After some mostly civil discussion in the comments of my recent post about Eclipse Three, I'd like to say a few things. And since it's my blog, you can't stop me.
1st) I'd like to apologize to Jonathan Strahan for the "rocket" crack. I was using it as a turn of phrase to introduce the point of "compensating" rather than any real suggestion that trying to be mindful of bias (conscious or not) somehow related to male endowment. That wasn't my intention at all. I also don't feel like Eclipse Three suggests anything negative about him or his work. I didn't think that Eclipse Two or One did either though, and I feel like he was unfairly criticized then. I still suspect that Eclipse Three was influenced by the Eclipse Two situation and this lead to questions about the the role of the individual editor (or reader) when it comes to mitigating bias.
And just to be clear, I will be, and always planned on, buying Eclipse Three (and Four and more) regardless of what's in the ToC. My goal was never to get Strahan to revise the ToC and add more white male authors. That would be silly.
2nd) I'd like to apologize for the somewhat (or maybe excessively) troll-ish nature of the original post. I used the ToC for Eclipse Three to spark the debate over some thoughts I've been mulling over since the Mindblowing SF discussion a few weeks back. It was an easy target due to the several previous gender-themed discussions that the Eclipse series has generated in past years and I may be guilty of consciously choosing a voice that would generate comments. You can't fully develop any thought without discussing it outside your own brainspace and engaging with people who have a different point of view only help you more.
I don't have any ads and I'm not getting paid to write so I wasn't looking for hits or clicks, I was looking for civil discussion. I started this blog because I wanted to talk about books and the publishing industry in general and the vast majority of the people in my life (except for a few select people who knows who they are) weren't willing or able to talk about that kind of stuff. And while it was possible (though difficult) to find someone who was willing to listen, it was impossible to find someone one engaged enough in the SFF scene to present a counterargument or a lively debate.
3rd) This discussion has made me a little more cognizant of my own unconscious bias. I (like many readers) read mostly for pleasure so I tend to stick to my comfort zone, which is predominantly comprised of work I relate to more easily. I feel like this is a fundamental bias of life and not necessarily a bad thing. You like talking about stuff you are interested in, you enjoy spending time with people you get along with, and you derive pleasure out of reading books about situations you can relate to and characters you can connect with. Will I, as a white male, enjoy reading a story featuring a white male character more than a woman of color (assuming the writers are of equal talent)? Most likely. Is there bias? Of course. Does that make me sexist? I don't think so.
However, one of the goals of my blog is to help others (and myself) find new authors worth reading. And unless I expand my own horizons, it's going to be harder to do that. Which I think was the fundamental point I was missing when I was mulling things over internally. I think cofax said it best in the comments:
Now, he's [Strahan] a lot more aware of the issue, and he's clearly reaching out to a broader network of writers. This is what has created the E3 TOC--not quotas, but a conscious effort to expand his level of comfort to include writers from outside his own personal ingroup.
I thought this made a lot of sense. But recognizing that there are some holes in my reading lists is only the first step. I need some more informed help for the next part. Who should I be reading?
Please recommend any author you think is worth checking out regardless of gender or race. Please include why you recommended them as well.
I'm also willing to continue the discussion on gender bias in the original post comments if anyone is interested in joining.
As a final note, the cover on Barnes and Noble (shown above) has a different set of authors than the one originally posted by Strahan. This one includes Kim Stanley Robinson and James Blaylock, neither of whom are in the anthology. The cover Strahan posted featured Peter Watts, who is also not in the anthology. I don't know the best set of authors to put on the cover to move copies, but I would suggest using ones that actually appear in the book.