May I call you Bill, now? Now that I have defeated you and your fine fanzine, may I be allowed this sense of informality between us? I sit here with cognac and I toast to you, sir, for I have done it. I have defeated you.
Last night, in Perth, The Godless did not win a Ditmar. I have now become the most nominated person without a win.
I say this in all modesty. I say this even though my crown has yet to arrive. I say it even though my Wikipedia page my never be updated. I say this because you and I know how important it is.
It was, I admit, a bit touch and go. Friends told me that they were going to vote for me. There are always Judas men and women at Easter. It is even moreso during the award season. My friends had not read the book, but they were going to vote for me, regardless. To be honest, I think they like you more than me. But they were weak. Most are, of course, no good, and are constantly laid low by their own addictions, and in the end, that saved me. But then there was the double winner of the award. Glenda Larke and Trudi Canavan shared it and for a moment, for a moment between it being read out of one and the other, I could feel my chance slipping away. But fortunately, I did not prevail. Or I did. It depends on how you look at it, I suppose.
I must say, last night has allowed for me a moment of introspection, as that larger game, that larger award, the Hugos had its own drama play out. Ah. Dear me. Have you seen that? Can you imagine trying to play our game there? Amid all that American partisan politics? It would be a nightmare. But I suppose, in truth, you could not have our game there, not now. There is no room for it, not as the other games are played. The two, one a generation culture war and another an attempt to give legitimacy to those who cannot obtain it otherwise, is in full throttle. I suppose the culture war is one I find less reprehensible of the two – after all, humans have fought for years to be able to define what speculative fiction is and what it is not, and who it is for, and who it is not. It has always struck me as strange to be so angered about it, especially given that the long held belief that speculative fiction was for everyone, that it was a home for whoever you were, is what has allowed such diversity to find its footing within the genre’s own boundaries. Why you would wish to stamp your foot to assert one true definition and claim it to be the most legitimate of them all… I shake my head at it. To even take sides is to be tainted by it. To be one like you and I and allow our work to be caught up in it? I fear it would be a taint we would never escape.
But it is the other that bothers me more. The Castalia House nominations are about bringing a sense of legitimacy to people who are racists, sexists, and worse. Why, the things that have been said about martial rape, about female genital mutilation, about the right for women to make a choice about their bodies in all the ways that you can imagine… I think you’ll agree with me that it is reprehensible. And it is at the centre of the nomination! The stains it spreads to everything it is associated with. It simply boggles the mind. I cannot, I admit it, I–
Oh, a moment. My cognac is empty.
Now, where was I? Oh, yes. The Americans.
There is little to love about what the Americans are doing. They even take the outing of a young author, an outing that revealed her to be both damaged and damaging, and ask to receive a statue for it? By itself it would be worthy of comment, Bill, but with all this other anger, it makes me wonder if there is any decency, any kindness left in the heart of America? It feels as if it has become so shrill and so fragile. I think of how we have been in our battle, in our support of each other, of our constant reminders of each other’s fine work, and the necessity for it. I think also of that time you bailed me out of jail, after I, yes, I admit it now, after I was caught bringing those corpses to bury under your house. I appreciated that you understood that I was not trying to frame you for murder, but that I was only hoping to delay you once the bodies were found a few years later. You had such a start on me in terms of nominations. I had to catch up, somehow.
But none of that is available in America, it seems. You scream, you taint, you blacken, and those who are left standing at the end are like rats that grew strong in the fire.
Still, I shall end this Bill, to you.
I lift my glass.
You were the finest of enemies and it has been an honour to defeat you,
The Most Nominated Without a Win Ditmar Nominee.
(PS, You know, Bill, perhaps we could take control over America. Perhaps… no, no, you are right, I can see you shake your head. I shall leave it alone. There is, after all, the old Empire to take first.)