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Sunday, April 08, 2012

2012 Hugo Awards Nominations: Preliminary Thoughts

Last year, I ranted about the Hugo Awards (here and here) after they were announced.  This year, I'm switching things up to offer some preliminary thoughts before they are announced, and after.  If you'd like to put me in my place, the comments are yours.  These are preliminary thoughts, so I expect to be proven wrong on many counts.

(Note:  Some categories will get a slight pass, as I don't want to comment too much about areas about which I have little reading experience.  I will make guesses about winners based solely on what information I have in my arsenal, which means that most of my guesses are not educated whatsoever.)

Here goes:

Best Novel
Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)
A Dance With Dragons, George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
Deadline, Mira Grant (Orbit)
Embassytown, China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

I'm not terribly disappointed in these choices.  One of my professors has told me that Among Others is brilliant, and I've had a love affair with Mieville for a while now.  Martin is an obvious choice, what with his enormous fanbase.  I don't know enough about James S. A. Corey or Leviathan Wakes to offer any opinions whatsoever, though one of my friends liked the book enough to give me a copy, so I suspect it's not bad.  The Grant, sadly, doesn't interest me at all, but if someone wants to send me both books in that series to prove me wrong, go for it.

I would have preferred to see Of Bloody and Honey by Stina Leicht and Osama by Lavie Tidhar here, but that might be asking too much.  I am sad that no small press titles are on this list, though.

Overall feeling:  *un-enthused, slightly disappointed shrug*
Who will win?  Mieville

Best Novella
Countdown, Mira Grant (Orbit)
“The Ice Owl”, Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
“Kiss Me Twice”, Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s)
“The Man Who Bridged the Mist”, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s)
“The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary”, Ken Liu (Panverse 3)
Silently and Very Fast, Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)
Note: 6 nominees due to tie for final position.

Some of the same names again.  This could be a good thing, or it could be bad.  I am pleased to see Ken Liu on the list, though.  I've talked with him on Google+ and he seems like a nice guy.  But the Novella category is always one of those "hey, I haven't read enough" categories.

Overall feeling:  *okay*
Who will win?  Kowal

Best Novelette
“The Copenhagen Interpretation”, Paul Cornell (Asimov’s)
“Fields of Gold”, Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
“Ray of Light”, Brad R. Torgersen (Analog)
“Six Months, Three Days”, Charlie Jane Anders (
“What We Found”, Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)

Geoff Ryman is a genius.  Swirsky is pretty damned good too.  Haven't read the others.  That is all.

Overall feeling:  *hmm, interesting*
Who will win?  Swirsky

Best Short Story
“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”, E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld)
“The Homecoming”, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s)
“Movement”, Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s)
“The Paper Menagerie”, Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
“Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue”, John Scalzi (

Oh, hey, look, the same magazines over and over.  No Interzone selections?  No Weird Tales?  No *insert one of the dozen other pro and semi-pro mags with great stories in them here*?

But the crown jewel of utter stupidity here is Scalzi's April Fool's joke.  Yeah, that story was written for April Fool's Day last year.  Not serious.  If anything could destroy the credibility of this award, it is that fact.  Don't get me wrong.  I like Scalzi.  He's even a pretty good writer.  But this is a new low for the Hugos.  I will refer to them as the Joke Hugos from now on.

Overall feeling:  *annoyed*
Who will win?  Scalzi (because that would make the Joke Hugos perfectly Jokey, no?)

Best Related Work
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition, edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight (Gollancz)
Jar Jar Binks Must Die…and other Observations about Science Fiction Movies, Daniel M. Kimmel (Fantastic Books)
The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature, Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers (Abrams Image)
Wicked Girls (CD), Seanan McGuire
Writing Excuses, Season 6 (podcast series), Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Jordan Sanderson

You know what?  There are some good choices here.  I suspect ESF (Clute) will take it, but I wouldn't ignore The Steampunk Bible (I would marry VanderMeer's editing side) or Writing Excuses here (a great podcast).  I don't know much about the Kimmel, but it seems like an interesting book.  Award-worthy?  No idea.

Overall feeling:  *okay*
Who will win?  Clute (too perfectly historical for its own good)

Best Graphic Story
Digger, by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)
Fables Vol 15: Rose Red, by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
Locke & Key Volume 4: Keys To The Kingdom, written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Schlock Mercenary: Force Multiplication, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (The Tayler Corporation)
The Unwritten (Volume 4): Leviathan, created by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, written by Mike Carey, illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)

You know what?  I have no idea.  I don't read graphic novels.  So I'll let the folks in the comments handle this one.

Overall feeling:  *umm, what?*
Who will win?  No idea.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Captain America: The First Avenger, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephan McFeely; directed by Joe Johnston (Marvel)
Game of Thrones (Season 1), created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss;
written by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson, and George R. R. Martin; directed by Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Tim van Patten, and Alan Taylor (HBO)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner Bros.)
Hugo, screenplay by John Logan; directed by Martin Scorsese (Paramount)
Source Code, screenplay by Ben Ripley; directed by Duncan Jones (Vendome Pictures)

Umm, Game of Thrones is a television series.  Yes, it's all part of one long narrative, but it is not a "Long Form Dramatic Presentation."  So it doesn't belong here.  Someone in admin needs to make a correction ASAP.

As for the rest:  Some decent films.  Captain America was okay, but I wouldn't give it an award.  I haven't seen Source Code, though I'm told it's pretty good.  HP7P2 was also pretty good, and might have won this if not for the ten-ton elephant in the room:  Hugo.  If Hugo does not win, then the Joke Hugos will receive more Jokey points.

Overall feeling:  *approval (almost)*
Who will win?  Hugo (or I will kill someone)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Doctor Who, ”The Doctor’s Wife”, written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (BBC Wales)
“The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech”, Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (Renovation)
Doctor Who, ”The Girl Who Waited”, written by Tom MacRae; directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who, ”A Good Man Goes to War”, written by Steven Moffat; directed by Peter Hoar (BBC Wales)
Community, ”Remedial Chaos Theory”, written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna; directed by Jeff Melman (NBC)

I've not seen Community, so I can't comment on it.  The only Doctor Who episode worth its salt here is "The Girl Who Waited."  The others were essentially 2-3 episode arcs shoved into 45 minutes.  The Gaiman episode should have been split into two, because there is far too much awesome going on there to justify a 45 minute presentation.  "A Good Man Goes to War" suffers from one of the most ridiculous plot points I've seen in a long time:  namely, magically discovering that your good friend, River Song, is actually Amy and Rory's kidnapped baby, and suddenly not giving a shit that your baby was kidnapped.  What?  My mother is a recovering alcoholic and she'd probably destroy half the planet to find me if I was kidnapped by an evil brainwashing organization...  Calling B.S. here.

But then the Joke Hugos put on the Super Jokey Mask with the inclusion of Garcia's Hugo speech last year. Wait, what?  Correct me if I'm mistaken, but his speech was not part of a performance; it was genuine.  I would personally be quite offended if my emotional response to receiving recognition from my peers was reduced to a performance.  And even if that weren't the problem, this is again a new low for the Joke Hugos.  I suppose we should just hand out Joke Hugos for any public display of emotion.  When I'm at a convention in the next few years, please remember this, because I'm going to have an emotional breakdown in front of everyone, and I expect to win a Joke Hugo for my effort.

Overall feeling:  *bitter meh*
Who will win?  Gaiman

Best Semiprozine
Apex Magazine, edited by Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne M. Thomas, and Jason Sizemore
Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams
Locus, edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al.
New York Review of Science Fiction, edited by David G. Hartwell, Kevin J. Maroney, Kris Dikeman, and Avram Grumer

Yup.  Lots of tasty here.  Some are obvious, of course, but I can't say I would complain if one of these won.  Granted, I think Interzone deserves the award, but that's me.

Overall feeling:  *yes*
Who will win?  JJA

Best Fanzine
Banana Wings, edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
The Drink Tank, edited by James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia
File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, et al.
SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo

The same problem as last year:  a bunch of fanzines I've only become familiar with because of the awards because they almost never appear in the hundreds of discussions going on in the community around me.  Except SF Signal, of course, which I hope will pick up the award.  I don't care about "proper fanzine" arguments.  SF Signal is good and it isn't lost in the background.  People know about it.  People read it.  People comment on it.  And people talk about it.  That's good enough for me.

Overall feeling:  *eh, with a side of hmm*
Who will win?  SF Signal

Best Fancast
The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe
Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch (producer)
SF Signal Podcast, John DeNardo and JP Frantz (presenters), Patrick Hester (producer)
SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente
StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

StarShipSofa is not a fancast.  It is an audio fiction magazine like EscapePod, etc.  It does not produce fan content.  It produces magazine content.  Stop putting it alongside podcasts which actually produce fan content...

As for the rest:  some good choices, some meh choices, and some choices that make me wonder whether quality is on the mind of the community.  I am still surprised that The Agony Column never makes the list, since it is one of the few podcasts out there that actually takes its interviews seriously (i.e., the interviewer actually reads the book, or tries, or at least reads the cover blurb).

I'm happy the category exists, though, and I suppose I will give some podcasts here a second chance.

Overall feeling:  *eh, whatever*
Who will win?  Coode Street (or I will break something*

Best Editor, Long Form
Lou Anders
Liz Gorinsky
Anne Lesley Groell
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Betsy Wollheim

What?  No Jason Williams/Jeremy Lassen or Nick Mamatas?  Expect me to be very disappointed, then.  And I don't mean to imply that Anders, Gorinsky or Hayden don't deserve to be up there.  They do.  I just think some new names need to make this list (or at least names that are up to new things).

Of course, Groell and Wollheim are up there, which makes me happy.

Overall feeling:  *eh*
Who will win?  Gorinsky (I'm not really sure; it's a tie with Groell...)

Best Editor, Short Form
John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Stanley Schmidt
Jonathan Strahan
Sheila Williams

No surprises here.  Good editors all.  Schmidt probably should win just because he's never won, but I suspect Adams will steal the show, or Williams.  Who knows?

Overall feeling:  *okay*
Who will win?  JJA

Best Professional Artist
Dan dos Santos
Bob Eggleton
Michael Komarck
Stephan Martiniere
John Picacio

It's a tie between Martiniere and Picacio for me, but I will, as always, lean towards the former because I love his work.  There are some great names here, of course, so I'm not disappointed in the slightest.

Overall feeling:  *smiles*
Who will win?  Picacio

Best Fan Artist
Brad W. Foster
Randall Munroe
Spring Schoenhuth
Maurine Starkey
Steve Stiles
Taral Wayne
Note: 6 nominees due to tie for final position.

I know nothing about these selections.  You all can argue about them in the comments.

Overall feeling:  *umm, what?*
Who will win?  No idea.

Best Fan Writer
James Bacon
Claire Brialey
Christopher J. Garcia
Jim C. Hines
Steven H Silver

The same names as before.  Except there is a new one here:  Jim C. Hines.  Can you guess who I hope will win?  If you guessed Hines, you are correct!  I think he contributes a lot of amazing thoughts to the community, even more so than Scalzi, who has been on this list before.  He certainly deserves to be there.  And he better win...

Overall feeling:  *eh, with a side of hmm*
Who will win?  Hines.

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Mur Lafferty
Stina Leicht
Karen Lord
Brad R. Torgersen
E. Lily Yu

I'm not sure Lafferty counts as a new writer, unless by "new" we mean "new professionally published writer," which I'm not convinced she is either.  Not that I dislike Lafferty or anything; this is more me being confused.

But the list is otherwise damned good.  Stina Leicht!  Karen Lord!  Holy hell, they are amazing authors.  And that means I have a big problem:  who do I root for?  I want them both to win.  They're both great.  I can't choose.  Don't make me.  Please.  PLEASE.  GAH!

Overall feeling:  *super smile*
Who will win?  Leicht.  LORD!  LEICHT!  LORDDDDDD!  LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEICHT!  Shut up.  No.  Yes.

Both of you shut up...


The comments are yours.  Feel free to rip me a new one.

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  1. Wait... I'm a joke nomination? That's sad...

  2. In one category, yes. In another? No. I find the joke nomination rather offensive considering that, unless I'm mistaken, your emotional response last year was genuine, not an act. So calling it a "Dramatic Performance" is a slap in the face, in my mind.

  3. I can understand that. I had hoped that I was nominated because folks felt they had shared a moment with me and that folks wanted to honor that. It was a genuine reaction, one that lasted far after I left the stage. The Hugos have always meant a lot to me (I very much associate them with my Dad) and I hoped that came across and folks were nomming for that and not as a joke.

  4. I suspect people don't mean to treat the reaction as a joke in voting for you, in all fairness.

    Personally, even if I have problems with the fanzine category (largely out of ignorance and confusion), I still thought there was something quite touching in your win. It's recognition by your peers.

  5. All that said, I am so hoping that Community wins it! I love that show (easily my favorite thing on TV!) and I would love to see it win.

  6. RE: Game of Thrones. It's perfectly legit for an entire series of television to get nominated, and it's happened before. The rules separate the categories by length, not by medium.

  7. Ryan: Right, but that means any TV series whose episodes comprise a single story are eligible for that category. That sort of defeats the purpose of "long form" vs. "short form."

  8. Right, but that means any TV series whose episodes comprise a single story are eligible for that category. That sort of defeats the purpose of "long form" vs. "short form."

    OK, I'm going to go old-school on you here.

    Is A Tale of Two Cities less of a novel because it was published in serial form in All the Year Round?

    What you describe is the purpose of "long form" and "short form." If the goal had been to separate movies and tv shows, it would be "Best Movie" and "Best TV Show." But much like written fiction that can be serialized (and novellas are still often serialized in magazines) dramatic fiction can be serialized too. The rule divides work by length, not by distribution method, something consistent with the other Hugo categories.

  9. Andrew: All that sounds fine, but the categories do not reflect this whatsoever. The least season of Doctor Who, of which three episodes have been nominated in the short form category, is a continuous narrative. Each episode contributes to the next in a significant way, driving towards a conclusion which only makes sense in the context of all the episodes that preceded it. In that sense, Doctor Who should very well not be included in the short form category if the justification for including Game of Thrones in the long form category is that "it is a serial." That's my point. The categories simply do not make sense given what is actually on the ballot.

  10. Anonymous7:51 PM

    The WSFS constitution leaves soe hefty discretion to the will of the voters/nominators. For me, personally, the DW episodes were all pretty much able to stand on their own as an individual narrative (even though they did fit into an over-arching story). The GOT episodes (for me) fell apart without the others, no story was really *contained* in any one episode. As such, my judgement would be GOT as a single narrative (long form) and DW short form (individual, if connected narratives). Enough people who nominated seemed to agree on that division. It seems odd if you approach if from a "this is for films / this is for television" mentality. If you can let that go, it feels more sensible. Obviously, since it's left to your judgement, you'd be free to nominate the who DW series in it's entirety under long form and if enough people agreed, that's where you'd see it.

  11. I'm not sure how the categories don't reflect that.

    There is nothing in the rules that prevents the nominators from recognizing a TV series as a long-form serialized work. If the fans of a series see it as such, it's their responsibility to do so. The fans of A Game of Thrones appear to see it as such, the fans of Doctor Who appear not to. Then again, the fans of A Game of Thrones see it as a dramatization of a long work by GRRM, and the fans of Doctor Who tend to connect strongly with individual episode writers. Perspective makes a difference.

    The categories aren't a straitjacket to protect the nominators and voters from themselves. If you don't believe that _A Game of Thrones_ belongs in the category, don't vote for it. I don't believe there are grounds to disqualify Munroe from the Best Fan Artist category, but I also don't think any of his work is non-commercial fan art, so I won't be voting for him.

  12. Oh, and on the topic of "fancasts..."

    I drafted the motion to add the "Best Fancast" category, and it's that language that is being used to trial the category this year in Chicago. If you want to read about intent, the commentary is all there. You can argue with me all you want about what the rule means.

    There no grounds to disqualify StarShipSofa or other non-commercial dramatic anthology podcasts and vidcasts, just as there are no grounds to disqualify fiction-centered fanzines and semiprozines.

    Again, to go way back (but not as far back as Dickens), the Best Semiprozine category wasn't created to make a space for fiction-centered 'zines. It was created to kick Locus out of the Best Fanzine category, and inadvertently became a home for great fiction 'zines.

  13. FYI: Not ignoring folks. Will have responses tomorrow. Trying to catch up on grad school nonsense. Expect responses in the future, though.

  14. Regarding your criticism of The Garcia Moment being nominated: There is absolutely nothing in the rules that says that nominees in Best Dramatic Presentation must be fictional. Nothing. The 1970 Hugo Award for BDP (only one category then) when to "Coverage of the Apollo XI Moon Landing." And I hope you're not going to claim that was fictional.

    "Dramatic" doesn't mean "fictional" or "pre-scripted." Therefore, the work is eligible. It may not be award-worthy, and you can criticize the electorate's taste and I'll not complain a bit, but your technical argument is wrong.

    Speaking of technical arguments: you're wrong about Game of Thrones as well. In fact, it's not even unprecedented: Heroes season 1 was also nominated as a serialized dramatic work (it didn't win). Works published in a series of parts, such as a novel serialized in multiple issues of a magazine, are eligible as a single work upon publication of the final part. In this case, a sufficient number of voters declared that they considered GoT Season 1 to be a single serialized story shown in multiple parts.

    Mini-series were in fact one of the reasons we split that category by length, not medium of publication (TV/Theater). We concluded that long-form televised works (mini-series) has approximately the same clout as theatrical motion pictures and should compete in the same weight class, just as we consider all written works of 40,000 words or more a "novel" regardless of how they're published.

  15. Anonymous: Fair enough. A different of opinion on that front. This does leave the problem of where one draws the line between a single narrative and a series of individual ones. And perhaps the community should have that discussion, since the short form category has been DW heavy two years in a row now (that I remember).

  16. Andrew: Okay, so perhaps the fact that GoT is treated as a single work to begin with (as an adaptation of a book), and DW is not has something to do with this perspective.

    My disagreement with you about StarShipSofa is that it is not a non-commercial dramatic anthology podcast. It is a commercial product now. They have released anthologies specifically related to the podcast. That, for me, means they are no longer acting as simple fans, but as a publisher. Granted, a very small publisher, but a publisher nonetheless. See here:

    I appreciate the existence of the category, though. I think we need it.

  17. "This does leave the problem of where one draws the line between a single narrative and a series of individual ones."

    Is there any problem with "Where the preponderance of the voters think the work lies"? In other words, what's wrong with letting the voters decide?

  18. Kevin: Actually, there is. The rules for the category state:
    "Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year."

    The key words are "production" and "dramatized." The latter can be construed as non-fictional, perhaps, since to dramatize doesn't always mean to fictionalize, though certainly to exaggerate. Production, however, implies an intent to create. In this context, it means "A movie, play, or record, esp. when viewed in terms of its making or staging," with the modification of the rule to mean other forms of production.

    Production is artificial. At best, the category can reflect dramatic representations of reality, such as films based on real events (say, a short film about a day in the life of Heinlein or something), but not real life events which happen to have been recorded, but which were not originally scripted. In other words: calling Garcia's emotional response to winning a "Dramatic Presentation" under these rules is to suggest, at the very least, that he staged it -- in other words, that his response was a fiction.

    I'd accept that "production" could be construed as referring also to documentary, but it most certainly does not refer to real life instances taken as staged performances.

    As for your last comment: at no point have I made any attempt to take away the right of voters to decide for themselves. You mistake my choice to criticize the awards with a desire to see them forced into an image of my choosing.

  19. My disagreement with you about StarShipSofa is that it is not a non-commercial dramatic anthology podcast. It is a commercial product now. They have released anthologies specifically related to the podcast. That, for me, means they are no longer acting as simple fans, but as a publisher.

    Fans publish. You'll find a lot of fans publishing through Lulu.

    StarShipSofa is publishing and selling books, not a commercial audio or video production.

    The hair clearly splits against you, but it's more a rope than a hair.

  20. Andrew: Last I checked, but when you sell something in order to create a profit, no matter the size, that something is a commercial product.

    The books StarShipSofa sells are produced based on what is inside the actual podcast. These are not separate commercial products, such as, say, a t-shirt, but products which are intimately tied to the elements that make the podcast what it is. For profit. That even includes transcripts *from the show.*

    It should be noted that many of their books also contain articles written specifically for the podcast element.

    So, no, the hair/rope/whatever isn't splitting against me, here. At best, there is a clear need for a debate over what it means to be engaging in the community as a fan, and what it means to be engaging as a commercial entity.

    1. You think StarShipSofa makes a /profit/?
      Ha! What planet are you living on?
      Tony takes money from that and turns it back around to keeping the show afloat.
      Does a non-profit hospital cease to be one because they have a gift shop and pay the doctors?
      Reality is calling. Better answer it.

      Oh and for the record:
      -Coode Street includes a complete bibliography of the hosts (which presumably earns them some money).
      -Galactic Suburbia takes donations.
      -SF Signal has ad space on their site.
      -Squeecast includes links to sites of all hosts, all of whom have a store, bibliography, and/or pitches with links to purchase their work.

      This is all perfectly fine. But if you're going to deride one for having supporting income, you have to deride them /all/.

      (And, yes, I'm VOLUNTEER assistant editor for StarShipSofa, so I have skin in the game).


    2. Put another way, if any of us actually made a living doing this, your argument might then be considered valid.
      But we don't.
      So it isn't.

    3. Profit may be the wrong word to use, since it implies "profit above net cost," but since you don't deny that Tony makes money off of products sold that are specific to the podcast, your argument doesn't really hold here. The question then becomes whether a certain amount of earned income from said product constitutes a shift from "fancast" to "something else." I honestly think StarshipSofa belongs in the Best Related Work category, since it's primary function is to present audio fiction, not specifically "fan" content.

      Regardless, there is a huge difference between "selling a product" and "receiving donations. There is also a difference between selling a direct product and linking to an author's website, which may or may not lead to a sale. The former you can track; the latter you cannot, unless every person who buys a book tells you why they bought it. Unless I'm mistaken, there isn't a lot of research on this point, though I'm happy to be proven wrong (it's a notion I once subscribed to, but have recently changed because, like digital piracy, arguments about what people might do given certain information is hard to say with any accuracy).

      Ad space concerns are legitimate ones. I need to think about that one some more.

    4. Lastly, "making a living" doesn't seem to be a determining factor for the category of "pro." Plenty of "pro" writers don't really make a living as writers. And the categories themselves (semi-pro vs. fan) seems to take into account a pay scale. I'm not sure if that pay scale is an accurate reflection of the barrier between "fan," "semi-pro," and "pro," but it does exist. That same pay scale may throw a wrench in my entire argument, as it concerns, if I recall correctly, payments to contributors, which StarshipSofa does not do (or am I wrong on that point?).

  21. If taking any money makes you a Filthy Pro, does that mean that any fanzine or fan web site that has Amazon links (which typically generate a few pennies for the host) or similar things Professional and Must Be Disqualified?

    I bring this up to try and make it more obvious that there isn't a bright-line distinction involved here. The WSFS Constitution doesn't define "professional" or "fan" and they aren't actually opposites of each other. And I suspect that any attempt at a technical definition will result in many counter-examples that don't make sense. It actually requires individual human judgment calls -- in this case, by the voters, I think.

    It's generally more comforting to many people to view the rules as a computer program that produces clear and unquestioned results. Real life is much messier. (I say this as someone who makes his living programming computers, BTW.)

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Kevin: "Filthy Pro" is your choice of words, not mine. At no point did I say that I am against professional pursuits, but there must be a distinction between commercial and fan work.

    I think we need to have a serious discussion about advertising revenue, yes. Whether making money from Amazon links constitutes a disqualification from a fan category? I suppose that depends on their use. But if you are producing a product to be sold which is part and parcel of the fan product you say you are producing, that to me is not longer a separation, but a clear link of the fan pursuit with the commercial one. If we maintain that StarShipSofa is a fancast, not a commercial entity, then we must also be open to the possibility that any publisher could go the same direction and be considered for the category.

    Professional and Fan are opposites in certain instances, but not all. If the WSFS cannot make these distinctions, then the categories are even more meaningless as before. If it cannot, for example, tell us what a "novel" is, then it also cannot reasonably hold up a "novel category" as anything but a false category. Yet they've done a fairly good job dealing with novellas, novelettes, and short stories (length = category). If the WSFS cannot then define what constitutes a "fan" an what constitutes a "professional," then it really cannot justify the existence of the semi-pro category, since "pro" is indefinable under its auspices, and it cannot justify any "fan" category, since it cannot tell us what a "fan" is.

    And while I understand the logic behind letting fans "decide" what a pro and a fan are based on their votes, that is a fairly weak method for determining what does and does not belong in a category. At the very least, the discussion needs to be had: how are we separating these things out, and is there a way we can put it into the rules so it appropriately reflects the activities being presented?

  24. "Filthy Pro" is a fine old fannish phrase. It's meant to be used ironically and isn't an insult.

    And I reiterate that "pro" and "fan" are not opposites in the field of SF & Fantasy. They're check-boxes, not radio buttons. It is perfectly possible to be both a pro and a fan at the same time. Making your first professional sale doesn't mean you are never a fan again and must be walled off from all of fandom. It's is for this very reason that WSFS doesn't strongly define "pro" and "fan," any more than we try to define "science fiction and fantasy."

    Basically, the definition is, "What I point to when I say [X]" and we take the aggregate of the opinions of the members as a consensus instead of giving a privileged place to any one person's opinion.

  25. " there a way we can put it into the rules so it appropriately reflects the activities being presented?"

    I can think of no way of writing a single definition that is impossible to misinterpret, easy to understand, and doesn't end up excluding things that you wanted to include or vice versa. There are too many imponderables, and every member has their own opinion as to what constitutes "fan," "pro," etc.

    If laws, rules, and facts were unequivocal, courts wouldn't need juries.

  26. I think you're confusing "being a fan" with "being recognized as engaging as a fan" and vice versa for "pro." There's no argument here about whether you can be both a professional and a fan. There is an argument about whether you can receive an award meant for fans if what you are doing is no longer a strictly fan endeavor. And that's what needs defining. Otherwise, the category is literally meaningless, and any categories which present themselves as opposites in some way are therefore meaningless as well.

    Either there is something which can be defined as a "fan" activity or a "pro" activity, or there isn't. Only one of those scenarios justifies the existence of 90% of the Hugo Award categories.

  27. Kevin: You keep bringing up voting and the nation as a basis for why creating definitions for the Hugos will not work, but you never consider that even in a nation of people with varying opinions, it is possible for them to find common agreement on certain items, however inconvenient to certain parties.

    The same is true of the Hugos. No perfect definition is possible, but a serviceable one is. And that means we can at least find a definition which serves to solidify categories in the award for the sake of clarity, direction, and purpose.