A Podcast Powderkeg [UPDATED]
Obscura True Crime Podcast looks to shine a light on SFWA's high-profile pedophile members, prompting hysterics online.
Obscura True Crime podcast is a rising star in the podcasting world, currently holding at 4.6 stars with over 2,600 ratings on Apple Podcasts and over 750 patrons on Patreon. Having sampled a few of their episodes, they seem to offer a mix of free and premium shows that give accounts of the brutal, puzzling and mysterious brought to life through high-quality audio production that utilizes dramatic effects, news clips, and evidence recordings.
On Friday. December 9th, host Justin Drown mentioned the following on the show’s twitter feed:
“I’m an avid reader of science fiction. Some of these discoveries have been a disappointment to me,” Drown told me via DM. “Finding out about Asimov and his son for example; both creeps. But if you check my good reads I was recently dropping five star reviews on some of Asimov’s work. It wasn’t until I started digging into the past of some of the authors I’m interested in that an alarming pattern formed. Then I started noticing several had ties to the SFWA.”
Almost immediately after the tweet hit, progressive fandom’s best and brightest were putting on S-tier displays of histrionics, including a multi-day paroxysms from none other than Actual Tough Guy himself, Patrick S. Tomlinson:
Erik Scott deBie jumped in to come to Patrick’s aid (sort of), and at some point Paul Weimer locked his account and mentioned on Mastodon that he may never be coming back:
By and large the announcement seemed to elicit one of two responses. On one side, hand-rubbing enthusiasm. On the other, inexplicable yeah, but-ism from people apparently very upset that some of SFWA’s dirt was escaping from under the rug.
Many readers of this site are likely all too familiar with horrific deeds perpetrated by some of the organization’s most prominent members and affiliates. The parade of soul-sickening evil committed by the likes of Breen, Bradley, Kramer et al is sadly too voluminous to list here, but an exhaustive five-part report from 2015 titled Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End can be found can be found at Castalia House’s website. It’s long, but detailed, and I highly recommend a look.
If you read through that report, one might notice a disturbing dissonance in how SFWA dispenses what it sees as justice. Vox Day used a SFWA-associated twitter account to racially denigrate a fellow member author, and was investigated and expelled in less than sixty days. The same SFWA, with a history of criminally sexual horrors committed by some of its most influential members stretching back sixty years, never found time to formally denounce anyone’s actions, strip anyone of any titles, or revoke any memberships.
Ed Kramer was not only an active member during John Scalzi’s presidency, Kramer had been arrested (2011), tried (2012) and convicted (2013) after being found in a hotel room with a 14-year old boy. Kramer’s membership only ended in 2014 because payment of his membership fees lapsed. A search of SFWA’s website provides precisely zero statements, not even so much as a milquetoast corporate-speak press release, addressing or condemning the crimes and misdeeds of these individuals.
It’s a horrible chapter in the history of the institution. I can understand not wanting to put it front and center. But the group came within a hairsbreadth of cancelling Mercedes Lackey this year for a minor verbal misstep during a panel - these monsters left countless ruined young lives in their wake, with Breen and Kramer seemingly unrepentant (upon his release to house arrest in 2014, Kramer was back to excitedly promoting himself online, apparently without a shred of remorse or self-awareness).
Too many in the sci-fi community at large strangely seem to all too willing to dismiss these past misdeeds simply because they’re old, or those involved are dead, or to brush it off because it occurred “outside of the organization”, when these are crimes and sins that should be faced unflinchingly. As things stand, accountability seems to have been in short supply, and good leadership should welcome open analysis and criticism.
The Obscura episode on SFWA, currently scheduled to upload January 3, 2023, may or may not chronicle anything we didn’t already know. But its mere supposition sparked a powderkeg on twitter that’s still burning as I type this.
Fireworks are going to go off no matter what, and I’ve got my popcorn ready.
Update: podcast upload postponed until at least February.
Thank you for covering this. Everyone defending those pedophiles live in a deluded sense of righteousness. What are they defending exactly? The craft? The craft has and will go on just fine without the most evil element in humanity (pedo sci-fi authors) being attached to it. Weird how these people are so hellbent on defending them.
friendly reminder that Tomlinson once got mad at an internet forum for making fun of him and sued them only to lose (while refusing to pay)
as for the podcast, hope they get all the information they need while not being intimidated by alleged authors like Tomlinson