I was pleased to see mondyboy’s response on The Hysterical Hamster, especially because of the way he riffed off Mike’s post by cleverly casting his own reactions as being those of a 14-year-old, railing about all these old people barricading themselves inside the “best fanzine” Hugo category and refusing to let in the kids with their internets and their Facetweets or whatever they’re called. I do detect a smidge of conscious hyperbole in Ian’s rant, even if it’s not a practice in which we fanzine editors would ever indulge ourselves.
14? That’s generous. Most people, including my wife, my workmates, Kirstyn, Dave and Mitch during our podcasts and anyone else whose met me in real life, would struggle to put my emotional age above 6 or 8 on a good day.* So thank you Mark Plummer.
But seriously, his post is worth the read, making a number of well thought out points including the inherent difficult in trying to classify lots of different things as one thing for the sake of an award.
Fanzines, blogs and podcasts are all different things. They may have certain points of commonality but they’re not the same, something that’s supported by the way that we have different words for them. They’re much like that axiomatically unoriginal trio of apples, oranges and bananas. You can decide to lump them all in together and evaluate them on their commonality, although if you do and then announce that you are trying to identify the “best apple” then that might just possibly introduce a predisposition towards those contenders that are in fact apples, even if your small print makes it clear that for these purposes the definition of “apple” extends to encompass oranges, bananas and indeed bookends, pumice stone, and West Germany.
Should the fanzine Hugo be explicitly redefined to include blogs? Or supplemented with a category for best blog? Or replaced with a category for best blog? Or best fannish pumice stone? Honestly, I don’t know.
The campaigns of 2009 and 2010 helped mobilize effective opposition and led to the rules change George R.R. Martin and others dislike. What if the fans supporting this trend had used their political capital to nominate the quality blogs they protest are being unjustly overlooked? Often it is wisest to start as you mean to go on. Had supporters of blog eligibility chosen to do so it would have been harder to characterize the results as a hack of the Hugo Awards that demanded a rules fix.
I couldn’t agree with this more. If the fanzine has become obsolete and the blog is King, then this should be reflected in what gets nominated on the ballot. And it’s not enough to say that the only people who nominate in the category is old fart fandom which is why some of the best blogs are forgotten. As Mike points out, with Starship Sofa and Electric Velocipede being nominated and winning this category in recent years there’s obviously a place for things other than the traditional fanzine if fans are motivated to nominate it.**
It’s too late this year, but if blogs don’t appear on this years ballot, then only we are to blame for not nominating those blogs that are worthy of the recognition.
OK, enough about all that. Time to move on.
*I do recall meeting Mark in real life, but I was on my best behavior.
** Yes, these nominations and wins also generate quite a bit wailing and tearing of clothes from those who think it’s an abomination for anything other than a traditional fanzine to be nominated. But, you know, change is hard.