Cheryl Morgan begins her post titled “On Fan Categories” –
Having listened to the latest Galactic Suburbia podcast, I feel the need to point out that the fan categories in the Hugos are not, and never have been, defined by content. You do not have to write about fandom, or write in a “fannish” way (whatever that means). All that is required is that you do what you do out of the goodness of your heart, and for the good of the community (at least as you see it) rather than being paid to do it.
In respect to the Best Fan Writer Hugo, Cheryl’s first two sentences are spot on. The third expresses a lovely sentiment about amateurism, a requirement stripped from the Hugo rules many years ago. I was surprised to see Cheryl, in particular, making this misstatement.
Eligibility for the Best Fan Writer Hugo is defined in the WSFS Constitution:
3.3.15: Best Fan Writer. Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year.
Those same rules say a “fanzine” is a publication that does not pay its contributors other than in copies. In contrast, a “semiprozine” does pay other than in copies. Pays in money, generally.
And writers who have appeared in either type of publication during the previous calendar year are eligible to be nominated for Best Fan Writer.
I assume it’s simply a mistake, though one that struck me as odd given Cheryl’s history as a champion of the semiprozine category. When Ben Yalow and Chris Barkley tried to abolish the category in 2009, Cheryl did as much as anyone to preserve its existence.
The balance of her remarks are familiar axe-grinding, though with a more grandiose strategy:
I should add that one of the reasons I feel so strongly about this because when I started out people tried to bar me from the fan categories on the grounds that my work was “not fannish”. You may find this hard to believe, but back in the 20th Century many people thought that book reviews were an inappropriate subject for fan writing.
Some of the same people having hurt my feelings now and again, I could supply a list of the names she probably has in mind.
However, having begun with an exposition about the fan Hugo rules, Cheryl here invites the uneducated reader to mistakenly draw a line between that discussion and the allegation that people “tried to bar [her] from the fan categories.” Someone needs to say that is an unjustified connection. For somebody to say they don’t like Cheryl’s writing is one thing. (By the way, I ordinarily find her writing very interesting, whether or not I agree.) However, getting “barred” would involve an abuse of the rules or the interference of a Hugo Administrator for which no evidence has been provided.