No, friends and neighbours, I’m not talking about me but about someone whose verbal attacks on a writer colleague have reached such an irrational crescendo that I feel that a stand has to be taken.
The writer in question is Lavie Tidhar, who I’ve met a few times (we have the same agents) and with whom I get along pretty well. Yesterday he let it be known on his facebook page that he had received a death threat from a pro-Israeli SF fan (perhaps fan should be in quotes) who has been harangueing him at great length from the bastions of his own blog. Lavie, it should be noted, is from Israel and holds a broadly leftist, critical stance towards Israel’s policies WRT Palestine etc.
So – the pro-Israeli commentator (who has gone by the name Larry) invests a great deal of time in analysis of the comments, posts, tweets and associated opinions of writers like Lavie, China Mieville, Charlie Tan, Charlie Stross, Anna Tambour and several others. It is worth pointing out right away that Larry’s stance is a fundamentalist one in political terms, in that Israeli policies are unimpeachable, that any criticisms are evidence of the most heinous anti-semitism and critics who voice same are to be regarded as vile, obscene, brazen, rabid (and other hyperbolic denigrations which pepper his blog postings like raisin in a fruitcake).
This is the kind of language which the man uses in the to and fro of argument; not that I’m saying that leftist critics stick to high-minded terms that avoid ad hominem abuse, but I must say that I have seldom seen from a leftist critic the kind of unremitting viciousness deployed on a personal level as that which Larry indulges in as a matter of course.
So, in the email in question, after several paragraphs of abuse, he writes this, in hebrew characters -
מת ונקבר לביא
Lavie took this to mean ‘Lavie dead and buried’, and pointed out that the email ended with the words ‘I’m serious’. This led to a good number of writers (myself included) posting support on his facebook page and at his blog. A response from Larry has appeared today, and it is just as self-serving, who-struck-john, and I’m-the-victim-here as could be expected; his defence for the language he used is along the lines of oh, it was just a figurative phrase – how could you be so shamelessly obtuse as not to see it as such – and how dare pursue me with this outrageous libel, whine, whine, whine…
And that’s the core of it – the man uses the most inflammatory and vicious invective against Lavie and others, then is self-righteously obtuse enough to use the words ‘dead and buried’ in his diatribe, then when he’s called on it claims that it was all just figurative and how dare anyone make him suffer by insinuating that he made any kind of threat. “Hey, man, I was just joking – chuh, lighten up, dude!”
If Larry had been in the habit of using language which displayed even a scintilla of human compassion and/or a sense of wit/humour, the phrase ‘dead and buried’ might have been taken as sarcastic hyperbole. But the truth is that he sees himself as some warrior blogger out on the battlements, warring against the lefty-goy horde and their inability to see the shining goodness of Israel in everything it does. And nothing that anyone else can say or write will change that. But as the saying goes, writers are the unacknowledge legislators of the world; Lavie Tidhar, China Mieville and others have talent and insight, and eager audiences, and it is a source of comfort to know that that must really get under his skin.
ps – Lavie Tidhar’s blog is at – http://lavietidhar.wordpress.com/
and Lar’s is – http://seasonoftheredwolf.wordpress.com/ - read it and weep
So, if you wander down to your local news/mag emporium and pick up a copy of the latest SFX (June edish), you can turn to page 45 and see real, untouched pictures of your hmble scribe from the SFX bash at Waterstones Piccadilly branch. Sitting right there between Philip Palmer and Mike Carey, with the inimitable China M holding forth (and later next to Dan Abnett and Adam Roberts with China M once more addressing the comrades). Twas a great night (lurgy notwithstanding), and I hope there’ll more to come.
Aw yes, and a good time was had by all. For me it began with a quick stop-off at Forbidden Planet for to sign their stock of The Orphaned Worlds (as well as a coupla copies of Shadowgod and Shadowmasque! - get em while ya still can). From there we (being myself, Orbit publicist Rose Tremlett, and me old mucker, Dave Wingrove) shimmied and sidestepped along to Piccadilly and Waterstones’ mighty Citadel Of Books (well, it is immense, have to say) in time for the multi-celebtastic signing in the foyer. After that we headed up to the vip lounge for the SFX Summer of Reading launch, attended by luminaries, as well as lucky winners of the compo to get in.
David Bradley, editor of SFX, hosted a panel on science fiction and the comparison between print and visual media. The panel consisted of Dan Abnett, myself, Adam Roberts and China Mieville, and while we didnt really resolve the main question we had a whole heap of fun doing an intellectual dash around its various aspects (including the whole gateway book-drug thang, maaan). I had a great time, and the audience seemed to enjoy it too. For Dave Bradley’s report and spiffy photoset, click the link:-
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Of course, the memories are already starting to blur a bit round the edges but some standout moments remain, ike the steampunk weaponry in the Art Exhibition. Gotta love that blunderbuss and the ray gun, gorgeous assemblages redolent of Victorian-Edwardian technologies (creations of the talented Herr Doktor). I didn’t attend the Steampunk Ball but did see some of the costumes, like the chap with the multi-barrelled handweapon, and the rather snazzy ocular device complete with leather headstraps.
Another highlight was Nick Lowe winning the BSFA non-fiction award for his Interzone movie reviews – he was clearly stunned at winning, but it was well-deserved and long overdue. Surely now some publisher will offer the guy a contract to publish a collection of his reviews. I’d buy one in a heartbeat.
I couldn’t help noticing that the short story award went to Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia for ‘The Beloved Time Of Their Lives’, an exquisite, poignant, witty time/love/time travel story. The novel award went to China Mieville for ‘The City And The City’, while the artwork award went to Stephane Martiniere for his illustration for Ian McDonald’s ‘Desolation Road’.
It is a common misperception that published writers are a privileged lot who swan around supping from all the delights that civilisation has to offer: that may be true for the superstars, the Rowlings etc, but the great majority of professional writers must grapple with finances that often don’t go quite far enough. So when one’s publisher lets it be known that a slap-up meal is on the agenda you don’t hang about. Thus, by the mighty agency of Orbit supremo, Darren Nash, a number of us did repair to the Achari restaurant on Sipson Road for a feast of surpassing excellence. Really, I cannot praise the Achari highly enough – very pleasant surroundings, and an extensive menu from which we sampled examples fit to make a prince boggle in surprise. The openers and starters were fantastic, and generous in portion size so be aware of that when ordering the main course. Highly recommended.
All in all, Odyssey was a well-run, multistream, multi-genre, multifarious convention with a great many fascinating panels and discussions and events (and I really must get to more of them next time). The dealers’ room was well-stocked with a variety of books, mags, jewellery and all manner of crafted artefacts, as well as clothing, dvds, cds, etc etc. Yet as I’ve said before, I really dont like the Radisson hotel – by the Sunday I had grown to hate with a passion those marble stairs leading up from the lobby to the atrium and the mezzanine, not to mention the fact that there were no loos on the ground floor within easy reach of the Polo lounge. This is not to imply that somehow, in the throes of my aforementioned imbibification trials that I got lost in the corridors. No, not at all. Although you are free to infer what you will
And so to next year, when we will be at the Hilton Metropole near the NEC, in Birmingham, a city I have only ever passed through. So that should be a new experience, then!