Mar 13

Let’s Replace the Best Fanzine Category with Best Blog

I know I’m coming late to the party, but while reading this post by Mike Glyer from File 770 I discovered that blogs, such as this one, aren’t actually eligible for a Hugo because, to quote Andrew Trembley, “under the current [Hugo] rule, a blog that doesn’t adopt a periodical format isn’t eligible…”

Trembley then follows this up by saying:

But what does “periodical format” really mean in the context of web-only (not PDF) digital publishing?

In some ways it means the same thing it does in old-school paper fanzines. There’s some sort of (often lax) editorial control, (often lax) planning and (often lax) packaging on an (often irregular) schedule.

A lot of blogs don’t live up to that standard. Sure, they’ve got the irregular schedule that’s fannishly traditional, but they’re just random thoughts thrown out willy-nilly. No editing, no planning, no packaging.

No editing!  No planning!  No packaging!  How dare he!  I mean, yes most of what I write here is pulled straight from my anal orifice, including commentary on award ballots where I have fuck all to say and yet spend 2,000 words saying it.  And yes, the blog only has a distant relationship to the sort of syntax and grammar that Strunk and White would find acceptable.  It’s also true that when it came to packaging I picked the Graphene Theme because it has a swirly thing that looked a bit like a wormhole.

But still – fuck you old people fandom.  Fuck you and your obsolete fanzines that no-one under the age of 60* bothers to write or read.  OK… yes… we all fell in love with Chris Garcia when he went mental after winning his Hugo award for Best Fanzine.

But as far as I’m concerned this moment of unabashed love for the fanzine is as good a swansong as any.  The community should accept that they’ve had it great for the last fifty, sixty (whatever) years and move over for the true home of all things fannish – the blogosphere.  And if they want to continue their nostalgia trip remembering those days when fanzine writers and publishers were white Gods amongst while men,** well, there’s always Corflu .

Of course I’m not idiotic enough to think that at the next Worldcon Business Meeting someone will try and replace Best Fanzine with Best Blog.  Or Tumblr.  Or Twitter Feed.  Or Facebook status.  The fanzine is an institution and it’s going to take the release of some sort of super virus aimed at killing anyone whose been within 50 meters of a mimeograph before change occurs.

And the hilarity of it all is that by the time any actual change is made the blog will no longer be at the cutting edge of fandom discussion and discourse.  Shit, even now the blog is losing its luster as most people turn to Twitter to scream and shout over the latest controversy.  Me included.

Still, how truly fucked is fandom – or at least the fandom that make the rules*** – that a blog such as this one and this one and this one aren’t periodical enough to be allowed on the ballot.


* Except for those who are.  Like Chris Garcia.

** Uncalled for?

*** Yes, I could be involved in making the Hugo rules if I wanted to be.  I mean it is a democracy.  But I simply don’t have the strength or the wherewithal to sit  through a Business Meeting or for that matter travel the world following Worldcons so I can be sure my voice is heard.  So yeah I’m part of the problem.  But you’d think common sense would prevail… yeah?



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  1. Alison

    I think there should be a seperate category for both, because to my mind they are sufficiently different beast to warrant having seperate categories (unlike say, best novella and best novellette). I do get kinda twitchy when blogs are nominated in the fanzine category, to my mind they are not fanzines. And I think there are enough quality fanzines out there that talk of dumping that category is premature. I may be missing something, but why replace the fanzine category with the blog one? Why not keep the old as well as slipping in the new?

    1. Mondyboy

      I just hate the idea of adding more categories to an already bloated Hugo ballot. Why can’t we all be friends and agree that fanzines have changed format over the last fifty years. You say that blogs, to your mind, are not fanzines. Why? I mean… why can’t a months word of my witterings, tagged and everything, be exactly the same thing as a monthly fanzine? Just without the staple? What inherent in the term “fanzine” that discounts blogs. Is the word “zine”, which implies magazine? The technical definition of magazine requires pagination (at least according to Wikipedia). Is this what we’re hanging our hats on here? Page numbers?

      I’m happy to learn.

  2. Martin

    I agree that the fanzine rules don’t really make a lot of sense in 2012 but, regardless of how they are worded, I think if enough people nominated a blog for the fanzine award that it made the ballot then they would probably leave it on there. And there is always the proxy award for fanwriter where, fingers crossed, Abigail Nussbaum will substantially improve her 3.41% share of nominations from last year.

    1. Mondyboy

      I really hope that Abigail does make the ballot. She’s a magnificent fan writer.

  3. Liz

    I nominated a bunch of blogs in the fanzine category, on the grounds that it seems to be all speculation about the interpretation of the rules, so until I see a blog being actually ruled out of the category on the grounds of not being a periodical format I’ll keep nominating them.

    (I’m in favour of the proposal I saw somewhere to make it just “Best Fan Publication” and include the whole lot in one category, but not enough in favour of it to propose it and do the whole business meeting thing.)

    1. Mondyboy

      I actually don’t think the name should change. I was taking the piss (just a tad). I want it to remain Best Fanzine, because there’s a history being the category that I think should be retained. I just want to have my cake and eat it in the expectation that in the 21st Century blogs should be eligible under the category.

  4. Alison

    I think there are blogs that do fit within the criteria of fanzine (periodical publication, etc) and can therefore quite happily be nominated as such. After all, look at your major publications these days, they all have enough common sense to have an online presence as well as in print, but I don’t think this automatically means that any and all blogs fit the definition of fanzine and should not be eligible to win in that category, in just the same way that not all topical websites could be defined as journalism and therefore eligible to win the Walkley. I think the categories of Fainzine and Fan Writer do certainly allow for plenty of scope to be covered already.

    1. Mondyboy

      But… but… but… the nomination of any piece of fan writing, whether it be paper based or blog based should be about quality of the work and not ancient definitions on what constitutes a fanzine.

      And you’re point on journalism I think is way off the mark. The fact is that journalism is changing because of the many blogs out there purporting to be a source of news and opinion. Which is why Ray Finkelstein QC recommended that any blog that gets more than 15,000 hits should be regulated by a News Media Council.

  5. Kevin Standlee

    Like others above, I think the main reason blogs aren’t appearing in Best Fanzine is because the members of Worldcon have decided not to nominate them there. I’ve been a Hugo Award administrator three times myself (I’m not this year which is why I can speak freely), but I have a feeling that most Administrators would be very reluctant to disqualify any edge cases. Sure, if people nominated, say, a novel or a move in Best Fanzine, the administrator would rightly disqualify it, but I don’t think the definition of Best Fanzine actually disqualifies all blogs, so the question of whether a particular blog is a “fanzine” for the purpose of the rules is a question of fact, not law, and questions of fact are left up to the voters to decide.

    1. Mondyboy

      Thanks for that Kevin. It will be interesting to see what happens when the category is finally tested and a blog features on the ballot.

  6. Sean the Bookonaut

    I can see an argument for multi-author blogs to be included under a fanzine category say Dr Her for example and single author blogs to be considered under fan writer?

    1. Mondyboy

      Yeah, but I could knock together a paper based zine written just be me – with lots of crapola just by me – and it would be considered a fanzine. And would be eligible.

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