I'm on the Eastern seaboard and know quite a few Easterners that find him utterly obnoxious. Though I note, this doesn't reflect on attitudes to his fiction here (or in the West), just the man. They're happy for him to write, they just don't want to listen to him.
WA fandom is hyper-sensitive. I've had many arguments with people claiming that the Eastern States fans hates WA, and me trying to tell them, no, the East doesn't even think about you most of the time. Hatred requires actual thought.
They are also the most active fandom in Australia, and they tend to stick together, so you're going to get more of them on just about any subject anyway. Plus, there are people this side of Aus who aren't game to say anything negative about Peek for fear of being singled out by him. Most geeks will try to avoid conflict at any cost.
As to him being disliked, well, he's worked hard and earned that.
You can't sit around mouthing off, consistently telling folks you're smarter or cooler than they are (even as a joke), attacking people and/or the things they think are important, and then feel bad because some of them don't like you.
and they tend to stick together
No idea how it looks from the outside, of course - but I think it's a bit of a mistake to assume that size necessarily equates with unity.
My experience over the last 20 years or so is that the only advantage to the size and activity in Perth fandom is that it allows the various groups in the internecine fan warring more options as towards allies, and prevents one major dustup from completely splitting the fan community, as it has in other places.
Yes, the splits and infighting that tend to hurt the other states don't seem to hit WA as hard. But I think that's because they are always ready to band together against a perceived common foe.
And then go back to fighting each other as soon as that's over :)
When I first started to get active in fandom I was surprised how fragile most fannish egos were. I needed to constantly remind myself not to indulge in the sort of teasing that passed for light entertainment amongst my other friends but would come across as a vicious personal attack in fandom. From memories of your stories about droving and the abattoirs I guess you know the sort of stuff I mean.
From my point of view the whole episode is downright silly, making a fuss about a review of a three year old book, but then if your measure of success is what people say about you and your work, maybe it is more serious.
Maybe the anti-WA feeling was a manifestation of background grumbling when Swancon seemed to be the Natcon every second year. Given that few cons were being organised in the East it was an unavoidable situation but that won't stop fans from grumbling.
There was, in fact, a period when we had it three years in a row and the slogan at the time was "Melbourne: Never Again".
That makes it sound like a conscious WA decision, when in fact, it was just that no other bastard was running them. I'm not sure, but I think it was the worldcon that killed fandom pre/post 1999.
That said, Australian fandom owes WA a debt with regards to the Natcon, because without Perth choosing to run it in the absence of anyone else, it probably would have died.
Getting the NatCon two years in a row so the Melbourne crowd couldn't have it back until they put a competent bid up was very much an actual plan.
Oh I remember, I was there for at least a couple of discussions of it. I was against it because I think being the Natcon rarely enhances a convention, and can actually hamstring a good one. It's why we've got this silly idea that all Swancons have to be five days long now, so many Easter cons in a row, people decided it had to be over Easter.
I think there should be one major question asked of any group bidding for the Natcon, it used to be asked in the old days - "If you don't get the Natcon, will you still run?"
Anyone not planning on running if they don't get the Natcon can just fuck off. They aren't interested in running a good con, they just want to run a Natcon.
I think for some cons, it is reasonable for them not to want to run if they are not the Naton -- cons in states that do not have a strong history of cons otherwise, like Tasmania and (currently) Adelaide. If making a risky con the natcon will provide some guarantee of lifting a con out of the danger zone of possible financial fallure, I have no problem with them wanting a Natcon guarantee to run -- but if the con is in state that has a recent histtory of successful cons, such as Perth or Melbourne or Canberra, I agree, then the Natcon shoudln't be necessary.
I WAS the Natcon convenor in question and I chaired one of the relevant natcon business meetings. I remember at the time of winning the Natcon being pretty hostile to the BasicCon stlyle idea, of Melbourne having a minimal con just to have a natcon, and thinking I would rather have another Swancon as natconn than another BasicCon-ish con, but as it turrned out Convergence I was, to Roses credit, a fairly seriosus natcon bid, and so the issue never arose.
I am willing to admit, in retrospective, that I might have been wrong to be so dismissive of BasicCons -- but that was definitely my thinking at the time
Yep. But most fans were the picked on kids at school, so being sensitive about it is understandable.
I sort of hit the weird mid-range, I was a geek kid, but I could and would fight. And with my family, i had no choice but to develop a thick skin, or at least the ability to mimic owning one :)
To my mild surprise, I'd say all of these things are exactly true for me as well.