Some Thoughts on Bradley, Breen, Kramer, and Delaney

Warning:  This post deals with issues of child molestation and may not be safe for work or young children.  These situations discussed herein are complex, and to keep this post from becoming longer than it is, I’ve not addressed all aspects that have come up in different places.  Feel free to bring up in the comments things I’ve left out.

I don’t know how much some of you keep up with the controversies in the sff community (either observing or actively participating) and how many wish some of the more shrill people would shut up and write more (or in some cases just shut up).  If you’ve been paying attention, you might be aware of revelations about several child molesters.  The reaction to these revelations has been disturbing at times, to say the least.

What got the whole ball rolling was a post on (since taken down) singing the praises of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, followed shortly by this post from Diedre Moen.  Bradley’s second husband, Walter Breen, had been convicted of child molestation.  I remember reading that years ago in an obituary (in Locus, maybe?) when Bradley died.  Moen’s post pointed out that she was an enabler to Breen’s depravity, something I had not heard.  The post contained both quotes from the court documents regarding this as well as a link to Stephen Goldin’s site where there are further links to the complete depositions as well as additional information.

Shortly after Moen posted that information, Bradley’s daughter Moira Greyland came forward with allegations that Bradley had molested her beginning when she was three and ending when she was twelve.

Breen was tried and convicted, but it’s too late to for Bradley to face charges.  Bradley and Breen are both dead, and if these things are true (and I think they are), I hope it’s quite warm where they are now.

There’s been quite a bit of bandwidth devoted to these revelations, with much of it in defense of Bradley.  Not all but a great deal.  I’ll address that below.

Next on the list is Ed Kramer.  With all the commotion about MZB, Kramer’s name was sure to come up.  He’s one of the co-founders of Dragoncon, and Dragoncon tried to sever ties with him for years because of his rumored pederasty.    (They eventually did.)  While Dragoncon was doing this, a number of people in the field were actively supporting him.  Granted a man is innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, and no reasonable person wants to be participate in rumor mongering, but when things are as open as they were here, you should really stop and think.  Monsters can be kind and charming.  It’s part of what makes them monsters.  Kramer was recently convicted after pleading guilty.

A number of people over the years have supported Kramer and Bradley. Some certainly had no idea what was going on and chose to believe that nothing was, especially if someone said the stories were only rumors.  It was easier that way.  This is a perfectly normal human reaction.  We tend to want to believe the best about people, especially if they are artists whose work we’ve enjoyed.  And in Kramer’s case, he was manipulating the situation by doing everything he could to get the trial delayed while claiming he was being denied a speedy trial.

Other people willingly chose to close their eyes to what was going on right in front of them.  And a few aided and abetted.

Jerry Pournelle addressed how much was known about Bradley and Breen in his circles in a comment on Sarah Hoyt’s blog.  There are further discussions between Pournelle and some others on that post starting at Dave Freer’s comment further down the page.  The whole exchange indicates how sticky things can become when trying to determine how much specific individuals may have known about what took place in a case like this when not everyone was in on the “open secret”.

There has been a great deal of discussion about whether or not an individual should continue to read Bradley’s and/or Delaney’s work.  I’m not even going to try to link to it; there’s too much.  Numerous readers have said that her books have helped them through a dark time in their lives.  Other people have said they are going to burn anything they have by her and/or Delaney (who’ll be discussed next).

The question of to what extent an artist’s personal life can be separated from their work is one that won’t be settled in a single blog post.  I doubt if it ever really can.  It’s  a complex question that’s too much a matter of personal conscience for everyone to reach a consensus on.  What can be done is to not honor or support someone whose proclivities cross the line into abuse, perversion, or molestation.

Which brings us to Samuel Delaney.  Delaney has been openly gay for decades.  This is common knowledge in the field.  What is less known is that Delaney is a supporter of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA).  This is an organization that supports and promotes sexual relations between adult men and boys.  In other words, it’s an advocacy group for pedophiles.  I won’t link to the organization.  You can look them up on your own if you’re so inclined.

Here are a few quotes from Delaney:

I think sexual relations between children and adults are
likely to go wrong and that most of them are likely to be, start off
as, or quickly become, abusive, that I also support a group like
NAMBLA?which I do. But that’s because I feel one of the largest
factors in the abuse is fostered by the secrecy itself and lack of
social policing of the relationships,  Source

“I read The NAMBLA Bulletin fairly regularly and I think it is one of the most intelligent discussions of sexuality I’ve ever found. … Before you start judging what NAMBLA is about, expose yourself to it and see what it is really about, the issues they are really talking about; and deal with what’s really there rather than this demonized notion of guys running about trying to screw little boys. I would have been so much happier as an adolescent if NAMBLA had been around when I was 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.”
— Samuel Delany, science fiction writer (Queer Desires Forum, New York City, June 25, 1994).

I find these quotes extremely disturbing.  I don’t know if Delaney actually advocates sex with children and teens, but he certainly isn’t taking a stand against it.  As far as I know, there have been no accusations of him having sex with children or teenagers, and I am not saying he has.  But he supports a group that advocates for pedophiles, calling their views “one of the most intelligent discussions of sexuality I’ve ever found”.

It’s interesting that SFWA recently named him a Grand Master.

You see SFWA has been acting like a thought police in the field lately.  Two respected authors were taken to task over calling a female editor from the 1950s a “lady” and then fired when they refused to apologize for it (link here).  Larry Correia calls someone a word that is often used to refer to female genitalia, and the torches and pitchforks were being passed around (link here).  One author had a meltdown on Twitter over something a comedian who had been asked to host the Hugo Awards might say (links here and here).  Then there was the individual (a lifetime member) SFWA ejected last year over a tweet linking to a blog post with racial content many found offensive.  I’m not sure where to start linking on that one, there were so many posts. None from SFWA, which won’t even publicly name the individual in question.

Has SFWA or its leadership said anything about Delaney and his associations?  Or Bradley and the allegations against her?


If they have, I’m not aware of it.  I can’t keep up with every blog post or tweet out there, nor do I want to try.  If there has been some type of statement from SFWA or any of its officers regarding these things, I would appreciate someone letting me know.    They have addressed Kramer’s membership, sort of.

Here’s why the silence, the excuses, and the apologies are a mistake.  In spite of the talk in recent years of fantasy and science fiction going mainstream, it really hasn’t.  Sff on film has, driven in large part by the Marvel Comics blockbuster movies and other special effects oriented films.  It’s cool to be a fan of those and to publicly exhibit your geeky side.  But sff in film tends to focus on visuals, superheroes, and outer space, things that the general public feels comfortable with.  The more unusual ideas about culture, technology, and sexuality remain in the written form.

There is still a large segment of the population that views sff, especially written sff, with suspicion.  After all, it was those weird kids in junior high that carried that stuff around, played D&D, and were generally kind of creepy.  At least in some people’s minds, and those stereotypes are still around.

And when the mainstream media picks up on the preeminent sff writers group defending child molesters and honoring writers who have views about adult-child sexual relations that are…problematic (and sooner or later they will), expect a backlash.

All it will take is some demagogue or self-appointed protector of our children’s minds looking for a boogeyman to stir things up. When some kid goes off the deep end and goes on a shooting rampage, one of the things the media focuses on is the kid’s interests.  And they tend to fixate on things of a fantastic nature: role playing games, comics, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.  Which inevitably leads to a segment outside the sff field calling for a boycott or Congressional hearings or public book burnings or…you get the idea.

I don’t want that to happen.  It’s time for some people in the field to draw some lines and say certain things are not acceptable.  Under any circumstances.  Ever.


9 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Bradley, Breen, Kramer, and Delaney

  1. Paul

    Now I need a shower.

    I never read Delaney, and now I never will. *Anyone* who thinks NAMBLA is a positive force has their head unscrewed. End of discussion.

    Bradley I missed. As you said, hard to prove guilt at this late date. But I only have 2 “Sword & Sorceress” anthologies edited by her, and I need some shelf space anyway. We’ll see.

    1. Keith West Post author

      I’ll reply to both comments at once.

      I understand the need a shower comment. This was not an easy post to write, especially deciding what to link to. I finally quit working on it and posted what I had after a quick copy-edit. There’s only so much of this garbage I could stomach.

      The only Delaney I’ve read was the story in one of the first Hugo Winners anthologies Asimov edited. I was in high school when I read it. The only thing I remember about it was that I didn’t like it.

      I don’t recall reading any Bradley, but I did pick up a few Sword and Sorceress anthologies, mainly because I knew a couple of people who had stories in them. Since they inscribed their stories to me, I’ll probably keep them.

      “*Anyone* who thinks NAMBLA is a positive force has their head unscrewed. End of discussion.” Agreed.

      I’ve pretty much started ignoring all the awards except the Gemmell, the Shamus (for PI fiction), and to some extent World Fantasy. Although I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a supporting membership for this year’s Worldcon so I can vote “No Award” over some of the works on the ballot. Need to do it quick if I am.

      You can tell who is pretty much interested in writing as opposed to politics by who stays out of the controversies. Those tend to be the people I try to read. Since our tastes are similar, I’m sure we’re thinking of many of the same writers.

  2. Paul

    Oh, and let me add I have largely stayed away from these bruhahas because I think the whole SFWA and awards, etc have given a whole lot of authors and other folks big heads and a reason to gossip and play soap opera way beyond its needed bounds. The Interweb has only exacerbated that.

    I think most of the writers I admire don’t give 2 cents about awards. Its about the writing and the fans. If they get an award, great, but they aren’t canvassing for them.

    (not that vile, illegal behavior should be ignored, but that’s for the law to handle. And yes, if proven guilty I seen no reason NOT to boycott such writers.)

  3. Woelf Dietrich

    I will never read anything by Delany. He doesn’t object to a relationship between a child and an adult. He wants it to be less secret so that less abuse would occur. Dude! The very fact that there is this type of relationship is already abuse! So, no thanks. Art isn’t omnipotent.

    The fact that no one is condemning his views while easily attacking other people for thinking and saying “wrong” things angers me. I’ve lost a lot respect for a number of people these last few weeks because of this issue. I love books. I love reading and I love writing and I was happy knowing that for the first time in my life I was involved in a community that shares my interests. Today I’m utterly disappointed.

    1. Keith West Post author

      I’m with you completely, Woelf. Delaney’s views disgust me. As you said, that very relationship is abuse. Art can be good or bad, depending on how it’s used. I’ve lost a lot of respect for a number of people over the last year or two because of the hypocrisy of the stands they take. Attacking someone simply because they don’t agree with you politically while condoning child molesters, even if it’s only by keeping silent, will cause you to lose my support pretty quickly. My list of read-only-if-you-buy-their=books-secondhand is growing, as is the list of people I will never read.

      I’m glad you’ve found this blog. Your comments are always welcome.

      1. Woelf Dietrich

        I agree with you there. I’m now intolerant of those who by their silence indirectly condone child abuse. You can’t whine about a word not being PC but be silent of someone supporting a pedophile club. Makes no sense to me.

        I’m glad I found this blog. I’m on a mission to recreate the magic from my childhood. There are so many books I’ve read that I have forgotten about. I’m also searching for new quality books that are solid in entertainment, message free, and violently fantastic, if that makes any kind of sense.

  4. Fletcher Vredenburgh

    Thanks for writing the most level headed thing I’ve come across on all this stuff. I’ve always managed to separate authors from their work – they aren’t my friends and won’t likely ever be. What interests me is their writing. This, though, is especially creepy stuff.

    As a small c and big C conservative I don’t feel comfortable around the contemporary on-line fan scene. To watch them go after the slightest evidence of thought crime, particularly from anyone on the right, and then sort of dismiss the MZB, Kramer, and Delaney questions off as nothing more than evil ole’ Vox stirring the pot leaves me even less comfortable.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Same here. Fantasy and science fiction fandom seems to becoming more and more liberal and less and less tolerant of anyone who isn’t in lockstep with their views. Like you, I feel less comfortable with organized fandom as a whole (both online and in person). I’ve tried to keep this blog relatively free of politics simply because I think there are enough cool things about books to discuss without generating controversy. But some things I simply have to address, this issue being one of them. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ I don’t see how any reasonable person can describe the views of NAMBLA as anything less than evil. And for SFWA to give its highest honor to one of their supporters is beyond the pale.


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