Novelist Jim C. Hines has been a Best Fan Writer nominee for about three weeks now. He says it’s been a learning experience. And what has he learned? According to “Hugo Lessons Thus Far” some has to do with underwear, with fashion preferences, and with cupcakes. There is also one genuine pearl of wisdom:
Do not read people’s blog posts about the Hugo ballot…
- Blogger A said they were happy to see me on the Fan Writer list and would probably vote for me. OMGYAY SOMEONE’S GOING TO VOTE FOR ME I’M TOTALLY GOING TO WIN!!!
- Blogger B said they were going to vote for someone else, and asked why a professional writer was on the Fan Writer list. AW CRAP I’M SO GOING TO LOSE AND EVERYONE WILL HATE ME FOREVER!!!
Yeah. I think it’s best if I just stop reading those posts…
Agreed, that way lies the path of true joy. However, as Anthony Trollope wrote in Phineas Finn, “But who is there that abstains from reading that which is printed in abuse of himself?”
Much as I’ve enjoyed Hines’ blog – see Why Princesses Need Chiropractors — I’m basically in Blogger B’s camp. Yet what should I say? I wasn’t much of a factor when I tried to keep John Scalzi and Fred Pohl from winning the Best Fan Writer Hugo. Based on that performance, Hines probably ought to hire me to campaign against him then get on with writing his acceptance speech.
What if this time I endorse the pro? Reverse psychology! After all, most of my picks for the FAAn Awards ended floating face-down at the bottom of the poll. I possess the kiss of death! Yes, I think that would be the biggest threat of all.
In Re the above:
Thanks for the commentary regarding Orlando’s Manifesto!
Watch out, or I’ll endorse you, and your little dog too!
There’s nothing innately wrong with Jim Hines’ presence on the fan-writer docket. But one wonders how his fellow professionals view him now. I think many, including a number of editors, consider “fan-writing” a fatal diffusion of effort. As usual, the nomination is its own punishment.
The man is probably a nice guy and doesn’t deserve to be dumped on. On the other hand, if he were a * really* nice guy he wouldn’t be in a contest to take candy from babies, and would have refused to accept the nomination. That’s how I see it, anyway…
I’d be curious if someone could explain to me the distinction between Jim Hines being nominated for Best Fan Writer, and past nominations, and wins, for, say, Terry Carr, Bob Shaw, Ted White, or even, dare I say it, Piers Anthony. Does fan writing become more pure if printed on twiltone?
I don’t think much of a case can be made that Jim Hines was nominated simply because of his vast fame as a pro writer, given how many vastly more famous pro writers have blogs or websites or social media they write profusely for (beyond Pohl and Scalzi; really, if it’s just fame, why not Ursula Le Guin, or Vonda McIntyre or Jane Yolen or David Brin or…?).
(One similarly recalls the arguments about the unfairness of Jack Gaughn’s Best Fan Artist nominations and wins.)
@Gary: The foremost distinction is that none of those fellows wrote a piece drawing attention to their eligibility for a fan writer Hugo, as Scalzi and Hines did, a thinly-veiled appeal for a nomination. If every pro with a blog did the same then better writers of nonfiction commentary than Hines would take his place. It wouldn’t be Le Guin’s fame, but the power of her expression that would be rewarded. These other writers’ self-restrant is the obvious reason the ballot isn’t overrun with pros. That’s the “distinction,” not the how-many-angels-can-dance-on-the-head-of-a-Hugo-administrator, red-herring argument about can’t-pros-be-fans-too. The restraint shown by most of them is evidence that they acknowledge the award is aimed at actifans.
Mike, thanks for explaining your views further. I certainly agree, as I always emphatically have, with the custom of emphatically discouraging anything resembling campaigning.
On the other hand, as I’ve also always said, I don’t think one or two — but not more — mentions of eligibility are out of line, either; plenty of well-thought-of nominees and winners have done that. If Scalzi or Hines went beyond that, I’d make frowny faces, but I wasn’t aware that they had.
This is something on which we disagree; I not only don’t think it’s obvious, I question the premise entirely, and I’d ask if you have any evidence to point to to support how obvious the truth of this assertion is.
I’m unclear what makes the writing Scalzi and Hines do at their blogs any less fan writing than writing done in fanzine format, and therefore what makes them inherently less actifans in other than perhaps some social sense, or perhaps by self-identification, as I have no idea whether they think of themselves as describable by that term. (Which I note with interest is fairly describable as an old-fashioned term at this point; I don’t recall the last time I saw a fan under the age of 30 use it.)
@Gary: Every year the Hugo voting statistics show the top 15 nominees in each category. John Scalzi made the final ballot as a Best Fan Writer nominee for the first time in 2007. In 2006 he wasn’t among the top 15 nominees. The year 2007 is the first time he mentioned his eligibility in a post on Whatever. Jim C. Hines is a first-time Best Fan Writer finalist this year, 2012. In 2011 he was not among the top 15 nominees. The year 2012 is the first time he mentioned his eligibility in a post on his blog.
It’s not that everybody who mentions his or her eligibility on a blog gets nominated, it’s that there are plenty of famous sf novelists doing fine blogs and most of the time the community doesn’t look to them in order to fill out their nominating ballots in the Best Fan Writer category.
If you do, that’s your right. But if you do, you’re out on an island.