Hole New Issue

At Taral’s request, the image of Fred Pohl with a hole in his head has been removed from The Drink Tank #259 (PDF file). His article now is illustrated by an unaltered copy of the cover art from The Way the Future Was.

I think that’s a good idea, so I will forego any jokes. Besides, you’ve already read the headline and know how little you’re missing.

67 thoughts on “Hole New Issue

  1. @DB: “The items that Lichtman cites are indeed not Hugo-eligible fanzines, but they are of the same structural form as common written fanac of the period – individualized copies, chain letters were common written fanac – and the tapes were considered fanac and are written about by Warner as if they are fanac.”

    Well, if you think that a podcast is a fanzine, then I guess it’s only one short leap into hyperspace to believe that any fanac is a fanzine.

  2. DB writes: “Warner’s description of 50s magnetic tape fandom is SO CLEARLY a description of something that would qualify as, and be generally considerede, Hugo-eligible ‘fanzines’ if distributed in sufficient identical copies, that nothing could counteract that. Certainly nothing that Lichtman said about it does.” You’re right about that, but that’s a big “if” in “if distributed in sufficient identical copies.”

    He also writes: “If someone had produced a generally available tape fanzine in the 50s, it would have been a generally available fanzine that happened to be on tape.” Yes, a big 10-4 about that.

    But no one did, other than the Guild of Science Fiction Recordists. Warner’s description of what that was about makes it no surprise that, given the complexity of creating it, “Only one issue seems to have been completed.” And it wasn’t “generally available.”

    Don’t want to get into a pissing contest with you, DB, and apologies if my use of “regurgitation” annoyed you.

  3. PS to the above: Should have added that the Guild of Science Fiction Recordists’ tape fanzine would not have qualified for Hugo consideration at the time. Even though fandom was much smaller and more cohesive in the ’50s than it is now, its distribution was limited to contributors.

  4. @Kevin: “I continue to wait for someone to propose a specific change that doesn’t amount to “Somebody else fix it” and to say they’re coming to Reno to propose it before the Business Meeting.”

    That would be like someone criticizing obvious faults in a political party, and having a party member wait for you to come over and straighten it out for them. Probably doesn’t work as a recruiting technique.

    “I’m always going to defer to the members as a whole on any non-technical matter.”

    That you think it a non-technical matter is a major part of the problem. While a podcast may be a perfectly fine piece of fanac, and I don’t know that it isn’t, allowing a podcast to compete against actual fanzines (printed or digital) for an award called Best Fanzine is certainly a technical violation against what the category stands for. Anyone with a dictionary, or a computer to access online dictionaries, knows that a podcast is not a fanzine. Cramming it in anyway can’t be waived off as a non-technical matter.

    Fill the Best Fanzine catgory with fanzines and then let vox populi reign. But until you do that, or abandon the category altogether, you’re going to get justified complaints about an obvious fault.

  5. Both Locke and Lichtman are making arguments the brunt of which is that nothing produced by magnetic tape fandom in the 50s would meet the current Hugo Awards eligibility criterion for Best Fanzine, even if tapes are acknowledged as otherwise qualifying.

    This is true, but it’s irrelevant, for three reasons:

    1. The Hugo eligibility, which requires general availability and a minimum number of issues, is narrower than any general definition of “fanzine”. Surely, for instance, a fanzine whose distribution is limited to contributors is no less a fanzine, it’s just not one that the general run of Hugo voters can see.

    2. Hugo definitions were much looser then. I am not sure, but I believe it was not until about 30 years ago that formal constitutional definitions of the categories were written; up until then, categories and their definitions were up to the concom. I am not sure if a limited circulation fanzine ever got a significant number of Hugo votes (I phrase it that way because the early Hugos had no nomination ballots), but one-shots certainly did, until they were outlawed for Hugo eligibility.

    3, and this one I want Dave Locke to read carefully, because he has mistaken me as arguing that “any fanac is a fanzine.” The technical limitations on home tape recording in the 1950s made the large number of copies of a general circulation fanzine impractical with tape. Imagine if all mimeos and ditto machines had disappeared and the only technologies left to produce print fanzines were hecto or carbon paper. Making large numbers of copies would have become impractical, and circulations would necessarily have plummeted. So it was technical reasons, not necessarily lack of inclination, that made there not be any general-circulation tape fanzines in the 50s.

    But what if the technical limitations had not been there? Would the fans of the 50s have considered such a tape fanzine to be a fanzine, if they’d had one? To answer that question, we turn to analogy (this is what people sometimes find difficult to understand), to see how they considered the other activities they did on tape. Individualized copies of print fanzines, however small the circulation, and round-robin chains are considered fanac when done with print. According to Warner’s description, they were considered just as much fanac when done on tape. Therefore, fanac is still fanac when done on tape. And further therefore, an actual tape fanzine, had one existed, would have been considered a fanzine.

    Thus, the non-existence of a general-circulation tape fanzine in the 50s does not counter the point that taping was fanac and that a taped fanzine therefore would have been a fanzine. Only if it were argued that fans deliberately refrained from making a taped fanzine for fear that, 60 years later, it would give their imprimatur on considering podcasts eligible for Hugos, would such an argument have merit.

    Besides, I’m still waiting to hear about the 80s taped fanzines.

  6. DB: Since beyond the level already exhaustively discussed (mostly by you) that tape fanzines in the ’50s *never* became a factor in any Hugo consideration back then, why keep bringing up their limited existence decades ago (when they *might* have been considered Hugo-worthy creations If Only) as some sort of parallel for podcasts in the 21st century somehow morphing into “fanzines” and thus being eligible to win Hugos as though they were? Take a deep breath, please!

  7. Because I’m incredulous at the attempts to deny what is obviously true. If it were acknowledged as true, there’d be nothing to discuss. I’m flailing around with arguments from several directions because I can’t figure out on what logical basis the equivalence can be denied.

    The fact that the tape fanzines of the 50s weren’t actually considered for Hugos has nothing to do with whether they were deemed as part of the fanzine universe, which by Warner’s evidence they clearly were. And the primitive state of taped fanac then has nothing to do with its ability to develop into something more sophisticated later. The only relevant question is, is it fanac? And it was.

    Look: if the presumption that none of this taped fanac was Hugo-worthy in quality were relevant, then consider that the existing Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation was actually dropped from the ballot for a couple years in the 60s because of a complete dearth of nominations, and people actually wrote “No Award” on the =nominating= ballot. SF movie-making was in a state of distinct crapitude. I’m now asked to consider a line of argument that this fact should somehow pre-emptively deny that there could be more worthy SF movies made at a later date. This is ridiculous; why should such a line of argument be offered?

    The rest of the assumptions are similarly absurd, but it would take more space to unpack it, and apparently my use of a large number of words is considered itself an argument against my position. Good grief.

  8. @DB: “I’m flailing around with arguments from several directions because I can’t figure out on what logical basis the equivalence can be denied.”

    If there *were* a logical basis, we’d have had it figured out by now.

    “The only relevant question is, is it fanac?”

    We *know* it’s fanac. The only relevant quesion is, is a podcast a fanzine? And, of course, it isn’t. A lot of fanac isn’t a fanzine. Look the definition of a fanzine up in any dictionary, then compare that with anything which isn’t a fanzine.

    “apparently my use of a large number of words is considered itself an argument against my position.”

    No, but it helps if you put them in some semblance of order which assists your cause, which you can’t do because your cause is … apparently … making something appear to be something else. You’re talking to cynics, and as Ambrose Bierce defined that: “CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic’s eyes to improve his vision.”

  9. Mike: Thanks for the amplification, which is spot-on correct.

    What I was suggesting was that if people think it’s impossible to write a tighter definition without getting into what I call a “toothpaste-tube” problem (the harder you squeeze, the worse mess you make), they might consider trying to get (non-binding) resolutions passed that call on future Administrators to take a more “activist” hand in their work, and giving more general guidelines. That wouldn’t necessarily change things, but it would provide necessary political cover for an administrator that decided to make an non-technical interpretation based on a work’s form.

    Of course, as you’ve been saying all along, the even better solution is to get more people to nominate works that the unhappy people here consider “real” fanzines. As the statistics show, it isn’t really that difficult to do; just spread the word about what good fanzines there are out there.

  10. I see Kevin S. considers me and Dave (and no doubt others, but we’re the ones currently posting here besides “DB”) “unhappy people” because of our continuing efforts to point out that a fanzine is a fanzine and a podcast is not (although we all now agree it’s fanac).

    As we’ve been saying all along, there’s an obvious fix: clarify the “fanzine” Hugo parameters to make them about *fanzines*, not other stuff that could be shoehorned into this category and now is. The 12-year-old girl quoted in this thread who knows a fanzine when she sees one and didn’t recognize this year’s winner as one sees it crystal-clear, but in the world of worldcon business bumph the obvious fix is subject to parliamentary maneuvering and may never happen.

  11. All of this so amusing. Pohl got on the ballot with all of 44 votes. It is a bummer when one nominates good and wonderful stuff and it doesn’t make the final ballot.

    And I eagerly await the clarification of what a fanzine is from this 12-year-old girl … other than the variation of damon knight’s definition of SF.

  12. Something I’ll be saying in the next ZINE DUMP …

    As this last batch of Hugos proves, both the fanzine and fan writer categories are pretty well corrupted. A professional who has been buying and selling science fiction for decades longer than I’ve been breathing was given the Best Fan Writer Hugo, an honor that even his acceptor seemed to find … odd. Also, for the second year in a row, traditional print fanzines received a royal pronging at the awards. In 2009, an obvious semiprozine was allowed to usurp the trophy. This year a podcast, a dramatic presentation, shouldered its way past genuine fanzines. Outrageous. Why does fandom pick on our poor category?

    The problem is vague definition. Fandom doesn’t know what a fanzine is anymore, nor does it have any coherent definition of fan writing. Is a fanzine anything a fan distributes for free? Is fan writing done by amateurs, or is it any writing-for-free about the genre, no matter who does it? If we go for the former definition – which I’d prefer – how do we differentiate amateur from professional? My suggestion is that fan awards be closed to any writer who has made X number of pro sales or who has been nominated for or won a professional award – but this idea has met with derision. The dominant feeling seems to be that above all else, beyond all definitions, vox populi should rule. Whatever people want to nominate should end up on the ballot – wherever they want to put it.

    Vox populi certainly ruled this year in the fanzine award. StarShipSofa was an overwhelming winner. Putting aside the propriety of its active campaign for the honor, I actually see the podcast entry in a somewhat positive light. It’s an attempt to widen the Hugo’s reach – to acknowledge new technologies in fanac. I’m all for that. But not at the expense of our category. A fanzine is meant to be read, not listened to. A radio show is a dramatic presentation. What’s the difference between StarShipSofa and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog? One is fictional, the other not? Why should that make a difference? After all, didn’t fandom honor the TV Coverage of Apollo 11 as its best dramatic work back in 1969? (By the way, tangential question – that award didn’t specify which coverage it was hailing – so who took home that Hugo?)

    I generally agree with Pat Molloy that throwing chrome at a problem – simply creating another Hugo category – doesn’t necessarily solve it. But sometimes it’s the right solution. Among the (admittedly limited) things Nolacon II did right was sensibly meet a similar challenge to the established Hugo fabric. In 1988, the big rage in fandom was the great graphic novel Watchmen. Fans a’plenty were fiercely determined to see Alan Moore’s classic honored. People were counting the words in the captions and thought balloons to see if it qualified as a novella or novelette. To satisfy vox populi and (n.b.) to avoid violence to the traditional categories, the special listing Other Forms was created. As I recall, an Ellison collection, the published script of I, Robot and several other non-categorizable (sic) items were nominated along with the Moore comic. Nobody was offended, Watchmen won, and now graphic stories have a Hugo all their own.

    During my last Aussiecon panel, the Plokta guys poohpoohed that I had “my knickers in a twist” over the podcast thing. Easy for them to say: they have Hugos on their shelves already. But much else was said there that made sense. An Aussie fan suggested creation of a general Fan Achievement Award, such as is given at the Auroras and (controversially, it turns out) at the Ditmars. This could either mean one Hugo to cover all fan activity, which I doubt anyone would find acceptable, or an additional rocket for non-categorizable (sic again) fanac outside of the established categories … like a podcast. Either alternative would be preferable to the dump visited at Aussiecon on the written fanzine as a traditional fannish form of expression.

    Now, the question must arise: am I so p.o.ed because I thought I would’ve won without StarShipSofa? Of course not. Challenger is too idiosyncratic and wanders too far afield from SF and fandom ever to win (although this year, as often, it led in nominations). But dammit, Banana Wings might’ve. Argentus might’ve. Drink Tank might’ve. They’re real fanzines. They got burned, and that sucks.

  13. “Why does fandom pick on our poor category? ”

    Actually … the voters who nominate are largely ignoring the fan categories. Pohl got on the ballot with 44 nominations, and he received the most nominations.

    “Putting aside the propriety of [StarShipSofas] active campaign for the honor,”

    46 votes got it on the ballot. Challenger got on the ballot with 48.

    (Numbers are from: http://www.aussiecon4.org.au/hugoawards/files/2010HugoVotingReport.pdf)

    So, all the “real fanzines” have to do is convince their readership – assuming the readership is 50 or more – to nominate. It’s not that hard … assuming one is a member of the most recent and/or next Worldcon.

  14. Dave Locke: Of course not all fanac is fanzines. But that a field of activity is fanac admits for the possibility of fanzines. And when Harry Warner writes of a “genuine taped fanzine,” and even when someone puts out on tape something he calls an “electric talking fanzine,” that’s evidence that fanzines can exist in audio form. And all the 12-year-old girls in the world, whom you evidently consider the repository of all fannish lore and wisdom, can’t change that.

    I’m not sure how Ed Meskys reads his fanzines. But if you are so all-fired sure that an audio recording cannot be a fanzine, no way no how, then if someone reads a fanzine on to tape and Ed, or some other blind fan, listens to it, would you then claim that Ed has not read that fanzine? Never mind that the fanzine does otherwise exist in print; this is about the blind fan’s experience.

    Lastly, don’t blame me if you can’t follow my arguments.

    GHL3: I don’t actually know anything about StarShipSofa – I’ve just been trying to establish the more general proposition that an audio fanzine is a non-contradictory idea. But one thing I can say about Dr. Horrible in this regard is that it was professionally published. That it was distributed for free is irrelevant; Seeds of Change was distributed for free.

    However, the Apollo 11 landing did NOT repeat NOT receive the Dramatic Presentation Hugo for its year. That year it went to a little number called 2001: A Space Odyssey. Apollo 11 received a special non-Hugo committee award for “Best Moon Landing Ever.”

  15. DB: re Ed Meskys and other vision impaired fans … there are “reading machines” such as the K–NFB Reading Technology, see: http://www.knfbreader.com/

    Also, in 2006 in Ed’s fanzine ENTROPY HALL there’s this:

    “The new reading machine (Kurzweil NFB Reader) has a standard ear-bud jack which cuts out its very soft speaker. I also use it for a patch-cord to an amplified speaker when demonstrating the machine to audiences. It is a marvelous breakthrough in giving access to print, but is tedious to use for large documents like multi-page fanzines. It is not good on round objects like soup-cans or light colored print on a dark background. ”

  16. *blush* No, I’m wrong about Apollo 11. The TV coverage did receive DP the following year. Sorry about that. Now, if others will admit their errors too, we’ll all be better off.

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