Before I start on this week’s category, I want to respond here to a comment Gregory Benford made on the Best Artist post, and pre-emptively apologize for using his comment as an example of bad voting practice. No insult is intended to Mr. Benford, but his comment:
Steve Stiles’ half-century of art point to his premier position in the field. He
has done more for the field than any living fan artist. Hope he wins!
is a pretty good example of what not to do when you vote in any category. I doubt Mr. Benford intended to conflate quality with time served, but that was the result. It’s perfectly possible to serve a community and field well and faithfully for fifty or more years and never be all that good at what you’re doing. It’s what would happen if I did public speaking for a community for that long.
What’s more, the Hugo rules make it absolutely clear that the award is not a long-service award. People only qualify if they have works that fit the criteria which were first published in the eligibility period. So if – and I’m certainly not saying this is the case – none of Steve Stiles’ 2015 works are better than the 2015 works of the other artists in this category, then he does not deserve to win. Period.
What you do in this situation, where you want to honor extended service to the field by someone who might not make the cut on ability alone, is you lobby for a special award to go to that person. A special award for, oh, I don’t know, services to fan art honors the long-term contributions made by Mr Stiles, makes everyone who appreciates his work and art but can’t really honestly vote him the best based on his 2015 output (this is a hypothetical, folks) feel that they’ve done the right thing. It also – which is crucial if the Hugos are to remain any kind of prestige in the face of all the controversy – neatly eliminates any hint that one can earn a Hugo by doing stuff for the right people as opposed to being really, really good at what you do.
So remember that the award isn’t a long service award, and put your votes to the works you honestly believe are the best in their category for 2015.
Now on to the finalists for Best Fanzine.
As seems to be the trend, nominating ballot counts in this category more than doubled from 576 last year to this year’s 1455 nominating ballots. Like Best Fancast, we have an awkward mix of commercially backed (but presumably still meeting the rules for the category or they’d be in the semipro or pro category) and bootstrapped entities, as well as a really wide variety in how they do things.
(Lengthy aside: I have to wonder where the line can be drawn between so few categories it’s impossible to make a fair comparison on merit because you’re trying to compare vlogs with audiozines and so many categories the awards become meaningless. Let’s face it, who cares if you win Best Fan Art of An Alien Left Little Toe As Rendered In Watercolor).
On to the finalists, as listed on the Hugo site:
Castalia House Blog – This is one of the professionally-backed nominations: the blog for Castalia House has an eclectic combination of topics and posts, including various forms of gaming, literature, non-fiction, and – inevitably – promoting the parent entity’s books. The articles are typically well-written, usually on the short side (a 5 minute read is about typical unless you go digging through the related links. Then you’re doomed), and cover a variety of topics.
File 770 (http://file770.com/ or http://www.efanzines.com/File770/) – Since I haven’t received my voters packet yet (it’s either been eaten by my spam catcher or otherwise lost in transit – I must check up on that this weekend because I’m running out of freely accessible items) I’m not sure if the nomination is for the site or the zine. Either way, File 770 is primarily the work of Mike Glyer, and both the zine and the site offer something of a cornucopia of information about the field.
Lady Business – This site is the work of a collection of self-described feminist geeks who post a lot about all things genre, whether fan works or pro. Article length varies, and – fair warning – all the authors use ponies of the sparkly kind as their avatars. Their content can segue into the highly and sometimes weirdly political (and they can get it hilariously wrong), but it’s well-written and entertaining.
Superversive SF – A group blog with a mix of reviews, science articles and other pieces about SF and F which embody the superversive viewpoint (if you’re wondering this article is a good place to start). There’s also philosophical musings about the genre which are worth the read all by themselves whether you agree or not.
Tangent Online – Tangent is a review magazine which started as a print zine and moved online for many reasons, most of them green with Benjamin Franklin on one side. These days, Tangent includes reviews of a wide range of science fiction and fantasy. The ones I’ve read largely focus on the quality of the work rather than the politics of the author. There are also some articles which are a bit more opinionated (the one I wrote is, of course, very opinionated and should probably not be used as part of your consideration of where your vote goes. When I give my unvarnished opinion it tends to melt varnish).
Go check all of them out, dig back through the archives, and decide which you think are the absolute best of the best of fanzines.
P.S. For those who want the numbers, the detailed data for last year’s awards is available here .
File 770 has an unwholesome habit of digging through other people’s comments sections in search of juicy gossip/scandal tidbits and posting them as news.
Also has a habit of posting the Left half of the SF fan spectrum respectfully and the Right half (like anything from Mad Genius Club) as either comedy or bait for the flying monkey brigade in his own comments section.
Amusing, yes. But does it rise to the level of Hugo quality, in this brave new era of Puppy Sadness Relief? Vote wisely, young Puppy!
I expect that the revelation that Gregory Benford supports us will provide lots for fish for the trained seal brigades in their comments.
I totally hear that Mike Glyer is a white supremacist, and for that reason ineligible.
Well, he did accept a Rabid Puppies nomination, so something is clearly going on there . . .
Hey, it’s the level of proof they use, right?
I have completed Critical Race Theory. Bell’s version had several key omissions. Glyer may well qualify as white supremacist under my version. I do not recall that he ever refuted that notion to my satisfaction.
Of course it wouldn’t suit the Phantom’s narrative to look at the facts, however, a very large number of File 770 links to Mad Genius Club are simply for the writing career advice — such as that posted by Fynbospress.
“Mike Glyer on June 14, 2016 at 10:55 am said:
Bruce Arthurs: I check out JCW’s blog about once a week. Not sure what it would take for me to link him in a Scroll now that he’s not a driving force in gimmicking the Hugos. Foaming at the mouth isn’t news, or I’d have to quote a lot more Dave Freer, too.”
Honestly? I don’t pay much if any attention to linkbacks. If I like a piece I read it, otherwise I move on.
I will say that I disagree with any characterization of Dave Freer foaming at the mouth. He’s a gentleman. He doesn’t do that. What he does do is satirize everything and some people find that rather difficult to accept.
The frothy coconut milk is seared, seared into my memory. Can you direct me to the nearest fainting couch? I am ever so triggered, and must dramatically swoon.
Wait, I have a narrative? What is it? Come on Mike, don’t keep us in suspense.
By the way, any word on when you’re going to link to the Pink Pistols or the guy with the “Don’t Tread On Me” rainbow poster. Just wondering.
I’d rather vote for someone creating content as opposed to someone merely linking to it.
So would I, but that’s my personal viewpoint.
Mike Glyer is a terrific writer and has written many great articles. What stands out for me are the remembrances of fans who have recently passed away. On the other hand, you can’t argue that his writing in 2015 mostly took the form of quick editorializing on snippets from other people’s links. That is a relatively new literary form, so it would be fair to say that it has not yet been perfected.
I agree with Gregory Benford that career achievement has a bearing on the “people” awards. They’re just don’t qualify if they aren’t currently still active.
I don’t. On the Hugo site it says this about the “people” awards: “People, for example Best Professional Artist, in which case the Award is given for the work that person has done in the year of eligibility. Please note that “year of eligibility” qualification. If X happens to be the most famous SF artist in the world, but he has produced no work in the year of eligibility, then he should not be nominated.”
I don’t see anything there about career achievement. If X is the most famous SF artist in the world and Y is a newcomer but Y’s works are higher quality, Y should be getting the award, and that is the way I’ll vote every time.
Turning awards for achievement in a specific year into a de facto long service award is part of why the Hugo Awards has an image problem outside the Hallowed Halls of the self-proclaimed true fans.
My vote will be going to the works I consider to be the best in their category. In the people categories it will go to the people who produced the works I consider best in those categories.
That website was created by the WSFS Mark Protection Committee, a body not empowered to make that kind of judgment call.
I also got the – to me – unsatisfactory answer that that was the intent a while back from Ben Yalow:
But definitions of “people” awards have NEVER included a limitation to the previous year. Circa 1997, a general provision was tacked on that ALL categories were for “work” in the previous year, “unless otherwise specified.” This doesn’t provide clarity because awards for “people” are not awards for “work.”
I think you are probably right in that even so much as HAVING a de facto long service award is now part of why the image problem. In this present climate of rampant tribalism, poo slinging and boosterism, people awards might be doing more harm than good, unfortunately.
But I don’t feel OK with suggesting that people voting for Steve Stiles are voting wrong either, if you see what I mean. 😦
Maybe replace those categories with Best Work of Fan Writing, Best Magazine Issue or Anthology, etc. (I believe grrm advocated replacing Best Professional Artist with Best Cover.)
In the case of Best Editor Long Form, there might be a precedent of sorts for the editor sharing Best Novel with the author (if any, and if desired?), seeing as how the award for Three Body was given also to the translator. Maybe there’s a more creative way that works better. But maybe the role of the editor been transformed to the point that nobody’s sure what we’re awarding any more, and we should cool it for a while until the industry settles into some more stable configuration and everybody calms down.
Actually, I’m suggesting that people who vote for Steve Stiles while believing that another finalist had better qualifying art are voting against the spirit of the award and could contribute to making the award look like it’s being used as a long service award.
I’m well aware others don’t agree – this is why I keep saying to review all the works and vote according to that which you honestly believe to be the best in its class for the current year.
A Best Work rather than Best Person Making Works is definitely an improvement in that direction. I wouldn’t recommend any changes to the system for a few years, though. It’s going to take a while for the extraordinary levels of bitterness and vitriol to die down.
Honestly, the only reason Steve Stiles is in the topic is that he was the one named. It could have been any of the others.
Kate, I was really noting that the website description you cited is public outreach and marketing, not a codification of official rules. I understand their intent, but maybe they should have reproduced the actual rules, with a bit less commentary.
I agree it isn’t wise to change anything right now. Band-aid on a gaping wound indeed. 😦
But I just can’t see how that approach to people awards isn’t in keeping with the spirit of the Hugos.
Well, given that you could take any two fans and get ten opinions about the spirit of the Hugos, I suspect there’s room for us to disagree. I tend to take a rather literal view of rules and how they should be interpreted, since I figure they were written to express as clearly as possibly the intention of the writers.
I certainly do not condone avoiding voting for someone whose work is worthy purely to avoid the appearance of impropriety – and where that line is drawn in something that everyone has their opinions on is one of the gnarlier questions out there.
It’s hard to see how several of the “people” awards can be replaced by “works” ones.
For Professional Artist, we had tried “Best Professional Artwork” as an additional Hugo category for several years. And it never was considered particularly successful, and repealed after a few years. What happened was that there were so many plausible nominees that the difference between the item that got the fifth most nominations (on the ballot) and sixth most (not on the ballot) was typically a vote or two — the nominations were scattered so much that it looked statistically meaningless. So, adter watching this for a few years (just to feel confident that it wasn’t a one year fluke distribution, but a real pattern) we killed the category.
ASFA — the professional artists association — came to a different conclusion than the WSFS decision, since they continue to give Chesley Awards in specific works categories — you can see a list of their categories, and the current ballot, at the ASFA site http://asfa-art.org/ .
And, for Editor-Long, we’re trying to reflect all the works that the person edited in a year, and not just have it being giving a second Hugo to the person who edited the Best Novel.
And, while many recent fan artists are really semi-professionals doing a small portfolio, the more traditional fan artists produced hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of works in a given year. Bill Rotsler, who won four Fan Artist Hugos in 75-97, would send an envelope with many dozens of cartoons to editors who asked for illustrations for their fanzines, and would do this many dozens of times in a typical year. So picking a particular Rotsler was foolish — he was winning on the basis of lots of really good cartoons in a given year.
Bill was considered enough of an exemplar that when SCIFI (the corporation than ran the LA Worldcons in 84, 96, and 06, plus a bunch of other conventions in the LA area) decided to give an award for lifetime achievement in fan art, we named it the Rotsler Award. There’s a history of the award on the SCIFI web page, at http://www.scifiinc.org/rotsler/
So it’s hard to see how to replace the “people” categories — but it’s always under discussion, since it’s too easy for it to turn into a “lifetime” Hugo , and that’s not what we wanted.
And I also agree that now is not the time to be tweaking the Hugo categories. Fandom needs time for the current divisions to heal.
Thank you – again – for the perspective. You’ve shown so many times in your comments that there’s a valid historical reason for decisions that sometimes don’t make sense to those of us without your depth of knowledge of fan history.
In light of what you’ve said, and my own observation of how scattered suggestions for a lot of categories can get, yeah, it does make sense for some of the awards to be “person” awards rather than “work” awards, especially when one person can produce a lot of them in a 12 month period. That particular wrinkle hadn’t occurred to me.
Fandom definitely needs time to heal. I personally know a lot of people who are very angry about the events of the last few years, and many others who I only follow on Facebook are equally unhappy.
Unfortunately, I don’t think healing is going to happen until everyone involved is acting like mature adults and accepting that not everyone has the same viewpoint – and that diversity of opinion is a good thing.
The statement that the “people” categories never included a year isn’t correct.
The 1997 amendment, mentioned above was explicitly set up as an almost pure housekeeping amendment, restructuring the existing Hugo article with a cleaned up version to make it shorter ad easier to understand. But the only change it made was extending the double eligibility of non-English works to all categories, instead of just the four fiction categories. See the sponsor’s explanation, on item 3.5 of the Sunday Business Meeting (minutes of which can be found at http://www.smofs.org/W1997.HTM ).
So we need to look at the 1996 Constitution to see what the prior meaning was.. And, in that Constitution, the old Fan Artist Hugo wording began, ” 2.2.12: Best Fan Artist. An artist or cartoonist whose work has appeared through publication in semiprozines or fanzines or through other public display during the previous calendar year.” — so the previous year was explicit in that definition. And, since the previous calendar year wording was in every category, then the restructuring brought it all into one section, and took it out of each of the category sections.
And, since the change had no effect, there wasn’t even any debate at the ratification vote in 1998.
Note that Tim Illingworth hasn’t updated smofs.org in a few years — he’s been busy. But those archives got built from scanning (mostly) my paper copies of the minutes until near the end, when they started getting distributed electronically by the committees, which means that they’re pretty complete for the stuff that isn’t already on the web sites of existing committees. The only major stuff it’s missing that I know exists is the research that I did on the 1968-71 Business Meetings, based on the Jerry Lapidus fanzine “The Legal Rules”,which was an unofficial set of minutes from those meetings (and which I had to depend on, since the 1971 meeting was the only one of those that I was physically present for). Those fanzines, and an article I wrote summarizing a lot of what took place, are online at the fanac.org historical site.
Ben, of course, but that is a requirement for determining eligibility to be nominated: it can’t go to someone not currently active. I believe you it wasn’t controversial at the time, but wonder if the implications were thought all the way through.
That is not a limitation on what factors you may consider to decide whether someone eligible is worthy of the title Best Editor, Best Fan Writer, etc.
The only word in the Constitution about what the contest is supposed to determine is Best. That isn’t defined – it just says you have to print it on the tin.
(Of course, it does link “Best” to an iconic mid-20th century symbol, evoking hood ornaments of gas-guzzling cars, faith in technological progress, and the proposition that our species is not bound to one celestial body. Whether all that symbolism is past its sell-by date is another question.)
Beyond that – how could someone who votes for Stiles, Weisskopf, Hartwell, etc., on the basis of their years of work be engaging in any form (however mild) of wrongthink? How could that be against the spirit of the awards?
That would open up a can of worms.
It’s why the award is for “Best Fan Artist” (or whatever category) for a specific year, not “Best All-Time Fan Artist who has done work in year “. We specifically did know the history of that interpretation, and carefully didn’t alter it when we passed the 1997 restructuring.
And the 3.2.1 wording, which you also reference (“Unless otherwise specified, Hugo Awards are given for work in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year.”) reinforces that interpretation. The work that Stiles, or Weisskopf, or Hartwell did in years prior to 2015 is not explicitly included as an exception to the 3.2.1 general rule, so it’s for work that those people did in the previous calendar year (2015 in this case).
In the specifica case of Stiles, whose nomination started this thread, it’s not his decades of work that Benford used as the basis of his recommendation — it’s “… for work in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year.” (2015, since it’s the current year Hugos, not the Retros, where he was nominated).
It’s not a value judgement of “wrongthink” — it’s trying to have voters make their choices based on what the rules say the award is supposed to be for. The personal feelings about the “spirit of the awards” can’t override the explicit wording of the rules in 3.2.1. I realize nobody can get into the mind of an individual voter, who will cast a ballot based on what they believe the Hugos mean; I can only try to emphasize what the rules actually say.
(If you’re asking whether I, personally, think that the individuals you named did such deserving work in 2015 — I won’t comment publicly, since I’m staff on the KC Hugo committee, which means I believe that I don’t get to have public favorites, even though I’m not high enough up to be a decision maker this year, since somebody might think I could influence the outcomes. I will say that there have been past years when each of them has gotten my first place vote, and there have never been any past years in which any of them have fallen below “No Award” on my ballot. And this is also independent of my personal opinions about any of them, since I also feel that it’s the work, not the person, who should be judged for the Hugos; )
Well, that’s my point. The rules don’t say “Best All-Time Fan Artist who has done work in year,” but they also don’t say “Best Fan Artist based solely on an impossibly compartmentalized assessment of work appearing for the first time in year and absolutely nothing that came before.” Humans aren’t wired to do that even if they wanted to.
With editors, the ambiguity even leads to the weirdness of four collections/issues, but only one published in year. (Either the other three matter or they don’t.)
The explicit wording of 3.2.1 is “unless otherwise specified.” I’m afraid that still dodges the question, since those awards are specified as for people, not for work. (So I guess I agree with you that nothing changed in 1998.)
There is a related, though not identical, ambiguity in 3.4.1: “A work originally appearing in a language other than English shall also be eligible for the year in which it is first issued in English translation.”
There’s probably no one who didn’t read Ken Liu’s English translation of Three Body (or hated it) and yet nominated the book solely on the original Three Body serialized in a Chinese magazine in 2006. But it’s not an academic question. Chinese prose is really hard to render well, more Chinese speakers are getting interested in the Hugos, and they may have either nominated The Dark Forest on the basis of the original, not the translation published in the year of eligibility, or could do so with other things in future. Liu Cixin acknowledged in an interview that many Chinese fans find The Dark Forest to be a better book than Three Body, but its translator didn’t have Ken Liu’s gift for bridging Chinese and American cultures. I loved the book, but that’s exactly why I didn’t nominate it – I had a lot of fun reading the stylish prose of a couple other novels, and let that factor sway me. Then I kicked myself, wishing I had nominated The Dark Forest on the strength of Liu Cixin’s 2008 achievement, not the flawed version published in 2015.
I don’t see how there can be an absolute right or wrong answer to such questions in the case of translations.
Or in the case of finding the right balance between your evaluation of people’s past and very recent work. The rules just don’t say.
I did know you are on the Hugo staff this year, but somehow it didn’t occur to me that naming examples might look like fishing for your personal opinion of them. I apologize for leaving the door open to such an interpretation, and thank you for your thoughtful response.
I think we’ll have to disagree on the meaning of 3.2.1, since I (and the rest of the people who wrote it) thought it was pretty unambiguous, but it’s clear that at least one reasonable person comes up with a different interpretation.
And the reason for the other works that count for eligibility, but not for consideration, is to parallel the requirement for Best Fanzine — we wanted to make it clear that one-time works weren’t eligible.(a one-time work, “Who Killed Science Fiction” won in Fanzine, and, while everybody agreed the work was really great, it wasn’t what the community thought was what a fanzine should be).
Yes — translations make things complicated. This past year was the first time it came up (non-English works had been eligible for decades, but nobody ever viewed them as of a quality that people might be voting for them, so there’s no guidance from the historical record of how to think about them). If we keep getting more high quality works appearing as translations into English, I suspect the Business Meeting may decide to try to give guidance (either in the form of a non-binding resolution, or a binding Constitutional amendment).
And thank you for your understanding of the constraints on what I think I can say when addressing works on the ballot this year. I think it’s important that people who might appear to be in a position to influence the outcome are clearly holding to a position of neutrality among the works on the ballot. While the rest of the committee can (and often does) have public opinions, a small group of us can’t. Although I do feel I can certainly say that, while there are many fine works on the 2016 ballot, I would hope that people look at the works on the Retro ballot, many of which are included in my personal set of the finest works that the field has produced (although I will not name specific choices among the works on the Retro ballot).
p.s. thank you for linking the minutes. This discussion of Best Related Book is fascinating:
Mr. Jaffe (favoring passage): Changes in publishing industry are driving this. Concerns over “facetious” nominees are baseless; trust the voters.
The past minutes are really important in understanding the rules. Unlike most organizations where the rules include only the Constitution, Standing Rules, and Robert’s (or whatever the parliamentary practices rule book is for the organization), the WSFS Constitution explicitly recognizes past practice as overriding the written parliamentary authority. Which means that anyone trying to interpret the rules (and particularly a Worldcon Business Meeting Parliamentarian, which I’ve been), must study all of the past rulings and minutes.
See “5.1.4: Meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of (in descending order of precedence) the WSFS Constitution; the Standing Rules; such other rules as may be published in advance by the current Committee (which rules may be suspended by the Business Meeting by the same procedure as a Standing Rule); the customs and usages of WSFS (including the resolutions and rulings of continuing effect); and the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised.”.
All very interesting, thank you. Sure, my thinking on 3.2.1 was that the nominee is a person, and Hugo voters are always able to use any criteria they choose to evaluate the nominee. But I see that your cache of minutes from the 70s provides even more support. In the 1963 and 1971 constitutions at smof.org, past work by an artist could be relevant so long as the artist organized exhibitions:
“A professional artist whose work was presented in some form in the science fiction or fantasy field during the previous calendar year.”
And there were no eligibility criteria at all for Fan Writer and Artist.
The 1974 Constitution tried to impose a limitation (immediately discarded the following year), but even that limitation left the door open to exceptions:
“2.04 In general, Hugoes are awarded for outstanding literary or artistic accomplishment in science fiction or fantasy which became available to the membership by publication or performance in the calendar year immediately before the year the awards are given.”
At the same time, though, it recommended that past practices should be followed in most cases:
“2.05 … Categories and rules should follow tradition, with such few changes as each Committee decides upon, and should be reduced in number when a category fails to draw voter interest.”
Would the phrase “unless otherwise specified,” in the WSFS context, include documentation of historical practice?
In fact, the 1974 Constitution was thrown out in its entirety — it was completely rejected by a 3/4 vote of the 1975 Business Meeting, and never went into effect. So it’s not really useful as a precedent at all. People REALLY didn’t like the idea of getting rid of the categories, and leaving it up to the convention to decide what the categories should be (which is what the 74 Constitution called for).
As fandom grew, more guidance was explicitly put into the Constitution. So that, as you pointed out, for many years there was no need to even define the fan categories, since everybody knew what a fanzine was. And fan art was what appeared in fanzines. But “everybody knew” became more problematic when the Worldcon grew from under 1000 people in 1966 to four times that many eight years later (when the 1974 Constitution was adopted).
So we put in specific “for the previous year” into each category description. And then, when we restructured everything in the Hugo article (which was supposed to make no changes except for certain foreign extended eligibility, not affecting North American English language works at all) we consolidated it all into the blanket statement of 3.2.1, with an exception for things like allowing works in prior years to be used in determining eligibility in a few explicit places. But that’s where the “except” clause comes into effect, not in determining whether the work (or person’s activity) should be used in determining who should win.
I hope this clarifies how the various pieces were put together, and why I’m so firm that only the stuff produced in the previous year should be used in determining who should win.
And I’d also like to recommend Howard Devore’s history of the Hugo Awards (ISBN 0911682325) for a bunch of discussion on what some of the history was. Howard was there (although he didn’t usually attend Business Meetings from the 70s on) from before the first Constitution was adopted in 1963 (his first major Worldcon committee job was in 1959, and he co-chaired the 1966 one) until his death in 2005 (he was Worldcon GoH in 2006, but he died after the Worldcon had been selected, but before it was held). Since there are no minutes that I’ve been able to find (although I’m still looking) for 64-67 and 72-73, it’s harder for me to be as confident of things (my memories of the 72 and 73 meetings are four decades old, now, and I didn’t attend the 60s meetings), but the Devore book has a bunch of discussion about the early Hugos.
Ben, thank you, I’ll try to find the book. I hope it is clear that I feel perplexed about how I should be filling out the ballot.
It seems to me that back in Hugo heyday (up to the mid-70s), eligibility used to look something like this:
– Dramatic presentations
LIMITED NUMBER OF TIMES
– Printed work (i.e., the years of the first two publication formats)
POTENTIALLY UNLIMITED TIMES
– People, because artists alter their presentation of their work – their exhibits – slowly and incrementally, and because prolific writers fanzine Letters of Comment and such show a multi-year achievement, not one of the moment, and so on.
I understand the point about your intent. But – I’m sorry to mention names, I just want to make my meaning clear, I’m not asking for your personal opinion of them – I want to vote for Weisskopf even though I didn’t read a significant portion of Baen’s output from 2015, since what I did read did nothing to alter my assessment of her cumulative achievement.
I want to vote for Glyer because although his “snark about snippets” is not very worthy, he’s been carrying the fanzine torch a long time and I’d like to recognize his achievements in the areas of dedication, endurance and vigor.
What makes Pournelle’s editing great is not the specific words on today’s specific pages (they’re good too) but the way his vision for the anthologies continues to hold up over a span of decades.
I like the other artists fine, but I’d rather see this go to Stiles because I think the historical context is important and meaningful.
Is all of that wrong? I don’t see how I can make those opinions come close to fitting your guidelines for how you think we should be voting post-1998, and I don’t seem to be completely alone.
There are copies of Devore available on Amazon.
And, during the 70s (which is the period you mention), eligibility was:
Written works (although if they were substantially enough rewritten then they were considered new works, and eligible again — so that the Novelette version of Ender’s Game was eligible in 1978, and the expanded Novel version was eligible (and won) in 1986). Although technically, a work was eligible the first year it was published in a language other than English, and again when published in English — but that never happened.
People, for the new work they’d done in a given year (artists, editors, etc.)
And publications, likewise, for the new issues that came out in a given year (note that in 1973, the Best Magazine category was replaced by Best Editor, so it changed from a set-of-issues award to a people award).
I won’t comment on the specific nominees, except to note that I believe the people you name should be voted on the basis of their 2015 work, and not their careers.
I hope it isn’t a burden to share this delightful history. I think my disagreement comes down to the early Best Professional Artist, the cultural and economic role of art shows and auctions, and the change from “whose work was presented in some form” in year (’63, ’71) to “whose work has appeared in the field of professionally published science fiction or fantasy” in year (’75, as you describe).
It is fascinating to find in the Scithers link more details about the hubbub over a slate pushed by bloc voters (the Burroughs Bibliophiles in ’63), who failed to snag a rocket for a minor Burroughs book but must have helped hand Best Professional Artist to a then-minor illustrator who rose in fame and became a key factor in the Burroughs revival. Scithers didn’t have much sympathy for the elite industry insiders, did he.
Since Professional Artist is coming up in Kate’s series, hopefully you can share some of your knowledge of the history of that category then. Thank you.
I’d like to specifically comment on your “Scithers didn’t have much sympathy for the elite industry insiders, did he.” statement.
In my concept of fandom (which is very much the concept of the fandom I grew up with), there really wasn’t the idea of “elite industry insiders”. We were (and are) all part of the same fandom together. Some members of fandom also happen do be professionals — editors, authors, artists, etc. — but that’s just an additional part of their fannish lives.
Terry Carr — probably the most influential editor in the field between Campbell and Hartwell — won the Best Professional Editor Hugo in 1985 and 1987 (to go along with hisBest Fanzine in 1959 and Best Fanwriter in 1973), so you’d think of him, in those terms, as an “elite industry insider”. But, in between his “Best Professional Editor” wins, he was Fan GoH for the Worldcon in 1986 — and neither he, nor the committee who asked him, thought that having one of the most influential professional editors as Fan GoH was wrong, since he was a major fan editor/writer, and he was thrilled to be recognized for his fan activity.
Harry Stubbs was the original Treasurer for the first Worldcon I attended (Noreascon in 1971). But, since there was no Hugo subcommittee in the Constitution, and the entire convention committee was therefore disqualified, he had to leave that job when (under his pen name of Hal Clement) he was nominated for Best Novel for Star Light, although, not surprisingly, he lost to Ringworld — as did a number of others of the finest novels the field has ever had. It was a tough year for novels. He was working the registration table, and registered me one year when I got to Boskone.
I could go on with more and more historical examples, but I hope I’ve made it clear that, in my vision of fandom, there are no “elite industry insiders” — there is a fandom, of which we are all members, and some of the members are, in addition to being part of the fannish community, also industry professionals.
But, since he was mentioned, I’ll use Scithers as an example. As a fan, his fanzine, Amra, was nominated three times for the Best Fanzine Hugo (and won twice). He chaired the Worldcon in 1963. And, to bring this year’s Worldcon in, he was Parliamentarian of the Business Meeting at the first MidAmeriCon (1976), among the many times he did that job. And, as a professional, he was the first editor at Asimov’s (and won several Hugos for Best Professional Editor), and, when he left that magazine after five years, he went on to edit Amazing, and Weird Tales. He was Fan GoH for the Worldcon in 2001. He was probably what you might think of as an “elite industry insider”. But he was a fan — and all the professional honors and positions were a part of him, but that never meant he stopped being a fan.
And – tragically – this perspective of being a fan who also has professional honors and positions is something that’s been lost.
May it rise again.
That must have come across as a blanket statement, which was not my intent. I was struck by Scithers’ (gentle) scorn for Ellison’s urging the Pacificon II Business Meeting to vote for the creation of Hugo nominating committees – while improving my score for brevity by not getting into the details.
He brought that proposal to fix what they now like to call “slating” by having committees who explicitly examine and make judgments about nominations – at least for a few years, during the period allotted for the “Study Committee to investigate the whole Hugo system and make a preliminary recommendation” – directly to the faans. And the faans passed it. (And maybe Scithers could have mentioned that at that Business Meeting at the 350-member Loncon which “simply scrapped the whole notion of a nominating committee without discussion,” he was Parliamentarian.) I’d love to see a report from that Study Committee – chaired by a Burroughs Bibliophile! – and, if presented, any discussion.
I think Ellison had a valid point, but Scithers’ objections were serious too. (Demonstrated by the lowbrow illustrator who won a Hugo and rose to great heights, lifting the genre with him.) I wish I knew more about happened between Scithers’ 1965 criticism of Ellison’s unfaanish intemperance and the inauguration of the World Fantasy Awards in 1975. Personally, I think a hybrid system, in part by jury and in part directly by the membership, sounds pretty good.
I don’t mean that anyone involved in those debates was not acting as a fan, trying to find a solution in the best interest of fandom as a community.
Kate – the voter’s packet is available for download from the MidAmericon website. There was an announcement on twitter, but that’s about it. Not very well publicized, I didn’t think.
Joe – Thank you! I honestly thought I’d missed an email somewhere. I’d agree, the public face here was lacking.
And the Retro ballot page has a link to the Retro packet. It’s smaller, both because there were fewer nominees (there were categories eliminated by the Administrators for 1941), ad because rights holders were less willing (or harder to find) than for current works.
But there are still a number of excellent works in the Retro packet. And there are other works outside the packet that can be found on the net.
I’m all for awarding people who have had a long (and positive) effect on a field. But make it an award for that.
IIRC, at least one, if not more of the “Grand Masters” had nothing published in the year they were named. But that award is specifically for service over many years. (We won’t get into the fact that the “voting” for the award is the most severely inbred of any SF/F awards…)
Amen to that – this is the way to acknowledge long-term service without turning the award into a time-keeping reward.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the “rules” about choosing a Grand Master may have been dropped from the SFWA by-laws at the time of reincorporation a few years back. My own impression is that naming of a Grand Master is a kind of well-deserved perk for the people doing the thankless task of running that organization. I mean that in a positive way – and I have no objection to any of the choices.
If WSFS, Dragoncon, the World Chinese Science Fiction Association, etc., wanted to establish other career awards, including some that are popularly voted on, that sounds great too.
Steven Stiles and Taral Wayne had a sort of running gag about who had gotten the most nominations without winning the award. They were tied around 15, until Taral stopped getting nominated recently, I think mainly because Taral isn’t actively doing fan-work that much, except in a couple of obscure ‘zines and his own e-zine. And a series of vaguely disturbing Fraggle Rock fan art with a self-insert character added to the cast. It’s kind of like he’s forgotten that if you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket.