All Ye International Pixel-Stained Technopeasants, Unite!

On April 12, 2007, Howard V. Hendrix, the then-current Vice President of the Science Fiction Writer’s of America (SFWA), sent a letter to the SFWA LiveJournal page that was… um… very ranty. In it, he railed against some of the things he felt was destroying the noble profession of writing. Two paragraphs particularly stand out:

I’m also opposed to the increasing presence in our organization of webscabs, who post their creations on the net for free. A scab is someone who works for less than union wages or on non-union terms; more broadly, a scab is someone who feathers his own nest and advances his own career by undercutting the efforts of his fellow workers to gain better pay and working conditions for all. Webscabs claim they’re just posting their books for free in an attempt to market and publicize them, but to my mind they’re undercutting those of us who aren’t giving it away for free and are trying to get publishers to pay a better wage for our hard work.

Since more and more of SFWA is built around such electronically mediated networking and connection based venues, and more and more of our membership at least tacitly blesses the webscabs (despite the fact that they are rotting our organization from within) — given my happily retrograde opinions, I felt I was not the president who would provide SFWAns the “net time” they seemed to want at this point in the organization’s development, or who would bless the contraction of our industry toward monopoly, or who would give imprimatur to the downward spiral that is converting the noble calling of Writer into the life of Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch.

First: irrespective of whether or not I agree with his comments, you have to admire a good rant… and this is, in my estimation, an example of ranting in its highest form: it takes no prisoners, makes no apologies, and unloads without pity. So: respect given where respect is due.

Second: hey, I resemble that remark!1

But that’s not the best part. The best part was when Jo Walton, a fine author in her own right, came up with the best of possible responses on her LiveJournal page:

In honour of Dr Hendrix, I am declaring Monday 23rd April International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day. On this day, everyone who wants to should give away professional quality work online. It doesn’t matter if it’s a novel, a story or a poem, it doesn’t matter if it’s already been published or if it hasn’t, the point is it should be disseminated online to celebrate our technopeasanthood.

Which leads me to my point: today is International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, and I, as a firmly established Pixel-Stained Technopeasant2 must find a way to contribute to the festivities.

I had hoped to have a new chapter of The Points Between up today, but I don’t.3 So what I’ll probably do is go through my NaNoWriMo collection and post something from that. Which, it should be noted, probably won’t qualify as “professional quality,” but I do promise to try and edit it first.

So to all of you on the Internets, happy International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day! You are contributing to the downfall of [a] social order by your madcap, furious scribblings, and your anarchic disregard for better times.

And I am with you, my fellow webscabs.4 We are one.


  1. Well, I’m not a member of SFWA, but other than that it’s spot on!
  2. Though I am not an international one.
  3. I spent too much time over the weekend working on the site. A time sink, web design…
  4. Until I start making loads and loads of money, so much money that I can afford to pretend I don’t know you. So… basically, forever.

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