Fanzine Choices

The campaign (and I use that word advisedly) to get a Hugo nomination for Star Ship Sofa is very interesting. Goodness only knows what would have happened to me had I done the same sort of thing for Emerald City 10 years ago, but times do change. Personally I’m delighted that the podcast fanzine community wants to get Hugo recognition, rather than carping about how unfair the process is as other people have done. I’m also very pleased to see different types of fannish activity getting spotlighted.

If your taste runs to more traditional fanzines, however, I warmly recommend Journey Planet. Issue #5 has recently been published, and includes a whole bunch of guest articles by people like Jon Courtenay-Grimwood, John Scalzi, Edward James and Paul McAuley. It is an alternate history special.

And finally, getting back to diversity again, a new issue of Yipe!, the costuming fanzine, has just been published. Sadly Yipe! appears to only have produced 3 issues by the end of 2009, making it ineligible for Best Fanzine in Melbourne. Next year, however, it will definitely be on my ballot.

5 thoughts on “Fanzine Choices

  1. Alas, times do change. The word “fandom” once referred to a subculture instead of just amorphouls clumps of audience members, eager to do random favours for their fave-of-the-day.

    And I really am glad that you didn’t campaign for a Hugo, Cheryl. If you had, there’s no way I’d be on civil terms with you. Ever.

    1. One of the more interesting things about this whole phenomenon is that old-timers like you always see themselves as defending the one, true fandom from moronic consumers only interested in the latest fad, while the folks trying to break in see themselves as a vibrant fandom desperately trying to get recognition from the faceless bureaucrats at WSFS who control who gets the Hugos. Neither of these caricatures has much basis in reality.

      Anyway, I’m glad you think that I didn’t campaign. There were plenty of people happy to accuse me of doing it at the time. One thing that became very clear to me at the time was that “campaigning” was a standard attack made against anyone perceived to be an outsider trying to break into the field. It was perfectly OK for an established fanzine to send free copies of expensively photocopied ‘zines to known Hugo voters in the month before the deadline, but if I so much as mentioned that Hugo voting was happening then I was guilty of “campaigning”.

      Really what matters here is who gets involved, and why they do so. I will happily campaign to get people to participate in the Hugos because I know that there are plenty of genuine fans out there who feel excluded from the process (including, it seems, most Worldcon attendees). In the case of Star Ship Sofa it is pretty clear from the content of the podcasts that anyone who listens to it has to be a science fiction fan and is likely to have interests well beyond a single candidate. I think Star Ship Sofa listeners will make good Hugo voters.

  2. I’m frankly amazed at how spectacularly you’ve mischaracterised my position as well as my fannish background, Cheryl. (Though on re-reading my earlier comment, maybe not. That was too glib, maybe on its way to being just plain dumb.) But at any rate, I shall explain where I’m really at.

    Sure, I’ve been around the block a bunch (as have a lot of us) and my fanac has been primarily fanzine-ish (except meatspace activities at cons, from retrotechnology workshops to driving trucks) but be that as it may….I have never followed a party line, whether real or imagined. Back in my Young Turk phase (fortunately the most active one) I was constantly pulling in material form the alt-zine and mailart communities, sometimes to the complete bafflement of the fannish segment of my audience. It was lively! And I totally loved it. So assuming that I reject new media just because I circulate in fanzine circles is just daft.

    I’m not at all opposed to new media being equivalent to fanzines. In fact, I’m of the mindset that WSFS and the smoffish contingent ought to be proactive about handling fannish video productions, as lumping them in with the Best Dramatic Works creates impossibly long odds. It’s the campaigning that’s the issue, regardless of whatever it is with the campaign. Campaigning basically turns the award into a popularity contest between subfandoms. Want balkanized fandom? You’ve got the ingredients right here. And I think the extreme polarisation of the responses bears this up.

    Lastly, I need to respond to “It was perfectly OK for an established fanzine to send free copies of expensively photocopied ‘zines to known Hugo voters in the month before the deadline”: actually, it wasn’t. I guess you weren’t around for the LAN’S LANTERN controversy. Unlikely to be a big loss.

    Peripherally, I think the fannish Hugos ought to be allocated quite differently–the Canadian Aurora Awards have a quite sensible setup (fanzine, fan achievement organisational, and fan achievement other). The categories specifically allow for multi-media presentations and music, for example. (Though ‘fanzine’ remains undefined.)

    Out of parentheses. Must go. Love&hugs….

    1. Thanks for clarifying. I was indeed responding to your comment, being not very familiar with your background.

      Personally I find campaigning distasteful too. And I found one of the posts by a Star Ship Sofa supporter to be quite offensive. But that doesn’t affect their right to be considered for the award, nor does it necessarily mean that they are a single-issue group. As I have explained elsewhere, Tony and his team did some great coverage of Worldcon last year. They are actively encouraging fans to take an interest in the community. They are not the enemy.

      You are right that I wasn’t around for the Lan’s Lantern controversy. However, when I have been around, it has been the norm for paper fanzines to campaign in exactly the way I described.

      I very much like the Aurora categories because they enable fans to be rewarded for things like running clubs and conventions as well as for writing, publishing and art. I’m sure people complain about having to compare apples and oranges, but I’d much rather give everyone a chance than have simple categories that exclude much of what fans do.

  3. I’m not sure I understand the term ‘campaigning’ as it’s being used in all these discussions. If we think a work is worthy of nomination, are we not supposed to mention it at all? Is this just for the fanzine category? I’m seeing plenty of blogs and tweets with mention of eligible works in all categories.

    I can’t see how this is a bad thing. If you don’t know about something, you’re not able to evaluate it to determine if you think it’s worthy of nomination. Certainly I’d never heard of Yipe! or Journey Planet until Cheryl mentioned them here.

    To not mention a potential nominee you believe is both eligible and worthy seems an act of wilful obscurantism.

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