Sci Phi's Editorial Policy


I had an interesting email from someone submitting a story, it concerned my stance on the recent Hugo controversy and questions about my politics. It seemed worth writing a few things to clarify.
First up, I am unabashedly in the “sad puppies” camp. I’m also probably many of the stereotypes of that camp as well, an orthodox Protestant Christian, white, male and straight. I’m also archly conservative, leaning strongly free market/libertarian economically and more straight conservative socially, pro-life, limited government, the whole nine yards.
Does this effect my editorial policy? Almost definitely, but certainly not in the way the author who submitted a story was concerned. The first readers for the magazine are almost nothing like me politically, religiously, etc. There is some overlap but probably a lot less than you would expect. Yet I think I have agreed to buy nearly every story they have passed through to me.
The contributor in question was concerned I would see his “anti-puppy” stance and immediately count that against him and penalize his story in the submission process. I can assure anybody contributing I wouldn’t do this. I really couldn’t care less about a submitter’s politics or position on issues like this. I don’t even know most of the contributors positions on these sorts of things and I don’t ask, it is certainly too much work to go and look them up. If I only worked with people I agreed with politically it would be difficult to find anybody to work with and besides that would be boring. I don’t know how those of that lockstep mindset don’t kill themselves from the tedium of it all.
That being said, where it might make a difference is in the content of the story itself. I’m interested in publishing good stories that make you think, so that is the basic criteria. However i’m also an orthodox Christian and political conservative. So if you submit a story that treats all religious people as brain damaged morons and extols Marxism as the panacea for all social ills, i’m going to be pretty unlikely to buy it. I have to spend my money on these stories and I want to be able to stand behind the stories I publish. I don’t have to agree with the ideas explored or the concepts presented, the intersection of differing ideas are some of the most fruitful places for discussion, but there are limits because I put my name on the cover.
Finally, one thing that was particularly interesting to me about the email. I have never rejected a story because I have discovered I disagreed with the authors politics, but I have had a number of submissions pulled because the authors didn’t like my politics or in one case the author seemed offended that I would dare deal with Castalia house and have them sell the magazine through their bookstore. So I have actually been subject to the behavior this author feared but I haven’t engaged in it myself.

1 Comment

  1. Hi there. I just wanted to commend you for making your position clear, though I do want to make a distinction between philosophy and politics. While I can’t tell for sure, I suspect we’ll agree on this and it may help clarify what the author was asking. The publications where the editors have a particular philosophical position oftentimes make that clear with a list of “stories we’ve seen too much of” or a clear statement. Feminist editors, for example, often make that clear in just that way. I applaud anyone who aligns themselves with the SPs when they make their philosophical position clear rather than call what they share politics. It isn’t politics all feminists or all SP supporters share; it is a view of the structure of reality. That touches at something deeper and far more meaningful than how we might vote. Of course, they _may_ go hand in hand, but that hasn’t been my experience. A liberal voter might be a religious believer or an atheist. A position on which laws ought to be enacted _may_ go hand in hand with a view of reality and a moral view, but even if they do always go hand in hand, politics and philosophy are still distinct matters.

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