2013 Nova Awards

The Nova Awards celebrate achievement in British and Irish science fiction fanzines. The 2013 winners were announced this weekend at Novacon 43 in Nottingham, UK.

Best Fanzine
Banana Wings

Best Fanwriter
Mike Meara

Best Fan Artist
D. West

This is Meara’s first win.

Banana Wings has won 8 Nova Awards, its first in 1996.

D. West has won 11 Nova Awards going back to 1984 – including one as Best Fanwriter.

Strange Horizons Fund Drive

Most people visit Strange Horizons to read the fiction, I’m sure, but since you’re among the select few who visit my blog the odds are if you go there it’s to read Mark Plummer’s column, just like I do.

Whatever your reason, now is the time to show appreciation by supporting the online magazine’s fundraiser.  

Founded over a decade ago by its first editor, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Strange Horizons is staffed by volunteers, and is unusual among professional sf magazines in being funded entirely by donations.

These days Niall Harrison is editor-in-chief, fiction is handled by senior editor Brit Mandelo and editors Julia Rios, An Owomoyela and Jed Hartman, and many others run departments and support the work.

The 2012 fund drive aims to raise $8,000, with stretch goals up to $11,000 — increasing pay rates for poetry (if $9,000 is raised), reviews ($10,000), and introducing fiction podcasts ($11,000) that would, like the rest of the magazine’s content, be freely available online.

All donors are entered into a prize draw which includes novels by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Angelica Gorodischer, original artwork by Alastair Reynolds and Marge Simon, magazine subscriptions, and tarot readings. Prizes will be announced in batches throughout the month of October.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Mark Plummer Is Not Impressed

File 770 typically needs a couple of years to catch up with an internet meme. Not in this case. Isn’t it easy to imagine Mark Plummer wearing McKayla Maroney’s silver-medalist scowl while drafting his column about Chris Garcia for Strange Horizons? The first paragraph derides Chris’ overuse of the word awesome. The second paragraph frowns upon his addiction to exclamation points and liking for extra capital letters (remember “ChiCon”?) Not impressed, okay — but what made this worth a column?

Just before my fuel gauge hit the point-of-no-return I found Mark’s lede in the third paragraph, crash-landed on a lonely desert island beside Amelia Earhart’s Electra: Mark disagrees with some points Chris made comparing blogs with fanzines in an article for Apex Magazine, “What It Is We Miss When We Don’t Read Fanzines”.

Mark has circled the blog v. fanzine topic before in his Strange Horizons column and I am as willing to listen to his views as Chris Garcia’s. If only Mark would state them affirmatively! Then it would be easier to tell who’s talking because it’s not as if Chris and Mark are any farther apart than “Tastes great!” “Less filling!” or “It’s a breath mint!” “It’s a candy mint!” For example, Mark writes —

And that, I think, is the key thing about Chris’s article: that it tries to identify differences between fanzines and blogs when it seems to me that there are really far more points of commonality.

And —

Bloggers, though, may be more firmly embedded in the broader fandom as it’s played out here in 2012 and so when Chris says, “Many bloggers have become that ranting commentator who never actually participates in the events they react to; a claim held often against many zine writers of earlier days” I suspect that’s true of some fanzine writers of the present day too.

Now that Chris has cracked open the door, if Mark is willing to step through and analyze the issues of power and privilege among fanwriters in all media, I’m ready to be part of his audience.

2012 FAAn Award Winners

The winners of the 2012 FAAn Awards were announced April 22 at Corflu Glitter. Here are the results posted by Geri Sullivan.

Best Website: eFanzines.com, hosted by Bill Burns

Harry Warner Jr. Memorial Award Best Letterhack; Robert Lichtman

Best Perzine: A Meara for Observers, ed. Mike Meara

Best Single Issue or Anthology: Alternative Pants,ed. Randy Byers

Best Fan Artist: Steve Stiles

Best Fan Writer: Mark Plummer

Best Genzine or Collaboration: Banana Wings, eds. Mark Plummer and Claire Brialey

#1 Fan Face: Mark Plummer

My Burning Ears

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.

No blogs.

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.

More Plummer on the Horizon

Attending Renovation inspired Mark Plummer to explore the history of the Trans-Atlantic Fan fund in his latest column for Strange Horizons, “Paraphernalia: Beyond the Enchanted Convention to the Enchanted Peter R. Weston Memorial Defibrillator Station” —

The roots of TAFF go back to at least 1941, when D. R. Smith suggested in the pages of the December 1941 issue of Futurian War Digest that after the war British fans should club together to bring leading American fan Forrest J Ackerman to the UK. It never came to anything, but Ackerman himself later initiated The Big Pond Fund which sought to bring British fan and New Worlds editor Ted Carnell to the US.

Once you’ve read Mark’s column you’ll know the answer to the question: “What TAFF delegate took the Queen Mary to America?” More importantly, you’ll learn why this is an enduring fan institution.

And if you appreciate Mark’s column, show it today is by participating in Strange Horizon’s annual fund drive:

For over a decade, Strange Horizons has pursued a number of goals: to encourage and support new writers of speculative fiction from diverse backgrounds; to provide a home for readers looking for fiction that expands the possibilities of sf, and discussions of the same; and to offer content free of change while still paying contributors professional rates, without being dependent on advertisers or corporate interests.

Niall Harrison reminds me, “We’re an all-volunteer outfit, and we run off reader donations, so this is pretty important for us!”

Mark Plummer on Hugo History

At Renovation I attended “How Did We get to Where We Are? A Brief History of the Hugos” with Vincent Docherty, Janice Gelb, Rich Lynch and Mark Plummer, who each contributed interesting stories and exotic trivia.

The fascinating research Mark Plummer shared from 1953 Worldcon progress reports with the committee’s explanation of its newly-invented award is further discussed in his column for the August 1 Strange Horizons, “Rockets in Reno.”

For example, I had never before heard that the 1953 committee encouraged participation by announcing in-progress voting results. Mark says in his column:

Progress report 4 was issued on 1 August 1953 and contain[ed] an update on the voting…. We can see, then, that about four weeks out The Demolished Man was leading over The Long Loud Silence for novel; “old-timer Forrest J Ackerman and new-timer Harlan Ellison” were splitting the votes for Fan Personality….

While remarkable in its own right – such a practice would set off a riot in the blogosphere nowadays – Mark’s information could have been used to immediately settle an old argument if anyone had been aware of it at the time: the question of whether Forry Ackerman’s first Hugo had really been voted by members or was merely the equivalent of today’s committee awards? (See “Ackerman’s Hugo” and “Listing to the Other Side” from 2009.) Since Ackerman and Ellison were “splitting votes for Fan Personality” clearly there’s no room for doubt that the award was put to a vote.

If you have an interest in this slice of fanhistory Mark’s column is well worth your time.

Mark Plummer at Strange Horizons

Mark Plummer of Banana Wings has launched a new column about fandom, “Paraphernalia”, at Strange Horizons. Mark’s opening installment takes Susan Wood’s old “Clubhouse” column in Amazing and her experiences at the first Aussiecon (1975) as the starting point to compare science fiction fandom then and now. It’s a fine read.

Strange Horizons is a weekly web-based sf magazine publishing fiction and features. Editor Niall Harrison says “The idea is that Mark will be writing about fans and fandom, trying to do a little bit to bridge the gap there seems to be between different fannish worlds these days.” Columnists are on an 8-week rotation, so Mark’s next appearance will be in August.

Mark is off to a flying start.

2010 Nova Award Winners

The 2010 Nova Awards for best fanzine, fan writer, and fan artist were presented at Novacon in Nottingham, UK during the November 12 weekend.

Best Fanzine: Journey Planet #7, edited by Christopher J Garcia, Claire Brialey and James Bacon
Best Fan Writer: Mark Plummer
Best Fan Artist: ATom

The winners are determined by a vote of Novacon members. The top three finishers in each category are listed here.

ATom, faanish name of renowned fanartist Arthur Thomson who died in 1990, is the first posthumous Nova winner since the awards were created in 1973. His work continues to be featured in several top British fanzines.

Steve Green said on Facebook, “I must confess I felt a little weird halfway through counting the Nova Award votes, as I looked set to win a Nova of my very own. Still, if I was going to beaten by anyone, Arthur Thomson is one hell of a candidate.”

[Thanks to Steve Green for the story.]