Friday, May 02, 2008

The Difference Between Mysteries and SFF

Well, one of the differences, as I noticed when looking at the various reports about the Edgar Banquet last night. (Here's one from PW for you to chew on.)

The outgoing and incoming Mystery Writers of America Presidents: massive bestsellers Nelson DeMille and Harlan Coben.

The outgoing and incoming SFWA Presidents: Michael Capobianco and Russell Davis.

No offense to Capobianco or Davis, but there's just no comparison. And there was a day when the DeMille and Coben-level writers in our field were routinely serving SFWA as Presidents and other officers. I'm not a member, so I don't know what went wrong, but it's very clear something did.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this post. You bring up an important point and it strikes at one of the core differences between the structure of MWA and the structure of SFWA.

The President of MWA is essentially a figurehead, though some are more active in the management of the organization than others. He or She acts in an advisory capacity. MWA is organized in a much different manner than SFWA, with eleven regional chapters and presidents, twelve directors at large, several other officers and a national headquarters.

The President of SFWA is the full-time "CEO" of the organization, directly responsible for a great many of the day to day decisions. We do not have chapters, but a handful of large regions represented by officers on the Board. We have one full time employee, and everything else is done by volunteers. It is estimated that for every year served by a SFWA President, he or she will lose at least one novel and perhaps more.

For all these differences, SFWA offers its members a great many services that are rarely highlighted in the blogosphere as often as our challenges and difficulties seem to be. With about half the membership of MWA, on behalf of our members (and in some cases, the writing community at large) we accomplish as much or more.

All that being said, I imagine that if the job of SFWA President were not so insanely time intensive, we'd get those bright lights of the SF and fantasy fields to take on that role. As it stands now, folks have to settle for the likes of myself and Michael Capobianco. And you're right - I'm no Harlan Coben.

Russell Davis
SFWA President-Elect

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