Friday, August 01, 2008


I don't believe I ever posted here about the Helix / William Sanders (Sanders is the editor of Helix) racism / prejudice blow up from a few weeks back. It's insane. I bring it up because it has led to something which I feel deserves some support and a wider audience.

That something is Transcriptase, a website chock full of stories originally published in Helix, but available at Transcriptase without the baggage.

Go here to read Rachel Swirsky's excellent overview of the whole thing (both the Helix issue as well as Transcriptase). Tobias Buckell offers commentary here and here on the fallout. The comments section of each Buckell entry says a lot.

From the Transcriptase website:

We are Helix writers who believe in a speculative fiction community that welcomes all readers—inclusive of all races, genders, and marginalized people of all backgrounds.

In July 2008, Helix editor William Sanders stirred up controversy in the community with remarks that many found offensive. The blogosphere exploded with discussion. You can find a summary of the events here.

As the controversy continued, several Helix writers asked to remove their work from the magazine and were met with unprofessional treatment. This upset all of us. We agreed that we would not stand by in silence.

Transcriptase hosts reprints of our stories and poems originally published at Helix. During the controversy, some of us removed our work from Helix; others left it up. There are valid reasons to make either choice, and we hope you’ll respect that we had difficult decisions to make. We offer our stories and poems at Transcriptase so that you can enjoy our work away from Helix, if you choose.

There is now fiction from the following writers up on Transcriptase:
Mike Allen
Beth Bernobich
Maya Bohnhoff
Eugie Foster
Sara Genge
Samantha Henderson
Janis Ian
N. K. Jemison
Vylar Kaftan
Ann Leckie
Yoon Ha Lee
Jennifer Pelland
Margaret Ronald
Vaughan Stanger

With poetry from
Elizabeth Barrette
Samantha Henderson
Rachel Swirsky

I think this is exciting. These writers will hopefully gain more exposure from this mess (one of only two positives to come out from the situation). I believe there should be some good stuff here. I've only read Jennifer Pelland's Nebula nominated (and awesome) "Captive Girl", but there are two more Pelland stories on Transcriptase.

At the very least I want to read N.K. Jemison's work and Yoon Ha Lee, and some Vylar Kaftan. All are writers I've heard of, all are writers I've been kind of interested in before, and now there is the perfect opportunity.

I'm sure I'll be writing more about some of the particular stories I've read from Transcriptase. This is something worth supporting.


Greyweather said...

I hadn't heard about this yet.

Wow, that was some seriously ugly stuff in that letter. I am flabbergasted.

Joe said...

Seriously. It boggles my mind that someone would put that into professional correspondence and then continue the behavior still in a professional setting.