Don't Mention the War went a bit viral. Boingboing picked it up, Salon made a note of it, Disinformation reblogged it. And I got what I asked for: some good discussions on Lovecraft's racism. Anya Martin, who programmed the World Horror Convention in Atlanta, asked me to moderate a panel on Lovecraftian racism there. In Sweden this summer, I led a round-table discussion on the topic as a guest at SweCon. And this past weekend in Providence, Rhode Island, I sat on a panel talking about exactly that, at NecronomiCon, a bi-annual convention celebrating and examining the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Niels Hobbs, one of the convention organizers, invited me to that one too.
All the discussions were good and thoughtful--the sorts of talks I'd hoped to be able to take part in. The NecronomiCon talk was that, but also an attempt at a healing affair. At the convention's opening ceremonies (which due to some transportation glitches I missed), editor Robert Price made a speech.
Now I had been going along this past year, thinking that talking about it was the same thing as doing something about it. Patting myself on the back for that whinging blog post, with its title riffing on a bit of funny dialogue from Fawlty Towers.
But you know something about all those talks? With a few exceptions, they were all conversations among white, privileged people in the U.S. and Northern Europe, about the extreme racism and xenophobia of a dead white writer. They were conversations that may not have consciously excluded the people of colour who Lovecraft so consistently libelled, but nonetheless didn't really manage include them.
That question--what are we doing?--was one for which we didn't really have a good answer. My fellow panelist Mexican-born author and editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia has done a great deal and promised in her own blog to do more, helping fund a writer of colour attending the 2017 event. Niels talked after the panel about perhaps expanding NecronomiCon to focus on more diverse authors of weird fiction than the one from Providence who's rightly or wrongly credited as a progenitor of the weird. I can try and continue to bring a progressive voice into the mix when I write about Lovecraftian themes in the sequel to my eugenics horror novel Eutopia.
So what to do about Lovecraft? More talk. More words on paper. And a lot more listening.
Addendum, August 26: Here is a video recording of the panel: