No, Actually, Let’s Keep the Fan Categories at the Hugos

So, this is a motion that’s being offered at this year’s WSFS meeting at Worldcon: To gut the Hugos of the Fanzine, Fan Writer and Fan Artist categories (pdf link), an idea put forward by one Milt Stevens. If you’re at all interested in this stuff, go read it; I’ll wait.

(If you have no interest in this stuff, then what comes next will probably bore you and you should probably just mosey along.)

Read it? Okay, now let me tell you why this is complete and unmitigated crap.

To begin, the commentary to the motion is deeply confused. The first graph acts as a brief history of fan writing and makes the case for it, noting its long history in fandom, its influence on the field despite being the recreation of a relatively small number of people, and noting that many of its practitioners “would become well-known professional writers.” While it’s important to note that “fan” is not the larval stage of “pro” in the science fiction community, it’s equally important to note that if you wanted to make an argument as to why fan awards were vital to the community of science fiction, this is one way you would do it. So to have it be the first graph in a motion to kill the fan awards is a puzzlement, to say the least.

Now. Second graph, first sentence: “The three categories in question attract fewer voters than most of the other categories and are therefore more susceptible to manipulation.” Oh, really? It’s worth noting this year, in 2013 the nomination phase, the Fan Writer category garnered more nominations (485) than some pro Hugo categories, including Graphic Story and Best Editor, Long Form, and more than the Campbell Award. If these categories garnered fewer nominations than one of these allegedly-susceptible-to-manipulation fan categories, should we not also consider expunging these pro categories as well, since by this logic they should be even more susceptible to logrolling? I look forward to the proposal at the WSFS business meeting to expunge these categories as well. 

But looking at total nomination numbers is a bit of a red herring. If you’re going to allege susceptibility to manipulation, what matters are the numbers to make the ballot cutoff — how many nominations it takes to be last of the top five vote getters in any one category. Last year, in the 2012 Best Fan Writer category, out of 363 nominations (which, incidentally, means that 2013 saw the number of nominating votes in the category increase by about a third — hardly the sign of a moribund category), the anchor position on the ballot was held down by James Bacon, who received 41 nominating votes. Which is more than the votes gotten by the #5 nominee in Best Short Story (36), Best Novelette (37),  Best Related Work (24), Best Graphic Story (26), Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (36), or the Campbell (40), and ties Best Pro Artist (41). Fanzine’s cutoff, incidentally, was 37. Again, if these fan categories are susceptible to manipulation, then so are several of the pro categories as well. Once more, by the logic here, we should consider axing them too.

Fan categories do get fewer votes on the final ballot than the pro categories, but even the category with the fewest votes in 2012 (Fanzine, with 802) garnered more votes than all but one of the categories during the nomination process. Which both mitigates the effectiveness of logrolling, and makes the point that if you’re logrolling, the place to do it is in the nomination phase. Also, the final Hugo ballot is preferential, which further mitigates the effectiveness of logrolling.

What do we learn here? That a) not every fan category is poorly contested, relative to other categories; b) raw nomination votes are not useful as a metric; c) that as a result Mr. Stevens’ assertion is incorrect, both on facts and as a matter of logical construction.

The rest of the second graph boils down to: People now campaign for Hugos, which means that traditional fanzines can get swamped by internet logrolling. This would be a compelling argument if traditional fanzines had been swamped off the ballot. Reality, however, tells a different story. This year shows Banana Wings, The Drink Tank and Journey Planet, traditional fanzines all, on the ballot, along with two blogs. 2012: three traditional fanzines and two blogs. 2011: three traditional fanzines and two blogs. 2010: four traditional fanzines and two blogs.

You know, I’m sensing a pattern here: People are nominating blogs and traditional fanzines. And given that there are more traditional fanzines on the ballot than blogs, the idea that the Internet is swamping out the ‘zines is not exactly supportable.

(Yes, some of these traditional ‘zines above are offered in pdf form on the Internet. Why? Because it’s the 21st century, that’s why. However, allow me to suggest editorial format matters as to what qualifies as a traditional zine.)

The fact that traditional ‘zines and blogs happily coexist on the ballot — not to mention fan writers who write for ‘zines and fan writers who write on blogs (or both!), and fan artists who do the same — makes Mr. Stevens’ third graph assertion that “Efforts at compromise have failed” a genuine headscratcher. One: Dude, look at the actual ballots. They pretty well show that in the real world, fandom encompasses both tradition and innovation, and everything in between. Two: Compromise by whom, to what end? Where have these secret talks to bring to an end this long, dark battle for the soul of the fan categories been held? Why was I not informed? You know, I do have a Fan Writer Hugo. I feel like I should have been briefed, if only as a courtesy.

Mr. Stevens suggests there are two antagonistic camps: those who only want traditional fanzines, and those who only want new-fangled anarchy. But what about those of us who like both? What about those of us who see it all as part of the fan activity spectrum and like it all? You know, I get Vanamonde sent to me whenever John Hertz gets around to it, and I enjoy it. I’ve contributed to a couple of Chris Garcia’s fanzines. And obviously I read a lot of blogs — heck, I write one! Where is the seat at the table for the partisans of “it’s all good”? Mr. Stevens’ formulation does not appear to to make room for us, or indeed even seems to consider the possibility that we exist, and that we might wish for the fan Hugos to continue unmolested by unyielding partisans.

To be sure, there may be people who are as Mr. Stevens suggests, so tied into a worldview of fandom that their solution to not getting their way all the time is to nuke everyone who opposes them and then salt the earth so that nothing ever grows there again. These people should probably grow the fuck up. Hissyfits are unbecoming in actual adults.

And ultimately this proposal of Mr. Stevens seems to be exactly that: A monumental hissyfit, built on bad assertions, an “us vs. them” mentality, and a desire to stomp off with the bat and ball. My thought on this is simple: Mr. Stevens, it’s neither your bat, nor your ball. Or more to the point, it’s not only your bat and ball. It belongs to everyone who wants to play.

Now, let me speak personally, here. I have a Fan Writer Hugo. And you know what? I was delighted to get it. It said to me that I, who had come into fandom late and from the outside, had been welcomed into it. It was, in a very real sense, my stamp of citizenship. It meant more to me than I expect most people know. I am proud to have won it. I am proud that every year since I have won it, it has gone to a new person — and that this year, no matter who wins it, it will go to someone else new as well. For the past several years the Fan Writer Hugo has reflected the state of fan writing: Varied, vital and well worth celebrating.

Likewise, the Fanzine Hugo has been won by a different publication each year since 2006 — sometimes by a ‘zine, sometimes by a blog, but always by a publication that is worth reading and which tells us something about the community we belong to. Fan artists are no less integral, and the field each year includes artists whose work reflects their place in and view of our community.

It would not only be an act of monumental pissiness to kill the fan Hugos, it would be an act of supreme contempt directed at the community — a way for a disgruntled few to say to a larger group, you don’t count like we count. It’s stupid, it’s spiteful, it’s short-sighted, and ultimately, it’s sad. It would cut the heart out of current fandom, and the legs out from under any fandom that would follow.

I hope this proposal, built on bad logic and bad faith, dies the death it deserves at the WSFS business meeting. And I hope we keep celebrating the fan writing, publishing and artistry that is the expression of the love we feel for the field and for the community, for a long time to come. It matters.

Update, 9am, 8/9/13: For those asking “yes, but what can I do?” Well, if you’re attending LoneStarCon 3 this year, go to the WSFS Business Meeting (you can!) and vote it down (you can do that, too!). The dates and times of the business meeting will be available in the program when you get there. I believe the first is on Friday at 10am, but these things are fungible, so double check when you arrive. I am not personally arriving until late Friday, so if anyone who is going to that meeting wants to use this piece to bolster their argument if necessary, go right ahead. I also understand at the Friday meeting it can be punted out of further discussion, which would be nice.

(And yes, I understand that from a certain point of view I’m just trying to use the Internet to logroll you all into voting the way I want. I am the worst person ever.)

117 thoughts on “No, Actually, Let’s Keep the Fan Categories at the Hugos

  1. Actually it was this bit I found hardest to believe:

    Abolishing these three categories seems better than giving awards that create continuing dissatisfaction.

    Does it? To whom?

  2. Reading about this makes me wish even more that I could get to Worldcon this year, so I could attend the Business Meeting and vote that sucker down. Hard. To people for whom this will be your first Worldcon: YOU are a member of WSFS by reason of your Worldcon membership. You can attend the Business Meeting, and you can vote.

  3. Thanks for posting this.

    Every award group has some awards that are more popular than others. That’s not a reason to discard the less popular categories, because the reductio ad absurdem outcome of that argument is there can be only one.

    The online-vs-paper argument is nonsensical to me. An editor selects articles for publications. Most of them end up as PDFs. How the page is generated, printed, and read is of no consequence to the content, and it’s the content that matters.

    I might slightly agree that some nominees are leveraging popularity and visibility over quality. Though this argument is much to weak to propose a rule change, and it is very much not limited to the fan categories. What I have suggested is simply that more people and groups make an effort to promote a more diverse range of potential nominees.

  4. On the rules-discussion forum for the Pathfinder RPG, I once observed a really brilliant summation: Someone observed that people who enjoy doing things differently from another poster are clearly guilty of having badwrongfun. I think you are seeing the same principle at work. People who are valuing or approving these fan works are having badwrongfun. They are not enjoying their science fiction community in the correct way, with a clear boundary between the pros (who create things) and the fans (who consume them). And if the Hugos continue to recognize that kind of fun as though it were just as valid as the good kinds of fun, why, that would be a disaster! It would be almost as though you could like something someone else doesn’t like, and not need to have a duel to the death to determine who is right.

    In any event, a nice rebuttal, and I am firmly on your side on this one.

  5. John, if I can ask, is there a reason WordPress on mobile has stopped condensing posts? I rather liked that feature, particularly for stuff like this that just isn’t my cup of tea. I’m just curious if it’s something you’ve changed or something they’ve changed.

  6. I have not voted in any of the fan categories any time I was qualified to do so. This is because of my massive ignorance of the area. But I think they should continue to exist, as they are. If you want to include a blog as a fanzine, fine. But to get on your arrogant hobby horse and say “They all gotta go because me and my friends don’t like them” is asinine. Those going to worldcon, go to the business meeting and vote this sucker down.

  7. Since the arguments are either weak or based on false premises or both, I can’t help thinking there’s an undisclosed agenda here.

  8. I agree completely: what a silly and divisive idea. I hope it gets knocked down, stamped on, kicked around a bit, and thrown out. Or at least voted against.

  9. A question, because this will be my first WorldCon, so I don’t know how this will be done. Will this be simply a vote, or will there be time/ space for comments and discussion? Because I’d be willing to tell the meeting exactly why I think this is a bad idea, if that opportunity is there… and to prepare ahead of time for how much time I’d have to do so.

  10. I’ve only been a Hugo voter for a few years, and I’ll admit I always skip these categories, because I mostly follow fan works from one particular series and don’t feel that I have enough exposure for my opinion to be worthwhile. I skip a couple of categories for the same reason.

    Eliminating the category seems like a remarkably silly idea, though. My impression that fan writing is at least as popular as it ever was, and I would guess that it’s increased in popularity. Granted, some of this writing is in genres that don’t directly relate to the Hugo Awards, but much of it seems very relevant. Is fan art on some kind of downswing? Again, I only have my own observations, but I’m seeing lots of talented amateur artists who are posting their work online in a variety of mediums. Why back away from areas that are growing in popularity and that might end up attracting new blood?

    I guess there’s this supposed conflict between the old ways and the new. Maybe there is one. I haven’t been able to attend a WorldCon, so perhaps I don’t know. But it seems like kind of a shame for science fiction, of all things, to back away from that sort of a dialogue. Isn’t that one of the genre’s major themes? If anyone’s prepared to handle it, I would think it would be us.

  11. Just heard about this from Chuq von Rospaq, and I must admit I am amazed. As he points out, this is something Fandom has dealt with more or less successfully for 25 years now.

    Heck, before my health gafiated me, I came within a few nominations of making the Fan Writer shortlist myself (and therefore inevitably losing to Dave Langford) at Aussiecon a dozen or so years ago; and the closest I ever came to having any paper fanzine output was having a joke I made on rec.arts.sf.fandom quoted in Ansible once. And despite that, I’d be willing to bet that almost all of my nominations came from certified old-school fanzine fans.

  12. Oh FFS, why the hell is Milt of all people proposing this? People have always campaigned for Hugos, the campaigning is just taking slightly different forms.

    I’m now double-extra-sorry I can’t attend. I have a membership and crash space, but can’t afford airfare and food. I would get up early and go to the Business Meeting to vote this down. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    Am wanting to sell my membership (way cheaper than what you’d pay now) and would knock even more off the price to someone who promised to go vote against this. (my user name at ya hoo)

    And with the Hugo Packet available (thanks to the work of OGH and others), it’s often a lot easier to catch up with the fan writer categories than it is with art or editor categories… which means people are voting on pure information more than personality. Honestly, this year for Best Fan Writer, I voted #1 for someone I’d never even heard of before reading the packet, so s/he must obviously be logrolling like crazy.

  13. I started Dark Matter as a PDF zine because PRINTING CO$T$. Then I converted to a website.

    I have been one of the targets of the old school hating on the new. I was absolutely gutted last year to learn that some people in the USofA were going out of their way to not only tear down what I was doing but also, at times, to libel me in the process. These same people have argued that Dark Matter is NOT a fanzine because THE STANDARD IS TOO HIGH. They felt the need to teach me how to do the fanzine thing; I wasn’t ‘doing it right’ apparently. Which kinda ‘splains why I wrote ‘Through the Looking Class: Being Schooled by the SMoFs’. http://www.darkmatterfanzine.com/dmf/through-the-looking-class-being-schooled-by-the-smofs/

    This year I won a Chronos Award for Best Fan Writer here in the state of Victoria, Australia. My work on Dark Matter has given me some recognition but that award increased my credibility significantly, even as a first-year student in the associate degree of Professional Writing and Editing. That award increased the chances of me having a career instead of sitting at home unemployed.

    Protect opportunities for the fan writers. Fan Hugos can provide opportunities and recognition for fan writers over the pond.

    (NB I have no clue if this dude is one of the tribe that has sought to destroy what I’m doing; I’m not passing judgement on him personally.)

  14. I’ve nominated and voted in the Hugos for the past thirty-eight years, I’m a winner of two “pro” Hugos, and I’ve been a finalist in the fan categories three times.

    I agree with everything John Scalzi says here, and I’ll be doing my best to get to this year’s Worldcon business meeting to help vote down this ill-considered motion.

    (To answer a question upstream: Any member of the current worldcon can attend, and vote in, the business meeting. Consult the schedule, which will be published in the printed materials you get when you pick up your badge. Yes, there will be time for discussion and debate.)

  15. Also: Naath’s snarky insinuation aside, I know Dave Langford, and I doubt very much that he’s in any way shocked or unhappy that other people have been winning Best Fan Writer Hugo awards. And I can’t imagine him supporting a proposal of this sort.

    Anyone who wants to use the existence of this proposal to make broad and unpleasant generalizations about the views of “traditional” or “print” fanzine fans should think again. There are plenty of us who are unfazed by the existence of the internet and new forms of fan publication. Milt Stevens speaks for a small faction, not for most of us.

  16. Naath: The Ansible has been on the web for billions of years, I’ve been reading it since late 90s as emails (and still do) and it also exists as a web page (hence can be counted as a blog). And I’m sure David Langford’s quite happy for some others to win the “Langford” Award. :)

  17. I’m guessing that items on the business agenda are to be kept fairly brief and that’s why there’s no backing information in this item as written. What I would want, were I going to be there to vote (which I won’t), would be some documentation–links to discussions about the issue or somebody’s blog post giving a full explanation. Because “it is fairly easy for a log-rolling effort on the internet to get a nominee on the ballot and possibly win” is an interesting assertion, but it would behoove the proponents of this motion to back up the assertion with some evidence that this has taken place enough times to be problematic. If the business meeting agenda isn’t the place for evidence, have they provided it elsewhere?

    Similarly, “Efforts at compromise have failed. One group says that fanzines are words on paper only, and nothing else can be allowed. Another group thinks fanzines and fan writing are anything the voters can imagine and will tolerate no limitations whatsoever. There is wide dissatisfaction with these three awards, and it doesn’t seem likely to go away.”

    That suggests an ongoing argument between these two groups, with actual attempts to either prevail or compromise, none of which have been successful. If this has been such an issue of contention and these two groups have indeed tried to win each other over, shout each other down, or come up with a compromise–and have failed–there must be some evidence of the trying and the failing. If John Scalzi and Patrick Nielsen Hayden are unaware of these efforts, it seems likely that a lot of the other voters will be similarly in the dark. So what can Mr. Stevens and Ms. Deneroff point to that will get the potential voters up to speed on the apparent contention and attempted compromising? Anyone can make an assertion. Where’s the proof?

    And really, “One group says that fanzines are words on paper only, and nothing else can be allowed”? In science fiction, one group insists on that writing about the future use only technology that was current in the past? The future is supposed to remain safely fictional, and when future technology becomes present technology, we’re suppose to avoid using it? Damn those science fiction fans and voters who think fanzines and fan writing are anything the voters can imagine! Using their imaginations to come up with things that are different from the way things used to be! What’s the world coming to? If this paper-only group really exists, they apparently have no sense of irony.

  18. Very well done rebuttal, John. See you at the Business Meeting – I’ll bring the popcorn. :-)

  19. @BW

    Even if they can provide proof that logrolling has occured and is an ongoing problem, I’d think the next logical step would be “How can we prevent this happening in the future?”, not this.

  20. Rian:

    As PNH has noted, the Business Meeting schedule will be published in the pocket program. The first meeting will probably be held on the first full day of the convention (Friday). This meeting is the one where reports are presented and the schedule is set for the future meetings. Each item on the agenda will be assigned a default time limit, which can then be changed by vote of the membership. The membership can also vote to object to consideration; if the appropriate percentage of the attending members of the meeting agree, the motion is killed at that point.

    If the motion makes it past the initial meeting, the agreed upon time is split evenly between those in favor and those against. If it passes at this Business Meeting, it still needs to be passed again at the Business Meeting the following year for the Constitution to be amended.

  21. Given that the article starts by makes the case for keeping the fan categories in the Hugos and given the general tone of the article (sorry, can’t be more specific; it is more of “I know it when I see it” sort of thing) is it possible that the author intended his post as satire? That he was attempting to make fun of those who would make science fiction and/or conventions more exclusive by presenting their arguments as baldly and clumsily as possible?

  22. There is more on this here: http://file770.com/?p=13968

    My favorite quote is:
    “It’s also too bad that the debate over the motion will inevitably make fanzine fans look more like jackasses than we already do, having just spent the last two years getting our alleged political allies to help us reconstitute the Best Fanzine category as we supposedly wanted it to look. Something they were happy to do because they had no intention of asking Hugo Administrators to enforce the result the movers, including Rich Lynch, said the rules change was actually supposed to have.”

    I still don’t understand what aspect of the rules they claim isn’t being enforced. There is nothing in there that precludes this year’s nominees from being eligible. (I was one of the people involved in redefining the fanzine/semiprozine line a couple of years back. That probably makes me one of the alleged.)

    The stated split between people who see fanzines as paper-only and everyone else is quite real and has been going on for a while. There is a very traditionalist-minded group in the fanzine community that sees them as paper-only. (PDF is social acceptable because it preserves their format.) This is the same group of people who caused the fancast category to be created when a podcast won the fanzine Hugo. (Ironically, the year this was voted in, the same podcast lost the fanzine Hugo to a “real” fanzine.)

  23. It does seem that the “old guard” of fanzine writers and fanzine readers are terribly, terribly threatened by the wild west of online blogs, online zines and the like. I suspect they fear the day where all five nominees are online, because more people who are in the nominating pool will know SF Signal, or A Dribble of Ink, or Staffer’s Musings.

    It’s even more than that, come to think of it. Given fanzine numbers, even if a ballot has 3 fanzines and 2 online entrants, the “low information voters”, if they bother to actually vote for the category are more likely to know about and have read the online ones.

    So, to avoid this ‘calamity’, and in the absence of being able to design the categories to exclude them–take away the ball and go home.

    Rather childish, I think.

  24. Slightly to the side of the current topic, in another posting could you explain how “best editor” is selected? As a 50+ year reader of SF, fantasy, and any other form of books I cannot see the hand of an editor at work. Thank you.
    Very much enjoyed the OMW series and look forward to the next installment.

  25. Michael:

    It’s off topic to the thread, and so I would prefer to not follow it up here, but you can learn more here. That article covers the category as it existed until fairly recently, and has links to its two successor categories.

  26. I strongly suspect that this motion will fail to Object to Consideration (requires 2/3 vote, no debate) at the first (preliminary) business meeting. In the unlikely case it survives that, there will be debate at later meetings.

  27. I always thought the Hugo Fan Awards were cool, a nice way of recognizing the folks who help promote the very work that wins the pros the pro awards. This would be a disgrace, and be completely counter to the spirit of the SF&F community.

  28. This is one of those few times that this gafiated SMOF (I was on the bid and con committees for ConJose and a small pile of SFBA conventions aside from that before burnout struck) would relish an Objection to Consideration motion from anyone on this piece of utter tripe. Hell, I’d FILE it. As I was also on the committee to expand Dramatic Presentation to Long and Short Forms because I cared that much, I could be accused of being Part of the Problem. I know some have groused that the category list is too long. Codswallop. We are a vibrant and active group with diverse interests and we are growing. Of course the list got longer. And this is no way to trim it even if it did merit a reduction.

  29. “The fact that traditional ‘zines and blogs happily coexist on the ballot…”

    I don’t think this is true, as represented by the annual slap-fight between the two. That said, I think the solution is two different categories. Preserve the fanzine format with the exist fanzine ballot. Do something new for blogs, since they’re a different form of art.

    Getting rid of all the fan categories is actually pretty appealing (in a “flip over the board and go home” kind of way), but probably not the solution.

  30. For anyone wanting a peek into some fan writing, fan art and fanzines, I can think of no better place than efanzines.com which contains a wide variety of fan publications.

    Discussions about traditional fandom vs modern fandom aka “Get Off My Lawn!” have been going on for years in fanzines, on various email lists, discussion boards, usenet, at cons and now can be found on FB and the like. In one group on FB, there’s a rather lengthy discussion on how to define “fannish” and what constitutes fandom and how it has changed in these modern times.

    Also, see fanac.org for lots of great fan history!

  31. For anyone wanting to participate in the substantial voting on this topic, there are up to two business meetings that matter (though possibly only one). The preliminary meeting on Friday does not handle the substantial debate on any topic, but it *is* the forum where a piece of business can be removed from the agenda if the group wishes. The motion to remove this from the agenda is called “object to consideration” (OTC) and it requires a 3/4ths majority. There will pretty near certainly be an OTC motion on this amendment. If enough people want it removed it will be gone and there will be no further discussion on the topic this year. So, if the OTC succeeds, that is the end of that and the issue is closed.

    IF the OTC fails, the only other things that can happen to it on Friday are changes to the text, which only require a simple majority and can go so far as reversing the effect of the motion. No matter how it’s changed the motion *will* go to the meeting on Saturday for final approval.

    If the motion makes it to Saturday, it’s a simple majority decision whether to pass it or not and even if it *does*, it must be passed again next year by the business meeting in London to take effect.

    The meetings should start at 10 or 10:30 on each day. Anyone who is an attending member who has a strong opinion on the matter is encouraged to participate.

  32. Erp, I believe I mis-spoke. On Friday, other than handling OTC motions, all that is done is setting the time limits for debate on Saturday….any change to the text must occur on Saturday.

  33. Feh, evidently I am not having a good day, my recollection from the last OTC a few years ago was that it was 3/4ths, but peeking at the standing rules, it appears that Seth is correct, OTC takes 2/3rds. There would seem to be a large chance of that succeeding on this particular motion.

  34. Reblogged this on where i keep my stuff and commented:
    I’m not as into the politics of the Hugo as Scalzi (for cryin’ out loud I didn’t even know this aware existed), but I wonder if this is actually an attempt to put a wall between fanfiction and “real writing.” No Hugo, no acceptance. I can think of a few writers who might be very glad to see this category go for that reason.

    Just my thoughts.

  35. I continue to be croggled that someone would suggest getting rid of “Best Fan [Something]” awards from a fan-voted award program.

    Does anyone else see that? I’m not missing something, am I?

  36. Oh, and on the “cheap voting” motion, it does not eliminate supporting memberships. There was some language in the constitution that was driving up site selection voting fees (which is the initial value for a supporting membership). That’s been changed and those fees (and supporting membership prices) are likely about to start coming down a bit (which I think is a good thing).

    The motion just specifies that for a membership class which includes voting rights that is sold to public, it cannot be cheaper than the initial supporting membership price/voting fee (which as noted is a cost that should be reducing over the next few years).

    Supporting memberships will continue to exist and be able to vote on the Hugos and will likely be cheaper than they’ve been the last couple years…it just will not be allowed for a membership that costs less than that to include voting rights for site selection and the Hugos.

  37. Did you have any thoughts on the proposal to create a new Best Dramatic Presentation (Fan) Hugo?

  38. The man who logrolled himself a Fan Hugo wants to preserve the opportunity for others. Well, that is generous and unselfish.

  39. This proposal smacks of sour grapes. “I (my favorite fanzine) didn’t get nominated so no one should”. Personally, I welcome the opportunity to see some fanzines that I would otherwise never hear of. It gives me a glimpse into the thinking of other fans.

    On the related topic of “cheap voting”, I didn’t even know that my supporting membership gave me rights to vote in site selection and such. How do I do that? I cannot attend this year for financial reasons, but the site of future Worldcons and next year’s NASFIC affects my ability to attend in the future as I might roll Worldcon into a family vacation.

  40. How is this even possible in the genre of science fiction? When someone finally invents a hyperdrive, are these same nutjobs going to say, “You must arrive via chemical propulsion only?”

    It’s like they sell the stuff, but they don’t actually read it.

    It’s weird, man. Really weird.

  41. While others have written bits about the Business Meeting Process here, I have written a longer article about Business Meeting process on my LJ.

    The Preliminary Business Meeting (Friday) can make changes to new proposals and kill them entirely by Objection to Consideration (2/3 vote required, no debate allowed). The Main Business Meeting (Saturday) is where any substantive debate and a vote happens on anything that survives the weeding-out process on Friday.

    Any attending member of Worldcon can attend, participate, make motions, and vote at the Business Meeting.

    The Maker’s Statement included with proposals is not intended to be a full debate between all sides of the issue. It is the initial advocacy statement by the people making it. The other side of the issue, and indeed other aspects of it, usually comes out in debate, assuming the proposal survives the Preliminary Business Meeting.

  42. Saruby:

    The site selection materials were sent out in one of the previous PRs, they are also available on the website (http://www.lonestarcon3.org/wsfs/wsfs-site.shtml).

    There are two site selection processes being handled at LSC3, the site for the 2015 Worldcon and the site for the 2014 NASFiC. If you go to the web page you will find links to pay the site selection fees fir each online. The ballots are downloadable there, you print them out and fill them in (including either the token given for your online payment or a check for the site selection fee)…then mail them to the address listed.

    The ballot is preferential, similar to Hugo voting, and it contains instructions on how to fill it in and seal your ballot to preserve anonymity.

  43. Oh, it is also acceptable to have your site selection ballot hand carried to the convention by anyone you know who is attending. They just need to bring it to the site selection tables before voting closes (which *should* be late Saturday afternoon).

  44. Ulrika:

    “The man who logrolled himself a Fan Hugo wants to preserve the opportunity for others. Well, that is generous and unselfish.”

    Oh, Ulrika. Whenever I think of your continual bitterness on this subject, I just go and pet my Fan Writer Hugo. “There, there,” I say to it. “You’re safe now. I won’t let that mean ol’ Ulrika take you away from me. Ever.”

    Hold on, I’m going to do it right now.

    There, now I’m done.

  45. Milt Stevens was co-Chairman (with Craig Miller) of L.A.con II, the largest Worldcon ever held, and the first SF convention I ever attended. (See the Long List of Worldcons for additional detail.) Milt is a person who I like and respect, as is co-sponsor Linda Deneroff, with whom I have worked in the past and will again in the future. I just happen to disagree with them on this issue.

  46. I think people who weep about published authors competing for (and even winning) the Hugo for fan writing fundamentally misunderstand the category.

    The “fan” description of the categories is not describing the *person*, it’s describing the *work*. This blog, with it’s frequent commentary on SF and fandom and the state of things is absolutely fan writing….not even dramatically different from the fan writing being done in fanzines 70 years ago. The technology has expanded to allow other avenues for it, but it’s still fan writing.

  47. I’m rather new to the community, but this does seem rather inane. Who cares where the words appear? People are writing about SF/F, and for that, God bless ’em. Really great genre commentary and criticism can happen anywhere, from anyone. As an author, I’m just happy folks are talking about this stuff.

    As for campaigning and “logrolling,” I’m somewhat amused. More and more people are coming into the SF/F community every day, beholden to no one. They will make discoveries and promote their favorites for awards. I don’t think it’s particularly egregious for someone to say, “Hey, I worked hard at this. Vote for me.” Didn’t know we had to take vows of silence or anything.

  48. I remember when this was brought up once before, back in ’67, I think, only they were going to keep the fan awards, just call them “Pongs” (after Bob Tucker’s alter ego, Hoy Ping Pong, from the early days of fandom) rather than Hugos. That didn’t fly either.

  49. IIRC, Fred Pohl won “Best Fan Writer” a few years back for his webpage, and he’s been fan, pro, and editor since the 30’s. If he doesn’t fear online, then who should?

    The voters are fans, why shouldn’t some of the winners be? It’s something that sets this group apart, that we recognize those who ONLY do it for love instead of only those who do it for love and money.

    I have seen some good Hugo proposals in my 30+ years of Hugo voting (splitting longform from shortform video was overdue), and some bad ones. This is probably the worst/stupidest.

    Y’all who are going, get up Friday morning and kill it with the Objection to Consideration.

  50. What I adore above all is the method. “We cannot decide how the award should be judged, so abolish it.” I love that. I admit, it is tempting to apply that method to contemporary politics (“We can’t decide which presidential candidate is worse, so let’s abolish the office.” VERY tempting); but overall, I’m not sure the approach is such a good idea.

  51. Ulrika is exactly who I thought of when I read this post. Some years back, Scalzi is up for fan writer, Ulrika challenges “For WHAT?” Lots of people go to her blog, give something like six distinct, cogent reasons. Ulrika replies, “People keep saying he’s done fan writing, I keep asking what he’s done, but no one will tell me!” In other words, he doesn’t meet *my* definition of fan writing. But he meets LOTS of other people’s definitions, including people like me, who while not active in fanzine fandom certainly read a few back in the day (I’ve been in fandom for nearly 40 years).

    I’m of the view that a Hugo winner should be whatever the Hugo voters think should win (as opposed to some theoretical construct of what ought to constitute a Hugo winner), and Hugo categories follow the same line. If small pockets of fandom are appalled but huge swaths of fandom are fine with it, it gets to stay. Why on earth get rid of categories that make a lot of people happy? (LOVE the video linked above of Chris Garcia winning; I’d heard about it, first time I’ve seen it. Awesome.)

  52. Well, I was going to search on irony, but I see BW’s got that partly covered. It’s because of technological changes in our communication infrastructure and the global marketplace that mean that people in regions and countries (and finance levels) who couldn’t easily participate in fandom before now can far more easily — with lots more online to interact with.

    In other words, this is a problem BECAUSE SCIENCE FICTION. There’s your irony.

  53. If the motion was to extend the fan writing categories … fanzine, ezine, and blog … it would make some sense. Not much, but some. Well, more than zero. This sounds like “pay attention to ME!”, writ foolishly.

  54. First of all, given that I know that Milt and Linda aren’t stupid, I am deeply curious as to whether or not this is bait. Throw this into the ring to get a lot of people talking about how to fix it correctly.

    That said, if we don’t want to sit through 2-3 hours of debate on Saturday, I’d like to suggest that everyone show up on Friday and kill this motion with 2/3rds majority. There is no debate allowed on Friday, so we can kill it dead and minimize our effort.

  55. If it is bait, the appropriate response is to defeat it on “object to consideration” and then drop the subject completely. Not to reward a species of trolling.

  56. I’m sure Lance Armstrong thought much the same, John. Besides, there wouldn’t be any fun in *taking* it. First, the lightbulb must really *want* to change.

  57. John Scalzi iis morally identical to Lance Armstrong because sf fan writers swear not to… sell fiction before allowing themselves to be nominated for Best Fan Writer?

    Really?

    That seems to make no sense whatever, but neither does any other interpretation I can think of that comares winning a Fan Hugo to perjury and doing.

    I have a radical solution for people who don’t want to see someone not win a Hugo: don’t vote for them.

    But if you want to see someone else win a Hugo? Here’s what you do: vote for them.

    Don’t like the results?

    Life is so so so hard.

    Obviously the next step should be to abolish the award so no one can be allowed to disagree with me.

    Their opinion must not be allowed to stand!

    (Let’s not let get in the way the fact that being active as both a fan and pro is as common in the sf community as it is a tradition inextricably embedded in the sf community since at least 1940+, with Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Bob Bloch, etc, making clear there has never been a conflict between being active as both. But let’s go take away the Hugo nominaitons and awards of Jack Gaughn and Terry Carr and Ted White and F. M. Busby and Bob Vardeman and Dick Geis now. Also Dave Langford’s, Don D’Ammassa’s, Sandra Meisel’s. As well as Walter Willis’s, and… the list of nominees and winners for Best Fan Writer who have been professional sf or professional writers, or of Best Fan Artist who have been professional artists, is quite long.),

  58. I’d like to talk about the Fan and Pro Artist categories a bit. With rare exceptions, I don’t vote in a Hugo category unless I’ve had time to read/see all the nominees, which means I don’t usually get to finish the novels before voting, or see all the movies or Dr. Who episodes, and I mostly start reading the short stories and graphic novels and work my way up to novellas.

    Art’s short. It’s quick. You can look at all the fan art and pro art in an hour, faster than reading the short stories. And I thought the fan art was a lot more fun. The pro art was all excellently drawn, but it was all commercial covers for books, so it all looked pretty much the same. The fan art had zine illustrations, jewelry, pictures of Scalzi, convention program covers. It’s important science fiction art that largely wasn’t covered by the pro category. The quality varied a lot, but there was a lot of creativity even in the less technically skilled art, and it had a lot more variety, because it wasn’t just book covers with the commercial and current-subgenre-cover-fashion constraints of that market.

    And while I can’t get to the con in person every year, supporting memberships now mean that I get access to electronic versions of the Hugo nominees, which is worth the current price even though I’ve often bought one or two of the books already and it’ll suck me into buying the sequels before they get nominated next year. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Mira Grant.) $60 might be a bit steep just to get a vote to have an upcoming con in [Some Cool Town]; with the Hugo electronic voting package it’s worthwhile.

  59. Request for clarification: I am under the impression that A) this fellow proposes to remove certain categories of Hugo awards on the basis that there are unresolved arguments between those who think only ink & paper fanzines should qualify, and those who believe they should be open to e-zines as well. B) Various people here are blaming this on those who think the award should be limited to ink & paper fanzines.

    If I am right about both A and B, then I fail to see the how B follows from A. What am I missing? Please use small words; it is almost impossible to overstate my ignorance on this subject.

  60. Ulrika:

    “I’m sure Lance Armstrong thought much the same, John.”

    I’m sorry, Ulrika. What was that? I was distracted by the memory of the hearty applause I received from a theater full of fans and pros as I walked up to get my Fan Writer Hugo from Rusty Hevelin.

    Good times. Good times.

    Oh, wait, by invoking Lance Armstrong you’re clearly insinuating that I have actively cheated my way into my Fan Writer Hugo, rather than going about it in a perfectly legitimate manner which, however, you do not appear to approve of. Because me winning an award you don’t think I should have, in a manner nevertheless consistent with the WSFS bylaws, is just like Mr. Armstrong intentionally engaging in a years-long campaign of drug use, duplicity and bullying in order to reap millions of dollars in fees and commercial endorsements.

    Well! That’s certainly an exciting comparison. And I think it’s best that I leave it at that.

    Oh, listen. My Fan Writer Hugo is asking for pettings again! That darn Hugo! I can’t leave it alone for a minute!

  61. John, you obviously need a better steroid dealer. I mean, we’ve all seen that picture of you shirtless, and while you’re not fat, you aren’t buff either.

    Is this… person… equally butt-hurt about Jim Hines and Fred Pohl’s wins? Or, indeed, Bob Tucker (I still miss him), Robert Bloch, or any of the other fine gents @Gary Farber mentioned?

    @Bill Stewart: Agreed that the Fan Art nominees are nifty.

  62. Lurkertype: I am interested in taking you up on your offer of a membership, if I’m not too late, but my email attempt bounced. Please let me know if it’s still open, and we’ll figure out some other way to make contact.

  63. Steven Brust:

    Request for clarification: I am under the impression that A) this fellow proposes to remove certain categories of Hugo awards on the basis that there are unresolved arguments between those who think only ink & paper fanzines should qualify, and those who believe they should be open to e-zines as well. B) Various people here are blaming this on those who think the award should be limited to ink & paper fanzines.

    If I am right about both A and B, then I fail to see the how B follows from A. What am I missing? Please use small words; it is almost impossible to overstate my ignorance on this subject.

    I think, if I’m following it correctly, that the problem having been posed as caused by the disputes between print only adherents and print and e-print adherents (problem A), the posters regard the disputes as entirely caused by the print only adherents (problem B,) an assertion with which I would have to agree, and so are arguing that if the print only adherents would stop being such hardasses (problem B,) there would be no need for anyone to propose solutions (removing the fan Hugos) for problem A (the disputes between print only and not print only) because problem A would then not exist. Solve problem B and problem A goes bye-bye. Therefore they see A and B as directly connected.

    Eliminating Problem B would not actually work, though, because there would then be a new dispute (problem C) as to whether fan writing on an official website should be the only electronic fan writing allowed to be nominated or whether guest blogs and social media entries as well as website based publications should be included. Because that is what organizational societies do and the World Science Fiction Society is no exception.

    If they truly cared about preserving traditional fan writing, then the only fan writing that should qualify for a Hugo nomination are those pieces published on mimeographed paper with smudgy blue ink, as that was what the Hugo was based on. Using professional printers or copy machines/printers should disqualify you right out, as it’s a technological advantage that clearly allows manipulation of the vote and saturation of the Society voting base. Having more people paying dues to the Society and participating in it and caring about the Hugos and WorldCon and about the field and discussion in the field through the assistance and development of technologies and better means of wider communication is clearly far less desirous than keeping it to a tiny group of people willing to get their fingers stained indigo. And if the mimeograph cabal demand it, by golly, there’s going to be a vote on it. (Which I actually approve of, being a democracy advocate, don’t get me wrong.)

    After all, what I’ve been told by numerous people is that science fiction is dead, no one goes to WorldCon anymore, nobody even has heard of the Society, the Hugos are a joke because they aren’t a juried award and no one cares about them or any SFF award, that books are on their way out in favor of the Web, comics and games, nobody knows who Scalzi, Brust or any bestselling fiction author is, that blogs are dead and Twitter is for older people, that no one under the age of thirty knows what an email is, etc. So why not restrict it to mimeograph? It can be like vinyl records (which are doing quite well actually.) Get it down to twenty people or so all left in the Society and there won’t be any disputes over logrolling votes or giving awards to people who give two damns about SFF enough to write intelligent, entertaining things about it that paying Society members liked.

    The rest of us will just sit here bemused while you all go and vote on the blue ink qualifications. And prepare the new replacement award, Hugo Fan Award 2: The Quickening. There can be only one, baby.

  64. Okay, I know this is reductionist to the extreme, but I couldn’t help but think “The Science FIction Fandom must keep ourselves pure from the scourge of these “Inter-Networks”. A widely used technology has NO place amongst the halls of Science Fiction!”

  65. Some people have just been going to business meetings for too long and need a break or something, if this is the kind of garbage they propose. Anyway, yeah, this is “take my ball and go home”–but they’ve forgotten that they do not own the ball. If they want to take their fanzine and go home, fine; but the award is WSFS’s, not theirs. Buh-bye (but please, read the actual WSFS constitution, particular the Hugo rules, on your way out the door).

    @John: ROFLMAO at your responses to Ulrika, thanks. Other than wacky, snide comments here and on Cheryl’s blog, I have no clue who she is (and don’t care; someone said she had a blog, which seems odd, given her feelings about blogs…but I couldn’t find it).

    Anyway, sorry I won’t be there. I’ve been to a couple of BMs, so I’d show up and vote (as usual, I dislike most-if-not-all of the proposals), but we’re taking this year off from Worldcon.

  66. John, let’s give Ulrika her due. Maybe she has concrete evidence that you were doping your blood right before each book, thus increasing your performance. Surely, that would make her analogy make sense. Or maybe she’s confused and meant to compare you to one of the many baseball players who claim that they were told they were getting a vitamin shot instead of steroids (the link between anabolic steroids and winning Hugo awards has surely been proven somewhere, right?).

  67. The only time I have ever tried to change the Hugo rules was back in 1979 when I discovered that the final ballot in each category was to be determined from the nominations by … a totally unspecified mechanism. Writing the names of all nominees on slips of paper, throwing the pile down the stairs, and making up the final ballot from those on the lowest (or highest) steps — that would have been entirely legitimate. So would a final ballot of the least popular nominees. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t introduced the motion to clarify this, because it would have been so much fun when really unscrupulous Hugo administrators realized the scope of their powers.

    Excuse me, my 29 Hugos are clamouring to be petted again.

  68. @ Steven Brust:
    Request for clarification: I am under the impression that A) this fellow proposes to remove certain categories of Hugo awards on the basis that there are unresolved arguments between those who think only ink & paper fanzines should qualify, and those who believe they should be open to e-zines as well. B) Various people here are blaming this on those who think the award should be limited to ink & paper fanzines.

    If I am right about both A and B, then I fail to see the how B follows from A. What am I missing? Please use small words; it is almost impossible to overstate my ignorance on this subject.

    E-zines in the form of PDFs are not actually the point of debate. It’s blogs, which a certain faction of traditional-fanzine-fans feel do not meet the one overwhelmingly important criteria for being a fanzine, which is having issues. With, like, numbers and things. If it doesn’t have issues, it isn’t a True Fanzine and therefore should not be eligible. Blogs for the most part do not have issues. E-fanzines are okay because they are separated into issues, and issues are what is critical in determining a fanzine. Not content, or fannishness, just ISSUES. Because issues are important! A defining criteria of Hugo-worthy fanac!

    Here’s the language in question for defining a fanzine for Hugo purposes:
    Any generally available non-professional periodical publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects that by the close of the previous calendar year has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media)

    The “compromise” desired was that they would use the above language and everyone would understand that it meant that only traditional fanzines and blogs with issues would be okay and stop nominating any blog that did not have issues. As most blogs do not. The problem is that a lot of people don’t buy that issues are so important that we should have a protected category just for things with issues. And a majority of the voters seem to be among those people who think that blog posts are “the equivalent in other media” and blogs are sufficiently “periodical” to qualify. So the “compromise” has failed due to those naughty voters persisting in voting according to the rules rather than an unspoken and unenforceable minority interpretation of them.

    Separately, there is a concern that Fan Writer Hugos are going to SF pros who have big (virtual) megaphones and fan followings and name recognition and thus steam right over all other possible nominees. That’s not an outrageous concern, and it may be a real problem worthy of thoughtful debate, but it has not yet actually been debated in a WSFS context.

    Hope this helps.

    Personally, as principled stands for important elements of fannish culture go, I don’t see the preeminence of things with discrete issues as being super-high on the list of priorities. I believe blogs are qualitatively the same sort of fanac as fanzines. I do not think having issues is the most important aspect of a fanzine. Blogs are a descendent of fanzines, but one is allowed to have both ancestors and descendants alive at once, and I’m content for that to be the case on the fanzine ballot.

    And one element of fannish culture that I do think is very important is that fans can be pros and pros can be fans. I worry that we’re losing this philosophical position, and that fandom will be the worse for it. But I fail to see how eliminating the Fan Writer Hugo helps with this in the slightest.

    So I’ll be voting to keep the fan Hugos. I suspect that means showing up Friday and Object-to-Consideration-ing this amendment into oblivion without any substantial debate.

  69. Maybe I should put that WSFS meeting on my list!

    Got any opinion about the proposed ban on a voter-only membership? My only thought is that it is up to each con to finance its operation as best it can, and that making bans give no thought to a future where an action might be necessary.

  70. Thanks for writing this, John. You’ve stated my reaction (as a fan, fanwriter, and faned of over 40 years standing) to this ill-conceived proposal far better than I could. I plan to be at the first business meeting in San Antonio to object to consideration.

    Thanks also to my friend Gary Farber for citing chapter and verse on the history of fannish pros winning in the fanac categories, saving me the trouble.

    Milt Stevens is a great guy, with an impressive fannish résumé. Ulrika O’Brien is a good friend and a fine fanwriter in her own right. But on this issue they appear to have let nostalgia or future shock cloud their usually excellent judgment.

    I continue to find the entrenched reactionary tendency in old-line fandom as embarrassing as it is baffling and paradoxical. For a group that claims to love the literature of speculation and change, we are perversely reluctant to accommodate ourselves to the fact that we are now living in a version of the future we could once only read about.

    I think we’d all be calmer and happier if we could stop expending the unconscious energy required to keep denying reality. We got our wish; SF is now an accepted part of global popular culture. Privately-circulated ditto and mimeo publications are no longer the only, or even the best, way to express our appreciation of it.

  71. Tina: If the “No Cheap Voting” proposal were coupled with a proposal to allow Worldcons to not have to include paper publications in the price (it’s currently required as a consequence of section 1.5.4 of the WSFS Constitution), I think many of us objecting to the proposal would withdraw our objections. That’s because Worldcons could then set up their lowest supporting membership price (if they so choose) with electronic distribution of publications; paper publications could be an add-on option. This would allow them to lower the cost of a supporting membership, which would of course include all voting rights. Based on the cost of printing and mailing progress reports and program books, you could well see Worldcons realize more money from a $25 e-pubs-only supporting membership than they currently do from a $40 must-include-paper supporting membership. (Note that LSC2’s $60 supporting membership is an artifact of older rules that have since been changed; next year’s Worldcon is charging £25, or about $40, and we can expect future Worldcons to charge similar amounts under current conditions.)

  72. Susan:

    “Blogs for the most part do not have issues.”

    Oh, I don’t know about that.

    Wait, different kinds of issues. Right. Got it.

    I always thought this argument was a bit of a red herring anyway. I issue Whatever on a daily basis! Here’s Thursday’s issue. Here’s Wednesday’s. Here’s Tuesday’s. And so. This is literally a quick technological fix. So, yeah. Silly argument.

    Moshe Feder:

    “Milt Stevens is a great guy, with an impressive fannish résumé. Ulrika O’Brien is a good friend and a fine fanwriter in her own right.”

    Of course. I dislike neither, even though we have differences on this particular topic (I don’t believe I know Mr. Stevens; Ulrika I’ve known for some time online and have known for some time this is a point of contention for her, but I’m comfortable enough with her to needle her about it, and she me.)

  73. John:
    And here I spent so much effort trying not to make the obvious joke about people with issues and you just go right ahead with the cheap humor. :)

  74. Ulrika I’ve known for some time online and have known for some time this is a point of contention for her, but I’m comfortable enough with her to needle her about it, and she me.

    OK, I was wondering if this was for real or if I was watching a friendly sparring match from outside and without context. Still, the Lance Armstrong reference is a cheap, hyperbolic shot.

  75. OK, I will admit that as a person that has been doing the fandom thing since 1983, I have felt the need/want to eliminate a category or two. (Heck, I remember when the semi-prozine category was nick named the Locus Award) But then I talked to winners and those who did not and learned a lot about the side of fandom that I had not played in yet. (to date I have yet to write, but I’m starting).

    So, the simple facts of the matter is that the Awards are there for a reason. The fan awards celebrate the fans and the work that they do to help keep it focused on the fans. Without the reminders of the fans, the Hugos become a corporate shrill, WorldCon disappears (or worse, turns into DragonCon), and the fan community fades into the sunset. Just a minor rambling thought. Thanks for your time.

  76. Glad to see I’m not the only person confused by all of this and wondering why it’s an argument to get rid of a category rather than to create a new one separating blogs from fanzines with “issues”.

    Has anyone explained that yet?

  77. BW: “That suggests an ongoing argument between these two groups, with actual attempts to either prevail or compromise, none of which have been successful. If this has been such an issue of contention and these two groups have indeed tried to win each other over, shout each other down, or come up with a compromise–and have failed–there must be some evidence of the trying and the failing.”

    It suggests it but the suggestion doesn’t fit the reality. The subject of paper/online/podcasts/ has been under discussion for several years now. There isn’t a consensus yet but it’s because people take the Hugos seriously and how to handle these newer forms of media takes time and consideration. (Right now a Best Fancast Hugo is being tried out but there is a sunset clause: if it’s not re-ratified in 2016 it goes away. If you have an opinion save a morning that year to go to the business meeting.)

    To the best of my recollection – I didn’t bother saving the posts on this one – there was a very brief discussion of the proposed amendment on the SMOFs listserve where people talk about this boring stuff and many go to the business meetings. It was brief because the reaction can be summed up as “WTF?”

  78. John, I’m glad you clarified that about Ulrika. From here it looked like it was genuinely bitter and you were rubbing her nose in your award because…well, it sounded not much different from how you talk to some of the really obnoxious trolls who come here, except that of course you didn’t swing the mallet.

    And when she said that about Lance Armstrong, the fact that the comment didn’t get malleted before I even saw it amazed me. Now I understand.

  79. @scalzi: Add me to Xopher’s description. Knowing that you occasionally enjoy slapping egregious trolls rather than deleting them, nothing in those exchanges read as friendly on either side.

  80. @Andrew Hackard: please try my name at gmail. I have two memberships available. Would be thrilled to see them go to use rather than just waste away as I grumble about not being there. I take PayPal or money orders or we can work something out.

    @Moshe Feder: thank you sir.

    @Kevin Standlee: I for one would gladly sign up for a no-paper supporting membership. The progress reports and program books just pile up around here in random spots and often get recycled. And when I end up not being able to go to the con (like this year), I just feel taunted when the glossy publications end up in my mailbox.

    @Everyone: ain’t nobody knows WSFS rules/parliamentary procedure better than Kevin. He can also moderate a fractious meeting like you wouldn’t believe, as all those of us who survived the Westercon business meeting a couple years ago attest. He led us all through the arcane rules and we got a popularly decided result, which two years later led to a wonderful, wonderful convention.

    @scalzi: it didn’t look at all friendly to me either. She looked to be straight-up trolling.

    @David Langford wins. As always. As he should.

    OTCFriday, y’all.

  81. Xopher, et al.:

    Oh, I suspect Ulrika is bitter about it, and I am definitely poking her about it because it’s a longstanding gripe of hers which I think is silly, and pointless since I have the award and I’m not going to give it back. But it’s not to say that on my side (and I suspect on hers as well) the poking and griping goes any further than that. She and I get along reasonably well online aside from this point of contention, and I know many people who think well of her in a general sense.

  82. Popularity is always an issue whether it’s the fiction or the non-fiction. (Notice that Doctor Who usually claims 2-4 nomination spots for their award.) And the Net does offer a wide platform. But it, for now, offers that wide platform for all. Anything just in print can also be made available electronically, and indeed folks like Scalzi have made efforts to get those things to voting members with Hugo packets and the like. And the voters are people in the society — people who were wiling to shell out money to join to do this thing. So they aren’t random folk on the Net. They have presumably enough discernment to make an effort, after they’ve already gone to effort and expense, to read material and decide, and they are more than aware of what’s out there than the average fan.

    In any democracy or democratic group, someone is going to lose and maybe not for the purest of reasons. But that’s part of having it. So this attempt seems like a bit of gerrymandering under the false claim of voter fraud. (If you really believe an author is bribing Society voters, gather evidence.) Any group, with sufficient resources and expense, can put on a convention and create an award. If the group is dedicated, the convention successful and the choices of the award generally respected if not universally loved outside the group as well as in, then the award may come to prominence, as happened with the Hugo. But it’s a fan award. If you get rid of the fan categories, it’s no longer the Hugo awards encompassing the goals of the World Science Fiction Society. It’s some other award and the contribution of the Society may well be deemed out of touch and no longer prominent. So this is pretty much the death march into Mordor as an idea.

  83. I certainly don’t think that those categories should be eliminated and I’m very aware of how they compare to the pro awards. My wife Susan and I tallied Hugos twice, once when we ran them for Nolacon and when just counting the votes was our job for Magicon. Basically, we kept our eyes peeled for any oddball voting patterns and if we thought we spotted something we planned on consulting with the Chairs. Campaigning for any of them didn’t count as something odd.

    Kevin, I think the idea of eliminating the requirement for paper and allowing the con committee to take electronic distribution into account when it comes to membership costs is great.

    John, the last track I had there were some people holding a grudge against us because of a stupid error concerning the Magicon ceremonies that in no way affected their status as winners.

  84. It appears increasingly likely that a proposal to eliminate the requirement of paper publications, but to require that committees provide them upon request (at a reasonable price reflecting their production and distribution costs) will be on the agenda this year.

  85. Something like Attending Memberships get paper, Supporting get paper if they pay more, or everyone gets to choose either/or? As long as there are always paper pocket programs, because I must have something I can scribble on and fold up and stick in the back pocket of my jeans so I know which end of the venue to head to when.

  86. As something of an aside, add me to the tally of people who like and admire Ulrika (and who are nonetheless baffled by her stand on this issue). She’s a marvelous writer and, as far as I can tell, a wonderful person.

  87. “B) Various people here are blaming this on those who think the award should be limited to ink & paper fanzines.

    If I am right about both A and B, then I fail to see the how B follows from A. What am I missing?”

    That if you knew Milt Stevens even faintly, you know that this is his opinion. It’s hardly obscure or a secret. Only someone who has never listened to him speak on the subject in the last twenty years could not know his very very very clear opinion.

  88. Oh, and I happen to like Ulrika very much. I often think very good friends of mine are nitwits on some issue or other, or by dint of some habit or proclivity. I like to think that they put up with me, in turn, being a nitwit on some issues of my own, and still consider me a good friend..

    In this case I think she’s all wrong, and I find the comparison to Lance Armstrong particularly ridiculous, and even offensive, since it’s saying Scalzi — whom I’ve yet to meet, and am only Friends of Friends with — is a perjurious criminal, and I just don’t see how that’s remotely called for.

    But it surely does bother me when people get heated enough about subjects such as the Hugo sufficiently to get in the way of friendships, and it would be a rare case, which this isn’t one of, where I’d ever want that to happen.

    No matter how wrongheaded someone is to disagree with me. (Really, the list of people nominated in the fan Hugos over the decades who also have pro credentials is *very* long.)

    ;-)

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