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. What’s fascinating here is that this something that could only be done online.

    A truly traditional fanzine could only accomplish this by either remimeoing (or whatever the repro used) the same page and sending it out to everyone the editor knows of who got the zine, with a request that they unstaple it and restaple it with the revised page, or they’d have to do another iteration of the whole issue, and send it out.

    I’m not sure anyone has ever done either. It’s certainly rare, and if Chris has already sent out hardcopies, I’m going to guess he’s not going to do either, though I certainly could be wrong.

    In any case, since Taral seems to feel that online fanzines and fanwriting isn’t *real* fanac, and that the only real fanac is that done as it was done thirty years or more ago, isn’t it a bit inconsistent to ask to do something to advantage himself, e.g., not look as offensive as he actually was, only with the electronic element of his fanac?

    I’m sure Taral won’t care that the general ethic of blogs, at least, is that when one regrets something one has written, one either puts strikethroughs, and adds an explanation/apology/clarification, or otherwise strictly adhere to adding a disclaimer/apology/revision, while not disappearing what one published. The latter behavior tends to be considered not taking responsibility for one’s publication choices. But that’s an online ethic, and, of course, not universally adhered to, in any case. And it’s certainly understandable that Taral would be embarrassed by what he did, and not want to let it stand.

    Even if he has to take advantage of something one can do only in online fanac.

    Ironic, isn’t it?

  2. I know of at least one zine (I think it was a Holier Than Thou, but I’d have to tear my Fanzine Lounge in a Suitcase to find it) that sent out a duplicate page to replace another. That’s the only one I’ve got in my collection.

    I don’t do hard copies. Too expensive!

    I don’t think Taral made that point about eZines, but maybe I’m misreading.

    I had no idea about Blog ethics and strike-thrus. I’ve never heard of that. Then again, I don’t spend a lot of time on blogs.
    Chris

  3. “I don’t do hard copies. Too expensive!”

    Huh. I didn’t know that. No idea. I simply assumed that since you were such a fanzine BNF in recent years that of course you were sending out a physical fanzine.

    Gosh. That’s fascinating. When was the last time you regularly published a hard-copy fanzine, Chris, and around what was the print run?

    “I think it was a Holier Than Thou, but I’d have to tear my Fanzine Lounge in a Suitcase to find it”

    Wouldn’t emailing Marty Cantor to ask be simpler?

  4. Having rushed over to see if this was about my issue, I’m not forgoing the joke. Or self-plug.

  5. Journey Planet is the only zine we print regularly, and I think it’s about a 100 people getting it.

    James will sometimes get issues of The Drink Tank printed, maybe 50 of them. I used to print out 10 or so for passing out at BASFA, but I haven’t done at for ages.

    When I was printing Claims Department, I did 25 at most, I think one issue I managed 30. That was 2005 and 06.

    Chris

  6. It continues to astonish me that people think I said this, that or the other thing, when in fact I never did. I repeatedly said that my beef with the Fanwriter category was that I believed the material was professional rather than fannish. Not once have I ever said my objection was over the electronic media!

    I have just had a 40 page fanzine in the form of a pdf posted at eFanzines. Earlier this year I had an even longer Worldcon report posted at eFanzines. Both productions were composed in MS Word Doc, pasted together with Adobe Acrobat, and turned into .pdf files with yet another program. I digitally created the logos and took full advantage of the opportunity to use colour, and experimented with the available layout tools.

    A couple of years before that I produced an archive of Energumen (the Hugo winning Canadian fanzine of the ’70s) with tons of bells & whistles on a CD-Rom.

    Only someone *determined* to twist my words and meaning could possibly come to the conclusion that I was against the new media. Either that, or just too dense to understand plain English.

  7. Chris, you wrote:

    “When I was printing Claims Department, I did 25 at most, I think one issue I managed 30. That was 2005 and 06.”

    But you’ve apparently forgotten that you ran several issues through the FAPA mailings — the copy count for which at the time was somewhere between 40 and 50.

  8. Taral, if the same material, with the same intent (as drafts for a future book) had been published in a traditional fanzine, would that be fanwriting enough for you? Because professional books have been made out of fanzine material before now. Just asking.

  9. Taral, thank you for clarifying that you don’t believe that that online-only fanzines and fanwriting isn’t *real* fanac, and don’t believe that the only real fanac is that done as it was done thirty years or more ago; I apologize for having misunderstood you, and for having mistakenly imputed to you an opinion you do not hold, and for then for further implying you were a hypocrite for holding an opinion you do not hold.

    Again, my apologies.

  10. DB: you can always find examples where decisions are difficult. I would be inclined to count the original appearance of this hypothetical material as fanac. When it was published later in a more professional format, I’d be inclined not to. It’s the same material, I grant you, but the proper time for it to be nominated would have been when it orginally appeared, rather than some number of years later. That alone would disqualify it from the ballot.

    But unusual cases are just that. I don’t think the rules need to cover every possible contingency. For one thing, they’d run so long that they’d be eligible for Best Non-Fiction themselves.

  11. You’re right, Robert! I did forget that I ran it through FAPA. For some reason, I think it was through eAPA. These things all run together in my head!
    Chris

  12. Taral: OK, so since “generally available electronic media” are explicitly listed in the rules as venues for Best Fan Writer, how is Fred’s writing on his blog different from what the same writing would be in a printed fanzine?

    It has seemed to me that your argument has been addressed to the considerations that voters ought to take into account, and not to the question of what should be legally eligible.

    But maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe you do want to change the rules. But if so, that’s a different question requiring a different approach, and deleting the “generally available electronic media” clause would explicitly reverse a decision consciously made by the WSFS not too many years ago.

  13. @DB: As you point out there was a rule change that opened the Best Fan Writer category to online fanac. That allowed the rules to catch up with what voters were already classifying as fanac. It didn’t address who people could vote for because that was wide open already, something John Scalzi demonstrated at length in his comment to another thread here.

    Fred Pohl was eligible for his fanzine writing as far back as the 1970s, he just didn’t get nominated. For a couple decades starting in the mid-70s active writers of professional fiction who also contributed to fanzines were rarely nominated as Best Fan Writer despite many of them being fully eligible. When they were they did very well, of course — remember Bob Shaw. But this did not happen much.

    This change in voter behavior has much more to do with other recent history than formally opening the category to online fanwriting. It’s hard to fully articulate that change, although some factors were identified in the other discussion, like how the publishing industry has pushed the responsibility for marketing onto the writers, so they’ve started blogs and create a lot of uncompensated nonfiction to fill them. Also, many fans participate in various online communities and want the Hugo Awards to acknowledge that fanac.

    If anyone thinks a rules change can get the fan Hugos back to where they belong (whatever the individual’s notion of that may be) I’d say they’re going to be disappointed. What they’re really trying to fix is the voters. The voters used to behave a certain way, and now they’re behaving another way. I don’t believe anyone can “fix” the Hugo voters with a rule, and doubt that’s a great attitude to take toward a democratic process. It might be possible to change their views with an idea. As someone said, there is no army so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

  14. DB: I don’t know why I have to keep saying this, but I was *never* arguing that the medium was the problem. My own writing for Drink Tank and other fanzines that only exist as downloads is just as digital, and I certainly regard *it* as fanwriting. What has happened, I think, is that I’ve touched a nerve and opened a Pandora’s box of fears and prejudices.

    So I wish people would stop saying that I’m arguing against the internet! It’s true that I don’t have a web site of my own, but I have a substantial presence on the internet regardless. In fact, you might say that the main trouble is getting fans to look for it. But that’s a different topic.

    What I have tried to make as plain as possible is that I take issue with Fred Pohl’s writing, not with where it appears. My point was that Pohl’s own words indicated that he was writing his blog for professional purposes. That alone is the basis of my complaint about “The Way the Future Blogs.”

    I admit, I would still be unhappy if Pohl was not writing a dry run for a new edition of “The Way the Future Was”. The problem there is that the medium breaks down the walls between fan and pro, also between fan and non-fan. (Whatever exactly a non-fan is. Somebody who read a Martin Caidin book might claim to be a fan, and somebody else might agree with him.) Before the internet, the paper medium was simply a convenient way to tell whether the writer was being a fan or not being a fan at the time. Professional books aren’t mimeographed or xeroxed, and mailed “for the usual” to 200 readers. The “medium” itself wasn’t important as such. It was just fairly unambiguous.

    Now we have ambiguity on a Big Scale. Professional and fan publication may be absolutely indistinguishable in a short while. Download a novel, download a fanzine… what’s the diff? Only intangibles set them apart — intangibles that are increasingly difficult to reach any agreement over. The only thing we can be sure of is that more “fans” (the ones who read one Martin Caidin novel) will look for Robert Silverberg’s blog than Joe D. Phan’s. I don’t see how little name fans will stay in the running. Fan Hugos are very apt to be transformed into another de facto pro category.

    Then there is a second, separate problem, that StarshipSofa presents. There’s no question about whether Starship Sofa is professional or not. I’d sure say it wasn’t. The question is whether a podcast can be a fanzine. There are a lot of conflicting details about StarShipSofa that rule out an unambiguous answer. Yes, there is probably a script that they read from, and that’s “like” a printed text. Nevertheless, other parts are more like presenting a comedy skit, which is absolutely not like a printed text, or even a text on a screen. The difference is probably in the act of reading. In the past we have always thought of a fanzine as something we looked at and read. Are we moving into a space where a fanzine is something we watch and have acted out to us? Some voters seem to see no problem with this. I’m not one of them. For the same reason, I prefer having separate categories for Best TV Show (or whatever its called) and Best Short Story. We shouldn’t have to choose between a favourite episode of Smallville and a story by Kim Stanley Robinson. Similarly, we shouldn’t have to choose between Banana Wings and StarshipSofa.

    Probably the best “fix” we can hope for is to create a new category for certain kinds of internet activity that clearly aren’t “published,” but “presented.” That still won’t stop voters from casting their ballot for whatever or whoever they choose, simply because it wasn’t fiction. If that’s what they want, nothing will stop them from doing it.

    I strongly suspect that the fan Hugos to become unworkable in less than a decade.

  15. I wonder how many folks here think this is fanac, and how many think it isn’t. The posts on the front page consider in toto, say.

    Note: the question isn’t whether it’s interesting, or good writing, or something you’d nominate for a Hugo, because I’m not suggesting it’s any of those things: a number of the posts are just announcements, or trading of Worldcon memberships, and the like.

    I’m simply and only asking if it’s fanac.

    Even crudzines, after all, are fanac.

    (No, not that I’m saying my random example of internet fanac is the equivalent of a crudzine, either, though those can be found easily enough.)

    This is literally a random example; I just happened to stumble across this page a few minutes ago. It’s just a reminder of the way I constantly have this experience.

  16. Taral: If the medium isn’t the problem, but the writing is, then why do you take issue with the writing if it’s in one medium, but not if it’s in another medium?

    If it sounds like the medium is the problem, it’s because of what you’re actually saying, regardless of what you’re saying about what you’re saying.

  17. I think a good argument could be made that it is the medium.

    It’s been long established that fan writing can be about anything, anything at all .. it doesn’t need to have anything to do with SF. SF is just part of fans’ shared context and background. There were some grumbles over this in the 1950s, but the “sercon” vs. “fannish” wars are long in the past. Fan writing is, or was, until the Internet, whatever appeared in a fanzine.

    And what was a fanzine? “Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects,” those “related subjects” being a term of art meaning whatever’s of interest to fans and addressed to the fannish community.

    Now “generally available electronic media” are added to fanzines (and semiprozines) as a source for fan writing. Surely, then, just as not every mimeographed publication is a fanzine, not every blog is a fannish blog, but if it’s “devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects,” then by the same principles that make a fanzine, then it’s a fannish blog. And Scalzi’s and Pohl’s definitely qualify by subject – they’re a lot more about SF than some noted fanzines – and they’re non-professional, being available for free and consisting of writing that the bloggers are not being paid for thereby.

    So I really don’t see the problem.

  18. I dont’ take issue with Fred Pohl’s writing because of the medium it’s in. Forget the medium. I take issue with the writing because of the *writing.* I’ve said it over and over. Can I say it any plainer? IT WAS PRO WRITING!

    StarShipSofa is a different issue. In that case, I take umbrage with the medium. It was not a fanzine by any reasonable definition — it was some other kind of fanac. It was an ORANGE winning an award for BEST APPLE. Let’s try to avoid mixing up these two separate cases.

  19. Taral –

    In an effort to distinguish the medium from the message, as you keep pleading for your readers to do, I asked you, uptopic, “how is Fred’s writing on his blog different from what the same writing would be in a printed fanzine?”

    And you replied, “I would be inclined to count the original appearance of this hypothetical material as fanac.”

    Thank you; that answered my question. So you can say as many times as you want that it’s not the medium, but: it’s the medium.

  20. Pohl’s writing is different because he said it was.

    But I’m tired of repeating myself. You’re never going to see it the way do.

  21. Well, no, and that’s because your way contradicts itself. Sorry, but how can you expect to convince anybody if you can’t get your own line straight?

  22. Taral Wayne:

    “IT WAS PRO WRITING!”

    In point of fact, it was not. It was unpaid, unsolicited work, for which Mr. Pohl may have had aspirations of future paid publication (which to date have not appeared).

    You appear to be under the impression that simply a stated intent to sell something makes it professional work. However, I would note that if you were to come to SFWA and say “well, I intend to sell these stories here, therefore I am a professional science fiction writer, let me join” you would find yourself gravely disappointed. Intent does not make writing “professional,” even if one is elsewise a professional writer.

    Which has been pointed out to you before, and which you do seem intent to wave away because it does not fit your thesis. This is among the reasons why your thesis has run up against as much opposition as it has, I suspect.

  23. @John: There is a tendency to bounce back and forth in this discussion (because of Taral’s choice of arguments) between interpreting “pro writing” by the Hugo rules and by other reference points in the sf community, such as the qualifications for SFWA membership. There hasn’t been any reason to point this out because Pohl’s blog is not pro writing under either rule.

    I mention it now because Taral’s continuing stress on Pohl’s own statement of purpose for the blog has led him to expect that’s sufficient evidence under some rule or cultural more to define it as “pro writing” and not “fan writing.”

    Taral and I both got into fandom in the 1970s. Probably at any time in the history of fandom fans welcomed a chance to hang out with writers (and editors and artists) and had no desire to create a barrier to that simply because a “pro” got paid for his/her writing. Thus Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s formula about who we are versus what we do.

    Yet at the time we got into fandom Harlan Ellison was having a tremendous impact on the field with what he had to say about professionalism and about the ability to get paid for writing being a marker of quality. He also lived out his need to have the accolades of fans without being part of fandom anymore — turning down his own Best Fan Writer nomination lest we be misled. (He also needed to keep at bay everyone who wanted a piece of his fame, and there wasn’t a practical distinction between those people any other fans.) Ellison wasn’t alone in this, though he was by far the most influential.

    So those of us who came into fandom in those days saw pro writers telling us what to believe about them and although our preference was to be treated as peers, the pros felt there was a distinction that needed to be drawn. I think echos of that are playing out in this discussion.

    If Fred Pohl said his blog is the draft of a future book that would matter to people who still have the pronouncements of Harlan Ellison ringing in their memories. Such a person might tend to consider Pohl’s statement as a further example of a pro telling fans how he wants to be regarded. That might be the missing part of the syllogism which leads anyone to expect the rules to function differently than they do.

  24. Mike – I also came into fandom in the ’70s and the history you cite is known to me too. I’ve always drawn a strict distinction between the pros like Harlan who insist that they’re not fans, nohow noway – to which I say (to myself, definitely not to his easily-abrased face) “uh-huh, suuuure you’re not, and you spend all this time hanging around fandom and doing unpaid fannish-type writing for some other reason, I guess” – and the ones who consider the SF world to be a community in which we’re all just folks who happen to play different roles at different times.

    Fred Pohl is definitely one of the other type. He could write chunks of memoir for a fanzine – many other pros like him have – and he could enterprisingly take his fannish writing and turn it into a professionally-published book – many other pros like him have done that, too – but on its appearance in a fanzine, it’s fan writing and makes him eligible for that Hugo category. And since, by the Hugo rules, an SFnal blog counts with printed fanzines, Fred’s blog is eligible. Full stop.

  25. @David: How like an online discussion that your sledgehammer of agreement makes me feel like we’re not agreeing about something. Yet I agree with it all, except the full stop. There’s an interesting social and historical phenomenon being played out in this discussion: thought I would bring more of it to the surface.

  26. Mike:

    “So those of us who came into fandom in those days saw pro writers telling us what to believe about them and although our preference was to be treated as peers, the pros felt there was a distinction that needed to be drawn. I think echos of that are playing out in this discussion.”

    Ah! Well, that is clarifying, then. And if correct, as much as I admire Harlan Ellison’s writing and his work ethic, I think he’s done a bit of damage there.

    And, I don’t know, I think maybe I’m coming to it from the opposite angle of things. I entered into the SF/F community as a pro; I had a two book contract before I ever went to my first science fiction convention and sort of walked into fandom backward. One of the reasons I genuinely cherish my Fan Writer award, and to put it in a manner that vastly undercomplicates my feeling about it, is that to me it felt like fandom letting me know I was part of the community, too, and not just some pro standing aloof of it. It was a very warming feeling.

    Which I suppose it also annoys me when I get the sense people are trying to brand my award or Pohl’s as not fannish enough. I’ve already spoken on Pohl’s award enough, but for me, the best way I can put it is, I may have walked into fandom backward, but I still walked into it. And I like it here.

  27. I’m of the opinion that everyone (and that includes Taral here) whose argument is “X’s writing doesn’t qualify because it’s professional writing, not fan writing” is implicitly saying, “My own judgment is superior to that of the aggregate of Hugo Awards nominators. Instead of letting the electorate as a whole make the decisions, they should put me in charge because I obviously know better than they do.”

    I’ve _been_ a Hugo Administrator, three times. We already put a fair bit of authority in the hands of Hugo Administrators. The first time you see an Administrator rule someone out of a Fan Writer category for a non-technical reason (technical reasons include “no work published in eligibility year), but for a subjective reason that “it’s not fannish enough,” you’re going to see that Administrator flayed alive for his presumption, and I expect the following Business Meeting would pass new rules that further amplify the principle of vox populi, vox dei.

    While I may not agree with the taste or judgment of the electorate as a whole, I’m extremely leery of putting non-technical value judgments in the hands of any individual when it comes to the Hugo Awards.

  28. @Kevin: Well, you beat the living daylights out of that straw man.

    Doesn’t nearly every fan go about thinking “My own judgment is superior to that of the aggregate of Hugo Awards nominators”? It’s one of our little conceits. Whereas, your personified “electorate as a whole” is really nothing more than the end product of accounting of nominations which homogenizes all our individual opinions into a slate of Hugo finalists. It’s as if you’re beating Taral over the head with an abacus.

    Democracy is a means of governing a community with diverse opinions. A good illustration of what that means was provided in another fan category this year. The Hugo Administrator decided that Starship Sofa was eligible in the Best Fanzine category, but more than 80 individuals voted No Award ahead of Starship Sofa. SSS won the automatic runoff and the Hugo. The democratic process functioned to produce an award winner. It did not arbitrate the worth of these widely different opinions about whether SSS belonged in that category.

    By the same token, there is no way of writing a rule to enforce a personal preference for giving fan Hugos to people who are not famous writers, but I continue to think that getting those awards into the hands of people who primarily do fanac is a worthy objective.

    Of course, it has been a continual frustration for me that every time I try to make that point somebody, thinking they are coming to my support, turns this into a futile discussion about the rules. Which I already know do not restrict anyone’s eligibility based on their career, nor am I trying to change the rules. What I’d like to do eventually is change fans’ opinions of what to vote for. (I feel like Gandalf, when they’re in Moria and Pippin has just knocked the bucket into the well…)

  29. Mike:

    I agree with you that what you want is voter education, but it seems that every year about this time (and also after the nominations come out), people who didn’t get their way are convinced that failing to get their way is a failure of the process and start complaining that we must change the rules so that they do get their way.

    Actually, I’m not really sure that my own judgment is superior to that of everyone participating. I know what I like, but I also don’t have the presumption to assume that of course I know better than anyone else.

    In my opinion, there are a lot of arguments about the Hugo Awards that come down to “The voters are idiots; change the rules so that the awards always go to things that I personally like.” Nobody would be so stupid as to openly advocate such a position in those words, but stripped of paint, that’s what their arguments amount to.

  30. Well, there are times when the voters have their collective heads up their collective …

    The 1951 Retro Hugo Best Artist Hugo went to an artist who had one published work for 1950, and it was his first published piece too. Beat out Chesley Bonestell, Virgil Finlay, Edd Cartier, Hannes Bok.

  31. @Kevin: “In my opinion, there are a lot of arguments about the Hugo Awards that come down to “The voters are idiots; change the rules so that the awards always go to things that I personally like.” Nobody would be so stupid as to openly advocate such a position in those words, but stripped of paint, that’s what their arguments amount to.”

    Here’s an argument which doesn’t devolve into that flavor of reductio ad absurdum: Where a category is established, the management involved has a responsibility to relevancy first and vox populi second. F’rinstance, dropping a podcast into the Best Fanzine category makes no more sense than dropping an orange into a basket of apples. For people determined to nominate out-of-category, give consideration to providing a new category. It’s not wrong that they like something, but it’s wrong to shoehorn something in where it doesn’t belong.

  32. Michael Walsh: The voters are not always right. By my tastes, in fact, they rarely are. But the voters do get their way.

    Dave Locke: Whether a podcast is as unlike a fanzine as an orange is unlike apples is a matter of opinion, and probably depends on the podcast. It also depends on history: as I will keep on mentioning, fanzines on tape have existed in the past. At the very least, I will suggest that a conscious decision was made by the BM, when it broadened the rules to include electronic media, to change the category from Best Apple to Best Fruit.

  33. Dave Locke: What DB said. WSFS amended the definition of Best Fanzine (and a bunch of other categories) to explicitly broaden them to, as DB puts it, “Best Fruit” rather than “Best Apple.” See the 2009 Minutes for the tale of the tape, but the rule change explicitly added the words “(or the equivalent in other media)” to the number-of-issues rule, which implicitly says, “other media are eligible.”

    In this case, your ire can be directed at the members of WSFS who were able to participate in the Business Meeting. Note that the ratification vote wasn’t close enough to bother counting.

    (Incidentally, anyone who says, “But it’s not fair that only those people who can travel to far away places to participate in the Business Meeting should get to make those decisions” gets my sympathy, notwithstanding the fact that this year was the 22nd straight year I’ve been at the BM. I’ve been saying for some time now that I think WSFS would be better served by putting constitutional amendments to a ratification vote of the members of the following year’s Worldcon instead of the Business Meeting. However, to make this happen would require the BM to vote away parts of its own authority, which seems a dubious proposition. If anyone going to Reno actually wants to make such a proposal, I will help him/her draft it and would vote for it if it was in front of me.)

  34. @DB: “as I will keep on mentioning, fanzines on tape have existed in the past.” And, as you were well refuted by, I believe, Robert Lichtman when you failed to know any, no. Larry Tucker long ago did one or two audiocassette renditions as a jest, long ago, which is info I mentioned.

    A fanzine is something you read, always has been, and including digital media to the award definition merely acknowledged that many fanzines aren’t on paper or their circulation isn’t entirely via deadtree. It wasn’t an excuse to enter cheetahs and pronghorn antelopes in horse races.

    It would be more honest to simply reply, where I said “the management involved has a responsibility to relevancy first and vox populi second” that, no, vox populi comes first and last and relevancy often rarely comes into view.

  35. Dave Locke:

    Except that the change ratified in 2009 did not just add “digital media to the award definition.” The actual words added were “or the equivalent in other media,” which is even broader. And when the change was first proposed, in 2008, one of the primary argument in favor of the amendment (from Ben Yalow; I’m quoting from the 2008 minutes) was “work is work, whatever the medium. This is just amending the categories to make it clear content is key, not the medium.”

    So while you may not like the result, this is a case where the WSFS Business Meeting really did intend to significantly broaden the scope of the category, and said so over a two year period. 2010 was simply the first year that the broader definition was in effect.

  36. @Kevin: “or the equivalent in other media”. I see. That doesn’t simply mean to you that a fanzine on electrons is equivalent to a fanzine on paper, as anyone who knows the dictionary(ies) definition of fanzine would fully assume. To some it means that it would be okay to allow a nurse novel to be nominated as Best SF, or a pork chop as Best Steak, or Danny DeVito as Best Supporting Actress. I think we’ve discovered one of the major problems.

  37. @Dave Locke: I know what the legislative intent of the change was because it’s recorded. We don’t have to guess; we know because the proponents’ own argument said that the medium of expression didn’t mean anything, only the content.

    That’s why your analogies don’t work, by the way, but of course, there are no Hugo Award categories with those names. I understand your analogies, but they fail in my opinion. Try one that applies to an actual Hugo Award category.

    Let’s say that by “Best SF,” you actually meant Best Novel. Assume for a moment that a novel that you personally don’t think is SF or F got lots of nominations. That’s your “nurse novel,” I guess. But who is supposed to decide? Remember how much criticism is heaped upon any Hugo Award administrator who makes a non-technical judgment call. The Hugo Award voters are the jury, and they’re the ones who get to decide “matters of fact.” The fact that you don’t like how the members of the jury voted means in this case that you either need to campaign to get the rules changed or to better educate the voters so they’ll vote your way.

    Do you really want “activist” administrators? What are you going to do the first time something you like is disqualified by an administrator because it’s “not fannish enough.” Remember, there’s no appeal from an administrator’s ruling on a nomination. At least if a work gets nominated that you think shouldn’t even be in the category, you have the ability to vote against it on the final ballot. And, as Mike pointed out above, a significant minority of voters did so in the case of Star Ship Sofa, albeit not enough to defeat it.

    Many years of precedent has told Hugo Administrators that it is not their place to set aside the voters’ expressed will except in the narrowest of technical circumstances such as length of work or date of publication. If you want to overturn that, you’ll need to work on it.

  38. @Kevin: “I understand your analogies, but they fail in my opinion. Try one that applies to an actual Hugo Award category.”

    You’re too much a literalist. But, okay: Podcast as Best Fanzine. Ridiculous enough?

    I still believe that a category should be made to resist, by management, ridiculous intrusions which are out-of-category. That’s part of the job of management. Let vox populi come in after the category is safeguarded. Modify the category, based on growth, as in allowing digital fanzines, but don’t then make it a joke by allowing in a non-category item. As the 12-year-old daughter of someone we both know intelligently pointed out when told a podcast had copped the Best Fanzine award: “That’s stupid. A podcast isn’t a fanzine”. The “medium of expression didn’t mean anything, only the content” wouldn’t seem at all in argument with the simple fact that a fanzine is something you read. Look the word “fanzine” up in any dictionary you can find.

  39. Dave Locke: That there was no such thing as tape recorded fanzines? WRONG. Since you take such a hostile view to a remembered reference, I looked it up. Pages 238-40 of Harry Warner’s “A Wealth of Fable” (SCIFI Press edition, 1992) is an extended discussion of 1950s magnetic recording fandom, which was a productive and genuine part of fanac. Most of their were round-robin pass-alongs, for simple practical reasons related to the technology of the time, and wouldn’t meet the “generally distributed” clause of Hugo eligibility, but lots of genuine printed fanzines (apas, restricted perzines) are no less fanzines for the same reason. And there was one “genuine taped fanzine,” as Harry calls it, which was duplicated for members of the Guild of Science Fiction Recordists. No doubt about it, then.

    Your other analogies are equally flawed. A nurse novel _could_ be nominated for the Best Novel Hugo – if it were an SFnal nurse novel. So long as the rules say “science fiction or fantasy,” which they do, it’s straightforward.

    More relevant, perhaps, is “Danny DeVito as Best Supporting Actress.” Let’s say there was no such category as Best Supporting Actor, and little or no tradition in movies of males taking supporting roles. (It’s a nonsensical assumption, of course, but it’s the equivalent in this analogy of the past existence of few if any podcast fanzines.) Then all of a sudden, men start showing up in occasional supporting roles, and Danny DeVito does one that impresses a lot of viewers. Would it not make sense for the Academy Board of Governors, reluctant to create a whole new category, to expand Best Supporting Actress to include men, awkward as the name of the category might then seem to the film-going equivalents of Dave Locke?

  40. @DB: Robert Lichtman, (file770.com/?p=4399&cpage=1#comment-51920) in the ‘Overserved’ thread we all participated in , explained directly to your query over there exactly what those pass-along recordings were about as mentioned in 238-40 of Harry Warner’s “A Wealth of Fable”. Why this disingenuousness?

    And thanx for explaining how Danny DeVito could be made to quality for Best Supporting Actress under Worldcon rules. It’s very science fictional, and helps illustrate the mindset which would consider a podcast a fanzine.

    Me, I’m on the side of the 12-year-old girl who exclaimed “That’s stupid. A podcast isn’t a fanzine”. As Mike Glyer explained the obvious to the oblivious, Best Fanzine has been turned into “Best Anything You’d Like to Give a Hugo”. That describes it elegantly, and all else so far is sticking fingers in ears and singing la-la-la. It’s a management problem.

  41. Dave Locke wrote:

    “@DB: Robert Lichtman, (http://www.file770.com/?p=4399&cpage=1#comment-51920) in the ‘Overserved’ thread we all participated in , explained directly to your query over there exactly what those pass-along recordings were about as mentioned in 238-40 of Harry Warner’s “A Wealth of Fable”. Why this disingenuousness?”

    Perhaps he didn’t bother to read my post? Beyond that, in his regurgitation he’s misinterpreting what Warner wrote. Go figure.

  42. 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.

    And I once again say that if you think “The Administrator should have stopped it,” you thoroughly underestimate the ire that would have been heaped upon any administrator who ignored the voters. I suggest that all of you who think that Administrators should make value judgments are implicitly assuming that the Administrators will all think they way you do. What are you going to do the first time an activist administrator disqualifies someone you are certain is a True Fan as “not fannish enough?”

    As a former Administrator myself, I know that I don’t believe that my opinion on subjective issues is any better than that of any other member of WSFS, and therefore I’m always going to defer to the members as a whole on any non-technical matter.

  43. @Kevin: The following is not a correction of anything that’s been said so far, I just think some need the explanation.

    The Worldcon business meeting can change the Hugo rules (with changes effective if ratified by vote of the next business meeting.)

    The business meeting has no authority over the Hugo Administrator, who is appointed by that year’s Worldcon committee.

    Fans at the business meeting may say cruel things about decisions made by a Hugo Administrator (and they have!) They may change the rules to keep future Hugo Administrators from making similar decisions (and they have!) But the business meeting — which, remember, is only in session during Worldcons anyway — has no oversight of the current Hugo Administrator’s decisions.

  44. Locke & Lichtman: Sorry, I must have been away for a few days as discussion continued on the other thread after my last post there, and the new comments must have disappeared from the “Recent Comments” list by the time I came back. I tried to find the other thread when Locke mentioned Lichtman’s comment (which I hadn’t seen), but I couldn’t find it, and the site search engine apparently doesn’t work on comments.

    I do note for future reference the automatically hostile assumption of stupidity or malevolence when forgetfulness or just missing some post is a more logical explanation. As Lichtman gives the same page reference I do, it should have been obvious from my phrasing that I hadn’t seen his comment. But to realize that would require an assumption of good will.

    Now, on to substantive matters: 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. 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.

    Lichtman’s own “regurgitation” of Warner (his word applied to me, and what an amazingly insulting way to describe a summary) does not happen to include the “genuine taped fanzine,” as Warner describes it, produced for the Guild of Science Fiction Recordists. Perhaps because that would counter the argument that there’s no such thing as a tape fanzine? I defy him to show how this, or anything else I reported, “misinterprets” what Warner wrote.

    Also, in the same thread Dave Locke writes: “I remember Larry Tucker’s UNCLE ALBERT’S ELECTRIC TALKING FANZINE (on cassette tape), and UNCLE ALBERT’S VIDEO FANZINE, and contributed to the former. Those were from the 1980s, and perhaps the late 70s.” What were those? Were they tape fanzines? If so, again a precedent for podcasts, if an 80s precedent instead of a 50s one.

  45. True, I should have written, “Sorry, I haven’t seen Lichtman’s post, and now I can’t find the other thread – how far back was it?” in my earlier comment, but 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.

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