Not That You Asked

(1) Monday morning programming at Worldcons is great. It’s worth waking up to attend. I did, for a change, attending back-to-back presentations about orbiting space telescopes, fascinating lectures and visuals, especially from the less-publicized ones that detect energy (microwave, infrared) or the signatures of elements (carbon monoxide), helping to discover more about the formation and structure of the universe.

(2) Next time I organize a con program I want to tap into children’s programming for some of thir cool ideas. James Bacon worked with ChiKidz and when I went there to find him for coffee, I arrived at the same time as members of the NIU quidditch team who came to set up a demo for the kids. Plenty of fans would like to see that. It was likely the most exciting thing happening at that hour.

(3) Chicon had a good idea, posting printouts of the Hugo voting stats just outside the ballroom. A lot of people looked them over. Sure the info is online by then but how many are aware of that or equipped to access it?

(4) Speaking of Hugo stats, there were a lot of wire-to-wire winners who led every round. Even in the dramatic categories — there was no doubt which Doctor Who episode was getting the Hugo despite the multiplicity of choices. Best Fan Artist supplied the only come-from-behind victory, Maurine Starkey picking up critical support in the last round of the runoff.

(5) Jim C. Hines ran away and hid in the Best Fan Writer category while the new Best Fancast Hugo went to a crew of five, most of them significant pro writers. Len Bailes’ quote “Prodom is the new fandom” becomes ever more true.

(6) John Scalzi launched the Hugo Ceremony with an incisive bit of comedy, analyzing how the psychological experience of being a nominee parallels the well-known five stages of dying. Very true.

All of his material was good, no duds at all. His early pacing was right on target and I would have liked for him to stay with it. I felt like there was less and less of his presence as the evening wore on and at several points he joked about getting us away to the parties or off to drinking as if he felt pressed for time.

It is a kind of Chicago Worldcon tradition to make the trains run on time — twice here TM Marta Randall turned in hundred-minute ceremonies. But Scalzi hasn’t been around long enough to have witnessed that, so unless someone layed that charge on him it must reflect his sense of the way things ought to run. Now as a member of the audience sitting through categories with five winners giving acceptance speeches, and others where people caught up in the emotion of the moment thank their entire geneologies, I need the toastmaster to buy me a little breathing space before tackling the next dramatic peak. Generally, Scalzi proved to be in his own way the heir to Silverberg, Resnick, Shaw and Willis. I hope future committees bring him back as TM.

8 thoughts on “Not That You Asked

  1. Len Bailes’ comment that prodom is the new fandom certainly applied to the Auroras this year. With the exception of Best Fan Filk, pro writers took all the fan awards.

  2. Why does a distinction need to be made between pro and fan when the “pro” isn’t getting paid for his fan writing. Are we arguing here that the moment you sell a book you can’t be involved in fannish activities?

  3. Wouldn’t your postulated argument require rules illiteracy?

    Do you deny that out of the past five winners of the Best Fanzine Hugo, one is the current president of SFWA, one is a writer in the SF Hall of Fame, another has sold many novels and a fourth was an editor at Clarkesworld who won in the year of the great rally to save the semiprozine Hugo? Aren’t you curious about that trend?

    Now, Cheryl Morgan won a well deserved Hugo and she would have been an appropriate winner in any number of years. That doesn’t make my observation about the voting dynamic any less true.

    Fans, perhaps including yourself, often aspire to become the writers’ pals and think it would be the greatest thing in the world if cons were one great egalitarian room party. And of course it would. And some fans get very cranky if someone like me says anything else is happening. But I didn’t create the distinction between fans and those who work for a living in this field. Apart from the more gregarious pros or the ones who started as fans, that is a distinction maintained by pros on their side of the divide. You may have read one of them during the Readercon uproar explaining that for writers cons are working spaces — a turn of phrase I thought described the social situation exactly.

    In the end, my quoting the remark “prodom is the new fandom” reflects both the unpaid activity you referenced and the reflection in awards results that there is a parallel fandom, one that fans per se aren’t networked to.

  4. Mike: I completely agree with you. Pros who are using the internet primarily to promote themselves are NOT “fan writers.”

    I also agree that John Scalzi was a competent, professional, and funny MC who did a good job (very much unlike those two dudes in Reno). I enjoyed his banter. He should do the gig again (and this time, with a rule that Hugos won by multiple editors get ONE acceptance speech.

  5. @Martin: If you want to make that argument that’s one thing, but it’s not something I am arguing that you can agree with. You should consider “Prodom is the new fandom” more literally. Look at the community pro bloggers and podcasters regard as their peers. Is it conrunners and fanzine fans or even fan bloggers? Or people within their own realm of writing/publishing activities? Fans want to be treated as their peers and that accounts for much of the wishful egalitarianism that makes it so hard to discuss the state of the fan Hugos. It’s not a problem with the how the rules define the eligible fanac. It’s a change in how pros see themselves currently versus a few years ago. Winning a fan Hugo now carries a cachet within that peer community which it never did before.

  6. Mike, I didn’t so much as see you in the distance at the Worldcon, despite the fact that we evidently attended some of the same panels, such as the space telescopes one. Another instance of the ships-passing-in-the-night quality of Worldcons.

    Since publishers are upfront about expecting authors to generate a lot of their own publicity nowadays, largely on the Net, an argument could be made that “fanac” on the Net by published authors is actually work that is indirectly compensated by their royalties, and is arguably thus not fanac. However, I am not sure that one could draw a line in a meaningful fashion. A lot of pros were heavily involved in fanac before they became pros (so that a presumption exists that their fannishness is legitimate), and the amount of time and effort that some pros put into their websites, podcasts, etc., seems disproportionate to any expectation of increased sales, again arguing that they are doing it largely out of love.

  7. Prodom is the old fandom too. Back when dirt was new folks like Doc Smith and Heinlein entered masquerades and engaged in fan work while maintaining pro careers.

  8. If you’re saying they were being egaliatarian I wouldn’t agree that what Heinlein did in the 1940s represented his general attitude toward fandom. Heinlein hung out with fans when he was GoH because he believed that was part of the gig. He was otherwise very reserved. Read Bill Patterson’s bio paying attention to the parts about Ackerman, and the Manana Literary Society — even in those days he maintained a distinction beween his fans and peers.

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