Friday, December 11, 2009
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.