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More Hugo Musings

Continuing the musings I began last night, about this year's Hugo ballot... the actual nominees, the work, rather than the politics...

This one will be shorter than my last, since I don't have much to say (yet) about the three fan categories I want to touch on.

BEST FANCAST is a stupid new Hugo category created to keep "fancasts" out of the hoary old Best Fanzine category. The nominees this year include three Puppy picks, and two that were not on the slates. I haven't heard any of the five. I doubt I will be voting in this category.

BEST FANZINE is the aforementioned hoary old category that dates back almost to the start of the Hugos. Here They Speak Twilltone and Gestetners, and then oldtimers mutter darkly about Ditto. But there are e-zines here as well. The Puppies grabbed four of the five slots in this category. Only JOURNEY PLANET was not part of the slates. However, one of the Puppy finalists, BLACK GATE, has withdrawn, leaving three. The only one I know well is Dave Truesdale's TANGENT, the online continuation of the an actual print fanzine that Truesdale has been publishing since the 70s. TANGENT has been nominated for Hugos before, I believe, though I don't think it has ever won. It's what trufans call a "sercon" zine, that is, mostly book reviews and criticism. Book reviews also seem to be the main focus of ELITIST BOOK REVIEWS, another Puppy pick... which seemed to me a lot like TANGENT, but not nearly as well done. There are much better review 'zines and blogs than these to be found on the internet, among them PAT'S FANTASY HOTLIST, the WERTZONE, BLOG OF THE FALLEN, and last year's winner, A DRIBBLE OF INK, but none of those made the ballot, so we will need to choose from those that did. I don't always vote in the Fanzine category (please note, I am saying I do not vote, not that I vote NO AWARD, two different things), but I expect I will this year. I still need to check out a couple of the remaining nominees, and look more deeply at the ones I was already familiar with.

BEST SEMIPROZINE. This category has always pissed me off, since it was created largely to kick LOCUS out of Best Fanzine, where it was winning every year. Of course, once Semiprozine was created, LOCUS proceeded to win that a bunch of times too, until the rules were jiggered once again to kick it out once more. (This is one reason I oppose jiggering the rules, even to stop the Puppies). They really ought to call this category BEST SEMIPROZINE THAT ISN'T LOCUS. But they don't. We have five finalists here, only two of which are from the slates... and one of those, ANDROMEDA SPACEWAYS IN FLIGHT MAGAZINE, has been loudly declaring that they were not informed and never asked to be on anyone's slate. I am really only familiar with LIGHTSPEED and STRANGE HORIZONS from this category. Both of those are pretty good. If anyone has an opinion to offer on the others, do speak up. If I have time to check them out, I will... if I don't, I will abstain in this category, i.e. not vote. I won't go NO AWARD, since I do think the two semipros I know are worthy. Not as worthy as LOCUS, mind you, but there you are...

And that's all I have to say about those. For now, at least.

Talk among yourselves.


Apr. 30th, 2015 10:57 am (UTC)
LiveJournal should award you with something George
I think you single-handedly boosted their entry numbers immensely with all your posts about the Hugo awards. Every post gets that automatic "You made out top 25 list bla bla bla" comment.

What would you like your trophy to look like ? A happy playful puppy perhaps ? :P
Apr. 30th, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)
Re: LiveJournal should award you with something George
I am more of a kitten guy.
May. 1st, 2015 08:29 am (UTC)
Re: LiveJournal should award you with something George
I knew there was a reason I liked you.
May. 1st, 2015 03:10 pm (UTC)
Re: LiveJournal should award you with something George
One of Mother Hitton's, presumably, for this purpose.
May. 1st, 2015 05:11 pm (UTC)
Re: LiveJournal should award you with something George
Kittens you name things like Adorable Stark and then they vanish under mysterious circumstances? I smell a conspiracy theory here... ;)
May. 3rd, 2015 09:23 am (UTC)
Re: LiveJournal should award you with something George
Wait wait wait...but you like wolves, right? But when it comes to dogs and cats, you choose cats? This is madness! Madness, I tell you!

To me, that's the same as someone pushing for "Save the Polar Bears" donations, but then they say they like bunny rabbits over bear cubs.

I am truly baffled over something incredibly simple. Har!
May. 5th, 2015 12:34 pm (UTC)
Re: LiveJournal should award you with something George
Just here for the cute icon.. :)
Apr. 30th, 2015 11:31 am (UTC)
Hello! Your entry got to top-25 of the most popular entries in LiveJournal!
Learn more about LiveJournal Ratings in FAQ.
Apr. 30th, 2015 12:00 pm (UTC)
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is a neat little coop out of Australia. Each issue is edited by different editors from the coop. It has a humorous editorial bent, but the stories can be serious. I liked them even before they bought two of my stories. (grin) One of them had a lovely illustration by an artist who'd clearly read the story. (double-grin)

They do a nice printed magazine, but because of shipping costs, I know they've offered PDF versions of current issues.

Dr. Phil
May. 2nd, 2015 09:09 am (UTC)
Whoops, did I accidentally post or did my post just delete by accident? Anyway, I'm from the ASIM co-op and I remember your story, Dr Phil. We had a crisis and I had to finish editing that issue. Glad you liked the art - I make sure ALL the artists read the stories they illo. :-) We've done 22 issues since then and started a lot of careers of folk you will have heard of, or published them early in their careers. Aliette De Bodard, Rachel Swirsky, Jim C Hines, have all appeared in ASIM at one time or another. There are more, but those came to mind immediately. We're Semiprozine because everyone gets paid except us. We're fine with that - we all have day jobs, but ASIM is what we do for love. And when people do go on to big careers and Nebula, World Fantasy and Hugo nominations we couldn't be more thrilled. I had six first sales in my issue, the one you will probably get in your Hugo pack, and I do urge you to read them, even if you don't vote for us, because there are at least a couple of whom you are likely to hear again.

And it's true, Mr Martin, we had never even HEARD of this bunch of loonies till a few days before the shortlist went up. You have to remember, even with the Internet, not everybody knows what is going on in US fandom. Frankly, I suspect they put us up because the title starts with A in Ralan. We were terribly excited to get the email and said yes, please do put us up...and then one of us said, "Uh, guys, take a look at this.." And then we discussed it and argued about it and then suddenly the deadline was over and we were still on the list, so we're just getting on with things and see what happens. I don't care if we don't win - we probably won't because some hate us for being on the slate and the Puppies supporters hate us for being ungrateful " - "loudly declaring" is it? But if we get a few more subscriptions as a result, I for one will be delighted.

Edited at 2015-05-02 11:12 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 30th, 2015 12:45 pm (UTC)
Sorry to deviate from the posted subject,
I was wondering what pre-draft insight you had on the gaps the Giants are looking to fill this weekend...

Apr. 30th, 2015 04:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Draft...
Offensive Line.

Eli can't throw game-winning TDs when he is lying on his back.
Apr. 30th, 2015 12:51 pm (UTC)
I've been following Wertzone and Pat's Fantasy hotlist for years and consider them both great sources for scifi/fantasy news/reviews! I strongly recommend both to any avid fan.
Apr. 30th, 2015 01:56 pm (UTC)
I like ASIM for the quirky concept as much as anything else. It'll probably be top of my ballot.
Apr. 30th, 2015 02:16 pm (UTC)
Out of topic - Sorry!
Hi Mr Martin,
Huge huge portuguese fan here. I'm a great fan of your work especially ASOIAF, and, even if I know you probably won't see this, I wanted to ask what are your thoughts on the massive changes being presented in this season's GOT?

I'm referring mainly to things like the -SPOILER ALERT- Sansa Stark-Ramsay Bolton engagement. It's quite the blow when they start doing things out of your storyline, I can't know if they're just spoiling the series or giving spoilers to your future books..

Thank you so much! :)
Miguel Mata
Apr. 30th, 2015 04:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Out of topic - Sorry!
How many children did Scarlett O'Hara have?
Apr. 30th, 2015 04:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Out of topic - Sorry!
Scarlett O'Hara had three children, Wade, Ella and Bonnie.
Apr. 30th, 2015 05:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Out of topic - Sorry!
I see what you did there!

I understand their reasoning for the change and know they probably wouldn't have made such a major one without your blessing. At least for me, part of the "Wait, what the...?" is that I then end up questioning my own memory of the books and worry that I'm losing it! So far so good though, even with Mance Rayder, still bummed about that one too.
Apr. 30th, 2015 05:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Out of topic - Sorry!
Wasn't that novel written before the movie adaption?
Apr. 30th, 2015 05:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Out of topic - Sorry!
I am almost sure there will be cases where you thought, "hey that's an interesting idea - looking back I could have considered this for the books!". I'll be interested to read your thoughts once both books and series are wrapped up.
Apr. 30th, 2015 08:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Out of topic - Sorry!
Alright, you've convinced me, George. I'm going to read Gone with the Wind.
May. 1st, 2015 09:22 am (UTC)
Re: Out of topic - Sorry!
What George is trying to proverbially tell you all is that the book has a daughter more than the movie.
May. 1st, 2015 11:09 am (UTC)
Re: Out of topic - Sorry!
Message received! Thank you for honouring me with an answer! :D
May. 2nd, 2015 10:58 am (UTC)
Re: Out of topic - Sorry!
One, as far as I remember. I read it in my teens and saw it as a 1000 page Mills and Boon that romanticised the lifestyle of Civil War era Southern aristocrats. Never read it again, so if I was wrong, sorry! I realise it's a classic, but just can't read it again. :-(
Frank Probst
Apr. 30th, 2015 10:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Out of topic - Sorry!
Folks, the shows are the shows, the books are the books, and the leggings are the...okay, I'm STILL not sure what to make of the leggings, but the point is, they're all different things.
Apr. 30th, 2015 02:21 pm (UTC)
I find semi-prozine a weird category as well. Beneath Ceaseless Skies is excellent and I've been delighted and entertained by the stories both on the podcast and the online magazine. I'm still not sure which of BCS, Lightspeed and Strange Horizons is best. I find every issue of each 'zine has several stories that I really enjoy.
Apr. 30th, 2015 04:03 pm (UTC)
Who knew?
My 'fan' education has been sorely lacking, apparently. I had no idea there was so much in the way of politics behind the scenes. Truthfully, while I have been a fantasy fan since I read Tolkien as a teen, I never did the 'fan thing'.

A post by Mary Robinette Kowal did spur me to buy a basic membership, so I could vote for and support the authors whose work excels - my small contribution to restoring balance to the force. I doubt that I'll ever understand the depths of all of this though. I do think however that I have gained an understanding of where you derive some of your inspiration for the intrigue at the core of Game of Thrones. ;)
Apr. 30th, 2015 04:05 pm (UTC)
Frankly, I've long been at a loss to understand the distinction between "fancast", "fanzine" and "semi-pro zine". In the years in which I participated in nominating & voting, I found very little to help me distinguish what works qualified for what.
Apr. 30th, 2015 04:07 pm (UTC)
The distinctions are artificial at best.
May. 1st, 2015 03:40 am (UTC)
Wow, having done all of the above, I really disagree with George here. Well, except for semi-pro. That's always been a bit of a... dodge.

See, I've done podcasting, and been a radio professional for a lot longer than a podcaster; I've also published several fanzines (print and electronic), two of which, both print, would be pushed into "semi-prozone" under modern rules*. Having done these two media extensively, they are, to me, very different art forms, particularly on the production side. The skillsets have some overlap, but there are also huge, huge areas of disparity.

And I find the content - of the ones I've listened to, anyway, which actually does not include the current nominees - to be meaningfully different as well. Don't get me wrong; you can wodge an audio podcast into fanzine-like form, absolutely. And maybe that's what the nominated fancasts are doing. But at that point, you're basically doing an audiobook fanzine, which is a fine thing in and of itself, but not what I'd normally think of a podcast.

So fancast (podcast+video versions) being separated from text (fanzine) makes sense to me.

Now, semi-prozine, yeah, I've never really understood that, particularly not in the earlier versions of the award. I actually think the one that's used now (mostly paid distribution vs. not) is more defendable in some ways than the old one (at least one person makes a living's worth of income at it) because I didn't see any meaningful difference between semi-pro and pro at that point. This one is at least definable.

* I can't be the only fanzine editor to take her 'zine into international distribution to be able to afford to do it at all, can I? See, I had to get the per-copy cost down, you see, which meant going offset, which meant I needed to sell a lot more copies to reach that go-ahead point, which meant I needed to sell a bunch more copies, which meant suddenly I have agreements with Diamond and Capital City and a couple of other distributors, and, yeah, things got out of hand.
May. 1st, 2015 03:44 am (UTC)
Think of it this way:

Fanzines are non-paying magazines, where everyone is doing it for love. They used to be print only, but the awards were expanded to include PDF magazines a while back. They've been extended to include blogs through the "equivalent in other media" clause. Even if that clause wasn't there, using blogging software to publish a magazine (and some people do that, I consider SFSignal to be very magazine-like) would still count.

Semiprozines are markets that pay contributors, but that don't pay the editorial and production staff, who are doing it for love. An interesting subset of the semiprozine world is a bridge market for new writers, publishing some really excellent short fiction. You used to be able to opt in to the semiprozine category, but that's not true anymore. Locus has been a pro magazine for years, not any "semi" about it.

Fancasts are non-paying audio and audiovisual series. They're kind of a hybrid between the "dramatic presentation" and "fanzine" categories. They can include commentary and editorials, non-commercial audio fiction, music just about anything you can record. Rich Lynch was the guy yelling "Damn kids! Get off my lawn!" I was one of the guys saying "hey, this is really cool new fanac that's transforming a lot of communities, and it's qualitatively different from fanzines, it deserves its own recognition!"
Apr. 30th, 2015 09:03 pm (UTC)
George, I have to at least somewhat disagree with you about Locus. Certainly by the time Locus was kicked out of semi-prozine, there was nothing "semi" about it and hadn't been for years. It was how at least one person made their living, had paid employees, and a full-fledged rate card. The only non-"professional" thing about it was that, with respect to the Hugos, "professional" almost always referred to fiction and publication in magazines and books devoted to fiction. I can't speak to when semi-prozine was established as a category, but clearly at some point during Locus' run there or before, it went from the standard "sticky quarters for a copy" to being sold on newsstands (OK, a relatively limited set of same, but it was being professionally distributed), which to me would've kicked it out of fanzine at least at the time.

It's similar to how I had to vote the very talented Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd, below No Award the two or so times he was nominated in Fan Artist. Clearly, he and xkcd started off as fan art, albeit published online rather than in a fanzine. But by the time he was nominated, xkcd was how he supported himself, albeit somewhat more indirectly than by selling art to prozines and for book covers. And no one could point to any non-xkcd art they were nominating him for.
Apr. 30th, 2015 10:07 pm (UTC)
Off topic
So...you got something against 'amongst'? :)
Frank Probst
Apr. 30th, 2015 10:46 pm (UTC)
No vote versus no award
There are a lot of categories that I'm just going to abstain from voting from (no vote), including these three, because I have no exposure to material.

The hardest categories for me will be the two editor categories. Last year I just abstained from voting on those. This year, I feel strongly enough about Vox Day that I think he should be below No Award, which means I have to figure out where to rank the other nominees. I feel fairly strongly that No Award should really only be used when there really is no one deserving of the award, so I feel like I'm going to need to research all of the other nominees fairly closely to make an informed vote list.
May. 3rd, 2015 05:59 am (UTC)
While I greatly enjoy reading science fiction mad fantasy, I've never done the fan thing and have never really bothered with the awards either. Gotta tell ya, all this puppy-crap isn't making me any more interested in taking part in "official fandom" or vote in the awards. I can't be the only one that feels that way.
May. 3rd, 2015 06:48 pm (UTC)
Hugos: Advice on Sequels?
I just bought a supporting membership, and I'm faced with the rather daunting prospect of voting. In the novels category are (at least) 2 books in a series (Ancillary Sword and Skin Game). I've read the first book in each and plan to read more. BUT, there's no way i'm going to catch up on the Dresden Files in time to vote. And I don't want to spoil those books in between, either. So, while it's not ideal, I was going to rank Skin Game slightly higher than I would "Storm Front" (first book in the series, the only one I've read, and I assume that they improved as they go on). I liked it, and I don't want to "punish" Jim Butcher by not ranking or ranking him low. Any suggestions?

And, yes, I know this is a very specific/selfish question, but I was hoping to hear some other opinions.

Also, for those of you who have read the series, should I just skip to Skin Game? And is it even fair to compare Storm Front to the latter entries?

I apologize for this being (at best) tangentially on-topic!


PS I also want to thank George for your great books and also for inspiring me to finally be a Supporting Member!
May. 4th, 2015 03:46 pm (UTC)
Give ASIM a chance!
For what it's worth, as a Aussie writer/fan - Andromeda Spaceways is definitely worth having a look at. I really like most of the other nominees as well (with the exception of Abyss, but only because I haven't read them at all), but ASIM definitely belongs up there with them.

It's a great sci-fi publication, that's found and published some really interesting stuff and authors, while surviving/thriving in the tiny Australian marketplace. I see the ASIM stall in the dealers room at every NatCon I've been at, and they're very much pillars of the Australian fandom scene. I was really excited to see ASIM in this category, as Aussies flying our flag high. (I think the last Hugo nom for an Aussie was Sean McMullen in 2011? Disclosure: Sean is my Dad, so I obviously paid more attention when he was nominated, so there may have been other Australians nominated since then!)

And as much as it might sound disingenuous, I can back up Sue - down in Australia, we had no idea about the Sad/Rabid Puppy Gate Scandal, and what was going down with the Hugos. I literally only heard about any of this for the first time when I saw the nominees come out, and I said to myself "Why is someone called John C. Wright in every category..?", Googled it, and then saw the shit-storm that was developing...
May. 4th, 2015 04:48 pm (UTC)
ASIM and Abyss & Apex publish good work, but they aren't pro-paying magazines so they tend not to get the top-tier stories. I love Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Strange Horizons, but I think the quality of work at Lightspeed is closest to the pro-level magazines. I would love for them to get the 2014 Hugo, especially since their special issue, Women Destroy Science Fiction, was an incredible effort on its own but was ineligible to be nominated in Best Related Work.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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