At least, in the USA. (Canada has been thankful already.)
And speaking as a writer, here are a few things I’m specifically thankful for:
- The personal computer revolution, which came along just in time to enable an epically bad typist like me to produce submittable manuscripts that didn’t shed white-out like dandruff and didn’t take roughly thirty minutes per page of final copy to produce.
(Does anyone even use correction fluid any more? Or does it hang out with carbon paper in the Land of Obsolete Office Supplies?)
- The internet, starting with bulletin boards and on-line services like AOL and CompuServe and GEnie, and moving on through mailing lists and blogs and the wonders of the world-wide web. No longer does an aspiring writer have to move to New York or Boston or Philadelphia in order to have a finger on the pulse of the literary world; anywhere with internet connectivity is only a click away.
Research, also, has been made oh-so-much easier. Once upon a time, if I needed to consult an obscure text — a monograph about daily life in Minnesota’s Stillwater Prison in the late eighteen-hundreds, to pick a not-coincidental example — I would have had to drive at least two hours to the nearest major university library and consult their card catalogue to determine if they had a copy (which they very probably wouldn’t.) Then I would need to either try for interlibrary loan through my local library, which could take a month or more, or try to wangle university library privileges (good luck with that), or hope I could get everything I needed before the library doors closed for the day. Now, that book and hundreds like it are gloriously digitized and available on-line.
- And this year, the World Fantasy Award people decided that henceforward they wouldn’t be using the bust of Lovecraft as the design for the award.
This is a good thing, because now award winners who would prefer not to have a portrait of a howling xenophobic racist* on their mantelpiece won’t have to; also, the H. P. Lovecraft Memorial Bludgeon was possibly the ugliest major award in this or any other biz. (Back where I come from, the phrase “homely as a mud fence plastered with tadpoles” would just about cover it.) Gahan Wilson, who designed it, is an excellent cartoonist, but his gift does not, in my opinion, translate well into three dimensions.
Not all blessings are unalloyed, since the change means we’re in for several rounds of acrimonious debate about what sort of design should replace the current one. (“A dragon!” “God, no. No dragons, no wizards, none of that extruded fantasy product stuff!” “Mary Shelley!” “Are you smoking something? Mary Shelley wrote science fiction!”) at the end of which the World Fantasy Committee will come up with something either boring or ugly or controversial or all three.
Because such is the way of our tribe.
*Really. Even by the standards of his day — which by the standards of our day are pretty appalling all on their own — he was extreme.