Nerds of a Feather Recuses Itself from the 2022 Hugos

The editors of this year’s Best Fanzine Hugo winner Nerds of a Feather have opted to remove themselves from contention for the 2022 Hugos. But they will compete again in 2023.

They explained the decision in a post:  

In 2021, Nerds of a Feather. Flock Together won the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. It was our fifth nomination and first win in the category. However, we will not win our second this year – continuing an emergent tradition in this category started by our friends at Lady Business (and continued by 2020 winners The Book Smugglers), we are recusing ourselves from consideration for this year’s award.

Why, you ask? Well, it’s pretty simple: Fanzine is more than just an award category – it’s a community. Over the years we’ve gotten to know our competitors for the award as peers, colleagues and friends. Really, “competitor” is a wrong term, because we aren’t fighting over readers; rather, we all benefit from the community’s growth and the conversations that emerge from that growth. We hope that other fanzines will benefit from the publicity and excitement that comes with being on the ballot, and have their own shot at taking home the big rocket. And while there’s no guarantee we would win in 2022, we really just want to stand and cheer for our friends this year.

(We’ll compete again in 2023.)

Although several Hugo categories have perennial nominees, the Best Fanzine category is unusual for the number of times winning editors have taken themselves out of contention for the following year.  

Charlie Brown withdrew Locus for 1979 while making his speech accepting the 1978 Hugo. At that time fanzines from which the editors earned their living were still eligible in the category and when another such fanzine, Science Fiction Review, won in 1979 Charlie was left to wonder what had been the point. Locus went on to win the Fanzine Hugo for the next four years, and beginning in 1984 when the Semiprozine category was created, win that Hugo for another nine straight years.

Dividing the category in 1984 opened the way for File 770 to win twice, then I withdrew for 1986. And later I recused twice more, in 1996 and 2017.

Lady Business won the 2017 Best Fanzine Hugo, then they withdrew for 2018. After winning in 2018, File 770 permanently withdrew from eligibility. Lady Business returned to win the Hugo in 2019.

There have been similar examples in other fan Hugo categories. In the Best Fan Artists category, Frank Wu, after winning three out of the four previous Hugos, took himself out of contention for 2008. And although John Scalzi was not nominated in 2009 after winning in 2008, he had been prepared to decline if he made the ballot and has since encouraged voters to “pass up the chance” to nominate him. But the Best Fanzine category, where it has now happened at least seven times, supplies by far the most examples. (And who’s to say I’ve remembered all of them?)

4 thoughts on “Nerds of a Feather Recuses Itself from the 2022 Hugos

  1. It’s nice for them to step aside so that more fanzines get the chance to be recognized (and so that fandom has the chance to learn about more good fanzines)

  2. Thanks for this, Mike, I’ve tweeted out a correction with the timeline for recusals going back to 2017 (and will update the blog post today as well). Love that this is a tradition in the category now, and grateful for the opportunity to continue it. Hope that it spreads to other “cumulative achievement” award categories.

  3. Major props to File 770 for permanently recusing themselves. You’re a class act and more should follow in your example. Instead of another trophy for the backup display case or the attic, imagine the careers that could be made and uplifted by someone new being able to say they’re a Hugo winner.

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