Apr 07

Hugo Thoughts (Part Three)

So it’s been over a week since the Hugo’s were announced and we’ve moved from blog posts kvetching about the system to those having a crack at the kvetchers to more meta posts about moving beyond the kvetching altogether. (A)

And theres been a post from John Scalzi.

What there’s been very little of is actual discussion about the ballot – other than endless wittering on the 5% rule and comments that the novel category is a bit rubbish. I thought I’d try and rectify this.

(1) I thought Chicks Unravel Time was an excellent book. It was the catalyst for my post about the lack of female writers working for Big Finish. That said, on File 770 Martin Morse Wooster has the following to say:

HOW will the Digging Chicks choose which one of their mighty books will inevitably win the Hugo for Related Book? Will they throw comics and DVDs at each other until one survives?

Oh that old phart fannish humour just cracks me up.

(2) Best Graphic Story looks much better this year. For one, Saga is on the ballot – I’d have been one of the main kvetchers if it hadn’t appeared. As far as I’m concerned, it’s head and shoulders the best ongoing series written in 2012. It’s nice to see Saucer Country on the ballot. I’ve read every issue and am sad to see it’s coming to end in the next month or so. I think it’s a comic that struggled to find its voice in its first few issues, but the last few have been great. Schlock Mercenary does fuck all for me. I haven’t read the Talbot and I’m miles behind on Locke and Key, but overall this bunch of nominees has given me hope for the long term future of the category.

(3) I’ve seen four of the five moves in Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form. There’s a decent bunch of movies here, though I’m disappointed that neither Dredd or Argo made it. For me, though, it has to be The Avengers all the way (with Looper in second place).

(4) If there’s a category that’s in dire need of been parked or at least given a big kick up the arse, it’s Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form. Look, I’m a major Doctor Who fan. Have the loved the show since I was six or seven. But fuck me, The Snowmen and Asylum of the Daleks?!?! Neither are actively bad stories, in fact I thought Snowmen had some nice moments, but every episode of Archer and a good chunk of Community was better than both those episodes. That said, I don’t mind seeing The Angels Take Manhattan because I thought it was a fitting end for the Ponds and did draw a tear.

The Fringe episode also isn’t much chop, it’s a season that seemed to end with a whimper. And I didn’t watch any of Season 2 of Game of Thrones. But fuck me, as a life long Doctor Who fan it’s embarrassing to see another three Doctor Who episodes feature in this category again.

(5) Best Editor – Short Form. Many of the same names as we saw last year. Many will be pushing for Schmidt to win a Hugo (I believe he’s never won one). But years of service shouldn’t be a reason to win a rocket. It should be based on what you produced in 2012. I think you can guess that I’m not a fan of Analog and its output.

In anycase, for me it’s Jonathan. He hasn’t won a Hugo either, and given his significant and high quality output for 2012 it’s about bloody time he went home with a rocket.

(6) Best Editor – Long Form. I don’t know how people nominate for this category. They obviously do a hell of a lot more research about who edits what then I do. Or, in other words, I don’t have a horse in this race.

(7) Talking about horses and races, I have no opinion on either Best Pro or Fan Artist.

(8) Fantastic to see Strange Horizons feature for Best Semi-Prozine. It produces great fiction, great blogs and some of the best reviews anywhere on the interwebs. But this is a tough category to win. I mean, Locus who appeared last year don’t feature at all… (or is this because of a rule change?)

(9) I’m running out of puff and yet I’m getting to three categories that interest me most. Best Fanzine, Best Fan Writer and Best Fancast. I’m bloody stoked that Tansy Rayner Roberts has been nominated for Best Fan Writer. But then you’ll have guessed that if you’ve read my Ditmar post. That said, I didn’t nominate Tansy. That’s because she’s a pro. Not that I have a problem with pros appearing in this category. I think it’s ridiculous to think that just because you’re a pro you should be discriminated against. Just read Tansy’s posts and you’ll see she bleeds fan.

But like my mate Macca, I decided to keep my fan writing nominations to fans who are also not authors. Of course none of the appeared.

(10) When I look at Best Fan Writer and Best Fanzine and I can absolutely see why the kvetching noted above occurs. There’s some magnificent blogs out there featuring great fan writing that doesn’t get recognised by the Hugos because of this knee jerk animosity to the digital world. You don’t believe me, just take this comment from Rich Lynch:

I guess we didn’t do a good enough job getting the Fanzine category redefined.

He’s referring to the appearance of two websites in the category. And I know he’s not a lone voice.

(11) While it’s only Best Fancasts second year, this ballot is a cut and paste of last years. If we see the same five podcasts appear next year, then I think there will be genuine concern for the future of this category.

(12) That said, I do adore both Galactic Suburbia and Coode Street. Can they both win?

(13) I don’t have much to say in regard to the Campbells other than the fact that I’ve heard very good things about Zen Cho.

That’s enough…

(A) Actually that linked post from may mate Macca (apparently he hates being called that) is the best of the lot. Because putting aside his comments on the insular perception of old fart fandom, he’s actually quite constructive in terms of moving forward.


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  1. Jonathan McCalmont

    I’m with you on the Best Fancast category.

    I really believe in podcasting as a medium and I think the existence of a best Fancast Hugo has encouraged a lot of people to venture out into untested waters. However, I think if next year’s ballot looks like this year’s ballot then we have a serious problem.

    I do a yearly Podcast-related post and this year I’ll probably devote a little more space to some of the SF-related podcasts I’ve been dipping my toes into. I think if people make more of an effort to talk about the non-usual suspects then some non-usual suspects might start appearing on the ballot.

    As one of the most visible people in genre podcasting, it might not be a bad idea for you to spread the love and raise awareness about the other podcasts that are up there. Stuff like:

    * Outer Alliance Podcast
    * Crossing the Gulf
    * Skiffy and Fanty
    * Small Blue Planet

    Are all very deserving of Hugo consideration.

    1. Mondyboy

      You’re right. You and I and others should be doing more to promote this category and the wonderful stuff that could be nominated. Julia Rios, in particular, does amazing work.

  2. Jonathan McCalmont

    Oh, and thanks for the warm words… and no, I don’t like being called ‘Macca’ :-p

    1. Mondyboy

      Man, I wish I could catch up with on a regular basis in Real Life. I’d call you Macca, you’d smack me in the face, I’d then call you Johnno and you’d knee me in the balls. It would end up in a pash, of course.

  3. Joris M

    I thought they had specifically tuned semi-pro to get locus out there.

    And I do agree that while I like the fancast list I would have liked to see a few others there. And with the great proliferation of Doctor Who podcasts there is plenty of variation out there ;). But seriously the ones Jonathan mentions, as well as your own ‘Writer and the Critic’ are great candidates I am aware of.

    1. Mondyboy

      Don’t forget the brilliant Shooting The Poo!!!!

      As for Locus, yeah I have a vague memory that the category rule change excluded it.

      1. Joris M

        I didn’t forget it and was almost going to mention it.Partly because I thought it is perhaps a bit too peripheral. But the type of podcast would certainly be a nice addition.

        1. Mondyboy

          Why thank you 🙂

      2. Andrew Trembley

        WSFS finally created a rule defining the term “professional publication,” and officially recognizing that Locus (who pays several members of its editorial staff a living wage) was not a semi-professional or non-professional publication was one of the reasons that happened.

        Fortunately, the people developing that rule considered its overall impact and crafted a good generally applicable rule.

        1. Mondyboy

          Thanks Andrew, that explains it.

  4. Moshe Feder

    Pardon me for popping in here out of nowhere with a critical comment — I followed a trackback from Ruthless Culture — but you stunned me when you expressed regret about “Argo” not making the ballot for BDP-Long Form.

    The movie, which I liked, is a dramatization of an ACTUAL HISTORICAL EVENT in which an imaginary SF movie was merely a mcguffin. I’m baffled how you think that qualifies it as a work of SF or Fantasy eligible for a Hugo Award. If you can spare the time, I’d really like to hear your rationale, if only to be educationally exposed to a worldview that must be alien to my own.


    1. Adrienne Foster

      There was some joking around about adding Argo during BASFA recommendation list because of the science fiction movie cover and it was such a darn good movie.

      But really, not all nominations are altruistic. I heard one of the reasons “F*ck Me, Ray Bradbury” was nominated a couple of years ago was to make a presenter have to use the F word.

    2. Mondyboy

      Moshe, how’s it going? I noticed that the Pies beat my Blues.

      You’re right, there’s no SFnal content in the movie, but it feels like the sort of movie – about SF – that should be recognised. Of course, if the rules specify that the movie must have SF content, then colour me wrong.

      1. Moshe Feder

        Well, the relevant portion of the category definition says “…of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects.” So it comes down to how you interpret “related subjects.” I tend to view it narrowly, while others see it as license for letting the nominators do as they please, however contrary to the spirit of what were originally called “the Science Fiction Achievement Awards.” That’s how one year we ended up with another movie that dramatizes actual history — “Apollo 13” — on the ballot. I was furious at the Hugo Subcommittee for not having the balls to rule it ineligible.

        With regard to football, you’d have know way of knowing, but your reference to the Collingwood-Carlton match has just deprived me of any suspense when I watch the game, which I was planning to do later tonight! (I have to wait for a chance to download the torrent.) I was being SO careful to avoid websites where I might see references to it too. Oh well.

        1. Mondyboy

          Oh crap, sorry for ruining the pleasure of watching the match.

          Out of curiosity, given your narrow definition, how would you apply related subjects to this category.

          1. Moshe Feder

            No grudge on the match spoiler. Just bad luck as much anything. Besides, I can’t be really unhappy when the Pies won, especially this year, with Mick having moved there.

            As for “related subjects” and the BDP category, how about this? In 1996, there was a movie called “The Whole Wide World” that was a biography of Robert E. Howard. I don’t recall if it was nominated, but I’d have had no definitional objections if it had been.

  5. Andrew Trembley

    I’ve got a bit of investment in the Fancast and Fanzine rules. I was one of the people agreeing with Rich Lynch that podcasts aren’t fanzines, but I was one of the people disagreeing that an overly-narrow definition of “fanzine” that excluded web content was appropriate.

    For the record, I was on the “yay podcasts!” side of the aisle, not the “damn kids get off my lawn!” side of the aisle. I worked very hard to craft a general and podcast-positive rule to beat back the “damn kids get off my lawn” motion submitted by Lynch and company.

    I would have liked the clause strengthening the periodical nature of fanzines to have been retained, but it was killed during ratification. There are a lot of zine-like blogs out there with a guiding editorial hand and a schedule of regular features and columns, and I think they belong in the category. SFSignal is an excellent example. It’s got a strong editorial team, regular columns and regular features, it just doesn’t have that schedule numbered into discrete issues.

    Then again, a lot of one-contributor blogs have a lot in common with classic perzines. Perzines haven’t classically fared well in nominations or voting. The Drink Tank’s win (it’s arguably a perzine, but I’ve heard one person say it was a genzine written for a small and bizarre interest group) was an anomaly for a number of reasons. There was a strong backlash against StarShipSofa’s campaign and win (as much for campaigning as for not being a fanzine). The Drink Tank published its 300th issue that year, with 300 articles from 300 contributors, seriously boosting its visibility.

    So I don’t really have a problem with all sorts of blogs being allowable in the fanzine category by the rules. Magazine-like blogs are likely to edge out irregular personal blogs for quite a long time.

    1. Mondyboy

      Again, thank you for that Andrew.

      I think you’d find that our positions are mostly the same here. For example, I don’t believe this particular blog, or an individual blog, should be nominated as Best Fanzine. But as you point out, there are a growing number of websites that have editorial structure that definitely feel like fanzines even if they’re not printed on paper.

      Anyway, I think this is argument – like so many fannish ones – where the people on both sides are unlikely to agree. So be it.

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