Drink Tank Handicaps the Hugos

The Drink Tank’s relentless schedule usually means that by the time I get ready to comment on “the most recent issue” there is an even more recent issue.

Issue #315 of The Drink Tank is the one I have in mind, where Chris Garcia and James Bacon, joined by Niall Harrison, Aidan Moher, Charlie Jane Anders, Jay Crasdan and Chris M Barkley, set about “Handicapping the Hugos”.

The premise of Hugo handicapping is to ruthlessly predict the winner – not rank one’s personal favorites, or arrange the nominees in ascending order of objective quality.

And Chris and James have certainly done that in the fan categories. Wiping the tears from their eyes, the duo predicts all the nominated blogs, bloggers and web artists will make a clean sweep of the fan Hugos. Yes, they can haz cheeseburger! Randall Munroe will overcome last year’s one-vote loss to be named Best Fan Artist. Pro writer Jim C. Hines will be annointed Best Fan Writer. SF Signal will win be voted Best Fanzine.

Is that true? Is the only remaining question whether concessionaires will be able to keep enough rope in stock at the Chicago Worldcon for all the fans who’ll want to hang themselves? Because these seem like pretty reasonable guesses to me. Can no one save us from this electronic doom?

But wait! I forgot one thing! Chris and James are kings of the internet too! They not only put out a PDF zine, last year’s Hugo winner whose titanic 300th issue will be featured in the Hugo Voter Packet. Their award acceptance video got over 40,000 views. They went viral! Who else on the ballot has done that? The only time I ever went viral was in high school with the Hong Kong Flu. They got four Hugo nominations this year! What’s with all this modesty? Why would the voters suddenly stop liking these guys? They didn’t predict themselves to win, the only thing that might have jinxed them — so look out world! I’m thinking that if Randall Munroe wins a Hugo this year, the main reason will be that Chris and James never took up drawing…

Aidan Moher Made Me Look

In a comment about Aidan Moher’s Thoughts on the 2012 Hugo Award Shortlist at A Dribble of Ink, Chris Garcia confessed that his Hugo nominations have not been a source of unalloyed pleasure.

Says Chris:

I find it interesting that the two groups that are least happy with our nomination in Short Form are the Forces of Blogs and The Old Boys Club membership! I find myself wondering who actually nominated us.

The “Forces of Blogs” includes Staffer’s Book Review, whose author feels Chris’s nominations are more of the same-old, same-old.

And The Old Boys Club? They’re camped on my own doorstep! But just because two guys who don’t vote in the Hugos came to my blog, hiked their baboon butts in the air and ostentatiously crapped all over Chris doesn’t mean they were the certified ambassadors of world faanish opinion.

One of the many quaint and curious things about the internet is its ability to produce the mirage of majority opinion from a microscopic sample. Wherever two or three agree, that’s suddenly treated as having the popular force of an Occupy demonstration.

Chris ironically asked — Who nominated him? His question contains the seeds of its own answer. It’s the people who wrote his name on their Hugo nominating ballots. Dozens of fans. Including me. I’m happy to identify myself as a voter for Chris and James’ The Drink Tank.

Drink Tank Looks at Before Watchmen

The File 770 post ”Before Watchmen – A Dissenting Voice” was so widely viewed I’m sure many of you will want to see James Bacon’s and Chris Garcia’s discussion of Before Watchmen in The DrinkTank #309 [PDF file]. Evidently the two of them disagree. James hints, “One editor is conflicted, and generally disappointed; another feels it’s possibly the savior of the industry.”

Contributors Kate Laity, Tony Keen, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Laura Sneddon, Robert Curley, Carol Connolly, Michael Carroll, Martin Pedlar and Lynda E. Rucker also speak on the matter.

The issue’s art comes from Kev Levell, Mark Lewis, Brian Hess, Thais Yuki Jussim, plus a stunning acrylic cover by Mo Starkey.

Drink Tank 300

Chris Garcia’s and James Bacon’s The Drink Tank #300 [PDF file] celebrates another century mark in an epic way; 320 contributions from a bodacious number of writers and artists fill 272 pages, which translates to 11 megabytes of faanish goodness for those of you who read Drink Tank electronically. (“Is there any other kind?” barks Col. Jessup.)

Chris and James get 18 pages just from listing the contributors. The quick and the dead alike have been enlisted for this issue – Hieronymous Bosch one of the latter. All the rest, with the exception of Harlan Ellison (shh! it’s a secret! at least from Harlan) have enthusiastically and willingly joined this great zine’s post-Hugo victory party.

Many took inspiration from the issue’s several themes: wrestling, Los Angeles, and “Your Worst Idea Ever.” There are also articles by people who seem to have thought there was a theme “But wait, I’m important too!” And of course you are.

The number 300 is a theme itself and Julian West’s sublime “300” is a grunt’s-eye view of glory at Thermopylae, limned in gallows humor.

Contributions come in every form, genre and style — a haiku by Kevin Roche, computer code (“The Garcialyzer”) from Liz Batty, a micro fotonovela with art by Rick Bretschneider, an extremely cool travelogue by Eleanor Farrell, Liam Sharp’s interesting short-short “It Was Like Sorrow”, several reviews, and an interview with Michael Whelan conducted by Sarah Lorraine Goodman.

Some of my other favorites include seductively-titled bits of ingenuity like Bill Higgins’ “The Shmoos of the Tevatron,” which is actually nonfiction, and Dann Lopez’ brilliant, masterful, and don’t let me forget to say hilarious Wizard of Oz parody “Ozzie’s Broom.”

Jason Schacht even lost 150 pounds for the occasion. Well anyway, he really did lose 150 pounds – and it’s all documented here.

Check it out! It’s for reading experiences like this the long Thanksgiving weekend was made.

Overserved at The Drink Tank?

Two of the last three Best Fan Writer Hugos have been won by Hugo nominated novelists. Taral vents his frustration that more people don’t find this controversial in “The Way the Futurian Blogs,” an article in The Drink Tank #259 (PDF file). I’m not a fan of the accompanying graphic, an altered paperback cover of Pohl with a hole in his head — both distasteful and disrespectful.

Also not very perceptive, if the idea behind the image is to fault Pohl for winning. Pohl did not ordain this result, his victory came out of a popular movement. I understood this much better after hearing the tone in Andrew Trembley’s voice as he told fans at Westercon how much he loved reading anecdotes about the history of the sf field on Fred Pohl’s blog. At that moment I thought d’oh! I’d forgotten what it is like to hear these stories for the first time. Some I heard as a young fan from Pohl’s First Fandom contemporaries. Others I read in Pohl’s 1978 autobiography The Way the Future Was. To the latest generation of science fiction fans they are brand new. And they’re great stories. And they’re about science fiction, which (big news here) a lot of science fiction fans still find interesting.

Yes, I tried to persuade fans to go in another direction and vote for someone else. Somebody who’s not already a famous sf writer. Guess what? I lost. World ends, film at 11? No, and what’s more, I’m even allowed to like the winner.

Taral Fills The Drink Tank

Taral will soon be making his 50th contribution to Chris Garcia’s frequent fanzine The Drink Tank as we reported not long ago. But then the dynamic duo asked themselves — why stop there? Taral writes:

You might be amused that the entire issue of Drink Tank 258 will be written and drawn by myself, with the exception of some photos found with Google. Chris and I cooked up the idea when discussing the upcoming 50th Drink Tank article by me. I’ve already written three articles for it, an editorial, and all the locs. I “invited” Chris to write a guest editorial, and he’s doing all the production work.

Hugo Analysis in Drink Tank

Chris Garcia and James Bacon have created a magnificent Drink Tank theme issue about the Hugo Novels. The 37-page fanzine is rich with thoughts and comments on the category’s history and this year’s nominees in particular. It boasts contributions from Michael Moorcock (reprinted from The Guardian), Cory Doctrow (from BoingBoing) , Niall Harrison, Paul Kincaid and Peter Weston. But you may agree that the liveliest parts are those written by Chris and James themselves.

Click here to read Drink Tank #252 (PDF file).

Taral Nears 50th Contribution to Drink Tank

Taral Wayne soon will send his 50th contribution to Chris Garcia’s frequent fanzine The Drink Tank.

Taral’s first appearance came relatively late in the zine’s history — issue 153, responding to Frank Wu’s interview questions. Since then he’s found it a great outlet for his work. He recently sent Chris his 46th article and knows the other four are bound to follow. 

“Those articles are among the best I’ve ever got to publish!” says Chris. “It’s been an absolute pleasure to have them and I hope he’ll keep sending them and allowing me to make it up to 100!”

Taral’s loyalty is readily explained: “The big advantage of DT is that Chris will publish ephemera that will date in as little as a month and doesn’t add isn’t the sort of headliner suited to Banana Wings or Trapdoor.”

Taral has become such a prolific contributor, admits Chris, that “In the last year, Taral has had more words in The Drink Tank than I have (at least count). I don’t think I’d managed to have done half as many issues as I managed in the last year-and-a-half without him on board!”

Click for Taral's handwritten list of his articles for The Drink Tank.

The Barmy Cats Adventures

It turns out to have been a mystery only to me, that nagging question I’ve been pondering for several weeks: Why did C*****s D*****s pen “A Corflu Carol” (The Drink Tank #158), lampooning Cheryl Morgan with such rich humor I was embarrassed to admit how hard I’d laughed? Mainly because I didn’t know who really threw this barb, or whether Cheryl would find it funny (it might remind her of blunt comments made by trufen in past years). Now that I’ve learned the full context, I expect she had no problem with it at all, if it turns out she didn’t write it herself (I haven’t stumbled across that answer yet).

“A Corflu Carol” soars from its opening lines:

Fanzine fandom was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. The register of its burial was signed by the costumers, the filkers, the conrunners, and the furries. Emcit Eljay signed it, and Emcit Eljay’s name was good for a fan Hugo. Fanzine fandom was as dead as a doornail.

Had I not (evidently) slept through January 3, I’d have already known this was either the answering salvo to, or perhaps a tangential development of, Cheryl’s comical new series of “Barmy Cats Adventures,” launched by the appearance of “The Clubhouse Affair” in The Drink Tank #157.

My encounter with “The Clubhouse Affair” waited ’til today when I caught up reading Cheryl’s personal blog. She explained the whole project on January 20, giving verbal snapshots of all the characters. Cheryl concluded, after reading the recent debates about Core Fandom, that it would be “quite funny to imagine a world in which the brave freedom fighters of Core Fandom really were engaged in a bitter struggle against the greedy capitalists of WSFS.” And in her hands, it is funny.