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Profgeek/John Purcell

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Hugo result musings [Sep. 1st, 2007|10:37 pm]
Profgeek/John Purcell
Well, no real surprises here, except for maybe Pan's Labyrinth winning the Long Form Hugo.  That was my pick, and usually I never pick the winner in any category! I am very happy for all the winners, but the voting results revealed some rather persnickity numbers. First off, Dave Langford's one-vote win over John Scalzi is a travesty for the main reason that Scalzi should not have been on the final ballot at all. Technically, neither should Dave; both men have sold fiction professionally, and that right there should have disqualified both men from even making the final ballot. And the one vote difference makes me wonder if Scalzi is going to call for a recount; no one who ever campaigned so hard for anything would roll over and take that kind of a result without a fight. If he does complain and ask for a recount, that would do nothing short of demeaning the Fan Hugos even more. I certainly hope he doesn't. The Fan Hugos - and the entire Hugo awards, in general - have some serious problems to overcome.

In the Fan Artist category, I am happy that Frank Wu won. He is a talented artist - heck, all the nominees in this category are - and I know that some people are saying Frank should not be on the final ballot for the same reason I made for the Fan Writer category: he has made money as a professional artist. I happen to agree with this sentiment. It does not mean that I don't like Frank, Dave, or John, it is simply a matter of principle and what these awards are named: FAN Hugos. This means that the work nominees produced in the past year in the AMATEUR end of the science fiction field - meaning: not earning money at it, but just producing work for the love of it - should be the only ones eligible for nomination. End of discussion.

Additionally, why was Teddy Harvia's name on the final ballot for the Fan Artist Hugo? To the best of my knowledge, he has not produced or published in fanzines any new fan art in the last four years. Yet there his name was again on the final ballot. Because of these examples, it is my opinion that it is high time to get some quality control put in place to monitor who makes the final ballot and who does not. This is why I really have no inclination to bother voting for the Hugo awards even if I did have a supporting WorldCon membership. 

And then the voters went off and did something completely unexpected: Science Fiction Five-Yearly received the Best Fanzine Award. Okay, that restored some of my faith in the voters. That really was a wonderful fanzine, and even if it garnered sympathy votes in remembrance of the late Lee Hoffman, I still think this was a well-deserving recipient. Congratulations to Geri, Randy and LeeH. You folks deserve that honor for the labor of love that SF5Y was. Good show.

But the Best Fan Writer Hugo results still gall me, and some people who were nominated in other categories should not have been on the final ballot. The Powers That Be really must try to install some kind of quality control on the nominating process. What, I don't know, but I just had to get this off my chest.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: scalzi
2007-09-02 04:40 am (UTC)
"And the one vote difference makes me wonder if Scalzi is going to call for a recount; no one who ever campaigned so hard for anything would roll over and take that kind of a result without a fight."

What? Don't be ridiculous. I have no intention of contesting the results. Dave Langford got one more vote than I did; he won the Hugo in the category. I have no reason, and no desire, to contest the vote; I have faith the Hugo organizers are capable of counting.

In fact, I'm delighted to lose by a single vote -- if you have to lose, losing by the absolute thinnest margin possible is the way to go. I sent an e-mail to Dave Langford about it this morning and we had a good (virtual) laugh about it.

Your curiosity about whether that I would contest the count appears to be based on an the assumption that I campaigned hard for the award. I didn't; I neither sought the award, nor once nominated, did much other than write about it from time to time on my personal site. I did respond to some of the controversy surrounding my presence in the category, but that was no more campaigning than any other writing I do on my site. I would note that I also made sure to include links on my site to the other nominees and to encourage my readers to read all of the nominees in order to make an informed decision. There's no point winning an award if the votes one receives are not informed ones.

Your objection regarding my presence in the Fan category (and of Dave's) is not one that the Hugos shares, nor ever has; back in 1971, in fact, in the earliest days of the Best Fan Writer Hugo, Piers Anthony was nominated for both Best Fan Writer and for the Best Novel Hugo in the same year. Naturally, if your objections are strenuous, I invite you to attend the business meeting at next year's Worldcon in Denver and offer an amendment the WSFS Constitution to bar professional writers from the Best Fan Writer Hugo category.

That said, I would note that I was nominated for the Best Fan Writer award because of the writing I do on my personal site, for which I receive no financial compensation. It is indeed "amateur" writing, in that it is not done for pay, and is done for the love of it -- which as you note is the essential meaning of "amateur."
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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-02 05:57 am (UTC)
Wow! Thank you for responding so quickly. Frankly, I am pleased to hear from you and to get your viewpoint on my mental musings.

I have to admit that the Hugos have long had some kind of objection raised; it is too bad that some very fine people have been involved in these embroglios over the years. Personally, I am not the kind of person who likes to get seriously involved in the inner workings of running Worldcons. But I still think that there needs to be some tweaking involved in terms of quality control about nomination qualifications. If anything, my thinking out loud here might get some dialogue going so that those among us who are really into the nuts and bolts of WorldCon running may get some good input and feedback out of the discussion. I would much rather see progress made than someone getting hurt for no reason.

Also, I have to agree that if you're going to lose to somebody, it should be to somebody like Dave Langford, who is one of the finest fan writers I have had the pleasure to read, and only by one vote! That's nuts! You're right that it's best to lose a hotly contested race than getting slaughtered. Not only that, but I will have to check out your website and read your commentary on not only being nominated for a Hugo, but about other topics as well. Over the past couple years my time has run on a fairly tight schedule; teaching a full load of classes and working on a doctorate tends to be rather time consuming. However, I will take the time - whatever I can spare! - to peruse your site and check things out.

Like I said, I was thinking out loud about the awards, and kind of figured some folks would respond to it. Kind of neat that the first responder was you. Thank you for writing.
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[User Picture]From: scalzi
2007-09-02 06:35 am (UTC)
By all means do come by the site, although wait a couple of day -- I've been on hiatus for the last couple of weeks (I'm supposed to be writing a book, emphasis on "supposed"), but will return officially on Monday.

And agreed: Dave Langford is a class act all the way around. I couldn't lose to a better fellow (although all the nominees in the category this year are fine folks; I'd've been happy to lose to any of them by one vote).
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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-02 12:43 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm supposed to be working on my dissertation proposal again, but you didn't hear that from me. Boning up for my prelims right now.
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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-03 03:07 pm (UTC)
I had a thought about this exchange this morning while driving in to school: would you be interested - if you have the time, that is - to write up a brief recap of all this for the next issue of my fanzine? That would be the Nov., '07 ish. I leave it in your hands.
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[User Picture]From: gerisullivan
2007-09-02 09:44 am (UTC)
Yep, everything that scalzi said! The fan Hugos honor fan activity. If applied, your logic would bar me from being nominated for one of the pro Hugos because I'm guilty of fanac, even if I had totally separate work that would qualify for nomination in one of the pro categories.

I imprinted on what I call the Terry Carr school of fandom and fanac. Well, the Terry Carr and Bruce Pelz school.... It's the omnifan approach, the idea that well-rounded fen are interested and active in more than one aspect of science fiction fandom. Including the professional aspects, if we wish. Terry Carr, beloved and renowned sf editor, was thrilled to be FanGoH at the 1986 Worldcon in Atlanta. Pros who didn't understand fannishness and fandom were bewildered; Terry and the fannish sorts (pros and fans alike) all knew better.

If those aren't convincing arguments, please consider that by the standards you professed, Science-Fiction Five-Yearly wouldn't have been eligible for a Hugo because Lee Hoffman was a professional sf writer! Furthermore, SF5Y #12 contained contributions from several professional sf writers and artists, including Ted White, Harlan Ellison, Dave Langford, Harry Bell, Steve Stiles, Dan Steffan. And Rotsler, when he was alive. They've all been professionals in the field (or the related field of comic art) for decades longer than scalzi or Frank Wu have been have been enjoying their own professional successes in the field. And far longer than John or Frank have have been helping make fandom a better place through their fannish activities.

Do you see the point? Ted's homage to LeeH in SF5Y #12 was pure fanfiction all the way. It's a bell jar standard example of fanac. Yet Ted is a published SF writer with more than a dozen novels to his name. He took over the editor's chair at Amazing just weeks after winning the Best Fanwriter Hugo in 1968, and that Hugo was for his fanac, not a spillover of his professional credits. The same Ted White you saw run the fwa election at the Corflu banquet this past February, and Corflu site selection, too, if I remember correctly. Also remember that Walt Willis regularly suggested professional outlets for stories he turned down as not being good enough to publish in his own fanzines...and that Walt Willis, Chuch Harris, and legions of fen from generations before also had paid, professional credits to their names.

Then there's Sir Arthur C. Clarke. He wasn't in SF5Y #12, but I did have the joy of publishing his fannish contributions to SF5Y #9 and #11. Yes, he's a pro. That doesn't mean he's not a fan. And vice versa. Closer to yours and my former home, I'd make the same argument about Reed Waller.

Anyone who ever looked at SF5Y and then questioned whether it was a fanzine would need their head examined. Not that I've ever heard anyone do so, and I'm certain you wouldn't, but it's the logical next step in a world where nothing a professional does can possibly be fanac. Thank Ghu this is not that world!

All of that said, I of course thank you very, very kindly for your congratulatory comments on SF5Y's win! What a delightful surprise that was...and what a rush! Big Fun and then some.

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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-02 12:23 pm (UTC)
Geri, I completely understand what you are saying. Fandom is truly a wonderful, silly place where a professional in the field can still enjoy being a fan as much as a neofan at his first convention or publishing his first fanzine. Probably the best way to completely understand and illustrate this phenomenon is to remember a party that Barney Neufeld and I hosted at a Minicon way back when; I believe it was 1979 or 1980, but I could be mistaken. Things blur over time. At that party people were coming and going throughout the evening, but I remember at one point Gordy Dickson was playing my guitar - MY guitar, of all things - and folks were joining him in song, and these included Ben and Barbara Bova, Spider Robinson (I think), Barney and myself (of course), Dean Gahlon, Jon Singer, Mike Glicksohn, and many other writers and fans cycled through. It was such a wonderful evening and I loved it. Nobody cared about the pro and fan distinction; we were all just having a great time, and that's all that really matters.

Yeah. I understand completely, Geri. This is one of the things that I love the most about fandom: so many pros are still fans at heart, and that is definitely a cool thing. It makes fandom such a fun place to hang out in. I really do love you guys and wish I could see y'all more often. *sigh* But that's okay. It makes the times together that much more special.

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[User Picture]From: gerisullivan
2007-09-02 05:12 pm (UTC)
Nobody cared about the pro and fan distinction; we were all just having a great time.

Yep. I've hosted parties like that. They're a blast.

When it comes to the Hugos, there are distinctions between pro and fan work. But it's the work that matters when determining eligibility within a specific category. We label the work, not the person. Because people can be both fans and pros; they aren't categories we have to or should choose between. Much the same as we don't have to choose between being a fan writer, artist, editor, fanzine fan or convention fan, filker, gamer, costumer, convention chair or party host. We can explore all of the areas of fandom that interest us, and we can endeavor to add to the greater good in however many of them we can possibly find time for.

To quote another fan who is a pro who is a fan (and, now, a Hugo winner!), as Patrick Nielsen Hayden said several years ago: ""Confusion! Crisis! What to do? As ever: mock foolishness, love your friends, throw a good party, and remember. Nothing confounds foolishness like remembering."
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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-02 05:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, how true that is! BTW, before I forget, congratulations are in order to Patrick, too! Total awesomeness!
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[User Picture]From: gerisullivan
2007-09-02 04:58 pm (UTC)

Was my Freudian slip showing?

Early this morning, I wrote I imprinted on what I call the Terry Carr school of fandom and fanac. Well, the Terry Carr and Bruce Pelz school....

Only imprinted is plainly the wrong word. It suggests never questioning or thinking about the imprinted item, just taking to it as part of the natural order. And I've thought about fandom at both it's best and worst rather a lot. I've chosen the Terry Carr and Bruce Pelz omnifan school because I think it reflects fandom at its very best.

So I don't think imprinted was a Freudian slip. I think it was simply the wrong word choice, one that grated on my own ear and conscience. I'm an alumnus of that school, and an ardent supporter of it.
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From: ext_42025
2007-09-02 10:39 am (UTC)
I blush. Many thanks! Hey, this could have become a vitriolic controversy that Plunged All Fandom Into War if only that nice Mr Scalzi weren't so reasonable.

Dave Langford
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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-02 12:40 pm (UTC)
You are most welcome. Plus, I am not one for controversy or fan politics. Can't stand 'em. Intelligent discussions are cool, though. I would like to meet Mr. Scalzi someday. You too, for that matter.
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From: jamesb
2007-09-02 08:04 pm (UTC)
That's a cool response, very impressive, and is damn good to read.

Its odd, I love your books, and I like Dave L. a lot, see him in the pub, like, so I was torn, am pleased for Dave, but a little schadenfreude part of me would have loved to have seen the reaction to your win.
Mostly because people sometimes polarise stuff. Anyhow, no such lock, just magnanimity and erudition here.

Jumped here cause of a Dave Langford link, and just really pleased about your attitude, er dare I say it, its very 'fannish', and I mean many things by that, and all complementary. Also I just feel your comment just goes to show why you deserved the nomination, let alone citing '71 that is very stylish indeed.

better luck next time.

james

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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-02 12:37 pm (UTC)
Thinking over my initial posting here, I realize that I was probably talking out of my left ear in spots, and if my mental blatherings offended anybody, you have my sincere apologies. Some of my word choices could be construed as inappropriate; for example, I intimated that John Scalzi "campaigned" for the Fan Writer Hugo. And as we can all see by his response, that was not the case at all. So for that one, I definitely am sorry. So many pros are fans at heart, and that's cool. Quite frankly, I wouldn't take that right away from them at all because it would take all the fun out of being a fan.

However, I still have to wonder how Teddy Harvia's name got on the final ballot. I mean, we met years ago, and I really like David Thayer a lot; he's a great guy and I wish him the best of luck in everything. Still, I really haven't seen any new fan art by him in quite a few years. I am sure that he was thrilled to be nominated again, but I am also sure that he was probably bemused by the nomination. This is the sort of thing I mean by "quality control". It is nothing personal, just a matter of whether or not a nominee has met the criteria for work to be considered in a given year. Then again, how in the blue blazes can we monitor this? There are so many outlets for fan art and all that no one person or governing body can cover them all. I guess it all boils down to an honor system, where a nominee willingly withdraws their name from consideration if their name makes the final cut.

I dunno. Here I go blow-holing it again...
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[User Picture]From: shsilver
2007-09-02 01:14 pm (UTC)
Well some of the changes proposed this year regarding art include a stipulation that professional artists provide three works published or created in the year in question, perhaps this can/should apply to the fan writer and artist categories as well.

Also, a change was proposed to allow professional artists to be nominated in the fan artist category if they've also published fan art during the year.

And congratulations to Dave for winning, and to John for coming so close. 'Twas an honor to lose to them.
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[User Picture]From: supergee
2007-09-02 03:02 pm (UTC)
Back in the 70s Tim Kirk won one or more Fan Artist Hugoes after he'd stopped doing fan art.
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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-02 03:05 pm (UTC)
Didn't he also withdraw his name from consideration, too? I seem to recall that he did that.
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[User Picture]From: supergee
2007-09-02 04:32 pm (UTC)
I believe he did eventually.
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From: jamesb
2007-09-02 08:08 pm (UTC)
Hey John

awesome exchange, even if its trumps you a bit!
Sorry mate, just a IMHO.

Look, this is so good, it shows Mr S for what i reckoned he always is, a clever fan type. Who happens to be a pro.

Any chance you can seek permission for this to go into askance???

we are obviously all on the same side.

james

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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-03 10:22 am (UTC)
Too late for the fourth issue now, but this is a good thought. I'll think about it, but perhaps the better part of valor is to let it stay here. Like you said, "we are obviously all on the same side," and this discussion is almost all played out already. It's been illuminating and thoughtful, though, and I'm glad to get the feedback.
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From: jamesb
2007-09-03 11:10 am (UTC)
I see, well its just not everyone has blog access and knows where to find stuff.

Leave it with me, I might have an idea.

J
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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-03 03:04 pm (UTC)
Should I be worried? ;=)
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-09-03 08:42 am (UTC)

Fan Hugos

Bob Shaw's fanwriter Hugo was thoroughly deserved (as a lifetime achievement award as much as anything else) and widely acclaimed throughout fandom, despite his having published many novels and short stories by the time he won. Having been a filthy pro does not preclude anyone from fanac, nor being rewarded for same.
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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-03 10:20 am (UTC)

Re: Fan Hugos

Loved Bob Shaw's writings, both pro and fan. He was one of the best examples - along with Bob Tucker, Bob Bloch, Bob Silverberg, and... I detect a pattern here - of a pro with a fannish heart.

Yeah, there's no reason why pros can't be fans, which isn't my argument at all. My musings boil down to eligibility criteria; if a pro writer also produces fan writing during the qualifying year, there is basically no reason why he/she can't be nominated for a fan Hugo. Fandom has long blurred this pro/fan distinction. I refer whoever-you-are to Geri Sullivan's cts above.
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[User Picture]From: hunkymouse
2007-09-04 10:25 am (UTC)

Re: Fan Hugos

Nonetheless, I still feel that sense of niggling injustice. I'm NOT going to suggest a way of resolving it, because I can't see a way. But let's suppose we take this to Olympic sports.

As we know the Paralympics attract otherwise disabled athletes. There are events based on wheelchair racing. If it's OK to have pro writers competing for fan awards, why is it not OK to have able-bodied sprinters competing in wheelchairs?

In one sense, allowing the pros in "upgrades" the contest. It shows it isn't just for also-rans who wouldn't be up to a real competition - when a genuine fan writer gets an award in competition with successful pros, it makes that award so much better. But in that case, it makes it all the more hard that the fan writer can't be considered for the main event, doesn't it?

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[User Picture]From: gerisullivan
2007-09-05 11:28 pm (UTC)

Re: Fan Hugos

I do not agree in any way that pro writers are any more able than amateurs writers when it comes to fan writing. I'm also missing what "main event" you're saying fan writers can't be considered for.

Does it help to consider the difference between technical writing and writing science fiction? We could laugh and observe that sometimes technical writing *is* science fiction, But I'd mostly observe that while good writing skills are useful for both, I don't think all professional writers automatically have an advantage against the top tech writers in a tech writing contest. But you seem to be saying that all pros automatically have an advantage when it comes to the fan writing playing field. They don't.


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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-06 12:15 am (UTC)

Re: Fan Hugos

Reading Geri's response to your entry, I would have to agree with Geri in that if we are considering fan writing as the context area, then pros and fans are pretty much on equal footing. I would even go so far as to say that some fan writers who have been producing this particular type of writing for many years probably have the advantage since they "know" their audience more intimately. I like Geri's analogy of technical writing vs. science fiction. Both require technical writing skill and knowledge, but they are not the same critter.
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-09-06 05:33 am (UTC)

Fan Artist Hugo, Teddy specifically

Have to admit I was disappointed that Teddy DID let his name stay on the ballot, since he has not been doing any fan art for years. He noted that "I must have had something published somewhere" as justification, which struck me as a poor excuse to remain there. Even worse, the voting shows most people are voting by name, not work. sigh
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[User Picture]From: profgeek
2007-09-06 06:12 pm (UTC)

Re: Fan Artist Hugo, Teddy specifically

This is sadly true. Unfortunately, we cannot tell people who to nominate or vote for, but we can inform people - specifically, the convention membership which does the actual final voting - of the criteria required to nominate someone for an award. Like others have noted in here earlier, some changes regarding eligibility have been proposed, but it may be quite a while before any changes are accepted and implemented. The wheels of bureaucracy grind very slowly, indeed.
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