One of the great things about science fiction and fantasy fandom are the volunteers. These are the people who organize conventions and run organizations like SFWA and write reviews and edit fanzines and record podcasts (and so much more).
These volunteers even organize Worldcon and manage the Hugo Awards in the face of, at least this year, considerable controversy and anger.
Make no mistake — the people running most everything in the SF/F genre are volunteers. Yes, there are a small number of professional editors and publishers in the genre, and a few big conventions like DragonCon and GenCon have full-time staff. But once you move past these exceptions to the rule you discover that our genre is mostly supported through the hard work of volunteers. Even if some of them are paid small amounts for their time, it's rarely enough to compensate for how much work they put in.
Our genre was built through the work of volunteers. Our genre is still supported through volunteers, who do what they do simply because of a love of science fiction and fantasy.
One of the most disgusting things I've seen since the launch of the Puppy campaigns is how people are attacking these genre volunteers. Some of these attacks are subtle, such as the Puppies saying Worldcon and the Hugo Awards don't represent the true fans (whatever that means). But if you're saying that, then you're also saying everyone who volunteers to make the Worldcon and the Hugo Awards happen aren't true SF/F fans.
Other attacks aren't subtle, such as the attempt to create insulting names to call our genre volunteers. Or saying you'll destroy the Hugo Awards, which amounts to an attempt to destroy the work of generations of Worldcon volunteers merely to accomplish your political goals.
I recently read a comment which sums up the pain many of these volunteers are feeling over having something they love turned into a political football. Chris Barkley, who is a long-time WorldCon volunteer and has worked on the Hugo Awards, recently wrote the following:
"As someone who has been deeply and personally involved with the Hugos Awards for the past 16 years, I find this...situation, extremely distressing. I, and many others involved with the Worldcon and the Business Meeting have worked VERY hard to make the award categories inclusive, fair, engaging and most importantly, relevant, in the 21st century. To see all of that jeopardized, by people who should know better, for all the wrong headed reasons, is something I never saw coming..."
Thanks to Chris for letting me quote him.
As I've written before, there have always been competing groups and political views in the SF/F genre. But never before have an organized group of people threatened to destroy the work of so many genre volunteers if they don't get their way. Never before have organized groups of people created new insults to disparage the very volunteers who support out genre.
I wish people would remember that volunteers are the heart and blood of our genre. I wish that, instead of creating new insults for these volunteers, people would remember that they didn't ask to be thrown into the middle of a political fight.
I can think of no more painful job right now in our genre than managing the Hugo Awards, yet there are volunteers doing just that. They're putting up with insults and anger and trying their best to keep the awards going — all without pay or much in the way of thanks.
So I want to say thank you to all our genre's volunteers. Without you, our genre wouldn't exist in anything like it's current form.
And if you call yourself a SF/F fan but don't understand this simple fact, then you need to learn more about what makes the science fiction and fantasy genre truly great.