Friday, December 11, 2009

Time To Mobilise

Dr Peter Watts, one of the smartest and most interesting writers of hard SF at the moment, appears to have been stopped, beaten and arrested at the Canadian border by US border guards. You can find a more complete version of the story here, at Boingboing.

Obviously, it's impossible for us to judge accurately without on-the-spot information, but the Boingboing folks have long since earned my respect. Further: while I don't know Dr Watts personally, I do have plenty of that kind of one-degree-removed contact you get in the relatively small world of SF writing, and I note that the people who do know of him speak with the greatest respect and affection.

I will add to this that I have, myself, had issues with US border fuckwads many years ago, before all the War On Terror nonsense: I had an antique wooden piccolo, the property of my grandmother, stolen from a car in which I was travelling during an hour-long search of the vehicle while I was interrogated as to my reasons for crossing the border.

Personally, I'm fucking tired of reading about the goddam wannabe Storm Troopers they stick on US border security. I've long since decided that there's no particular reason I should ever travel back to the USA - at least until the nation's authorities re-learn some basic manners - but this bullshit is redlining me.

Dr Peter Watts is an educated, highly intelligent man who has produced some remarkable works of fiction that I have enjoyed greatly. He comes with the endorsement of a number of people I trust as fellow professionals, and some whom I trust as friends. In this case, the people on the opposite side are known bastards, with a world-spanning reputation for viciousness, violence, and random malice. Those of you reading this are welcome to your own opinions. You may wish to wait for more information. Me? I've had enough.

I can't do much, but I can contribute to Dr Watts legal defense fund via PayPal, to I can also point you in the direction of the Boingboing article, and to Dr Watts home page. He has a link to a donation site for his cat on his backlist page.

While you're at it, take note that Dr Watts has released a range of his works under Creative Commons licenses. They are free to download from the Rifters site, and I'd say that if you're donating to help the guy out, he'd be delighted if you picked up something in exchange. It's worth the effort: his work is smart as hell, well written, engaging, and thought-provoking.

And as a community, Science Fiction deserves better treatment than this. Hell - we all deserve better treatment than this, but since we can't act directly against the pricks who abuse their power at our expense, at least we can help one of their victims, and maybe even the score a little.


  1. Absolutely effing disgusting. But yet, sadly, somehow not surprising in any way.

  2. Why does the US seem to have this problem? Out back Nowheristan you could see how it could happen. But the US seems to have a long history of it.

  3. Bangar - it's been bad for as long as I can recall. Probably a result of so very many people wanting to get into the country for so very long.

    In any case, there may yet be extenuating factors. I think everybody should make up their own mind on this, as I said... but ya know, if this were just an issue of assault without badges on the ass-kickers: well, the US Borderers have plenty of 'prior form', whereas Dr Watts has a pretty clean slate from what I can tell.

  4. Yes all I've ever heard about these jokers has been bad, between corruption and basic incompetance and low standards it's surpising soemone hasn't managed to transport a number of nukes into the uSa by now or at least a couple of divisions of hardened terrorists/Norks

  5. I honestly can't speak for their competence. I've never tried to smuggle anything past them, or enter illegally. But I can say that of all the countries I've entered or left (a list which includes Indonesia and Thailand), the US border authorities have been the most paranoid, the most aggressive, the most routinely unpleasant in every way.

    And that was BEFORE the whole 9/11 crap. I really dread to think what they're like now that they think they're important, powerful people.