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Hugo Awards LogoEvery year, George R.R. Martin takes the time to talk about some of the authors/artists/editors/fan writers/novels/etc… that he feels deserve to be on the Hugo Award ballot. I always look forward to these posts and it’s something I wish more voters would do. Give fans (and other Hugo voters) a taste of what you think are the best of the best in any given year. Martin has always been a big proponent of trying to get blogs and bloggers on the ‘Best Fanzine’ and ‘Best Fan Writer’ short lists. This year, he’s gone further than just suggesting that we all think of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist and instead wrote at some length about why he feels that bloggers deserve a shot. From his latest post:

The Best Fanzine category is one of the oldest Hugo Awards, but is currently embroiled in controversy. Traditional print fanzines are still around, though both their numbers and their readership are dwindling, and in recent years the fans have been nominating things like e-zines, blogs, and podcasts in this category. Last year at Reno, a rules change was enacted to exclude all those new forms of fanac from this category. If that change is ratified in Chicago, Best Fanzine will once again become the exclusive property of traditional fanzines. If you don’t own a mimeograph machine, you need not apply. However, (1) the change needs to be ratified, if it is defeated at this year’s business meeting, it will not take effect, (2) it is NOT in effect this year, so this may be the last year when e-zines, blogs, and podcasts can be nominated in the category. As I think you can tell by my sarcastic tone, I am opposed to the change. I think there are some great fannish blogs and e-zines and podcasts out there, I think they are the future, and I’m going to nominate a bunch of them. Some of my own favorites include PAT’S FANTASY HOTLIST, THE WERTZONE, MAKING LIGHT, THE BLOG OF THE FALLEN (okay, he doesn’t like my stuff, but it’s still a good read), STOMPING ON YETI, CHEESE MAGNETS, HATHOR LEGACY, and PUNKADIDDLE. And for Best Fan Writer, I’d suggest you consider some of the folks who write for these blogs and e-zines, including Patrick St. Denis, Adam Whitehead, Adam Roberts, and John J. Miller.

Sound familiar?

Martin further expands on these ideas in the comments section of the post in discussion with Kevin Standlee and Steven H. Silver, both of who are respected members of the fan community and have strong ties to the Hugo Awards.

The requirement that a fanzine must have “discrete issues” printed on a “periodical basis” just strikes me as a roundabout way to exclude blogs without actually saying “blogs need not apply.” You might as well stick in a clause requiring that fanzines be printed on twilltone.

Even traditional fanzines have never really had a good record of striking to a strict publishing schedule. Oh, sure, there are a few exceptions, but over most of the half century I’ve been in fandom, I’ve seen an awful lot of fanzines whose publishing schedule was “whenever the editor pubs his ish.”

The best blogs add new material weekly, some even daily. Even if the content isn’t organized into “issues,” it remains fannish writing. Look at a blog like Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist or the Wertzone, and what do you find… book reviews, movie reviews, author interviews, con reports, trip reports… all the sorts of writing that have characterized many fanzines (sercon fanzines more than faanish fanzines, admittedly) for decades.

They ARE fanzines, with or without “discrete issues.”

The usual Hugo Defense Brigade shows up to tell George exactly why he’s wrong (and not just about the Fan Writer/Fanzine stuff), and the arguments seem just as silly and antiquated as ever. Still, I suppose that there’s some solace to be found in the fact that GRRM’s opinions are brushed off with as little consideration as mine were.

In particular, Christopher Garcia, editor of The Drink Tank alongside James Bacon, winner of ‘Best Fanzine’ in 2011, shows up and makes a comment that goes against Martin’s suggestions and, in my mind, showcases the narrow definition of ‘fanzine’ that the awards are clinging to:

I think excluding blogs from Best Fanzine makes sense, though that’s just me. I don’t see blogs acting like Fanzines, but maybe I’m just looking at teh [sic] wrong blogs.

Nope, they don’t act like fanzines, because they’re not ‘fanzines’. I will, again, put forward the idea that the nature of fanzines has changed and that the name of this award needs to be examined and probably changed in a way to include all written fan publications, whether they publish in regular fanzineish nature or on the more daily schedule of a blog, on paper or digitally. The award was originally created to award the best publications edited by those from the fan community, that the time that was the exclusive realm of fanzines. As it’s wont to do, Time has trekked on and the nature of fan writing and fan publications has changed, but the award has continued to be exclusionary, rather than inclusionary. Should publications be excluded for their publishing schedule? Or included on the value of their content? Martin believes in the latter, and I agree with him.

I’m a small fry and have little leverage for creating such a change, but hopefully these opinions coming from the mouth of someone with as much clout as Martin will be able to create the type of buzz necessary to encourage a thoughtful and considered look at the nature of the ‘Best Fanzine’ award.

Next year, I’d love to show up on GRRM’s list alongside Stomping on Yeti, Punkadiddle or Pat’s Fantay Hotlist. I suppose I should have worked harder at flattering George and his assistant Ty a when I met them last year. Or, you know, I could work harder at making A Dribble of Ink a blog that deserves a place on the ballot in 2012 or 2013.

Discussion
  • Justin January 30, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Preach.

  • Harper Jayne January 30, 2012 at 11:27 am

    (I dumped this comment on the other comment box by mistake. Oops.)

    The solution is, in my eyes, to expand the awards with a new category for electronic media. This would include podcasts, blogs, etc. This new category would allow traditional zines to continue to have their place (which I believe they have earned over the years) while offering the new media folks a chance to earn a shot at an award.

    I would like to point out something slightly amusing as an aside. A great deal of attention from new media outlets is paid to the old world of traditionally published books. The books that Orbit or Pyr or Golancz or Tor or whoever thinks you should read.

    This means that the struggle for establishing legitimacy for bloggers, podcasters and other new media participants mirrors in many ways those tribulations of the authors (like myself) who write in order to self publish.

    Now I don’t necessarily suggest we split off a Hugo for self-published long/short forms. But looking at the parallels, is that such a crazy idea? Self-published works are largely ignored by the people who are voting for Hugos. Nebulas cannot even be voted for by other self-published authors since the membership in the SFWA is still restricted to people who have jumped through the hoop of getting a novel or three short stories published.

    So, like those who pour their hard work into putting out fantastic content for readers (I only recently discovered this blog but it’s my new favorite) only to have it be prohibited from consideration for one of the industry’s highest accolades, self-published authors also have to work against the traditional stigmas which are present in the industry.

    Just something to ponder.

  • Harper Jayne January 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

    (I dumped this comment on the other comment box by mistake. Oops. And now of course it thinks I have already said this.)

    The solution is, in my eyes, to expand the awards with a new category for electronic media. This would include podcasts, blogs, etc. This new category would allow traditional zines to continue to have their place (which I believe they have earned over the years) while offering the new media folks a chance to earn a shot at an award.

    (So I’m going to try and fake it out by interjecting randomness.)

    I would like to point out something slightly amusing as an aside. A great deal of attention from new media outlets is paid to the old world of traditionally published books. The books that Orbit or Pyr or Golancz or Tor or whoever thinks you should read.

    (I wonder is there’s any pizza left in the fridge?)

    This means that the struggle for establishing legitimacy for bloggers, podcasters and other new media participants mirrors in many ways those tribulations of the authors (like myself) who write in order to self publish.

    (Man, I could really use a drink . . .)

    Now I don’t necessarily suggest we split off a Hugo for self-published long/short forms. But looking at the parallels, is that such a crazy idea? Self-published works are largely ignored by the people who are voting for Hugos. Nebulas cannot even be voted for by other self-published authors since the membership in the SFWA is still restricted to people who have jumped through the hoop of getting a novel or three short stories published.

    (The square root of cool is what, exactly?)

    So, like those who pour their hard work into putting out fantastic content for readers (I only recently discovered this blog but it’s my new favorite) only to have it be prohibited from consideration for one of the industry’s highest accolades, self-published authors also have to work against the traditional stigmas which are present in the industry.

    (Now, did it work to scatter these silly asides throughout?)

    Just something to ponder.

  • Harper Jayne January 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

    How did it manage to double post? LOL

  • Joe Sherry January 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Aidan, I’ve agreed with this for years. Blogs *are* the modern fanzine and it is the discreet issue that’s killer here. Outdated.

    I’ve been nominating blogs and bloggers as fan writers since I started. I’ll continue to.

    George is completely right. Except about Pat.

  • Natasa January 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Do get yourself nominated next year. I’d hound all my friends until they voted for you, so you have at least, er, 8 certain votes. I’d probably lose them in the process, but nevermind…

  • Natasa January 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    *I’d probably lose my friends. dont worry your votes are secure.

  • aidan January 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    @Joe — Thanks! I’ve always appreciated your input around Hugo season.

    @Natasa — Haha! That’s very kind of you. Ultimately, though, I’m not writing a post like this to ask for votes for myself or A Dribble of Ink (it’s up to you to decide who you feel deserves to be nominated), but to raise awareness towards what I feel is an important issue in Fandom in hopes of eventually seeing one or more deserving blogs/bloggers appear on the final Hugo Award Ballot. Of the fan writers who’s background is solely in blogging, I think Adam Whitehead of The Wertzone likely has the most realistic and likely shot at showing up on the ballot. He’ll be on my nomination slip. So, don’t risk losing your friends!

    :)

  • Justin January 31, 2012 at 5:39 am

    I would agree Aidan. Adam is probably the most deserving. Ignoring everything else his “up until now” posts about ASOIF, WOT, and Malazan are nothing short of amazing.

  • Sam January 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    “I suppose I should have worked harder at flattering George and his assistant Ty a when I met them last year.”

    Such a petty, unworthy comment. You have a very good blog. Leave it at that and don’t lower yourself. Let your good work speak for itself.

  • aidan January 31, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks, Sam.

    :)

  • […] Hey, GRRM agrees with me!: Aidan over at A Dribble of Ink emphasizes the need to keep new media part of the Hugo Awards, and […]

  • […] in the Best Fanzine category of the Hugo Awards. You can get a basic run-down of the situation in this post at Aidan’s A Dribble of Ink blog. Needless to say, I strongly feel that blogs should be eligible. I have a great amount of respect […]

  • […] in the Best Fanzine category of the Hugo Awards. You can get a basic run-down of the situation in this post at Aidan’s A Dribble of Ink blog. Needless to say, I strongly feel that blogs should be eligible. I have a great amount of respect […]

  • […] is a subject that I’ve written about on a few occasions (like this, or this, or this). I think it’s integral to keeping the Hugo Awards relevant in the industry and among fans. […]

  • My Burning Ears « File 770 March 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    […] Moher amplified George’s case in Hey, GRRM agrees with me! (with links to Moher’s own posts on the same topic and his own set of […]