Diversity again

By John Hertz: Where I live it’s the first day of spring. For Bruce Gillespie, the New Zealand for 2020 Worldcon bid, and like that, it’s fall. Diversity again. Easier said than done, but worthy of both.

I like to think science fiction has to do with diversity. John Campbell and Larry Niven, among others, have said our essential element is Minds as good as you but different. Easier said than done, but worthy of both.

The other day I saw a hundred folks had reported their Hugo nominations here (nice photo of Hugo trophies, thanks). Someone said “I am struck by how very * different * all our tastes are”. I didn’t happen to think so. The reports looked very similar to me. Another said “if [people are finding] mostly works by [X], it would indicate to me that either 1) the sources they are using … are extremely insular, or 2) they are – consciously or unconsciously – self-selecting for things written by [X].” Of course that’s neither complete nor conclusive. But it’s an important indicator.

It often seems “What’s incorrectly included?” shows up more easily than “What’s incorrectly omitted?” To see that something’s been left out you have to get the big picture. You have to be bigger than your immediate adventure. I once said that to Jon Singer, who is no dope; he said “How?”

Friends can help; in particular, diverse friends. If everyone I hang out with is just like me, who’ll point out what I’ve been missing? Of course it’s a strain. You find yourself thinking “How could you do such a thing?” This is a question better answered than brandished. If we only mean by it “Too strange, gotta go” we don’t learn anything.

One of the sandboxes I play in is Fanzineland. People have been pouring in new sand. It’s fascinating. Not so long ago fanzines were on paper – mostly; according to legend there’ve been slices of bologna, or worse – don’t ask me what I saw in Bruce Pelz’ refrigerator – but then came electronic media, and we had to think it out again.

All of us. Not just the folks upon whom new stuff poured, but the folks who poured in with it. Diversity can’t just be You have to accommodate me, but I don’t have to accommodate you.

Well then. Here are some fine fanzines, fanwriters, fanartists, of 2017, whose names leapt to my mind, conspicuously omitted by those hundred folks (and of course neither complete nor conclusive). Some of them can be found on-line, e.g. through Bill Burns’ eFanzines; that doesn’t matter much to me, it may to you. I couldn’t begin to guess which, if any, will appear on the Hugo ballot; that’s not why I’m writing. Let’s say that next time you get to How do I love thee? you count the ways. Or, not to top that, because I can’t, let’s consider Love your neighbors, for they are not like you. Or let’s just say I like to share my toys with friends.

Fanzines

  • Alexiad
  • Askance
  • Askew
  • Banana Wings
  • Beam
  • Chunga
  • Counterclock
  • Enter at Your Own Risk
  • Flag
  • Inca
  • Iota
  • Littlebrook
  • Lofgeornost
  • The MT Void
  • Nice Distinctions
  • Opuntia
  • Purrsonal Mewsings
  • Raucous Caucus
  • Trap Door
  • The White Notebooks
  • The Zine Dump

Fanwriters

  • Sandra Bond
  • William Breiding
  • Claire Brialey
  • Randy Byers
  • Graham Charnock
  • Pat Charnock
  • Leigh Edmonds
  • Lilian Edwards
  • Nic Farey
  • Janice Gelb
  • Steve Green
  • Rob Hansen
  • Andy Hooper
  • Kim Huett
  • Lucy Huntzinger
  • Jerry Kaufman
  • Steve Jeffery
  • Sue Jones
  • Christina Lake
  • Evelyn Leeper
  • Mark Leeper
  • Fred Lerner
  • Robert Lichtman
  • Rich Lynch
  • Joseph Major
  • Lisa Major
  • Mike Meara
  • Jacqueline Monahan
  • Murray Moore
  • Joseph Nicholas
  • Ulrika O’Brien
  • Roman Orszanski
  • Lloyd Penney
  • Mark Plummer
  • John Purcell
  • David Redd
  • Yvonne Rousseau
  • Yvonne Rowse
  • Darrell Schweitzer
  • Paul Skelton
  • Fred Smith
  • Ylva Spangberg (imagine a ring over the second “a”)
  • Dale Speirs
  • Garth Spencer
  • Milt Stevens
  • Suzanne Tompkins
  • Philip Turner
  • R-Laurraine Tutihasi
  • Pete Young

Fanartists

  • Harry Bell
  • Sheryl Birkhead
  • Ditmar
  • Kurt Erichsen
  • Brad Foster
  • Alexis Gilliland
  • Jeanne Gomoll
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Sue Mason
  • Ray Nelson
  • Ulrika O’Brien
  • Taral Wayne
  • Alan White

Humpty Dumpty tells Alice (Through the Looking-Glass, ch. 6) “You’re so exactly like other people…. two eyes, so – nose in the middle, mouth under. “It’s always the same.” Alice says any other way might not look nice. He answers – and these are his last words – “Wait till you’ve tried.” Of course it doesn’t occur to him that he falls under the same description himself.

59 thoughts on “Diversity again

  1. I nominated Robert Lichtman for best fan writer for FAPA.

    Opuntia’s a great zine, but is it ever SF/F related?

  2. One of the reasons why there is some amount of convergence among Filers’ nominations is because they do a huge amount of sharing with each other here — not just giving author and artist names or titles of works, but posting links and synopses and descriptions and opinions — providing context for their recommendations.

    For example, last week someone posted a link to the webcomic Always Human and talked about why they loved it, someone else chimed in with their praise for it, and someone else mentioned that it came with a soundtrack (for which I am hugely thankful, because otherwise I would never have known to turn on my speakers) and then someone else spoke up about it, too.

    And lo and behold, I checked it out, loved it too, and it ended up on my nomination ballot.

    That’s the wondrous thing about the File 770 community — so many people sharing what they love, and why they love it, and making it easy for others to find it, enabling them to discover and love it, too.

     
    I don’t see that posting a long list of names and titles, with no context whatsoever, and saying “shame on you for not being familiar with these creators and works, and for not nominating them” adds anything constructive to the conversation… other than perhaps providing the poster with the opportunity to pat themselves on the back and feel smug.

  3. Yeah I’m always keen to seek out new experiences – though admittedly I don’t have a huge amount of time for fanzines and fanwriters right now unless they’re on my Twitter feed – but this post doesn’t help me find new things I might like, it’s just a list of names.

    I totally agree with JJ that context is key when making recommendations. I also generally try to employ the lucky 10,000 philosophy when introducing people to things. Instead of making vaguely disparaging or confusing remarks about how people fall short when they don’t read your faves, it’s much more likely to be well received if you focus on sharing your own excitement and enjoyment of the thing, so they can understand why it might be exciting. Indeed, I would say the common thread among my own fanwriter nominees is their ability to do this so effectively…!

  4. Saying something is “conspicuously absent” or “conspicuously omitted” implies that many or most people think it should have been present, but it wasn’t. If a list of “Most Influential Four-Person Musical Groups from Liverpool”, for example, left off the Beatles, that would be a conspicuous absence.

    Failing to mention something that’s known to a relatively small number of people isn’t conspicuously omitting it. Neither is it saying “You have to accommodate me, but I don’t have to accommodate you.” “People aren’t reading fanzines and I think they should be” isn’t a request for accommodation.

    I agree with the earlier commenters. If you want to get people interested in something you like, try discussing why you like it and what they might get out of it, instead of scolding them for not already being aware of it. I’ve added a lot of titles to my TBR list because people here were enthusiastic about them and discussed them in ways that sounded interesting. I haven’t added anything because somebody scolded me and implied that I was close-minded for not already having read it.

  5. Unclear things in this article: HOW were all the nominations the same? Was it “all drawn from big publishers”? “all drawn from the same handful of fan authors who link to one another”? “All covering a specific and narrow range of political opinions (I keep seeing this claimed but the evidence once examined has rarely stood up to scrutiny). “All drawn from the pool of suggestions compiled on X web site” (And if X web site is itself insufficiently diverse, why does it seem insufficiently diverse? Is it curated tightly? Is it open to entry from any/every person who goes by, but insufficiently advertised?)

    What is it about these particular people that makes you feel “we” should have them on “our” radar – or that has caused “us” to pass them over? Geographical location? Political affiliation? Not linked by a more frequently-voted-for voice people have been paying attention to?

    Is this supposed missing out of voices deliberate or accidental? Malicious or Innocent? What is it that needs to be accommodated? What diversity is failing?

    This article seems to want to circumlocute its point rather than saying flat out. It wants to dance vaguely and then mutter when we miss the point that it’s because we are being insufficiently open minded.

  6. Lenora Rose: It wants to dance vaguely and then mutter when we miss the point that it’s because we are being insufficiently open minded.

    I would argue that when the word “diversity” is abused to label a long list of white people who are all over the age of 60, it isn’t the Filers who have blinders on.

  7. Calling Brad Foster unjustly overlooked is crazy. He has 8 Hugo wins as Best Fan Artist. I think this makes him the least overlooked artist in SF/F fandom.

    Taral Wayne has 11 Hugo nominations and may not have any qualifying work in 2017. I went looking for some because it would be nice to see Wayne finally win one, but came up empty. Still, not exactly overlooked.

  8. Yes. I keep hearing that “diversity of thought is the REAL diversity” which is meant to imply that a group that does not make effort to actively solicit conservatives is not truly diverse, which ignores that political leaning is one of many axes of diverse thought.

    But it is unclear that this is what’s being said (though I suspect it was) simply because the writing was so utterly vague about it.

  9. I would argue that when the word “diversity” is abused to label a long list of white people who are all over the age of 60, it isn’t the Filers who have blinders on.

    I think your use of “all” there is a bit dubious, though that’s definitely the dominant demographic among the names I recognize.

    If you are from the apazine part of SF/F fandom — a world from which sprang File 770, OGH, John Hertz and myself — just about everybody is going to be over 60 at this point (though I’m but a wee lad of 50). Few people got into APAs and fanzines after the web came along. It was so immediate and there were no more mailing costs!

    Even if people don’t like this blog post, you should check out some of the people and fanzines he’s recommended. Non-members can buy a FAPA mailing after it comes out. See the fanosaurs in our native habitat.

  10. rcade: Brad Foster… has [27 nominations and] 8 Hugo wins…
    Taral Wayne has 11 Hugo nominations
    Still, not exactly overlooked.

    Teddy Harvia has 20 Fan Artist nominations and 4 wins.
    Alexis Gilliland has 8 Fan Artist nominations and 4 wins.
    Sue Mason has 10 Fan Artist nominations and 2 wins.

    Claire Brialey has 5 Fan Writer nominations and 1 win.
    Andy Hooper has 7 Fan Writer nominations.
    Evelyn Leeper has 12 Fan Writer nominations.

    Several more people have at least 1 or 2 nominations.

    A lot of the people on the list have not exactly been overlooked.

  11. Lenora Rose: But it is unclear that this is what’s being said (though I suspect it was) simply because the writing was so utterly vague about it.

    My impression is that what’s being said is “Filers are ignoring all the REAL Fanzines, Fan Writers, and Fan Artists”. There are people — not coincidentally, of the same demographic as all of the people on this list — who are pushing the idea of redefining the Hugo Fan categories to only include the old-style Fan works, and to exclude the web-based Fan works as not being “real” Fanzines, Fan Writers, and Fan Artists. 🙄

  12. rcade: Even if people don’t like this blog post, you should check out some of the people and fanzines he’s recommended. Non-members can buy a FAPA mailing after it comes out. See the fanosaurs in our native habitat.

    So pick one of the creators or fanzines on this list, post links to examples of the works, and talk about why you think they are awesome — instead of just expecting Filers to wade through a huge list and hunt everything down.

  13. I have talked on File 770 about people on that list at various times to recommend particular things they’ve done.

    Since you asked, Mark and Evelyn Leeper are doing fine work at their long-running Mt. Void, a newsletter that is now available on Fanac.org. Evelyn was nominated for best fan writer in 1992, 1995 and 1998 and one or both would be worthy nominees today.

    I could do more, but File 770 is full of lists of people and works right now, many of which don’t include the level of detail you’re asking to see from us apazine nerds. I need to see we’re not being picked on before I do more of your homework assignment.

  14. There are people — not coincidentally, of the same demographic as all of the people on this list — who are pushing the idea of redefining the Hugo Fan categories to only include the old-style Fan works, and to exclude the web-based Fan works as not being “real” Fanzines, Fan Writers, and Fan Artists.

    That would be a doomed effort. The web fans can mobilize in minutes; APA fans take months.

  15. My fanzine/fan writer/fan artist nominations included four from the world of print fandom: best fanzines File 770 and FAPA, best fan writers for their operators Mike Glyer and Robert Lichtman. I wanted to include more — particularly an artist — but I did a poor job keeping up with APAs and zines in 2017.

  16. rcade: That would be a doomed effort. The web fans can mobilize in minutes; APA fans take months.

    More importantly, it would also be a wrong effort.

  17. rcade: File 770 is full of lists of people and works right now, many of which don’t include the level of detail you’re asking to see from us apazine nerds.

    Yep, and I generally don’t check those out, either. My time and energy are limited, and if people don’t give me a good reason to choose to check something out, I’ll be spending my time and effort on the many, many recommendations on File 770 which actually do include that level of detail.

  18. rcade: I need to see we’re not being picked on before I do more of your homework assignment.

    “Picked on”? Because younger fen don’t blindly nominate what older fen tell them they should be nominating in the Fan categories, instead of things which they actually enjoy? That’s your idea of being “picked on”?

    I am so over older fen whining and complaining about what younger fen nominate for the Hugos, and Fandom having gone to hell because of all these younger people fraudulently claiming to be “Real” fans — this post being a stellar exemplar of it — as if everyone else should be required to love and nominate what they love, on their say-so alone, and insisting that There Is Only One Way To Be A Fan (their way, of course).

    We all love what we love, and that’s perfectly fine. But if older fen want younger fen to fall in love with what they love, then they need to do more than just whine and complain about it.

    If older fen don’t want to do more? Fine, then don’t. It’s not a mandatory obligation. But don’t then whine and complain about how you’re being “picked on” because younger fen don’t adopt your preferences.

  19. I think it would be a bit of a shame if paper fanzines disappeared entirely from the ballot – and I think they mostly have, except for the ones that also have electronic publication (*bows to OGH*). But… The problem with nominating paper zines is that by their very nature they have limited distribution. I’d be surprised if many fen resident outside the USA, and Filerdom has quite a few of us, had access to many American paper-only fanzines or the fan writers that appear in them. I don’t think their lack of representation is likely to have much to do with anything except that reading something is awfully difficult when you can’t get hold of a copy.

    I have things on the fan section of my ballot that I doubt have many other nominations, mainly because they’re from bits of fandom that aren’t well-represented amongst Hugo voters. I don’t take it as a slight on those bits of fandom, though.

    Meanwhile, I’ll be over here worrying over whether I should have put Videlicet in Best Related Work instead of Fanzine, since it was a single issue… (Although since I was not a good little fan and I did not pimp it in the Recs thread and it’s from a niche bit of transformative works fandom I think it stands a snowball’s chance either way.)

    @rcade

    By lists elsewhere do you mean the nominations thread? I don’t think of those as recs so much as allowing us all to sticky beak at what everyone else picked, plus make some guesses about what might make the ballot. And get some calibration for who has the most similar taste to us, I suppose, which could be useful when reading recs in future.

  20. @rcade: Correcting to be polite, that’s “MT Void” (pronounced “emm-tee”) not “Mt. Void” (which I assume would be pronounced “mount”). I get it by email on Fridays; it gets posted to rec.arts.sf.fandom on the following Sunday or Monday.

  21. “Picked on”? Because younger fen don’t blindly nominate what older fen tell them they should be nominating in the Fan categories, instead of things which they actually enjoy?

    I never said I was being picked on because youngsters didn’t blindly nominate the same things older fans do in fan categories.

    That’s your idea of being “picked on”?

    I never said that was my idea of being picked on.

    But don’t then whine and complain about how you’re being “picked on” because younger fen don’t adopt your preferences.

    I never said I was being picked on because youngsters don’t like what I like.

    You seem to be viewing me as one of those old fans who is disgruntled with young ones. That’s not me. I enjoy apazines. I enjoy modern SF/F. I’d like to see more people appreciate things like FAPA because they are worth appreciating. I’d also like to see more in the APA community who can embrace the new.

    Besides, File 770 needs a few people to speak from the world of mimeographs, mailing comments and minac. We were the first Filers.

  22. Correcting to be polite, that’s “MT Void” (pronounced “emm-tee”) not “Mt. Void” (which I assume would be pronounced “mount”).

    Ha! I think it has been “Mount Void” in my brain forever, and I have been reading the Leepers since the 1980s. This changes everything.

  23. rcade: I never said I was being picked on because youngsters didn’t blindly nominate the same things older fans do in fan categories…
    I never said that was my idea of being picked on…
    I never said I was being picked on because youngsters don’t like what I like.

    Okay, so why do you say you’re being “picked on”?

  24. rcade: Besides, File 770 needs a few people to speak from the world of mimeographs, mailing comments and minac. We were the first Filers.

    I absolutely agree. I think that there is room in Fandom for everyone, regardless of what sort of genre works they love, and I think it is great when people share what they love with others.

    But I don’t think that long lists completely lacking in context really qualify as that sort of sharing. When somebody gives me an extensive list like the one in this post — regardless of what is on it — and says “you should check all of these things out” without providing links or any other additional information, my response is twofold: “I don’t even know where to start with something like that”, and “if it was really important to you to have people look into this, you’d have made it as easy as possible for them to prioritize which are most likely to suit them, and to find examples of the work”.

    When I put entries for Fan Writers, Fan Artists, and Fanzines into the 2018 Hugo Nominees Wikia, I made sure to curate a good selection of suggested works, with links, so that other people could see why I was recommending them.

  25. And well, if anybody’s interested in what some of the older-skewl fanzine fans are doing, there is the archive at efanzines.com.

    I need to get my fanzine out sometime. I’ve been sitting on it for years, partially because I’ve had my own issues with fanzine fandom lately, and partially because my own life has been a bit too chaotic. Maybe I’ll even get ambitious enough to rejoin FAPA.

  26. But whenever I try to tell the children how I used to correct typoes on ditto masters with the corner of a razor blade, they throw things at me and snapchat it before running away. Why won’t they listen to the wisdom of their elders? I could teach them so much about how to pretend you really meant to spell a word that way, and how to commit to spelling it that way for the next five years so people will believe you.

  27. Rcade: I think there’s a bit of conflating your comments in general support of the fan suggestions with the extreme curmudgeonly nature of the OP.

  28. Strangely, I didn’t read him as curmudgeonly, but I also didn’t go hunt down any of the suggested people/ zines. There’s so much out there. I can’t keep up as it is.

  29. rcade: Mark and Evelyn Leeper are doing fine work at their long-running Mt. Void

    I read a number of Evelyn’s past Worldcon reports (as well as old File 770s) back when I was trying to fill in missing attendance statistics for my Worldcon Attendance, Nominating, and Voting charts. Her attendance estimates were a big improvement over the zeros in some years, where no one had kept an official record of how many of the members were Attending vs. Supporting.

  30. Maybe I’ll even get ambitious enough to rejoin FAPA.

    I just submitted a FAPA zine as the gateway drug to rejoining. I think it’s in pretty urgent need of new members.

    On an unrelated note I was thinking some more about my recommendation of the Leepers. Are they really an example of the old ways of fan? They were distributing their zine on Usenet and email and were such early adopters of the Internet that some of their email correspondents in the 1980s had addresses that look (to me) like UUCP addresses. Here’s one:

    Subject: Japanese culture as reflected in anime and manga
    Path: hplabs!tektronix!orca!tekecs!hutch@volkstation.gwd.tek.com
    Date: Thu, 4-Sep-86 19:09:57 EST

    That path is explicitly routing an email from machine to machine to destination. You kids today don’t know how good you got it.

    The Leepers are pioneers of electronic fandom. They are more like today’s podcasters and bloggers than like old school zinesters printing Futurian War Digest and The Acolyte in the 1940s.

  31. The problem with nominating paper zines is that by their very nature they have limited distribution. I’d be surprised if many fen resident outside the USA, and Filerdom has quite a few of us, had access to many American paper-only fanzines or the fan writers that appear in them. I don’t think their lack of representation is likely to have much to do with anything except that reading something is awfully difficult when you can’t get hold of a copy.

    As someone who loves sf&f theater and is generally pretty indifferent to film and television, I have similar issues with the Best Dramatic Work category. I think the best dramatic genre work today is being done on the stage, not on film, and I nominate accordingly–but I don’t expect those nominations to ever make it onto a ballot, because the nature of live theater is that it has an extremely narrow geographical reach. Even if more fen were into theater, they wouldn’t be nominating the shows I see–they’d be nominating whatever was on stage in their home town, and those nominations would get drowned out by films with international distribution.

  32. … but I don’t expect those nominations to ever make it onto a ballot …

    Don’t you need at least the fleeting hope that one stage performance might break through and reach the ballot in some years? That’s how I am about potential APA nominees. I need to believe (“so you’re telling me there’s a chance”).

  33. I love live theatre… but there’s also a reason why I prefer shows to do what they are increasingly doing, and have select video screenings in movie theatres for particularly big or interesting productions, or more frequent visual recorded versions (IE, DVDs or streamed versions) available for sale. (Of course touring versions are awesome, but there seems a vast gap between the Fringe circuit level tours and the massive Broadway spectacles creating touring productions.)

    In a world where information about a show can cross hundreds or thousands of miles, but the true experience can’t, something needs to fill that information gap, and while I own scripts and they are excellent resources, they don’t quite do the trick.

  34. me: Maybe I’ll even get ambitious enough to rejoin FAPA.

    rcade: I just submitted a FAPA zine as the gateway drug to rejoining. I think it’s in pretty urgent need of new members.

    I suspect it probably is, particularly since it’s really old-skewl fandom — all paper, no electrons. I just don’t know if I can keep up with minac, as that’s what killed me last time. Also, some of what I labeled as “my own issues with fanzine fandom” involve some of the folks in FAPA, and it makes me a little hesitant to rejoin as well.

    I have to say this much, though. At least the fanwriter award is no longer the “Best Dave Langford” anymore. If there’s one thing that can be said for getting new folks into the award, the variety of winners in that category is worth it (even if it means my slim dreams of getting a Hugo for fanzine writing are even slimmer than they were when I was daydreaming them.)

  35. An interesting post.

    I did notice…

    Another said “if [people are finding] mostly works by [X], it would indicate to me that either 1) the sources they are using … are extremely insular, or 2) they are – consciously or unconsciously – self-selecting for things written by [X].”

    ….when it came along. In looking at other recommendations, if a given person had nominated people of a specific description/category, I assumed that those authors must have done a good job of scratching that nominator’s literary itch. I didn’t assume that the nominator had an unreasonable aversion to people of any genetic profile(s).

    One thing that does seem pretty constant over the last few years is the number of books in a series that receive attention in the best novel category. While a series might be great overall, it is reasonable to see every book in a series as being one of the best five books in a given year? Or might readers be a little too attached to a series to allow one installment to go unnoticed?

    As I’m in a bit of a pattern with series based books, I’m just as likely to have that bias pop up in my nominations as anyone else.

    I also lean into giving books written by military veterans and those published by smaller presses (or self published, natch) a chance at my eyeballs. Those are my biases, such as they are.

    Nonetheless, I am consistently haunted by the prospect of finishing one literary red velvet cupcake of a book while feeling like I missed out on a wonderfully tasty apple-cinnamon crumble cupcake.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The Africans know I’m not an African. I’m an American. – Whoopi Goldberg

  36. Dann: if a given person had nominated people of a specific description/category, I assumed that those authors must have done a good job of scratching that nominator’s literary itch. I didn’t assume that the nominator had an unreasonable aversion to people of any genetic profile(s).

    And yet, if someone reads only books by men, statistically it is obvious that they are either — consciously or unconsciously — self-selecting by gender, or are getting their recommendations from someone/someplace who is doing so.

  37. The Hugo nominating process avails itself of the “wisdom of crowds,” which really means it’s full of all kinds of outliers. People have the privilege of filling their ballot with what they think is best.

    Women won Hugos in every fiction and “best person” category last year. You can’t get higher than 100%. Not only is picking on individual voters argumentative, it makes it sound like it doesn’t really matter whether women won or not.

  38. Mike Glyer: Not only is picking on individual voters argumentative

    I’m not “picking on” anyone here. Dann quoted me above with a comment, and I elaborated with a general comment which made reference to no one. I think that’s fair, and I think it can hardly be called “picking on someone”.

  39. It’s probably fair to say that most Filers knew exactly which commenter’s nomination ballot was being referred to, especially once Dann and JJ pencilled in the serial numbers that had been filed off.

    I’m a bit unhappy at the OP bringing that particular conversation into another thread, actually. Not a very kind thing to do.

    I wish I’d been nominating when His Dark Materials had a truly excellent production on at the National Theatre (well, two productions – part 1 and part 2). I would have nominated that in a hot second. Now that I’m not in London anymore I don’t get many chances to go to the theatre but I might have a bit of a look to see what’s on this spring/summer. I’m overdue a visit to the parental units.

    I’m all for people nominating things from their various niche bits of fandom, we end up with the most interesting finalist ballots that way, I’m just not all for looking down on people who aren’t in that niche bit of fandom for failing to nominate those things. Especially if those niche bits of fandom aren’t very easy to access.

  40. People like what they like. The Hugos are a fan-based award for a genre with lots of nooks and crannies. Some of those nooks very well fit some readers and are of little interest to others.

    People like what they like and making them feel guilty about their personal preferences is not helpful.

    Do biases exist? Sure. No doubt. That doesn’t make those works that are nominated in some small part due to those biases unworthy of consideration. It takes more than splashing a few words on the page and being of the correct demographic to make a work worth reading. Being on the “correct” side of a bias line should not be a disqualifying feature. At the very least, it should be no more disqualifying than a ballot submitted by a reader that purposefully limits their reading to the works of specific author types and/or works that include specific features that are on the “incorrect” side of the bias line.

    The process is further complicated by nominees only coming from the prior year’s works. Someone could nominate five works that share common features in authorship or in theme and that would tell us precisely zero about the other types of works that the nominator read that came from years past.

    I’m all for people nominating things from their various niche bits of fandom, we end up with the most interesting finalist ballots that way, I’m just not all for looking down on people who aren’t in that niche bit of fandom for failing to nominate those things. Especially if those niche bits of fandom aren’t very easy to access.

    I think this from Meredith is spot on.

    FWIW, I’m glad this discussion is going on here rather than in the “what did you nominate” thread.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. – Thomas Jefferson

  41. Dann: Do biases exist? Sure. No doubt. That doesn’t make those works that are nominated in some small part due to those biases unworthy of consideration.

    And no one has said — nor even implied — such a thing.

  42. So far there’s no John Hertz comment on this post. When you are calling on others to be more engaged in what others like, you kind of owe them some engagement in the discussion.

  43. JJ

    “if [people are finding] mostly works by [X], it would indicate to me that either 1) the sources they are using … are extremely insular, or 2) they are – consciously or unconsciously – self-selecting for things written by [X].”

    Certainly does imply that such works are at the worst unworthy or at the least less worthy.

  44. Dann: Certainly does imply that such works are at the worst unworthy or at the least less worthy.

    No, it doesn’t. It implies that such people are not reading as widely as they could. Work on your reading comprehension; that is an egregious attempt on your part to draw a meaning from my words which is not there. 🙄

    Also,
    finding works =/= nominating works

  45. Regarding biases, I freely admit that I tend to prefer female over male authors. All things being otherwise equal, I am far more likely to give a new to me female author a chance than a new to me male author. Because in my experience, female authors are more likely to write books/stories that I enjoy, while with male authors I often find that a certain something is missing, even if the book sounds like the sort of thing I should theoretically like. This is why recommendations are important, because if someone with similar tastes or better yet several someones recommend a book/story/movie, I am more likely to check it out and maybe discover a good work I might otherwise have missed.

    I also have to admit that I don’t feel particularly bad that the majority of my Hugo nominations in the fiction categories were women (though I did nominate a few men as well), because frankly, women write a lot of very good SFF. However, I’ve also made an effort to seek out more works by writers of colour and LGBT writers and have found some excellent authors because of that. This year, my Hugo ballot in the novelette category was three transpeople, one non-binary writer and one cisman. This wasn’t planned, but I genuinely liked those stories best.

    I also admit that my contact with and knowledge of paper fanzines is extremely limited, largely due to my geographic location. This doesn’t mean that the tradition of paper fanzines isn’t worthy, just that I know very little about it. But luckily there are Hugo nominators who do.

    In general, I agree with Meredith that people nominating worthy works from their various niches of fandom does eventually result in interesting ballots due to the crowdsourced nature of the Hugos. For example, I had never heard of clipping before they were nominated for a Hugo last year and wound up ranking them quite highly. Meanwhile, my best dramatic presentation long form ballot is usually half Hollywood blockbuster movies and half obscure arthouse films that usually don’t make the ballot. I have nominated French or Belgian comics no one has ever heard of in the graphic story category. And this year, my Mom nominated an episode of the German TV show Einstein in the best dramatic presentation short form category, because it was genuinely one of her favourite TV shows of the year. I had it on my longlist as well, though in the end it didn’t make my shortlist.

  46. John Hertz replies by carrier pigeon:

    I stand by what I wrote.

    I don’t feel very well understood, but I lay no blame for that on anyone but myself.

    I don’t think I get to explain what I meant.

    I’ve been tempted to quote “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and ye shall find”, or even “Say ‘friend’ and enter”, but it might be taken for some kind of counter-attack.

    We’re all in this. We should each try to do our best.

  47. John Hertz: I don’t feel very well understood, but I lay no blame for that on anyone but myself. I don’t think I get to explain what I meant.

    He “doesn’t get to explain what he meant”? Or he can’t be bothered to? 🙁

  48. “He “doesn’t get to explain what he meant”? Or he can’t be bothered to? ?”

    That kind of comment gives a good reason not to bother.

  49. Hampus Eckerman: That kind of comment gives a good reason not to bother.

    Hampus, it wasn’t your comment which he hijacked and quoted out-of-context and pretended was about works which were nominated, rather that what it actually was about, which was finding works to read.

    Hertz is very well-known for not “doing online”. He never intended to engage with Filers on this post. It was a Hit-and-Run post, and he walked away smugly patting himself on the back, after abusing the term “Diversity”, misusing my quote, and then making false claims about the convergence of Filers’ nominations and the fact that most of the “overlooked” people and works on his list have received Hugo nominations and trophies.

    “Disingenuous” is a kind description for this post.

  50. It’s nearly impossible to avoid being misunderstood when your first instinct is to turn to literary quotations and allusions instead of just engaging in simple, straightforward communication. Again, it’s the latter which transmits new things to new audiences, in case that was actually the intent of this post…

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