2012 Hugo Nominations: Instant Analysis

Chris Garcia and James Bacon venture into Resnick territory with four Hugo nominations in a single year — in Best Fanzine (twice), Best Fan Writer, and Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). I haven’t made an exhaustive search, but Mike Resnick is the only other person I’ve spotted with a four-nomination year. (Ellison, Silverberg, and Willis had some three-nomination years.) That is impressive.

For the dynamic duo to get two zines nominated in the Best Fanzine category in the same year not only is unprecedented, to achieve that with real fanzines amidst the clamoring for people to nominate blogs defies all expectations.

All that said, I wish they had turned down the nomination for their 2011 Hugo acceptance. It’s impossible to deny that anything taking place on a stage must be eligible as a dramatic presentation if people decide to nominate it. But in their shoes I’d have said, “That was a glorious moment of my life. I don’t want people thinking of it as a performance.”

One undisputed blog, SF Signal, did break through in the Best Fanzine category. I know what I’m about to say will be considered heresy by some of my fellow fanzine editors, but we should all be striving to match the quality and consistency of SF Signal. I admire their incredible range and expertise. They cover all the big media sf and fantasy stuff and books and authors, graphic novels, some comics here and there, sercon sf material (their Mind Meld is unsurpassed). They have fun with multimedia. They do a lot of creative community-building. If the Hugo Administrator is fine with having a blog in the Best Fanzine category, then SF Signal is what I’d choose first.

SF Signal’s podcast also received a nomination in the Best Fancast category, fulfilling the prediction that a podcast might get on the final ballot in more than one category this year. Strangely enough this doesn’t violate any rule, thus the reason for the warning. Some of you will say it’s apples-and-oranges to compare a podcast to a blog (or you may even say fanzine, you heathens…) And yet many SF Signal readers presumably download the podcast from a link on that site – it is part of the content of the SF Signal entity also nominated for Best Fanzine. Should any individual nominee be allowed two bites of the apple? (Or orange?)

28 thoughts on “2012 Hugo Nominations: Instant Analysis

  1. but Mike Resnick is the only other person I’ve spotted with a four-nomination year

    Could it be that you are unaware that Seanan McGuire is also Mira Grant – that gives her 4 noms this year.

  2. Given that blogs are still eligible for nomination for Best Fanzine (though that will hopefully end next year), do you have an opinion on whether File 770 was nominated as a fanzine or a blog?

  3. @Kerry: (in my best Atticus Finch accent) Could be I needed remindin’, yessir…

    @Rich: A little bit of both, don’t you imagine?

  4. I think SFSignal is an excellent example of a fanzine in blog form. It has an editorial team. It has regular news and opinion columns. It has the goofy random crap that faneditors and readers love. All it’s really missing is a cover and a ToC. And, yes, it does bend the definition of “issues.” Its periodicity is erratic, but what fanzine isn’t? Even The Drink Tank misses a week once in a while.

    And I don’t think SFSignal (the blog) is double-dipping on the SFSignal Podcast. Would The Drink Tank Review of Books (not that it got on the ballot or even maybe nominated) be double-dipping on The Drink Tank? Is it double-dipping when an author gets nominees in multiple fiction categories, or multiple nominations in the same fiction category? Happens all the time and nobody complains, people are usually thrilled.

    Speaking of thrilled, I’m thrilled that, on this maiden voyage, the Fancast category trial drummed up a number of nominating ballots consistent with the rest of the fan categories, and picked 5 strong nominees. Sure, several of my faves didn’t make it, but them’s the breaks.

  5. @Andrew: Congratulations on your fancast category getting off to such a healthy start.

    You’ve made me rethink one point. If there is a link to Chris’s video embedded in a PDF issue of The Drink Tank I suppose that is not essentially different than the arrangement with SF Signal’s podcast. A link doesn’t make the two productions integral components of each other.

    That also defeats the argument I made a couple years ago for regarding StarShip Sofa’s website as sufficient to make the title eligible,whatever people really intended to nominate. Though I’m not under the impression Vincent Docherty applied that reasoning himself when he accepted it as an eliguible nominee.

    The argument about multiple author nominees simply mistakes what has been nominated,which is the work itself, not the maker.

  6. I thought about declining, but really, when am I ever gonna have a chance to lose to Neil Gaiman?

    There have been a few folks who have had two titles nominated in Best Fanzine, most recently Andy Porter in 1981. Ron Smith even won the Hugo for two different zines in the 1950s, though I’m not sure how that happened!
    CHris

  7. @Chris: Wow,that’s right. Andy won’t like my having overlooked his accomplishing the same feat.

    Let’s quickly change the subject and debate whether Geis’ Psychotic, Science Fiction Review and The Alien Critic were really all the same zine. I vote yes…

  8. Well, having talked with a number of recent Hugo administrators, there’s a certain degree of “vox populi, vox dei” that goes on if there isn’t a hard-and-fast reason to disqualify an entry. There’s no hard-and-fast qualification that would exclude Randall Munroe from the fanartist category, even if it’s clear that he’s getting the award for work he makes his living off of. I think that makes his work “professional” but I can see knickers totally twisted over his disqualification on those grounds.

    Under the current rules “equivalent in other media” is pretty much enough to include any vehicle for fanwriting in any format. I can look back at the obvious intent the framers of that language had, namely making non-paper ‘zines eligible (the motion was, after all, titled “Making the Web Eligible”). I don’t know if the inclusion of multimedia presentations was inadvertent or intentional, but it’s what we got.

    Blogs are probably going to be nominated for Best Fanzine for a while. Magazine-like blogs and websites will probably trigger discussion among the people who talk about Hugo rules and voting, but won’t likely be disqualified anytime soon. Less-structured blogs may gain nomination and are no more likely to be disqualified. Then it’s up to the voters to decide if the nominee they’re looking at is really a “fanzine” or not. Administratorial permissiveness is going to be politically more palatable than administratorial activism.

  9. Mr. Garcia solidifies his position as the Ackerman of the New Century, with all that implies, both good and bad. I would have more respect for these achievements if I didn’t suspect that no one — not the people who nominated it, the people who contribute to it (save Taral) or even its editors have actually READ any 2011 issues of The Drink Tank. Garcia’s breatless gosh-wow is every bit as facile and prolific as the Ackermonster in his prime — but he receives relatively little written reply, and I know of few fans who profess to following his weekly schedule.

    James Bacon’s presence on the masthead of TDT appears to have degenerated into the fannish equivalent of a “no-show” job arranged by the New Jersey mob. I’ve paged through a number of 2011 issues, and I’m having some difficulty finding examples wiith a byline for James.

    On the other hand, I submitted an article of my own to Journey Planet, assuming that title’s topicality might provide a means of grokking Sunny Jim and the Masked Marauder. Chris accepted my cpntribution, hammered out hard in time for his short deadline; then he and James misplaced it before sending the issue to Pete Young, who joins a long line of editors who have put in hours making James Bacon and Chris Garcia appear to be Hugo-worthy writers. Chris apologized,a and offered to run the piece in Issue #13, but honestly, my personal experience would clearly have been redundant alongside 14 other fan articles devoted to the same topic. I plan to compose something else for their next issue, due at the Worldcon, partly because Death Will Not Release Them.

    I air this dirty laundry to establish my lack of both boundaries and objectivity. But listen — it was all charming enough for the first 100,000 words or so, and I appeciate Chris’ effort to write intelligently about genre cinema that not infrequently insults his. But really — REALLY — is this unending bit-torrent better than Sense of Wonder Stories, Science Fiction Commentary, Trao Door, Head, Askance, eI, Ansible, A Meara for Observers, Inca, Beam, and Steam Engine Time?

    One can only offer congratulations to James and Chris anyway — who knows what effect being nominated twice will do to their chances of winning again? If they do break through, my expectation is that Chris will douse himself in flammable spirits and start a second Chicago fire.

  10. To Kerry aka Trouble: You wrote: “Could it be that you are unaware that Seanan McGuire is also Mira Grant – that gives her 4 noms this year.” I don’t blame Mike for not knowing that, having personally never having heard of “her” under either name, let alone both.

    To Chris Garcia: You wrote: “Ron Smith even won the Hugo for two different zines in the 1950s, though I’m not sure how that happened!” They were the *same zine*, Chris. Smith started it as INSIDE, then took on the unfulfilled subs for SCIENCE FICTION ADVERTISER, had the combined title for a while, and then reverted back to INSIDE.

    To Andrew Trembley: You write: “Well, having talked with a number of recent Hugo administrators, there’s a certain degree of “vox populi, vox dei” that goes on if there isn’t a hard-and-fast reason to disqualify an entry.” That being the case, may we in future look forward to Hugo nominations under “Dramatic Presentation – Short Form” for particularly endearing cat-flushing-the-toilet videos on YouTube?

    To Andy Hooper: You *so* echo my own feelings about THE DRINK TANK, the who’s-the-real-editor aspect of JOURNEY PLANET and *especially* Chris as the “Ackerman of the New Century”!! Well done. (And like you and probably hundreds of others, I have *never* read an entire issue of TDK…never even opened the vast majority. I have enough trouble keeping up with reading those you list.)

    To Mike: Yes, one *could* say that Geis’s various titles are all the same fanzine. And….?

  11. Andy – James does a lot for The Drink Tank, particularly in the way of getting me articles from other folks I don’t know.

    Yeah, I suck for the JP thing. It happened with three pieces in that issue (one of which was mine, one yours and one was Bruce’s) and I feel awful about the misconnects. Yeah, Pete Young has made us look like champs, no question, as have Claire and Yvonne and Emily and so many others.

    And I don’t know many people who regularly read The Drink Tank, not even me!
    CHris

  12. Robert Lichtman:

    In the case you cite of a potentially Hugo-nominated cat video, are you not saying, “The voters are idiots.”? Also, if there was no plausible connection to SF/F/Fandom, such a hypothetical case would probably be sufficiently out of bounds for an administrator to make a stand. Bear in mind that we as a society have told the administrators to err on the side of the voters in anything remotely close to a boundary.

    I’m not actually arguing whether it’s good or not that we want “weak” administrators. I just recognize that if an administrator were to make what could be classed as a “value” judgment (“that’s not sufficiently SF/F/Fandom” or worse, “That work isn’t good enough”) as opposed to a “technical” ruling (“sorry, that work was published two years ago, so it’s not eligible”), that administrator would be pilloried for it. People would demand change and be probably even angrier than they are now when they see the occasional head-scratching nomination.

    A lot of what I consider the more absurd outlier possibilities are raised by people who appear to be unable to trust the electorate to make the “right” choice, where “right” has a definition that varies with the speaker. And if you believe the voters are idiots, twiddling the rules isn’t the answer: You should be campaigning to abolish the award altogether, I think.

  13. Kevin Standlee to me: “…you should be campaigning to abolish the award altogether, I think.” Oh, no, I would never do that since having them satisfies a Need To Make Awards in so many people.

    What is the “plausible connection to SF/F/Fandom” of Randall Munroe’s comic strip….other than that enough fans like it to get it on the ballot? That’s the sort of thing Hugo administrators should be paying attention to, I think.

    As for that cat video, would it qualify if the video was posted on YouTube by a fan *and/or* if the cat was dressed in, say, a Star Trek uniform or had on a ’50s-movie style spacesuit bubble helmet?

  14. Robert:

    And if a sufficient number of members nominated it. You make it sound like all it takes is one person to get your name on the ballot.

    The antidote to nominations you don’t like is to convince people who will vote your way to participate. If you don’t participate, you cede the field to the other people.

  15. Kevin, you write: “And if a sufficient number of members nominated it. You make it sound like all it takes is one person to get your name on the ballot.” Yes, of course, but writing in this forum I *assume* that this is something commonly known.

    As for your other point, true that I don’t participate in that I think having to pay a minimum of fifty bucks in order to nominate and vote for somethiing that represents (at least to the outside world) what SF/fantasy fans think is the best stuff is ridiculous. However, when on other occasions I’ve suggested that a significantly cheaper voting-only-no-publications quasi-membership be made available, it’s responded to as though sacreligous.

  16. Chris, I don’t think you “suck,” but if you do, I’d think you’d eventualy try to do something about it.

  17. Actually Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant is another four-time nominee on this same ballot. They all tie Bob Eggleton (1996–related work, pro artist, and two in the one-time category of “Individual Artwork”), Mike Resnick
    (1995–three fiction plus one editor), and Michael Swanwick (2003–all fiction) for most Hugo nominations in a single year (four).

    Gender parity:

    Of the 21 fiction nominees, 11 are by women and 10 by men.

  18. Evelyn Leeper writes: “Of the 21 fiction nominees, 11 are by women and 10 by men.” An ominous sign! If this trend continues, will SF writers who are men soon have to complain about reverse gender discrimination?

  19. @Robert: Complain that they’re losing to women? But that wouldn’t be very manly, would it?

  20. “Ron Smith even won the Hugo for two different zines in the 1950s, though I’m not sure how that happened!”

    It didn’t happen. You’re confused by the history of the title, apparently, Chris, which changed and evolved over the years and editors. Inside/Science Fiction Advertiser/Riverside Quarterly is the same zine.

    You kids.

    http://zinewiki.com/Inside_and_Science_Fiction_Advertiser

    http://zinewiki.com/Riverside_Quarterly

    Mike, since Geis maintained the same numbering for Psychotic/Alien Critic/SFR and the zine was otherwise linear and indistinguishable by title (though it was by era!), I don’t think there’s a real argument that they’re not the same zine, save in the tautological sense than he did, of course, change the title.
    http://zinewiki.com/Riverside_Quarterly

  21. Farber: I guess you don’t read ahead. I said the same stuff yesterday about INSIDE etc., but in Only Five Lines.

    As for “Geis maintained the same numbering,” etc., he didn’t quite. Here’s the relevant part of what I wrote last year when I was auctioning off a huge wodge of old Geiszines:

    “His fanzine publishing activity is a sometimes confusing tapestry of title and numbering changes, and for those interested here’s a time line: He started publishing Psychotic in June 1953, producing the first 20 issues by July 1955. The 3-issue first series of Science Fiction Review followed, continuing the numbering system of Psychotic. He then took a 12-year break from fanzine publishing, returning in November 1967 with the 21st issue of Psychotic and continuing through the 27th issue in September 1968. Then he restarted Science Fiction Review with its second series, again continuing the numbering system from Psychotic, producing issues 28-43 from November 1968 through March 1971. From April through September 1972 he produced three issues of the first series of a fanzine he called Richard E. Geis, and then discontinued that name and began publishing Alien Critic in January 1973, continuing the numbering system of Richard E. Geis. He published Alien Critic issues 4-11 by November 1974, and then again resumed publishing Science Fiction Review (third series), typically continuing the numbering system from Alien Critic. The first of this final (?) series was #12 dated February 1975; it continued more or less quarterly until it concluded with #61 dated Winter 1986. Along the way he also published more issues of Richard E. Geis in the mid to late ‘70s and again in the ‘80s, at least 70 issues of Geis Letter from 1990 through 2000, and more—but the head begins to spin!”

  22. Robert:

    “However, when on other occasions I’ve suggested that a significantly cheaper voting-only-no-publications quasi-membership be made available, it’s responded to as though sacreligous.”

    Not by me! I’m one of those people who have been campaigning for a lower membership cost for the basic membership dues to the World Science Fiction Society (which is what a Worldcon supporting membership is IMO; the spread between supporting and attending is the “convention supplement” that members pay to actually attend WSFS’s annual convention). You may be unaware of it, but there was a rules change ratified last year (first affecting this year’s election and the 2014 Worldcon) that has the effect of allowing Worldcons to lower their supporting membership cost without hamstringing themselves financially. I’m hoping that Worldcons will respond by lowering the supporting membership cost.

    But on this subject: How low should it go? At what point would you consider it sufficiently inexpensive for you to be willing to buy a supporting membership in the Worldcon? $40? $30? $20? $5? $1? I note that if you set it too low, people will start complaining that it’s too easy to vote. (Some do that already, but the membership price barrier tends to make the argument non-credible.)

  23. Kevin: I think $20 is about right. Below that it *is* “too easy to vote,” and above that there will be some resistance. I didn’t know about the vote you mention, but I hope future worldcons will take the hint.

  24. Personally, I think the pain point is approximately the retail cost of a new SF hardcover, which is indeed in the $20-$30 range, so we’re in rough agreement here.

    The change was the apparently odd technical change to Section 1.5.6 of the WSFS Constitution:

    “1.5.6: Voters have the right to convert to attending membership in the selected Worldcon within ninety (90) days of its selection, for an additional fee set by its committee. This fee must not exceed four (4) times the site-selection fee and must not exceed the difference between the site-selection fee and the fee for new attending members.”

    [Emphasis mine]

    Until last year, the limit was “two (2)”. Because of the interaction between the amount you have to pay to vote and the initial amount of money voters have to pay to convert during the opening 90 day period after the election, Worldcons who didn’t want to sell attending memberships at a loss basically had to charge about $50 for the Advance Supporting Membership (voting) fee, and you can’t charge less for a Supporting Membership than you charged during voting. Easing the multiplier from 2x the ASM to 4x the ASM means you can charge less for the ASM if you want to while still charging the same amount of money for an attending membership. Now we have to see what Worldcons will actually do. Some people insist that Worldcons will leave the ASM alone and just double their initial membership costs. Me, I think Worldcons should have pressure applied to them to lower their supporting membership costs, since they no longer have the ability to hide behind the “we’re forced to do it” excuse.

    The 2011 Business Meeting minutes (Warning: large PDF) explains this a bit more on page 37. Although it was highly contentious at its first reading in Australia, it was ratified without objection.

  25. Kevin, thanks for your observation that you “think the pain point is approximately the retail cost of a new SF hardcover, which is indeed in the $20-$30 range, so we’re in rough agreement here.” As you say, it’s up to the worldcon committees to make the call and we can only hope they also agree. (As for those meeting minutes, thanks but I think I’ll go watch paint dry instead — insert proper emoticon.)

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