Mark Plummer’s new Paraphernalia column for Strange Horizons, Disclosing the Ancient Mysteries, arbitrates the controversy between rulesmakers and bloggers who want to be eligible for the Best Fanzine Hugo.
He uses my post Bleep My Dad Says About the Fan Hugos to lead into the topic, which I might take as a compliment but for the hints that I indulged in a wee bit of exaggeration about the number of bloggers who are upset by the situation:
I’m always slightly troubled by vague statements like this which lack any real citation or attribution. Just how widely held is this paraphrased opinion? Sufficiently that it could in any way be interpreted as a movement? Or is it just a couple of people? Or one? I don’t think I’d seen anything matching Mike’s characterisation myself…
Mark, permit me to be your Google research monkey.
Undoubtedly reaching the widest audience was George R.R. Martin’s Hugo Awards – Closing Comments on Not A Blog:
The Best Fanzine category is one of the oldest Hugo Awards, but it is currently embroiled in controversy. Traditional print fanzines are still around, though both their numbers and their readership are dwindling, and in recent years the fans have been nominating things like e-zines, blogs, and podcasts in this category. Last year at Reno, a rules change was enacted to exclude all those new forms of fanac from this category. If that change is ratified in Chicago, Best Fanzine will once again become the exclusive property of traditional fanzines. If you don’t own a mimeograph machine, you need not apply. However (1) the change needs to be ratified, if it is defeated at this year’s business meeting, it will not take effect, (2) it is NOT in effect this year, so this may be the last year when e-zines, blogs, and podcasts can be nominated. As I think you can tell by my sarcastic tone, I am opposed to the change. I think there are some great fannish blogs and e-zines and podcasts out there, I think they are the future, and I’m going to nominate a bunch of them.
George proceeded to list his nominees. When the final Hugo ballot comes out we will discover just how influential he is.
Aidan Moher amplified George’s case in Hey, GRRM agrees with me! (with links to Moher’s own posts on the same topic and his own set of recommendations).
Stefan Raets’ arguments for the eligibility of blogs in Love a Blog, Nominate It posted at Far Beyond Reality also proved quite popular, given a signal boost by Only the Best Sci-Fi (Bloggers and the Hugo Awards), Fantasy Café (Hugo Awards 2012: The Year of the Book Blogger?) and Moher again (An Aside | On Bloggers and the Hugo Awards).
I’ve helped engineer hoaxes now and then (remember the fake Cleveland apa, Elst?). Not this time. I did not make up the bloggers’ outrage about the Best Fanzine category..
I should also say that Mark’s transition from my post to his comments on Ian Mond’s Let’s Replace the Best Fanzine Category with Best Blog, which uses humor with mortal effectiveness to reinforce all the clichés about superannuated fanzine fans, may have left readers with the impression my views are opposite what they are – it’s not part of my mission to keep blogs out of the Best Fanzine category.
Rather, what I said irks me is the annual effort to generate a dogpile that produces a block vote for a representative Hugo nominee. It’s that need to artificially create a groundswell that turns me off. The annual blogger’s Occupy movement. I don’t object to blogs. I object to Hugo nomination campaigns.
I also question the beneficiaries of this energy. Have they been the kinds of blogs fans complain are being unjustly excluded? Of course not. Not in the Best Fanzine category. Steamrolling over the field in 2009 was a fiction zine, Electric Velocipede, and in 2010 a podcast, Starship Sofa.
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.