Friday, May 20, 2022

LOC for Alexiad Vol. 21 #2

The following is a letter of comment sent to Lisa and Joseph Major, editors of Alexiad, commenting on Vol. 21 #2.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Major:

Last night, I read Alexiad Vol. 21 #2—which I received through the National Fantasy Fan Federation’s franking service—and wanted to drop you a brief note to wish you well. It’s overcast and cool in southern California today, downright gray, and my neighbors are doing some construction work, so my home office is full of the sounds of hammers, power tools, and Mexican radio. I don’t mind the radio. And I’m thankful it’s Friday.

I remember seeing an issue of Alexiad previously. I’m not sure if I printed it out at work to read or if you mailed it to me, but it was definitely a hard copy, so if I’ve been remiss on responding to a mailing, I apologize. I am also sorry that you have been not entirely well and harassed by other issues. Things have been slightly heavy here, too, with family concerns, work challenges, and world affairs over the last few weeks.

My wife and I enjoyed the recent lunar eclipse and plan on traveling to see the 2024 solar eclipse somewhere in the Midwest. Our son went on a camping road trip with the Scouts in 2017. I was unable to join the troop because of work commitments and regret not being able to participate. He had a grand adventure by all accounts.

Your review of Moira Greyland’s memoir The Last Closet interested me. I, too, read it not that long ago—and I’d been unaware of the scandal when it came to light in 2014. (My review is in the March 2022 edition of The N3F Review of Books and is also available on my blog.) Your commentary focused more on issues I didn’t address, and I found your point of view thought provoking. Vox Day’s involvement in the publication of the book definitely lends a political purpose to the book, and I was disappointed by Greyland’s conflation of child sexual abuse with homosexuality—though I have never experienced anything like what Greyland survived and I can only empathize. It was, after all, her traumatic experience.

While I agree with the idea of not kicking someone when they’re down—or dead—I’m not sure how compelling I find the argument that Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen can no longer defend themselves. Do they need to? Breen’s penchant for abuse—and his fate—were determined before his death. And while Bradley wasn’t found guilty of a crime, necessarily, her and Elisabeth Waters’s depositions make for concerning, if not alarming, reading. If we can accept their depositions at face value, if any of the claimants involved are reliable narrators—Greyland included—Bradley didn’t really actually counter any of her daughter’s claims; instead, she merely claimed that she didn’t know any of it had happened until well after the fact. And Waters’s deposition seems to bolster and confirm Greyland’s claims.

In any event, it is definitely a series of unfortunate events, and my heart goes out to Greyland—even if I think it’s incorrect to place the blame on her parents’ sexual identity or orientation. This is just one study, but C. Jenny, T.A. Roesler, and K.L. Poyer’s “Are children at risk for sexual abuse by homosexuals?” (Pediatrics. 1994 Jul;94[1]:41-4) suggests that the risk of children being abused by homosexual adults ranges between 0% to 3.1%. Meanwhile, in 82% of the cases in that study, the alleged offender was a heterosexual partner of a close relative of the child. Given the changing makeup of families over time, more recent studies might need to be done to better assess the likelihood of a parent or partner abusing a child, regardless of their sexual orientation. But the case doesn’t seem strong enough to suggest that all (or even most or much) LGBTQ+ parents are likely to abuse, much less that all parents are.

The earlier Breendoggle was paired with the Great Exclusion of 1939 for consideration in Hannah Mueller’s The Politics of Fandom (McFarland, 2022), which I also recently read and reviewed for the N3F Review. So I was momentarily thrown by your subsequent comments on Tom Veal’s Igor's Campaign: A Tale of Ambition. I had to laugh out loud when I realized it was an alternate history! The ebook might make a fun parallel read with Andy Hooper and Carrie Root’s “Read and Enjoyed, but No Content” play script reprints in Captain Flashback. I’ve ordered it and will let you know what I think.

Your comments on the Worldcon bids are poignant: “Some argued that old writers who weren’t being read any more had no appeal to the contemporary crowd. Others regretted the end of an era where one could mix with those who had made the field.” Makes me wonder, though: Who makes up the contemporary crowd? Yes, there’s a generational shift in fandom underway. It’s been going on for some time, at least since the advent of Star Trek and the resultant media fandom, exacerbated by so much of communication’s move online and the shift away from fanzines and more traditional correspondence culture. Then there’s the more recent shift to mainstream pop culture cons rather than fannish cons. (I would love to read the model railroading and rail fanning story you remember—I do not know what it is, either. Perhaps Dale Speirs of Opuntia knows? Sounds like something he’d come across.)

But there’s got to be room for everyone, regardless of whether you’re a literary fan or a media fan, an offline fan or an online fan, or a fandom studies academic’s vision of an affirmational fan or transformative fan. Do we need to jettison the past to move into the future? Or can we bring our history with us and leave room for the old and the new, contemporaneously? Ghods, I hope so.

I wish you and your wife well, in happiness and in health. The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society recently lost member Karl Lembke to cancer, so the mortality of fen is foremost in mind. Hopefully we can avoid the mortality of fandom itself.

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