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Draft Hugo Award Ballot 2014 – The Fan Categories (Best Fan Writer, Best Fanzine, Best Fan Artist, Best Fancast)

February 4, 2014

You can find my other nominations for the 2014 Hugo Awards here:

We are told that fandom used to be one big family. We are told that fans not only shared a set of common institutions but also a set of values and ideals that helped them to determine what was a good novel and who was a good fan writer. Sure… not everyone agreed with each other all the time but chances were that if you considered yourself a fan then you would at least know and respect the people who made it onto the shortlists of the fan categories.

Whether or not this state of grace ever existed, it is now long dead. Like a fresh-faced young universe, fandom is fragmenting at the speed of light. Where once there was a more-or-less unified social hierarchy, now there are dozens of hierarchies and affinity groups split along methodological, geographical, political, generational and literary lines. Every few months, an argument erupts and another corner of fandom shatters; followers are culled, blog-rolls are amended, friendly direct messages are reborn as frustrated sub-tweets. Given that it is in the nature of fandom to become both more diverse and less coherent, expressing any kind of opinion about the activities of people operating outside of your immediate affinity group is not just difficult but downright hazardous. People are increasingly afraid to speak their minds and it is not hard to see why.

The more fandom descends into a patchwork of bellowing cliques, the more we seek to limit ourselves to the people whose values and experiences match our own. Huddled for warmth around a shared sense of outrage over the fact that not everyone shares our worldview, we are increasingly slow to express ourselves publically lest we get on the wrong side of the wrong fan. These days, saying the wrong thing can get you smeared, bullied, doxed, threatened with rape, threatened with professional consequences and blackballed from convention programming. The worse thing about these tactics is not that they exist but that they remain incredibly effective; nothing makes you more likely to reconsider your approach to fan writing than a fear of overwhelming and disproportionate reprisals.

Given the increasingly confrontational character of Science Fiction fandom, fan writing is beginning to take on something of a heroic aspect, doubly so when that fan writing involves speaking truth to power, puncturing hype with snarky commentary or taking so wide a view of the field and genre that this week’s hot new property is revealed as little more than a talentless hack leaping on an already overburdened bandwagon. My fan category nominations are explicitly and unapologetically political: I am nominating the people and publications that best embody what I hope for in fan culture. Each of these nominees (in their own often imperfect ways) embodies the change that I want to see in fan culture.

NB – I’m including, where relevant, links to some alternative nomination posts. Some people have produced individual posts for each category, some have produced posts covering partial lists and others have made all their recommendations in a single post, for ease of use, I’ve included links to relevant posts in each section so I’m probably going to make trackback functions implode. I’ve also left empty slots in the Best Fancast and Best Fanzine categories as I’m still making my mind up about certain fanworks. If anyone decides to make a nominations post, please leave a comment but personal eligibility comments will be treated as spam ;-)

***

hugologo

My Nominations for Best Fan Writer

Liz Bourke – I seldom agree with Liz Bourke about anything; She not only devotes most of her critical output to books I would never ever read, she routinely gets excited about books that strike me as over-hyped and disappointing. However, despite almost never agreeing with Liz, I think that she is well on the way to becoming one of the foremost critics of the 2010s. Perfectly adapted to the current cultural climate, Liz manages to be erudite without seeming inaccessible and a passionate advocate who never compromises her intellectual integrity. Pretty much everything that Liz writes for Strange Horizons and Tor.com is worth looking at but I particularly enjoyed her review of Charlie Stross’s Neptune’s Brood and her attempt to work out why it is that romance figures in so many fictional stories.

Renay – Having cut her teeth in another set of fandoms, Renay washed up on the shores of SFF with a very different set of expectations. Unlike most bloggers who start churning out reviews in the hope of attracting readers and free books, Renay writes about her experiences of being a fan and what those experiences tell us about our culture as a whole. Recruited by Strange Horizons to replace Mark Plummer’s increasingly dusty and impenetrable missives, Renay’s emotional openness positions her as a modern heir to the values of traditional fan writing but where most traditional fan writers have doubts and bitterness, Renay has passion and certainty. Renay’s early SH columns are some of the finest social criticism that online fandom has ever produced but her decision to push back against the encroachment of professionals into fannish spaces resulted in threats from the sexually backward fanbase of a failed TV writer and so her more recent columns have tended to be more personal and understated affairs. While I completely understand this shift in emphasis and enjoy the new direction, I hope that Renay’s journey will loop back round to the path she set out on as Renay’s experiences and sensibilities give genre culture an excuse to re-examine old assumptions and break with destructive habits. Aside from her contributions to Strange Horizons, Renay also contributes to the groupblog Lady Business, the podcast Lady Business + and is a staff member at the Organization for Transformative Works, a non-profit devoted to preserving the history of fanworks and fan cultures.

Martin Lewis – Martin Petto (to give him his married fiction-writing name) is perhaps best known for his withering and insightful Strange Horizons reviews, his venomous trawls through celebrated short fiction anthologies and his willingness to publically criticise popular fans and authors when they misbehave or talk total rubbish. The fact that Martin does all of these things with a style and voice that is uniquely his own makes him more than worthy of consideration for the Best Fan Writer award but what makes him so special is the unfashionable disconnect between his tone and his level of engagement. Usually, when people interact with genre culture in an abrupt and coruscating manner, it is a sign that they have either been marginalised by genre culture or are naturally working their way out of the field. However, despite often coming across as incredibly grumpy, Martin has invested years of his life in British fan culture and continues to be one of the people who works to keep the lights on. Aside from being a former Clarke Award judge and a contributor to the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Martin is also a long-serving reviews editor for Vector, the critical ‘zine published by the British Science Fiction Association. Most people who achieve this level of prominence in fannish circles find their teeth being blunted by the need to maintain friendships and climb greasy polls but Martin has found a way to combine punkish iconoclasm with a tireless devotion to institutions created while he was still a child.

Abigail Nussbaum – Abigail’s continued absence from the Hugo ballot has become something of a cause celebre in certain corners of fandom and it is easy to see why. Abigail’s blog continues to be a model of intelligent commentary on genre film, books and TV while her Strange Horizons reviews (including this two-part examination of the 2013 Clarke Award shortlist) are textbook examples of how to drill down into a text without losing sight of broader concerns. Abigail also has one of the more distinctive voices in the genre community; even and rigorous in a time when theatrical anger and selective interpretation are rife, Abigail Nussbaum’s writing is civilised in all the best possible ways. Now the reviews editor for Strange Horizons, Abigail is perhaps less visible than she once was but, like Martin Lewis, her willingness to invest herself in the organs of the field and help them to improve benefits absolutely everyone with an interest in Science Fiction.

Paul Kincaid – Paul has two things against him when it comes to receiving Best Fan Writer nominations: The first is that he was active in the field when it was decided that being an exceptional critic meant that you were not, by definition, a fan writer. The second is that Paul Kincaid has been at the pinnacle of genre criticism for decades and has already won awards, built awards and achieved everything that a critic can reasonably hope to achieve in a field that remains largely ambivalent about the kind of ambitious think-pieces that Kincaid is used to turning out. Frankly, I think that both sets of caveats are complete horseshit: Paul Kincaid remains one of the most distinctive voices in the history of genre criticism… while 2013 did not bring a repeat performance of 2012’s devastating broadside against contemporary genre writing, it did bring some incredibly intricate genre thinking as well as a much welcome expansion of Paul’s writing about history and culture. Aside from writing a short fiction column for Vector, contributing to the group blog Big Other and writing for a number of different venues including Strange Horizons and The SF Site, Paul maintains a rather splendid blog that he has been using to republish many of his previously ‘zine-locked reviews and columns.

Alternate Lists of Suggestions

hugologo

My Nominations for Best Fanzine

I am looking forward to seeing 2014’s Fanzine shortlist as recent years have seen a concerted effort to raise awareness of the fact that just because something is published using blogging software, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a fanzine. This concerted effort resulted in back-to-back Best Fanzine victories for SF Signal as their unquestionably amateur status and independence from different affinity groups meant that they were a candidate that everyone could agree on. Given that SF Signal have now recused themselves from further consideration, there is a risk that the award will fall back on old habits and return to being dominated by the increasingly shabby and isolationist traditional fanzine scene but hopefully SF Signal’s victories will have got the message across and people will look beyond SF Signal to the wealth of online fanzines for their nominations. However, while I have a history of being extremely critical of traditional fanzines, I do not wish to see them disappear or killed off. In fact, I would love to be able to nominate a traditional fanzine for this award but I don’t think that any of the zines put out through the e-fanzines portal comes anywhere close to my personal benchmarks of quality and engagement. I would dearly love for some new blood to make its way into the world of traditional fanzines but I have yet to see any sign of such a renaissance. Maybe next year?

Pornokitsch (Link) – One of the things I wish online fan culture would embrace is the idea that not everything needs to be about genre all the time. Many bloggers who stray across the line into blogging about personal matters and various interests are surprised to find that their audiences actually respond. The reason for this is that nobody thinks or talks about books in a vacuum; everything we do and everything we think feeds into everything else and by writing about stuff that isn’t necessarily relevant to genre culture you are allowing people to get a better idea of your voice and your perspective. Pornokitsch is personal in the best possible way: aside from having an incredibly idiosyncratic approach to genre, Jared Shurin and Anne C. Perry fill their shared blog with all kinds of weird and wonderful finds from old public information films to reviews of hardboiled crime novels and the joys of old school gaming (as in Bridge… not AD&D).

Nerds of a Feather (Link) – A relatively new addition to the genre scene, Nerds of a Feather is a group blog that tries to cover everything genre-related from books, to films, to comics, to games and all the delicious overlap in between. The challenge of this type of endeavour lies in determining how to deploy one’s time and resources: There is literally so much geek-related stuff out there that even a team of a thousand bloggers would still only scratch the surface of the American popular culture industry. Faced with this overwhelming torrent of cultural matter, many group blogs allow either the PR business or the internet as a whole to set their agenda resulting in the same slavish attention being paid to the same narrow selection of franchises: Doctor Who, Marvel Comics, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and anything that has passed across the desk of Joss Whedon. While Nerds of a Feather does occasionally cover this stuff, the bulk of their output is dominated by things that are just a couple of steps outside the mainstream. In other words, this is a broad geek blog but the broadness of the perspective remains personal enough to ensure that the coverage never feels lazy or cynical. The writing in Nerds of a Feather is systematically excellent and it looks surprisingly good for a Blogger template too.

The Hooded Utilitarian (Link) – Kept afloat by the relentlessly industrious Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian is first and foremost a place where incredibly smart people come to write about comics. Aside from publishing some really high-level criticism from an astonishingly large pool of writers, Hooded Utilitarian also engages with geek culture on a day-to-day basis with opinion pieces and dissections written from a thoroughly progressive perspective by someone who is clearly working very hard indeed to educate himself and the people around him. Given that the Hooded Utilitarian is primarily about comics, I have little faith in it ever appearing on a Hugo ballot but the style, energy and tone of the website is so relentlessly awesome that I genuinely hope my nomination will raise awareness of this site’s existence and maybe encourage a few other people to nominate it.

SF Mistressworks (Link) – Originally created by Ian Sales as a response to Gollancz’s shameful failure to include enough books by women in their SF Masterworks series, SF Mistressworks has expanded with time to become one of the most important resources in online genre culture. The idea behind the website is simple: If you have reviewed a Science Fiction novel written by a woman, send Ian the review and he will republish it on his site. Aside from being a living, breathing monument to the role of women in shaping Science Fiction, the site is a really vital reminder that women’s contributions to genre culture do not begin and end with getting new books reviewed, getting women on awards shortlists and getting more women into anthologies. Acknowledging genre culture’s debt to women is also a process of exhumation through which the forgotten voices of the past are introduced to a new generation of readers. Frankly, I cannot think of a more important contribution to the goal of getting more women into writing Science Fiction… if you think that women can’t or won’t write SF then SF Mistressworks will prove you horribly and scandalously wrong.

Alternate Lists of Suggestions

hugologo

My Nominations for Best Fan Artist

The Fan Artist category was created to reflect the fact that traditional fanzines would frequently run art fragments and comic strips as a way of breaking up the text and making their fanzines look less like manuscripts and more like magazines. The problem is that, these days, people tend to use photos rather than artwork and so the Fan Artist niche has effectively disappeared. We might as well give out a Hugo Award to the most reliable mimeograph machine repairperson.

I intend to vote NO AWARD and would very much like to see this category merged with the Best Professional Artist category in order to create a Best Artist category that more effectively reflects the freelance and semi-professional status of most practicing genre artists. Also, I suspect it would make Taral Wayne weep hot salty tears and quite possibly catch fire.

Alternate Lists of Suggestions

hugologo

My Nominations for Best Fancast

The Best Fancast category is what happens when a bunch of incompetent geriatric reactionaries try to gerrymander the Hugo Awards. Horrified by StarShipSofa’s victory in the 2010 Best Fanzine category, the SMOFs voted to create an entirely new category in an effort to keep the Fanzine category free from the taint of 21st Century technology. The result was a Hugo category devoted to a form of fanwork that was really only just starting to get off the ground. Devoid of history or any critical filtering that might raise awareness about good podcasts, the Best Fancast category predictably came to be dominated by the podcast that featured the most recognisable professional names. Poorly produced and unbearably smug, the SF Squeecast dominated the award for the first two years of its existence but now that they have decided to decline future nominations, we have a chance to look at what a more mature podcasting field has to offer. In truth, it’s still a little bit too small for comfort but there are still some excellent podcasts kicking about the place.

The Coode Street Podcast (Link)– Hosted by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe, Coode Street remains the gold standard for genre discussion and interviews. Now nearing 200 episodes, the Coode Street Podcast has waxed and waned a number of times before putting itself on a more robust footing that saw it improve drastically all the way through 2013. Early episodes of the podcast tended to rely quite a bit on Wolfe’s ability to talk at great length about pretty much every aspect of Science Fiction and Fantasy you care to mention. However, Strahan’s decision to appear on other podcasts and to work at keeping his podcast moving have resulted in a much better balance between the warmth of Wolfe’s erudition and the heat of Strahan’s willingness to ask awkward questions and explore unpopular ideas. This more balanced dynamic is particularly evident in the show’s interview episodes where the two hosts noticeably work together to find which kinds of questions draw the best responses from their guests. Indeed, I used to dread the interview episodes but now I don’t think that you will find a better genre interview than the ones that Gary and Jonathan conducted with Paolo Bacigalupi and M. John Harrison. Even the podcast’s infamous rambling has been reigned in by the decision to focus each episode on a limited set of themes. I adore the Coode Street Podcast and it brings me great joy to see it getting better and better with each passing year.

The Writer and The Critic (Link) – More so than any other form of fanwork, podcasts rely upon the personalities of their hosts and the relationships that bind them. As time passes, it is only natural for people to change and while some podcasts adapt and grow to fit new dynamics, others struggle with old voices that no longer fit the people who use them. This pressure to evolve is particularly evident in the way that The Writer and The Critic seems to be passing through a transitional phase. Back in 2010, TW+TC exploded onto the scene with an ironclad formula and an interpersonal dynamic that was an absolute joy to behold. Nominally comprising a bit of chat followed by an in-depth discussion of two (or more) genre titles, the podcast used the fantastically funny and endearing relationship between its hosts Ian Mond and Kirstyn McDermott to ask difficult questions of important books and the culture that surrounded them: Ian was funny, Kirstyn was wise and together they were not just entertaining but downright addictive. The challenge now facing The Writer and The Critic is that, in the four years since this podcast began, its hosts have very obviously grown up: Once a gloriously obnoxious manchild overflowing with uncomfortable but necessary questions, Ian has matured in a sensitive and astute critic who is very much aware of his privilege and the need to confront it. Now a widely-respected and award-winning author in her own right, Kirstyn sounds increasingly uncomfortable breaking bones and exposing poor writing in the way that she once did. Subject to extended gaps due to major upheavals in the lives of both hosts, TW+TC is still finding its grown-up voice and has settled into a less contentious format in which important and well-received books are subjected to serious and respectful discussion rather than snark and brutal deconstruction. Whether the snark returns or whether TW+TC finds a new format with which to move forward, 2013 was still an excellent and Hugo-worthy year for a podcast that remains very close to my heart. Particularly brilliant were the episodes “’Infinite Jest’ and ‘House of Leaves’”, “’Life After Life’ and ‘The Testament of Jessie Lamb’” and “’Feed’ and ‘Some Kind of Fairy Tale’”.

Shooting The Poo (Link) – By far the most popular of all podcasting formats is the ‘Brocast’:  Get a load of white dudes, stick them in front of microphones and record them as they talk shit about popular culture. Part of the Mond and McDermott podcasting empire, Shooting the Poo could easily have fallen into this tired format as it involves Mitch, Dave and Mondy occasionally getting together to discuss films and comics. What elevates Shooting the Poo above its hundreds of competitors is the singular nature of its obsessions (documentary film and indie comics) and the fact that the hosts rock up to the podcast having done their research and taken the time to form complex and interesting opinions about the subjects they’re discussing. Much like The Writer and The Critic, Shooting the Poo has matured with time, transitioning from a raucous and occasionally quite confrontational roundtable to a more focused journey through a particular cultural milieu. What I love about this podcast is the sense of guided introduction; if you know nothing about indie comics then listen to the indie comics episode and you will get everything you need to start exploring by yourself. If you have never read any Stephen King or read any Image Comics then the boys (and woman) have you covered. Subject to the same schedule disruptions as The Writer and The Critic, Shooting the Poo only released 4 episodes last year but they’re still technically eligible and have already released 2 episodes this year.

The Skiffy and Fanty Show (Link) – Shaun Duke and Jen Zink’s podcast has nearly reached the two hundred episode mark and is really no closer to resolving its identity crisis. An unusual mix of three different formats, the show rotates between roundtable discussions, extended interviews and getting shitfaced and talking about crappy movies. What this means in practice is that some days, Skiffy and Fanty is an intelligent and thought provoking podcast desperate to engage with substantial issues, other days it’s just people giggling and you never know which one you’re going to get until you actually sit down and listen. On a good day, Skiffy and Fanty includes sensational interviews like the one with Nick Mamatas and excellent round-tables like the one in which the group discuss their Hugo voting with a refreshing degree of candour. I’m nominating this podcast because I enjoy those good days and wish there were more of them. As a side note, Skiffy and Fanty now comes with a frequently updated website which, by virtue of being an unpaid group blog, qualifies for the Best Fanzine category.

Alternate Lists of Suggestions

28 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2014 1:02 pm

    Now this is a list :)

    Thanks for throwing a little love at Skiffy and Fanty. Hopefully, this year will provide a *lot* more of what you want out of the show, since it’s the World SF Tour. We’ve been pretty on point this year, I think, and all of the episodes, save some of the goofy Torture Cinema ones, will be specific to the theme.

    Also: thanks for listening some folks I hadn’t heard of. Gives me something new to check out.

  2. February 4, 2014 1:14 pm

    That should have said “listing some folks.” Darn typo.

  3. February 4, 2014 1:18 pm

    I find it interesting, Jonathan, that three of the four fan casts you nominate originate in Australia.

  4. Liz permalink
    February 4, 2014 1:19 pm

    I lump Best Fancast in with Best Graphic Story – well-intentioned categories that have naming and/or definition problems, and were not great at first but the shortlists are improving over time. Not that I am helping because I only listen to 3 podcasts and none of them are eligible in this category, and it would be good if we could get things going without a winner having to recuse themselves, but I think it is improving.

    As for Best Fan Artist, I disagree that it’s obsolete, it should just serve a different niche. Much like how Best Fanzine is gradually changing from paper fanzines to electronic fanzines and blogs, I can see a world where Best Fan Artist starts to be populated by what most people would think of as fan art, the stuff I see all over Tumblr and DeviantArt. I do think it’s tricky to define fan and pro in this context, but I think there’s a gap between a mostly full-time comics or cover artist and the fan who draws their favourite character for a fannish big bang.

  5. February 4, 2014 3:42 pm

    Thanks for the support, Jonathan! And great list. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I should nominate Martin too. I’ll have to fiddle with my own list, but there’s still plenty of time for that.

  6. February 4, 2014 3:46 pm

    Hi Shaun — I have a lot of love for Skinny and Fanty! I’ve noticed your ambition with both the site and the podcast and I think it’s awesome.

  7. February 4, 2014 4:05 pm

    Hi Paul :-)

    I think I’m quite a tough audience when it comes to podcast.

    For starters, I don’t really like being read to and so I can’t listen to any podcast that involves either readings or performed short fiction. Then there’s the fact that I’m looking for a certain level of discourse and so I need interviewers who can coax more than sales pitches out of their interviewees. Those podcasts that make it through those two hoops often fall down on relatively minor things like Tea and Jeopardy for example, which completely lost me with the fake tea-party thing.

    My wife’s a singer and one of the things she has noticed is that while people can take constructive criticism when it comes to writing and playing instruments, the second it’s someone’s voice anything negative you say feels a lot more cutting and personal because voice is a medium that is more intimate to both the performer and the audience. It makes talking about this type of stuff quite difficult.

    The rest of my podcast listens is British and American but they either aren’t genre related or are professional and so aren’t eligible for this category.

  8. February 4, 2014 4:12 pm

    Hi Liz :-)

    I don’t have a problem with winners recusing themselves. In fact, I’d rather like to have it made a rule that fans have to recuse themselves after two straight wins lest the categories seize up as they did around David Langford. In order for that to work, you need people who can help stir the pot and remind people that there are other people worthy of nomination but I think more people should be doing that anyway.

    Best Fan Artist could migrate towards Tumblr and Deviantart but I feel that’s less about re-orienting the award to focus on a different aspect of this fandom than it is trying to use the award as a means of reaching out to new fandoms. I don’t have a problem with that at all… in fact, I think that the Graphic Story and still-only-theoretical YA Hugo would be a fantastic way of broadcasting the fact that this fandom is open to newcomers and ready to grow. I would love to see the Best Fan Artist award go to people on Deviantart or Cosplayers but I am completely ignorant of those areas.

  9. February 4, 2014 4:15 pm

    Thanks for the list, John. Besides The Hooded Utilitarian (Which I’m off to discover now. Thanks for the tip!), I think you’ve made fine choices for Fan Writer and Fanzine. I’d be happy to see any and all of those choices on the ballot this year.

  10. February 4, 2014 5:48 pm

    I don’t know if it says something about the ways in which I (or sff fandom) categorise things in my head that it had never occurred to me to think of The Hooded Utilitarian as a Hugo-eligible fanzine– and it’s a site I really like.

    Some great choices here (though I’m with Liz on Fan Artist).

  11. February 4, 2014 5:55 pm

    “The Best Fancast category is what happens when a bunch of incompetent geriatric reactionaries try to gerrymander the Hugo Awards.”

    I don’t say this very often, but: ROFL.

    Great list, sir. It’s touching to see so many people still try to engage with these increasingly out-of-touch awards categories.

  12. February 4, 2014 5:56 pm

    Thank you for listing me, but it puts me in something of a dilemma. If fan writer is for writing about science fiction (as opposed to writing about fandom, which it was for an awfully long time); then shouldn’t it be combined with Related Work? Aren’t the two rather like Fan Artist and Pro Artist?

  13. February 4, 2014 5:58 pm

    By the way, everything you say about Martin – “a former Clarke Award judge and a contributor to the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, … a long-serving reviews editor for Vector” is true of me also. Which I find sort of spooky.

  14. February 4, 2014 6:39 pm

    I don’t have anything to add about the Hugos, I just wanted to say I love how smug Aisha looks in that photo.

  15. Jared permalink
    February 4, 2014 6:45 pm

    Thanks! Stealing many of these. And since I don’t listen to podcasts, I may just steal your ballot wholeheartedly. I was going to chuck in a link to my own recommendations post, but looking at it again, all (both) mine are on your list. So, uh, ditto. Except you’re more eloquent about it.

  16. February 4, 2014 7:03 pm

    Hooded Utilitarian is a fantastic site. Even our own smug-faced Aisha writes for them:

    http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2013/03/timpa/

  17. February 4, 2014 7:10 pm

    Hi Paul :-)

    One of the interesting things I’m seeing this year is that people are no longer taking advice from ‘insiders’ as to what and what isn’t an appropriate choice in each category. In effect, they’re using their votes to help remake the Hugo Awards in their image… which I think is great.

    My impression is that the historic exclusion of critics from the Fan Writer category is an anti-Sercon thing but that’s not at all reflected in the language of the rules. In fact, I know that Liz Bourke thought that she was ineligible because she gets paid by Tor.com but the letter of the rules covers stuff written about SF either for free or as part of a semi-pro writing career. So Liz is eligible and so are you.

    People are currently interpreting the Best Related Work in quite a broad fashion so people are nominating essays in much the same way as they do for the BSFA award. There’s a convention against doing this type of thing but no written rule.

    Personally, I would have no problem with you winning for Fan Writer and for Best Related, I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive.

    Regarding Martin, I remember Niall once saying that he saw Martin as a younger version of you and this was quite a while ago. Maybe Niall noticed something :-)

  18. February 4, 2014 7:49 pm

    Jonathan, I’m not at all concerned that people are reinventing the Hugos from the ground up. It’s a good thing, and about time. All I’m saying is that it ends up providing two awards for essentially the same thing (particularly if people are, indeed, nominating essays and blog posts for Related Work). And I’m all for burning the Hugos down to the ground and starting again from scratch with far fewer categories. And since I believe that awards should always be for the work rather than the person, then Fan Writer is the one that should go. Unfortunately, that leaves us with Related Work, the catch-all category that has become steadily more nonsensical over the years. Hence my dilemma.

    I know as they are constituted at the moment, Fan Writer and Related Work are not mutually exclusive, but they should be.

    Not sure I’m happy about Martin being a younger version of me. I want to be the younger version of me!

  19. February 4, 2014 8:06 pm

    You say the nicest things, Jonathan. Sincerely: from you, that assessment of my work means a great deal.

    (If we agreed about more things, I think conversation would be less interesting. *g*)

  20. February 5, 2014 7:57 pm

    Thanks for posting this, Jonathan, I think it is hugely important to have a conversation about what we want these awards to be. I was also particularly interested in the background to some of these categories since, at first glance, they defy all logic. Even as an insider, I follow the Hugos but not WSFS so it is eye-opening stuff.

    Paul: I think your conception of Best Related Work is too narrow. It is for “either non-fiction or noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text” and I think you can push that quite a bit. I’m planning to nominate an album and a children’s science book, for example (and I think there is real scope for re-positioning the category even further).

    Not to mention that it is not just those in Best Fan Writer but those in Best Artist who are potentially eligible for this category. But one of the distinctive features of artists and fan writers is that they rarely produce books so there is a pretty good argument for an award that covers the body of smaller work as, in practice, there is little overlap.

    I’ll dodge the question of whether I’m Paul’s clone, except to say I have no plays to administer the Clarke Award or move to Folkstone. Oh, and Jonathan: it was my mum, rather than me, who was a child when some of those institutions were created!

  21. kastandlee permalink
    February 6, 2014 1:17 am

    You may find this hard to believe, but I applaud you naming things you think should appear on the ballot even if I don’t agree with your preferences. You know, you don’t need permission to use the actual Hugo Award Logo for talking about the Hugo Awards, and it’s better for the Awards as an institution if you do use the real logo when writing about them.

  22. February 6, 2014 5:06 pm

    Hi Kevin :-)

    Fair point about using the correct logo. Fixed (I think)

  23. kastandlee permalink
    February 6, 2014 5:11 pm

    Thank you!

Trackbacks

  1. Hugo Award Nominations 2014. Part IV. | Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
  2. Linkspam: 02/07/14 — The Radish.
  3. Draft Hugo Ballot 2014 – The Publishing Categories (Best Editor Long Form, Best Editor Short Form, Best Semiprozine, Best Professional Artist) | Ruthless Culture
  4. Draft Hugo Ballot 2014 – The Media Categories (Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form), Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), Best Related, Best Graphic Story) | Ruthless Culture
  5. Draft Ballot 2014 Hugo Awards – The Fiction Categories (Best Novel, Best Short Story, Best Novelette, Best Novella) | Ruthless Culture

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