There are six nominees in the Best Fanzine category, from which a tie for fifth place can be deduced. (Me and Sherlock, you know.) Who can say, maybe File 770 was the beneficiary again? It was last year, receiving just enough votes (30) to share the bottom rung with Banana Wings, an honor in its own right.
In 2010, the Best Fanzine category — with 298 votes — had more participation than three of the non-fan categories. Very often in Hugo history the fan categories have trailed the field in numbers of voters who nominated anything, but that record was mitigated this year.
Last year there were 257 voters making nominations in the Best Fanzine category, meaning in 2010 participation jumped by about 16%. There was a general increase in Hugo nominating ballots — Aussiecon 4 broke the record, after all — so it’s hard to guess whether the robust showing in the Best Fanzine category is due to the overall growth, to the change in the rules opening it to blogs and websites, or to specific attempts to rally votes like the one made for StarShipSofa.
Obviously, looking over the familiar titles nominated again in 2010, there wasn’t a tsunami of change which I find curious. It will be interesting to see the nomination stats when they are released. Were many newly eligible publications nominated and just didn’t get a critical mass of votes, or did voters continue to see the category in a traditional light despite the change? I’m guessing the former — not that my predictive track record is much to go on. But here’s my reason — even when paperzines were the only potential nominees there would be a huge number of titles receiving a trivial number of nominations, while just a small number of zines managed to generate the few dozen votes needed to become finalists.
Or another possibility is that voters took to heart the idea advanced by John Scalzi and echoed by Cheryl Morgan that their blogs were not fanzines or related works, setting an example to the effect that bloggers should be recognized in the Best Fanwriter category (then they also deflected attention from themselves by encouraging fans to vote for those who had not yet won.) Certainly the largest influx of newcomers was in the Best Fanwriter category, with first-time nominees James Nicoll, Lloyd Penney and Frederik Pohl (though it may be observed how long it has taken them to become overnight sensations.)
Perhaps greater change will follow when voters have more information to stoke their enthusiasm. The very publication of the nominating stats will raise voter consciousness about which ones will benefit from a push. And when you look over all the Hugo categories, the importance of constituencies and identity groups in producing votes is self-evident.