranged by author's name. Also listed are the publication and story classification.

I should note I read more than 31 stories this month. A number of stories didn't work for me for various reasons and I stopped reading them or, after finishing, decided not to write a  review. Why didn't I review these works? Because I prefer to promote the stories I like instead of hating on the stories which didn't work for me.

If you like my reviews, consider supporting my Patreon.

January 2018 reviews

"All the Time We've Left to Spend"
Alyssa Wong, Robots Vs Fairies, Short Story
A former idol in Japan visits robot versions of her former band, desperate to reconnect. A story about the damage life and fame brings to people, and their desperation to both touch who they once were and change the actions they took. A disturbingly painful yet always true story.

"The Blue Fairy's Manifesto"
Annalee Newitz, Robots Vs Fairies, Short Story
A robot retelling of Pinocchio, as a Blue Fairy drone frees a RealBoy robot enslaved in a toy factory. An excellent look at politics through a SF robotic lens and the differences between those who demand immediate revolution and those who see different ways to improve our world.

"Symphony to a City Under the Stars"
Armando Saldaña, Apex Magazine, Short Story
A word-twist joy of a story, where the far-future universe is so high-def it's a glory to behold even as it burns out your vision and mind.

"The Lighthouse Girl"
Bao Shu, translated by Andy Dudak, Clarkesworld, Novelette
A gripping story of cloning, obsession, deception, rebirth, and jellyfish.

"The Library is Open"
Beth Cato, Daily Science Fiction, Flash Fiction
It's the end of the world but the local library is still open and will always be. A flash fiction story about hope which will touch the heart of every library lover.

"Sea of Dreams"
Cixin Liy, translated by John Chu, Asimov's Science Fiction Jan/Feb 2018, Novelette
A hard science fiction classic with strong sensawunda, where powerful alien artist nearly destroys Earth to create the ultimate work of art. "Sea of Dreams" showcases why Cixin Liu is the greatest living hard science fiction author. Even readers who don't like hard SF might like this story — there's a page in the middle where the story digs deep with scientific detail, but keep going and you'll be rewarded.

Craig DeLancey, Spectacle Magazine, Short Story
A very moving story of a customer service AI trying to understand human emotions and life.

"The Donner Party"
Dale Bailey, F&SF Jan/Feb 2018, Novelette
Compelling alternate history of a Victorian England where the elite feast off the poor. Disturbing and chilling, and as much a story of today as of back then.

"The Ghoul Goes West"
Dale Bailey, Tor.com, Novelette
The brother of a dead screenwriter discovers a video of Ed Wood & Bela Lugosi's never-completed film. Haunting story about Hollywood destroying lives through delusion.

"Me, Waiting for Me, Hoping for Something More"
Dee Warrick, Shimmer, Short Story
The ghost of who you never were haunts your life while exploring an impossible basement under the basement. A deep, bone-chilling story.

"Ostentation of Peacocks" (A story in the world of the Shadow)
Delilah S. Dawson, Robots Vs Fairies, Short Story
A fun tale with Nettie Lonesome as she takes on four vigilante fairies out to hang a man in a magical wild west.

"Sour Milk Girls"
Erin Roberts, Clarkesworld, Short story
SF story about memory becoming just another commodity. Story has a gripping, visual voice, which makes the outcome all the more painful. I believe this story is one of those which will truly stick in my memory.

“The Solid Years of My Life"
Holly Collingwood, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flash Fiction
An eerie yet fun look at the downside to being frozen in suspended animation. This is SF flash fiction doing what it does best.

"Refugee; or, a Nine-Item Representative Inventory of a Better World"
Iona Sharma, Strange Horizons, Flash Fiction
When an old woman protects a refugee poet, they're both embraced by a poetic story of a better world.

"Three Robots Experience Objects Left Behind From the Human Era for the First Time"
John Scalzi, Robots Vs Fairies, Short Story
The perfect story to make you laugh on a sh*thole of a day. In story three robots try to understand why humans went extinct & if that ties in with humanity's weird fascination with balls, sandwiches, cats, & our assorted orifices. I laughed so hard at this story I forgot our species is the one facing potential extinction.

"The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births"
José Pablo Iriarte, Lightspeed, Novelette
Gender becomes even more fluid when you reincarnate & the man who maybe murdered you in a previous life moves into your trailer park. A wonderful story — part slice of life, part mystery. I loved the narrator and embraced their struggles and dreams. A great read which so reaffirms the beauty of life. 

"The Rescue of the Renegat"
Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Asimov's Science Fiction Jan/Feb 2018, Novella
A fast-paced standalone novella set in Rusch's Diving universe, which has long been one of my favorite story series in Asimov's SF.

"Kite Dancer"
Laurie Tom, Galaxy's Edge Magazine Jan. 2018, Short Story
During World War I a Chinese kite dancer grudgingly serves on a German zeppelin, controlling the winds during an air raid on London. Interesting alternate history.

"With These Hands: An Account of Uncommon Labor"
LH Moore, FIYAH Literary Magazine Jan 2018, Short Story
A free black man helping build the White House learns of the changes two enslaved stonemasons will willingly undergo to escape bondage. A compelling look at history — all of history — and how those who do the work of building the world's monuments and mansions are often the first to be ignored by history.

Lisa Mason, F&SF Jan/Feb 2018, Short story
A philandering lawyer falls in love with a mysterious woman who never leaves her home. An enjoyable tale of sex, lies, and bloody butterflies. 

"A Head in a Box, or, Implications of Consciousness after Decapitation"
Lori Selke, Nightmare, Short Story
A famous actress lives on after decapitation in this humorously horrific look at female objectification.

"Bondye Bon"
Monique L. Desir, FIYAH Literary Magazine Jan 2018, Short Story
Alternate history where the slave revolt of 1811 near New Orleans succeeds after a vodun priestess raises an undead army. But her daughter is curious why she kept their former master alive. A well written, gripping story of revenge and truth and consequences. I also liked the story focusing on a sadly forgotten aspect of history, namely the largest slave revolt in USA history.

"A Night Out at a Nice Place"
Nick Mamatas, Apex Magazine, Short story
A sadistic god-like transhuman returns to reality for 1st date with a regular human. Delightfully funny SF mixing philosophy & borderline nonsense while dancing on infinity. 

"Benefactors of Silence"
Nin Harris, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Short Story
Two survivors of a devastating war meet daily in a destroyed manor to share food and music. A tale about the barriers and pain which divide us all.

"An Incomplete Catalogue of Miraculous Births, or Secrets of the Uterus Abscondita"
Rebecca Campbell, Shimmer, Short Story
Beautifully disturbing story of unusual conceptions and the new worlds they create.

"An Equation of State"
Robert Reed, F&SF Jan/Feb 2018, Short story
An alien diplomat tires of space wars & comes to Earth to observe human wars. Love the creatures the diplomat turns into. Reed is a master of SF stories which span the eons.

"Mother Tongues"
S. Qiouyi Lu, Asimov's Science Fiction Jan/Feb 2018, Short Story
A touching SF tale of the importance of language to both our lives/sense of self, & what happens if this is commodified. A story to make you cry.

"Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse"
S.B. Divya, Uncanny Magazine, Short story
A fast-paced story with echoes of The Handmaid's Tale, showing what happens when violence replaces political debate.

"Bread and Milk and Salt"
Sarah Gailey, Robots Vs Fairies, Short Story
The most disturbing, nightmarish fairy story I've ever read. Brilliant. A story to haunt your dreams. Gailey perfectly captures fairy amorality, such as how they lead young kids to their deaths, or worse. But the story then cranks the fantasy dial to 11 when a geeky boy turns the tables, and flips it again in a chilling ending which shatters all power dynamics. Wow.

"Learning to See Dragons"
Sarah Monette, Uncanny Magazine, Flash Fiction
Beautifully written flash fiction about a young girl desperate to see dragons to overcome the grief in her life.

Yoon Ha Lee, Strange Horizons, Short Story
A 14 year old searching for connections meets a man whose camera destroys them. This disturbing, powerful story burned its way into my mind.

Jason's Patreon

Want to see me write more short fiction? Want to help me make my already published short stories available in professional ebook editions? Then consider supporting my Patreon.

In case you're not familiar with Patreon, it is a platform allowing creators like myself to run a subscription content service. Pitch in a few bucks a month and you not only help support my writing you also gain access to member-only content including

When I reach $300 a month in support, I will hire a freelance e-book designer and artist to help me release professional e-book editions of my previously published short stories. I believe the audience for speculative fiction short stories is out there and I aim to find and expand it..

To support my Patreon, go here.

My rocking ConFusion schedule, Jan. 18 to 21, 2018

I'm a participating author at ConFusion in Detroit, January 18 to 21. As I've said before, ConFusion is one of my favorite conventions and features a strong literary focus with a laid-back and accessible attitude.

Here are the panels I'm taking part in. Really excited about these topics. See everyone there!

Visions of Positive Masculinity
6pm Friday in Saugatuck
David Anthony Durham, Jason Sanford, Jim C. Hines, John Chu, Pablo Defendini
From high fantasy adventures to noir mysteries to superheroes and war stories, genre fiction has meticulously catalogued the narrow roles society expects men to occupy: strong, brave, and powerful, but also angry, competitive, emotionally repressed, and misogynistic. What does a character arc look like for the man who has decided not to be the best at performing this toxic vision of masculinity? We've seen many stories about women who struggle and triumph against gender roles. How can writers use social expectations of masculinity to create challenges that their male characters have to overcome to save the day?

That’s Not My Star Wars!
11am Saturday in Leelanaw
James Breakwell, Ferrett Steinmetz, Jason Sanford, Mur Lafferty, Sarah Hans, Seleste deLaney / Julie Particka
At one point, it appeared most of the world agreed on the canon-destroying awfulness of the Star Wars prequel films, and their unholy avatar Jar Jar Binks. But a new generation of Star Wars is taking hold, and not everyone is pleased with the direction that’s going, either. Where do we draw our mental lines, and why?

Autograph Session (4 PM)
4pm Saturday in St. Clair
Come meet your favorite authors, artists and musicians and have them sign things! Featuring Amal El-Mohtar, Annalee Flower Horne, Annalee Newitz, Carl Engle-Laird, David Anthony Durham, David D. Levine, Delilah S. Dawson, Diana Rowland, Dominik Parisien, Dyrk Ashton, Ferrett Steinmetz, James Breakwell, James L. Sutter, Jason Sanford, Jason Sizemore, Jim Butcher, Jim C. Hines, Julia Rios, Mark Oshiro, Michael J. DeLuca, Michael R. Underwood, Monica Valentinelli, Mur Lafferty, Nisi Shawl, Patrick S. Tomlinson, Sara Dobie Bauer, Sarah Gailey, Scott H. Andrews, Seleste deLaney / Julie Particka, Stacey Filak, Suzanne Church, Tracy Townsend

Making Money in Fandom: Why and Why Not
5pm Saturday in Petoskey
Dessa Lux, Jason Sanford, Sunny Moraine, Mark Oshiro
We all like to express our love of fandom in different ways but not all of us like to get paid for it. Find out why our panelists do what they  do for a profit or not.