Obscura True Crime Podcast's Second SFWA Episode Focuses on Samuel Delany
The SFWA Grandmaster's longstanding attitudes towards man-boy love have gone largely ignored by SF/F fandom
Obscura True Crime podcast’s second of three planned episodes focusing on SFWA is now out from behind its members-only paywall. It can be listened to here.
Back in January, I previously wrote about host Justin Drown consideration of it as a show idea on Twitter. It immediately prompted hysterics from a slew of Pronouns-In-Bio types, some fatter than others. Drown stayed the course, and quickly discovered far more material about the pervasiveness of Fandom’s lax attitudes towards sexual deviancy than he’d ever imagined. Drown’s one-off idea for a single podcast episode had become a three-part series, and in February the first part was released.
His interview was with none other than Moira Greyland, author of The Last Closet, and heroine to many who read this site.
In that first episode, she lays the foundation of how we got where we are today. How the cultural zeitgeist of the Sci-Fi convention scene in 1960’s Berkley, which embraced the odd and eccentric in the name of fun and imagination also allowed it to act as a haven for sexually dysfunctional predators who prowled almost openly among their pick of impressionable young prey. This was most notoriously encapsulated in such events as the infamous Breendoggle. The episode can be listened to here.
In Episode 2, Drown examines the work and ideas of Samuel Delany, shares details of his early life and upbringing in New York City as a gifted young student who was already a prolific writer by the end of high school, and goes on to praise Delaney for his genius as a literary figure. He eventually details Delany’s own sexual victimization at the hands of a building superintendent at the age of 6, which Delaney insists to this day was a pleasant experience, once saying:
“I had my first sexual experience with an adult when I was six, with a local Harlem building superintendent, and nothing hurtful happened at all. It would have been cruel and unusual punishment to incarcerate him for it.”
Drown cites this as a formative moment in Delany’s attitude towards sex, which Drown speculates lead to Delany promoting dangerous ideas, such as his infamous endorsement of NAMbLA.
In a particularly raw section of the podcast, Drown mentions his own experience as a sexual assault survivor. His assailant, his now-ex stepfather, also assaulted his younger brother Cody, who sadly never got the help he needed and eventually overdosed on heroin.
About ten minutes in, Drown says,
“He essentially pulled the trigger when he began to molest my brother all those years ago. It just took longer for this method of execution to kill him. In preparation for the research for this episode, I find my self angrily typing away and taking notes, having to delete passages that could be described as threats of violence.”
Do not forget the terrible price paid by the victims of these heinous acts committed for nothing more than the predator’s own carnal gratification.
Try to remember the above quote when Delaney says:
“Many, many children—and I was one of them—are desperate to establish a sexual relation with an older or even adult figure. Today, all such relationships are so completely demonized as to destroy souls and psyches on both sides of the purely arbitrary eighteen-year-old divide.”
Just to make sure you read that correctly, yes, that is 2013 SFWA Grandmaster Samuel Delany telling Will Shetterly in an interview that people’s inability to have sex with children is destroying souls. I cannot speak for you dear reader, but as for myself, a certain scene from the movie Fargo comes to mind when I read that.
Drown continues, citing nothing more than Delany’s own words, saying that “the current attitudes towards pedophilia are nothing more than an attempt to drive nature out with a pitchfork.” Drown details how Delany, a professor at Temple University, distributes the shockingly pro-pedophilic book Centuries of Childhood by Phillipe Aries to his students as a person who holds part of their academic livelihoods in his gnarled hands.
In the same interview, Delany jokes about his stances, citing the late comedian George Carlin: “Which would you prefer, to be punched in the jaw, or have your dick sucked until you came? I don’t think they’re the same crime. That’s turning it off with a joke, but like all jokes, it holds its truth.”
Are you nauseated yet? The episode is only half over.
I’ll spare you from this becoming a transcription of the entire episode, but I would be remiss to exclude Drown’s coverage of Delany’s novel Hogg, which is a work of fiction so utterly irredeemably evil and nauseating I won’t write about it here beyond that it is 219 pages of an assortment of minors being near-constantly raped and beaten by virtually every adult they come into contact with in the book. The protagonist is an eleven-year-old boy named Cocksucker. There is no plot. It is utterly worthless as a creative endeavor beyond its empty shock value. If you must know more, Castalia House goes into it in more detail in part 4 of their thorough report Safe Space as Rape Room: The Samuel R. Delany Problem.
I don’t care how much of a genius Delany is or isn’t, anyone who could just conceive of such a depraved work has a darkened and morally bankrupt mind and a grave sickness of the soul. But this man is celebrated to no end by virtually every recognizable name in mainstream American science fiction. No firestorm erupted after the interview with Shetterly. He is to this day metaphorically fellated in softball publishing industry profiles.
What is wrong with the SFWA?
That’s the single common thread in all this. Why, for over half a century, has this organization remained quiet in the face of instance after instance of its members endorsing or committing predatory acts against minors? The rogue’s gallery is well-known by now—Kramer, Bradley, Asimov, Clarke, Delany, Anthony, et al—authors and orbiters whose work was suffused with pedophilic apologia if not outright criminals themselves. Patrick Tomlinson, while never having been directly accused of any such conduct, routinely makes rape “jokes” on twitter and has had at least three close acquaintances arrested for sex crimes against minors. They include his still-to-this-day Facebook buddy Dominic Franchetti, who raped an eight-year-old girl, his “good friend” local Wisconsin radio DJ Matthew Jones, who was arrested for possession of child pornography, and blogger for Ars Technica and male feminist (of course) Peter Bright, a.k.a. “Dr. Pizza”, who was arrested for attempting to solicit sex with a minor from their mother (who was actually an undercover FBI agent).
In a display of IQ-lowering tone deafness, John Scalzi, who was SFWA President during Ed Kramer’s arrest, trial and sentencing, had absolutely nothing to say or do during that entire saga, but barked on endlessly about the “failure of leadership” present at Penn State during the Sandusky trial. His last act as President was to affirm Delany as 2013’s Grand Master. Fantastic, John.
What is it about the SFWA’s culture that allows it to persist in ignoring its past sins? To fail to make formal denunciations of the most easily denounceable acts possible? To fail to simply say that “Child rape is bad, and we don’t condone it. We should have addressed this sooner,” while at the same time condemning others for milquetoast offenses of language? I doubt they’ll ever furnish us with a satisfactory answer. And maybe, at this point, holding out hope for one is a fool’s errand.
But Justin Drown, and others who can see the creeping decay within this place many of us love, this fandom that still holds much excitement, joy and wonder, will continue to disinfect it with the light of day, for as long as we have to.
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