Well, That Didn’t Take Long

And it’s something I’ve been expecting since I accepted the nomination, so this is pretty much right on time: Whether I am fannish enough for the Best Fan Writing Hugo category.

Discuss (politely).

93 Comments on “Well, That Didn’t Take Long”

  1. Hell yes, you’re mannish enough. How could they even question that?! You have a hot wife, and you drink hot maple syrup from a frickin cup!

    Oh…fannish. Well, I’m not as convinced about that, but you seem like a big SF fan. How could you not be?

  2. Doesn’t reading a lot of SF and making your daughter act like a Jedi count?

    You seem pretty geeky to me! (meant in the nicest way, of course).

  3. Having only seen the Grand Scalzi in the flesh at one convention, while he is a professional through and through, I’ve seen him as Scalzi the Fanboy with my own eyes. It’s not pretty, but there you are. Yeah, Scalzi is a huge fan of SF, has used his blog to tout that fannishness and flog the rest of us with it. He is single-handedly responsible for about a third of my “new books” guilt stack (none of which are by him at the moment).

  4. Riiiiight. You’re not a fan, you just read the stuff.

    Oh, and go to conventions ‘n’ shit.

    Whatta they want, fake forehead wrinkles? Posts in elvish?

  5. WTF am I?

    I buy books and read them and like what I read.

    I have to pack up the mini-van and don a costume to be a fan?

    Jeezus H!

    These guys really put the -atic back in fan.

  6. You make little YouTube movies of your books fighting it out and wallowing in drunken self-pity. That, right there, makes you dorky enough to be a fan.

    I kid! I kid!

    I’m not in “fandom.” I don’t attend conventions, I don’t know what “flic” is, I thought Regency was a historical period, and I have never worn a costume. I just read the books and watch the tv and films. My only conneciton ot anything that might be called fandom is reading blogs like this, Matt Cheney’s and the now departed Emerald City. The question is really one of “is the Hugo for the best writer among fandom” or “is the Hugo for the best writer about things that fans — not fandom — care about.”

    Obviously, since I don’t go to WorldCons, I have no say in the matter. But form my standpoint, it seems more important to recognize things that are important to and appreciated by fans rather than things that are important within the narrow sub-category of fans none as “fandom.”

  7. I’m not sure any new addition to the Fannish category is ever added without people raising flack about it.

    When I was first nominated, I received a rather nasty “Who do you think you are that you deserve a nomination” e-mail. I know the John Flynn and Jeff Berkwits received even nastier notes when they were first nominated. I imagine your joint fan-pro status irks people similarly. Of course, given that the category has been a lock for David Langford for several years, it seems rather odd for people to get riled about who is nominated.

  8. For a genre that embraces life, the universe, and everything*, I am constantly amazed by how often some segments of “fandom” seek to exclude anything that doesn’t fit in their little niches.

  9. As I just noted over there, there’s nothing in the award rules (“Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year.”) requiring that the nominee be a member of fandom.

  10. “Granddaddy of Faux-Libertarian Warbloggers”?

    There must be another Scalzi out there somewhere.

    You keepin’ on top of the Identity Theft situation?

  11. Steven:

    Yup. As I said, I knew it was coming.

    One of the very large ironies at the moment is that I’m running for SFWA president, and in that arena some folks are fronting the proposition that I’m not established enough in that community, either, for the position for which I am under consideration.

    So at the moment I’m apparently neither fannish enough or pro enough, depending.

  12. I only recently stumbled upon Whatever via OMW, though I have been perusing the back pages and discovering the wonders of BaconCat, Athena’s use of Elder God’s to defend Pluto, and whatnot, so perhaps I’m not qualified to join in the coversation.

    Not that I’ve ever let a little thing like that stop me before.

    To be perfectly honest, she comes across (to me at least) as an obsessed wannabe. What exactly does she expect from you? I know you would be the first to acknowledge fans in general and your readers in particular as being essential to SF and your contributions. Not everyone spends all their free time composing Filksongs or coming up with even more outlandish costumes for the Cons.

    I couldn’t help but think of Shatner’s appearence on SNL when I read her entry. Perhaps she should take his advice to heart.

    I tried to be as polite as I could. :)

  13. Scalzi:

    So at the moment I’m apparently neither fannish enough or pro enough, depending.

    Sounds like some kinda sweet spot to me.

    How long can you maintain that before you go tilt?

  14. This is why fandom’s average age is older than I am. I’m not being catty, but this is how I interpret the LJ post:

    1) Scalzi’s not a SMOF*, or a recognized successor of a SMOF, so he’s not one of “us”.

    2) He hasn’t been around since the days of huffing the fumes from a ditto machine, so he’s not one of “us”.

    3) He doesn’t know the all the secret lodge signals, pass signs, and embarassing stories**, so he’s not one of “us”.

    Scalzi blatantly promotes a variety of genre related media, gives his opinions and reviews of such, and appears to stay informed on what’s going on in the field. What more could you ask of a fan? Oh, yes, obsequious fawning and squeeing over some of the luminaries in the field? He’s got that covered too.

    *Secret Master of Fandom

    **Completely fabricated anecdote follows– “Yeah, if you don’t know about the knock-down drag out fight that Gordy Dickson and Bob Asprin had in Wichita in 1983 about who was a better Dorsai, than you ain’t a fan. I’m telling you, it wasn’t pretty. It involved a trained ferret, duct tape, binder clips, and the business end of a muffler. We don’t talk about it, but neither one of them could walk straight for about two weeks, and it took awhile for the body hair to grow back. Who knew [name withheld] used to have a third nipple?”

  15. Ed Bartlett:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I don’t think there’s any question Ulrika has fan cred, and that she has an interest in what she views as her community, and whether something like this harms it. I don’t think she’s a wannabe, in the sense that she wants to be anything but a fan. I think she’s concerned I’m the wannabe.

    I don’t agree with what I see as her fundamental thesis (i.e., one is not a fan unless one exhibits certain fannish behaviors, activities and enthusiams), but I don’t see her coming from a place of jealousy or feelings of not measuring up to what I’m doing.

  16. There does seem to be a bit of “if you weren’t doing this back when Heinlein was Campbell-eligible then you’re not a fan” in that post.

    Actually, there’s a bit of that in SF fandom in general. I was on a panel (regarding blogging, actually) where some old fart suggested that if you weren’t sending out fanzines via mimeograph you weren’t a true fan.

    Ironic that the poster is expressing that opinion via LiveJournal.

  17. Putting my ignorance on display…

    What the hell is this award all about, anyway? Is it an award for something you’ve written that only fans of the genre are eligible for? Wouldn’t anyone who had enough interest in a particular genre to actually write something within that genre be considered a fan? I think I’m missing the finer points of this discussion.

  18. This is ridiculous. You have fan oozing out of your pores. This is exactly the sort of problem you’ve been trying to fight by making your writing accessible-the narrow-minded exclusivity of SFdom. Why are we trying to define things like who is a fan so narrowly that only the people who are so obsessed they have to talk in Klingon or whatever can qualify?

    I consider myself a fan, but if you have to check certain marks and be a snob about it to be a fan, I don’t know that I want to be one.

  19. Burns!

    According to the WSFS rules on the matter, a fan writer is “Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year.”

    The implication is the person is well-known in science fiction circles and is often (although not always) writing about science fiction.

    The question here is not about whether I qualify for the award; clearly I do. I am a person, whose writing appeared in a generally available electronic media in the last year. Done and done. What the question appears to be is whether, despite the fact I qualify, if I am sufficiently “fannish” to be a legitimate contender for the category. I have my doubts that I will be found sufficiently fannish to satisfy this particular person.

  20. If a category raises this much stink, why is it a category at all?


    In all seriousness, any guy (and I’m fairly certain it was you) who proclaims publicly, in his own blog no less, that he’s in love with a fictional character (Eden) from another writer’s books (Cherie Priest), is CERTAINLY ENOUGH OF A FAN to be nominated.

    Sheesh. What do you have to do, write and post a mary-sue fanfic in which your fictional self and this character fall in love and have lots of wild sex?

    …or HAVE you…?


    (And if I’m confusing you with another writer, I do apologize. My sinus medication is messing with my brain).

  21. I obviously don’t know what Ulrika is thinking, but I perceive in her comments a sense of thin-end-of-the-wedgeness — sort of:

    1) people in the community writing about SF books and writers counts as fan writing… (it does)

    2) and people in the community writing about cats and gardening counts as fan writing… (it totally does)

    and if we accept that 3) people not in the community writing about SF books and writers counts as fan writing… (we’re arguing about that…)

    then that could lead to

    4) anyone in the world writing about anything counts as fan writing.

    Now, I think the Hugo voters are perfectly capable of distinguising between 1, 2 and 3, which all feel like fanwriting, and 4, which probably doesn’t. So it’s a bit like ‘best related book’ — we’re reliant on the good judgement of the nominators.

    As for where I personally stand, I cannot think of a better example of the essence of fan writing than a professional sf writer writing about his famed technique of avoiding work by taping bacon to his cat.

  22. This is a very weird argument (not here, the linked LiveJournal) about a rather odd award, to be honest.

    Does the award itself seem really strange to anyone else? If I understand (which is debatable, regardless of topic) — the award is not for a fan fiction writer, but rather for a fan who writes fiction, but not about fiction he/she is a fan of, but rather just fiction “for the genre” that they don’t get paid for?

    That’d be fun fine print on a plaque…

  23. That post really annoyed me. Not because of the gratuitous slap at Glenn Reynolds but because of her entire thesis: that being a fan is about the fans not the work. I mean, I read all sorts of science fiction, I’ve posted science fiction vids to youtube, I talk about science fiction both in person and on the net and I’m vp of my university’s science fiction club. But I’ve never been to a con and I don’t like flik. I guess that means I’m not a fan by her definition because I’m not a fan in her way.

  24. Honestly, I think SF now comprises much more than fandom. Of people around my age (late 30’s), there are large numbers who read SF and Fantasy but who are not part of fandom. This describes the vast majority of my rpg playing brethren (only a small number of who are in the rpg equivalent of fandom). We discuss fiction and movies on our forums totally disconnected from old SF circles.

    I think Scalzi’s writing is a boon for the groups I’m referring to. He’s turned me on to many authors and books and points out controversies I didn’t know existed. In that sense, he definitely qualifies. Since virtually none of the group I’m referring to are eligible to vote on Hugos, it won’t translate to votes unless fandom agrees.

  25. Exactly, Jacob. I haven’t had the opportunity to do cons and such for a variety of reasons, so apparently, I don’t qualify. This despite the fact that I’m so fannish, I waded through the thousands of pages of all /three/ of Isaac Asimov’s autobiographies (yes, it’s so interesting reading about how he recorded baseball statistics in his journal for years :P), for just a brief example.

    If her attitude is the sort that prevails in the fandom community, it’s not something I want to be involved in. I want to spread the SF love, not denigrate people for not fitting into my narrow definition of what a fan is.

  26. One of the things that’s really bothersome about this, to me, is that it replicates all those tiresome sports arguments about who deserves what award–tiresome because, inevitably, someone will take the position that people should ignore the rules of the award and vote for what they think the award should be for.

    If people won’t follow the rules while voting for an award, they shouldn’t vote at all.

  27. Tania’s “third nipple” comment wins, in my book. Wins what? Wins it all, baby.

    Some of the comments in here put me in mind of The Geek Hierarchy.

    As far as being a fan: Did you not, sir, write the book “The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies”? Amazon thinks you did. How much more fannish do they want you to be? Really.

  28. Okay, now that I have attacked the post, let me defend it a bit. It’s obvious that the writer sees fandom as a separate entity from people like me — casual fans for lack of a better term. The writer obviously wants to defend that group and seems to see the Hugo as something that should be rewarding members of his/her group that provide some specific service to that group (really good writing that is concerned with and operates in the tradition of his/her group in this case). There isn’t anything wrong with that instinct in theory. The Sports Writers of America don’t give out their awards to investigative reporters who tracked down a company polluting a town’s river, for example.

    I think the writer is defining the group in a too narrow, self defeating way; he/she obviously does not. Obviously, though, my side is winning that argument since it was the group in question that nominated Scalzi. But in and of itself, the desire to reward and defend a given group’s nature and character is both natural and sometimes beneficial.

    So, yeah, Jacob — you aren’t a member of his/her group because you don’t participate in the traditions/folkways of that groups. But we all define the groups we are part of in some fashion. I wouldn’t want to see the sf critic of the NYTimes nominated for this award, because I don’t think that role could be defined as “fan”. we all have those lines somewhere in our heads and if we are going to be giving out awards to members of a particular group, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with having the argument about who, in fact, is a member of that group.

  29. I’m clearly not qualified to have an opinion.

    I can’t be considered a fan because:
    -I’ve never been to a Con.
    -I haven’t worn a costume since I was eleven.
    -I don’t understand 65% (or more) of the LJ post
    because I don’t have the jargon.

    I only buy all the books and piss off my girlfriend because the only present I can ever think of that I want is another bookcase.

  30. Shawn Powers:
    The award in question is intended to honor a body of written work. It doesn’t have to be fiction. (In fact, most of the time, IIRC, the body of work is non-fiction.)

    As I mentioned on her blog, I think that the entire blogosphere is eligible for Best Fan Writing, just as it is also eligible for Best Novella.

    I’m not sure what the problem with this is. If there is no discernable genre connection, presumably, there won’t be a critical mass of nominations (or votes).

  31. A fan, in the vocabulary of science fiction fandom as it’s always been explained to me, is a person who is in contact* with science fiction fandom and who self-identifies as a fan. It has nothing what so ever to do with reading science fiction, or performing related activities (such as dressing up in Klingon costumes).

    I guess that my question to you, John, is “Do you identify as a fan and a part of fandom?” If you do, I’d have no problems at all voting for you.

    *However that contact may take place. Fanzines, conventions and, lately, blogs and mailing lists.

  32. Logically, nomination and voting in the Hugos’ “Best Fan X” categories should be restricted to (say) those having attended a majority of Worldcons since 1946 — the casual attendees of a single Worldcon, or of a mere handful, having clearly established themselves as insufficiently fannish to make judgments on fannish matters. Alternatively, eligibility could be established through a trivia contest centered on the works of Forry Ackerman, the biographical minutiae of First Fandom, and so on, with borderline cases decided by a public filksinging contest.

  33. Douglas wrote:
    “These guys really put the -atic back in fan.”

    Much like the “I am NOT a fan” crowd I see online frequently.

  34. Coming to this as someone who’s pretty entirely outside of fandom, I’m surprised there’s so much confusion here–the distinction Ulrika’s drawing is the same one that’s seemed dead-obvious to me from the first time I attended a WorldCon. SF fandom, as a community and a culture, is an autonomous entity that happens to share some space and some people with science fiction as an industry. Fandom may have been about science fiction, Back In The Day, but it isn’t now. It’s an independent kind of culture. To the people who consider themselves core fandom, being interested in science fiction (or writing science fiction, or writing about science fiction, or being Really Enthusiastically Into science fiction) has fuck-all to do with fandom.

    I keep getting stuck on how to phrase all of this without possibly sounding condescending or insulting, because I really don’t mean to be. Fandom isn’t my thing, but it’s a valid thing. (And a highly misunderstood thing, because of the unfortunate terminology overlap.)

    John’s a “fan writer” in that he’s a fan and he’s a writer, and he’s been nominated for his unpaid and non-professional writing. He’s not a “fan writer” in that he’s not in fandom and he doesn’t write about fan issues. I’m pretty sure that both definitions are valid for the purposes of the Hugo, but I can see how one might get concerned, especially if one is territorial about fandom issues.

  35. Arrrgh!
    This reminds me of previous posts about fandom. I think that perhaps if we do not have a SF Fan Union card then we and I do mean WE do not count. I mean WTF?!? Oh wait I have the anwser….sec.
    Definition from Dictionary.com
    an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc.: a baseball fan; a great fan of Charlie Chaplin.
    [Origin: 1885–90, Americanism; short for fanatic]

    I think we are all fans in the eyes of God!

    And tomorrow…I am in San Francisco!

  36. I think that the responders on the Live Journal have pretty much beaten this one to mincemeat and I would agree with a lot of those posts and those above that that it seems Ulrika wishes to qualify fandom by having an obsession rather than an interest (Sorry, Galaxy Quest just won’t stop popping into my head – especially Sigourney Weaver’s expanding assets).

    I would expect that anyone who writes SF would be a fan in the “interest” sense since why else would you write in the genre. OTOH I thought the nomination somewhat strange as well because I would not define Whatever as a SF blog. It really is a life and current events blog with significant discussions of SF related topics. Just look at the reader submissions for Reader Topic Week – John has exhibited enough general erudition, common sense, and acerbic humor to make the readership trust that he has things of value to say about just about anything and the vast majority of the suggested topics are not SF (except mine of course which was ignored so far, grumble grumble but as JS points out it IS his blog.

    So I believe that John IS a fan without a doubt but I am on the fence about whether or not Whatever is really fan writing (as in written about fanship vice written BY a fan).

  37. “Dude, I will totally pay cash money to see video of you filking and Regency dancing to prove your fan cred.”

    Scalzi played air guitar at last year’s Wiscon, does that count?

  38. And John. If I may suggest. The next time your fanism is questioned a good reply is..
    Is it not true that SF writers are inspired by other writers of SF? Sorry but the more I think about this the more it burns me up. How dare others question the depth of what defines us!

  39. Scott Janssens:

    “Scalzi played air guitar at last year’s Wiscon, does that count?”

    Hell, I did a striptease with fellow Hugo nominee Ben Rosenbaum at last year’s Wiscon!

  40. And Gwenda, who raised the filkin’ and folk dancin’ point originally, took photos of that striptease and I think even posted them to her blog.

    See how this shit all feeds on itself? Don’t tell me we aren’t fans. By God, I was there the first time Ben sang 99 Luftballons in German…

  41. According to this guy, I am not a fan even though I have been reading SF since the age of 11, putting up with all the crap from friends and teachers that used to go with reading such “escapist trash” in the 1950s and 60s. I have only been to a few worldcons and lesser cons, none overseas. I have never been on a con committee although I have been invited to be more than once. Too much work. I don’t know anything about regency dancing except that I have seen it on schedules. I am not sure what a Dorsai Irregular is, never heard of ATom, D West or Dan Steffan, don’t know what blog was, and never heard of Hyphen or Apparatchik. Also, I don’t like Dr Who or BS Galactica. So I guess I am not entitled to an opinion.But if I were, I would say you are a fan, and being a writer, you are eligible for best fan writer. What is so hard about this?

  42. Wow. I’ve been a fan of SF for a long time but tended to stay a quiet fan. I would definitely not qualify as a member of “fandom” and until I started reading your blog, I had no idea all this stuff went on in the background. Sheesh. You could write a soap opera with this stuff. But I guess it wouldn’t count unless you wrote it in Klingon.

  43. Some people in this thread are making generalizations about core SF fandom based on the LiveJournal post linked to at the top of this thread.

    Those generalizations are stupid, and those people should stop. You see all those people commenting on Ulrika’s LJ to tell her she’s off base on this matter? Most of those people are as much members of core SF fandom as she is.

    I am, too. My own comments can be found in the ongoing Hugo thread on Making Light.

  44. There exists a community, fandom, which is associated with SFF, which uses SFF conventions, including Worldcon, as its conventions.

    Like all communities, this community has a history and unique rituals and activities which are unfamiliar or unknown to non-members.

    Like all communities, this community divides the world into members and non-members, and erects barriers for non-members to join. (As is true for all communities, you will find people who think that these barriers are trivial and you will find people who think that these barriers are insurmountable.) As with many communities, the actual boundary defining the outer limit of the community is ill-defined and varies from member to member.

    Some members of the community, and probably some non-members, consider the Fan-related Hugos to be implicitly defined in terms of the fandom community. Other members and non-members reject the implicit definition and consider the fan-related Hugos to be defined in terms of the community “fans of SFF”.

    At least, that’s my understanding. I’m not a member of fandom, and I am not likely to become one.

  45. Is it, “best writing by somebody who happens to be a fan”? Umm, surely not. That fails to consider what the writing *is*, which is a necessary criterion. Ponder that for a sec, if you would. “Well, she’s undeniably a SF fan in the purest sense, nobody disputes that. She wrote one heckuva romance novel, won all the awards in that genre. So how is that novel not fan writing and why isn’t it eligible?”)

    That definition just doesn’t work.

    So then it has to be “fan writing” as such, as distinguished (at least) from professional SF writing, and as distinguished from other sorts of writing. (Well, there’s one criterion that snuck in through the back door: it must be unpaid writing.)

    It seems that we have “fan writing” in the same way we have “kosher salt” — it’s not the salt itself that is somehow kosher, rather salt of the type that is generally preferred for koshering (salt-curing) meat. Writing of the type that generally expresses fandom, fannish interests.

    But if we do that, then “who wrote it” drops out of the equation entirely. We’re talking about the writing now, and not the writer.

    Well, unless we’re talking about both? Then it has to be the correct sort of writing, but also written by the correct sort of person? Umm…

    But what about the correct sort of writing, written by the wrong sort of person? Should that be called something else? Doesn’t it deserve some sort of award at least as much as the first type does? Or are we willing to admit that it’s not the quality of the writing that matters here? THAT is pretty uncomfortable territory.

    In fact, it just plain sucks. “Well, this is really good, and it would be eligible, except that you personally are the wrong sort of person.” And what’s the point or goal of the award now? You’ve left “encouraging quality in this sort of writing” in the dust. It’s unhappily close to “giving an award to a member of our lodge — only.”

    There have always been criteria for eligibility, sure, but they’ve always been “in rem” criteria like “published this calendar year”. This one is different. This one is “in personam”. That’s not a path many are going to be willing to follow.

    Besides, it’s completely impossible. You’ll have to come up with a definition of “fan” that both meets general consensus, and isn’t also so vague as to be entirely useless. Nevva happen.

  46. One of the delights of Whatever is that it is much like one of those genzines (general fanzines) I enjoyed so much back in the days when I pubbed my feeble few ishes. Only Whatever is better because there’s a new edition every day and the lettercol is just plain wonderful.

    If they cut you open – which Ghu forbid – you’d have ‘FAN’ running through you like one of those sticks of rock my minifan daughter has just brought back from Blackpool. The Enchanted Duplicator may have gone to the skip in the sky, but its spirit lives on here (and elsewhere) bright and shiny (oh so shiny)

    If people want you on the ballot, that’s just fine. Its not as thought anyone’s going to be compelled to vote for you.

  47. I’ve been reading science fiction (and fantasy) voraciously since I was six years old. My bookshelves overflow.

    I want to hang out with other people who love science fiction. But I live out in the boondocks, and I won’t make it to my first convention until next month.

    Basically, I love SF. And so, clearly, does John Scalzi. My goodness, the man goes “Squee!” over some SF topic twice a day, in public.

    Now, if Scalzi doesn’t qualify as a fan, then we need a new fandom. One where, you know, we’re all madly in love with SF, and not so much concerned about who’s an officially-approved member of the cool kids.

    Fortunately, as Patrick points out, this exclusionary attitude isn’t universal. Which makes me feel better about going to my first convention, where (hopefully) much fun shall be had.

  48. *tries to imagine John Scalzi dressed up as a Regency Klingon*


    *runs off holding brain in hands*

    It’s storm in someone else’s teacup. A fan is self-defining, in the end, and the entire term “sufficiently fannish” is a bit of an oxymoron.

    IMveryHO of course.

  49. I’d just like to point out that in the Hugo category for fan writing, fiction is pretty much excluded, or at least has always been understood to be so by most nominators. This may change as fandom changes. What most of us understand to be fan writing is writing which appears in fanzines, or these days, in their electronic equivalents, LJ and blogs.

    Note also that the term SMOF is generally considered to apply to people who run cons, especially, worldcons rather than being applicable to other areas of fandom.

    On the internet, no one knows you’re and old phart until you give it away be explaining historic terminology.


  50. Well, I only come here for John’s coffee and conversation and certainly wouldn’t be considered a proper fan. Like Old Jarhead, I don’t just come here for the SF talk. I see Whatever as a blog where there is quite a bit of intelligent conversation on a variety of topics, even though there is a lot said about SF. I discovered this site from reading OMW, but kept coming back for the humor, the good writing advice, Old Jarheads proper use of words I don’t know, but mostly because I have fun here.

    I spend so much of my work-time in front of computer either writing or working on scores for films–neither one being that much fun,(I’m one of those who prefer “having written” to writing) but here I feel like I can relax, find out about a new writer or book and to spend time doing something without a deadline attached.

    It’s never occurred to me to go to convention. I must admit I have an image of aging fat men,(like me) ogling young women with green makeup while talking in Klingon. I thought Regency was furniture style, but I have loved SF since I was a child–and that ought enough for me to be a science fiction fan, and now I wonder if I’ve been missing out on the fun.

    John absolutely is a fan writer. If he weren’t, he wouldn’t be featuring all these authors on the blog, and jeez, the way he gushes about them sometimes. It’s almost embarrassing. That alone should qualify him for this award.

  51. (I don’t believe I’m going to actually type this)
    Since the original request was for video of said dancing and filking,

    “Hell, I did a striptease with fellow Hugo nominee Ben Rosenbaum at last year’s Wiscon!” – John Sclazi

    Video, please.

  52. After commenting on what it means to be a fan on Making Light, I realize I’m violating rule 4, paragraphs I & II on pg. 58 of Your Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop

    My apologies.

    I shall refrain on making any more comments unless it’s on my own site. ;)

  53. Oh, for heaven’s sake, Kate. It’s not the law. Now get back out there and blather!

  54. Nick Stump: where geographically could you go? There are cons that are more book-oriented and cons that aren’t. Here’s my notes on book-ish cons (Boskone and Readercon, both in Eastern Massachusetts):


    If you’re elsewhere, people will be glad to give you suggestions.

    The best part of cons, IMO, is sitting around talking; pretty much like here but in realtime. And our host is the conversational equivalent of the grit in the oyster, around whom conversations accrete in hotel bars as people–published or not–come and go.

  55. I think the largest problem in her post for me is that by defining ‘fan’ in a way that excludes you, she’s excluding just about all the fans I know. We’re largely under 50 and not based in the USA. What/Who the hell are the Dorsai Irregulars, ATom, D.West, Dan Steffan, recipe requiring blog and Hyphen? I do know what filking is – though I’ve only ever seen it done by Americans and I do know what Regency dancing is, but consider it very much a non-SF-related activity that some people also like – in the same way that talking about cats is something that some people also like. Related, but not integral. And also – I haven’t used a mailing list since 1998. Old tech.

    I think the definition is wildly out of date. Elizabeth Bear cops a mention of using the word ‘fandom’ in ways that akirlu doesn’t recognise – perhaps the world has simply moved on.

    I think the prime activity of the fans I know is pimping the love, from con organisation to pressing copies of books into peoples hands to writing fanfic to using your blog to rave about books you’ve loved.

    You look pretty damn fannish to me.

  56. Coming in late so I will try to restrict myself to saying stuff others haven’t said in either locale. So this could be short.

    1) I **DO!** attend conventions. Have been doing so for 15 years. I have worn costumes answering telephones at the local PBS station pledge drives during the Dr Who and Red Dwarf time slots. I have been on *staff* for 2 local cons for the past 4 years. 8 Cons total. I know, and like filk singing. However, all of the other references in akirlu’s post evade me. No idea what Regency dancing, Dorsai irregulars, or Atom and D is. No plans to Google it either. I’m satisfied in my fannishness not to know.

    2) I can’t believe I am the first geek to say what I am about to say. But Scalzi, you couldn’t have expected this, because Nobody Expects the Fannish Inquisition!

    Now on to something completely different…

  57. At the risk of coming late to the party, culfinriel wrote above…

    Sheesh. You could write a soap opera with this stuff. But I guess it wouldn’t count unless you wrote it in Klingon.

    In the spirit of the Klingon Language Institute, of which I was once a member, that should read:

    Sheesh. You could write a soap opera with this stuff. But I guess it wouldn’t count unless you wrote it in the original Klingon.

    Dr. “I own a numbered copy of Hamlet in the original Klingon” Phil

  58. Congratulations on the (imo) well-deserved nomination, Scalzi!
    The rest of this comment is addressed not to Scalzi but to those who are objecting to Ulrika’s comments.
    First, I strongly recommend reading what Susan and Greg Morrow posted; I totally agree with them. But since I wrote the following before I saw their posts, I’ll go ahead and post my version anyway.
    I disagree with Ulrika’s conclusion, but I think it’s a valid kind of concern to have, and a subtler one than some of y’all are suggesting. And it seems to me that it revolves around the idea of Fandom as a community. The word “Fannish” in that context doesn’t mean “likes science fiction”; it means “is part of the Fannish community.” You can be a “science fiction fan” (by liking to read the stuff) without being involved in Fandom. (Just like you can enjoy the cuisine of a culture without actually being part of that culture.) Ulrika is not saying that you who aren’t in Fandom are bad people or “don’t count”; the premise of that LJ post, as I see it, is merely that this particular award is intended for people who are part of the community. I tend to use capital letters to make the distinction between Fandom (the community) and fans (a broad term including people who’ve never heard of Fandom), although I don’t see many people within Fandom using capital letters this way.
    But let’s take a step back from Fandom per se for a second, and see if y’all can empathize with the issue in a more generalized version of the situation.
    Imagine that you’re part of a community. It’s a community that, like most communities, has its own culture, its own norms, its own in-jokes, its own high-profile members. It’s a community that other groups (even other closely associated groups) sometimes insult. It’s fairly tightly knit and relatively small, although it has plenty of room for internal feuding. It’s a community that’s been around for nearly seventy years, and has plenty of history. It’s a community that has a lot of different self-definitions, and a lot of people who are unquestionably members of the community would make different judgments about who’s in the community and who isn’t.
    But now all of a sudden someone who doesn’t seem to have participated much in your community, but who’s quite high-profile in other related communities, gets nominated for an award that has traditionally been given by your community to a member of your community. (Because historically, people from outside your community aren’t even aware that this particular award exists, much less aware of who might be a good nominee for it.)
    No matter how many attributes the nominee may share with members of your community, if the nominee doesn’t hang out with the community and participate in it (at least not to anywhere near the degree that you’ve come to expect of nominees for that award), then it makes sense to be concerned about the nomination, to be worried that the community is giving an award to an outsider because of that person’s high-profile status in related communities.
    Now, as has been pointed out, the award is not actually reserved only for members of Fandom per se. And fwiw, I personally consider plenty of Scalzi’s work to be in the tradition of fan writing, regardless of his history with Fandom. Also, I do think any blogger should be eligible for the award, regardless of Fannish credentials.
    On the other hand, I’m only very marginally a member of the Fan community myself (though I’ve been observing from the fringes for 30 years or so now, on and off), so my opinion may be suspect. (For example, PNH has way stronger Fannish credentials than mine, so you might want to listen to him more than to me. Also, he’s better at being brief.)
    But really, all I’m saying is that the concern itself is not as obviously ridiculous on the face of it as some of y’all (not Scalzi) are saying.
    When a member of an oft-embattled community feels that their community is under attack, they’re likely to raise an alarm.

  59. Kate: I live in Louisville but can go anywhere I wish…er, as long as my wife says I can. I should check a convention out sometime–anything to avoid a deadline.

  60. And as someone pointed out on Ulrika’s LJ, the whole argument is slightly moot because Scalzi isn’t going to win, Dave Langford is, just as he has for the last twenty-odd years.

  61. Well, hell. This is what I get for letting my comment steep. Jed has said just about everything I was going to say, and more fluently.

    Yeah, it’s about identity. (I’ll simply point to what Jed said up there in his description of a 70-year-old tightly knit community).

    Fan Writer *used* to mean “a writer within the ‘gooble gobble, one of us,’ propellor-beanied, Hyphenate community. (For those of you who don’t come from the Anglo-American SF fan community, substitute some other long-held symbol treasured in your area for the propellor beanie.) It’s not just someone who writes a lot about SF. Maybe the definition of Fan Writer has changed, but if so we need to tip our hat to what it used to be as the change takes place.

    Some pro writers definitely straddle the lines. For instance, I wouldn’t blink an eye if Larry Niven were nominated as Fan Writer for his blog writing, if he blogged. He’s a pro who’s also integrated into his local fan group. (*And* he has his own Regency dance costume; really, what more can you ask? ;) )

    To those of you who are saying “how unwelcoming,” let me refer you again to Jed. The community I’m thinking of is open to you too, if you hang around a bit and show you’re part of it.

    And now that I’ve said all that… we’re in a new century, where people rely on the web to make the friendship bonds that they used to make through print fanzines and convention parties. I can believe that it’s time to expand what the idea of the “fannish community” is. Let’s acknowledge that we’re at a turning point, then, and that we’re turning from something.

    Ulrika is looking for evidence of John’s fannish ways. I think a video of John’s striptease at Wiscon might go some way toward mollifying her. At least if he gets down to his underwear. (amused eyebrow)

  62. David Goldfarb:

    “And as someone pointed out on Ulrika’s LJ, the whole argument is slightly moot because Scalzi isn’t going to win, Dave Langford is, just as he has for the last twenty-odd years.”

    This sort of statement annoys the crap out of me, actually. Someone other than Langford can win it; and as much as I like Dave Langford, who is by every account the world’s sweetest guy (and I’ll back this up in my own very little interaction with him), it wouldn’t be a bad thing for people to get over the idea that the category is The Hugo Award for the Best Dave Langford. Having a dead static category for two decades is bad news.

  63. Jed Hartmann suggests that I have mighty credentials as a member of the kind of longtime, historically self-aware core SF fandom he’s talking about, the group that Ulrika is being concerned for. Perhaps so, but I think this argument has become overfull of foggy claims about who does and doesn’t have authority relative to this or that poorly-defined community. What hasn’t been discussed enough is the actual history of the award.

    Audax says “Fan Writer *used* to mean “a writer within the ‘gooble gobble, one of us,’ propellor-beanied, Hyphenate community…It’s not just someone who writes a lot about SF.” The problem with this assertion is that it’s not true. From the award’s beginning in 1967, nominees for Best Fan Writer have been a mix. Early nominees included longtime core fanzine fans like Harry Warner, Jr., Walt Willis, and Ted White, and also people somewhat peripheral to that same core fanzine fandom, like Richard Delap, Piers Anthony, and Jacqueline Lichtenberg. Just like the Worldcon that hosts them, the fan Hugo categories–all of them–have always existed in a state of tension between the needs of the core community and the desire to encompass a broader world of SF readers. This has been a source of divisiveness and also of vitality. Human culture frequently works like that.

  64. It’s also arguable–and in fact many ancient longtime members of core fandom have themselves begun to observe–that certain blogs and web sites now occupy the same social and creative space relative to fandom and the SF community that printed fanzines used to. One of this discussion’s many ironies is that, if this is true, John Scalzi isn’t Richard Delap, he’s Terry Carr. The Whatever isn’t a “sercon” fanzine full of earnest reviews redolent of dreary aspirationalism, it’s a snappy, wisecracking “fannish” fanzine that covers whatever happens to currently interest John Scalzi.

  65. Scalzi, you’re such a fan you should change your name to Lasko or Kenmore or even Vornado!

    You’re such a fan, you have 5 speeds and an oscillating feature!

    You’re such a fan, you blow hot AND cold air!

    You’r such a fan, people put you in their bedrooms, windows and even basements to dry them out!

  66. One of the things I like about The Whatever’s comment section is that, just as in the best Shakespeare plays, whenever the dramatic monologues get too solemn and longwinded, you can always count on the rustics to run out on stage and hit themselves over the head with inflated pig bladders.

  67. Patrick: As for the sentiment of SF readers, I think the key paragraph is from Kirsten, above:

    “I think the largest problem in her post for me is that by defining ‘fan’ in a way that excludes you, she’s excluding just about all the fans I know. We’re largely under 50 and not based in the USA.”

    There’s an enormous number of people who read SF voraciously, participate on blogs, and keep in touch with whatever passes for a SF community in our neck of the woods.

    Now, I’m perfectly aware that I’m not a member of “fandom,” as such. But clearly, if Scalzi’s years of gushing about the wonderfulness of SF don’t make him a fan, what hope is there for the rest of us?

    (Hmm. Maybe I should make some “Life-Long Sci-Fi Reader” buttons for Penguicon, just to wind people up a bit. Because, you know, some shibboleths work both ways.)

  68. Ulricka has edited her original post, basically conceding that Scalzi is, indeed, a fan.


    I am getting so sick of folks in the online world being so gracious with one another. Whatever happened to the good, old-fashioned, flame war? Or is it just the SF (err…SFF, SciFi, ect.) community that has forgotten that the ‘Net is intended for people to snark and spit in an anonymous, safe way over the most trivial of matters?

    (sigh) Is junior high gone forever?

  69. [I’m going to start initial-capping Fandom when I mean the community of Fandom as opposed to fans in the general sense of enthusiasts & readers. As someone in Ulrika’s journal pointed out, that linguistic confusion has fueled part of the dismay among fans who don’t know from this Fandom stuff.]

    Patrick, I never said Fan Writer candidates were all core-Fandom fanzine fans. (Perhaps you’re overweighing the term “Hyphenate”; I mean it as a marker, not a boundary.) None of the names you offer are people whose fannish ties are in question. Which is not to say that some boar-bristled core-Fandom fans didn’t get a wee bit grumpy about those young whippersnappers in media Fandom. They still used the word “fandom,” though.

    No arguments here that the locus of written Fandom is shifting; that’s why I said as much. What I’m looking for is a broader acknowledgment that Things Are Different Now. Anyone with a web browser can write a fanzine. If we’re lucky, they’ll write a great fanzine. As recently as a couple of years ago that wouldn’t have been the case. Ten years from now, nobody relying strictly on paper fanzines will even get a nomination.

    Excuse me, I need to stop writing and head to the store to pick up a jar of Aluminum Walker Polish.

  70. Whoops, I left out an initial cap. That sentence should read, “None of the names you offer are people whose Fannish ties are in question.”

  71. There’s another Hugo category that’s close to being a “dead static category for two decades”. Locus has won 21 of the 25 “Semi-Prozine Hugos. The category began in 1981 and it’s batting .820. SF Chronicle won in 1993-94, Interzone in 1995 and Ansible (Langford, again) in 2005. The last two of these are British zines winning at UK Worldcons. I’ve heard the category called the “Locus Award”.

    The category “Semi-prozine” was cut out from the “fanzine” category in 1981 mostly because Locus (basically the newspaper of SF) kept on winning. It was a bit of a different animal than the “amateur” publications it kept beating.

    While the dominance is likely not as overwhelming as ten years ago it’s still there.

    Mr. Langford won “Best Fanwriter” in 1985, 1987 and every year from 1989 to the present.

    And please, do not ask for the definition of a “semi-prozine.” You really do not want to go there. If you feel you really need to know look at the Hugo rules at the World Science Fiction Society website.(WSFS Constitution, section 3.3.11)

    We now return you to something entertaining for non-Worldcon/Hugo rules geeks.

  72. To be honest, I tend to agree that having a “dead static category” is a bad thing, and nobody will be more pleased than me if you do break the streak.

    (Actually, I lie. I don’t really care much. That was just the way that sentence wanted to go.)

    Nonetheless, at the moment it is such a category, and Langford winning again looks to me like the way to bet.

  73. To paraphrase Damon Runyon (“More Than Somewhat”)

    “The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, nor Best Fanwriter to Dave Langford, but that’s the way to bet.”

    Last night, yours was the last, ummmm, fanzine I read. I dreamed about it. In my dream, the argument shifted to a fan (not me!) who had no fanzine of his own, nor ever attended a con, but who made brilliant comments on virtually every science fiction blog in a dozen languages. He was nominated in 2008 for best Fanwriter, and the flamewars began.

    In the last phase of the dream, he dropped out of fandom and extended conceptual art to the political regime. In the last scene, I dreamed that he had hundreds of thousands of sheets of blood-red paper printed with one huge-font word each: Sunni, Shiite, Kurd, Christian, Other, and had people place them on the seats at dozens of major churches and synagogues, and then had to defend himself in court in a Freedom of Speech lawsuit.

    Pardon me while I drink some coffee now and try to wake up more fully…

  74. PNH wrote (in response to my earler and long posting):

    “Best Semiprozine” began in 1984, not 1981

    PNH is absolutely right. That error is really something to apologize for. Does it help that Locus also won best fanzine 1971-72, 1976, 1978 and 1980-83?

    No, I didn’t think so.

    Anyway, Locus has been around a long time and it’s been rare when it has not won. In its category (fanzine or semi-prozine)it’s been nominated every year since 1980 and only “lost” four times in that run.

    Due to numerous requests I really will stop this now.

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