Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hugo Reading - Fan Writer

So, the fan writer category is about the person as a whole, based on their writing, and looks at pieces in fanzines, "semiprozines, and even on mailing lists, blogs, BBSs, and similar electronic fora." My presumption is that the work will be about science fiction and fantasy works, maybe reviews and commentary. I'm looking forward to seeing what's in the packet...

  • Laura J. Mixon
    The Hugo packet contains a couple of Mixon's pieces, one of them a well-researched study of a person who was/is causing havoc online with a particular type of poisonous campaign designed to drive people out of forums and break up friendly groups. There's another piece as well that I found to be well-written and compelling, but again, it was about fandom itself and not so much about works. It's very complete writing... is it fan writing? I suppose works about fandom certainly count... but I guess I was expecting something more about the works themselves and not just about the people in it.
  • Amanda S. Green
    I started to read the first piece, and it's all about "SJW"s, which is a term that some people conjured up to describe other people whose politics they don't like, regardless of whether or not any of those other people actually fall into the "Social Justice Warrior" category. In short, it's name-calling. Further, the piece provides almost no context for what the writer's complaints are about, using cutesy names for people instead of explaining the situation. Given that this is the Hugo Award, someone who starts out their sample packet with a piece filled with name-calling and lack of context is, in my opinion, not worthy to be on the ballot. So this person is chucked from my list. I skimmed through the other pieces and they were almost as bad or even worse. Sorry Charlie, Mixon's stuff wasn't on the topic I expected, but it wasn't filled with childish name-calling either.
  • Cedar Sanderson
    I find some of what is written in these excerpts to be repellent repetitions of other noxious nonsense, but other bits are well-written even if I disagree with them. This person and I would no doubt never see eye-to-eye on most subjects, but some of it is good enough to read. Good enough for a Hugo? No. But not as horrible as the previous entry. I'm not really sure that's a compliment. Only one of the pieces was more about works than personalities, but that one wasn't terribly good. I'm really feeling completely let down by this category. Every one of these samples has been depressing to read.
  • Dave Freer
    Overall, the sample packet contains fairly poor writing that isn't well-supported. I'm seeing a lot of assertions and assumptions and blithe statements of truthiness without a hint of Colbert's wit. I supposed it all feels right to this guy. But I'm beginning to despair that any of these works are by fans. Every one of them attacks other fans, many in the most childish ways possible. This guy... I just can't believe this guy was actually nominated for these blatherings.
  • Jeffro Johnson
    Oh thank goodness! A fan writer who's actually talking about and analyzing works of science fiction and fantasy instead of just attacking other fans! Some of these are pretty good pieces, too. Overall, this is the only entry, in my opinion, that fits the category comfortably. There are parts I find problematic (particularly the Derai piece), but at least this person has made a genuine effort. And after the pap I've read from the others, this was a fresh breeze to blow away the stink.
Johnson is the clear winner here, since he seems to be the only one that really fits what I think of as the category. I might put Mixon on the ballot as well, but that is a difficult choice. Both of them are going below "No Award" I think. The other three do not deserve awards for the writing in their packets. In fact, they really shouldn't have been nominated at all. My guess is that all three must have been on the slates, since I do not believe they could have been nominated by the merits of the writings they provided.

If I sound a little bitter, it's because I'm feeling bitter... How can people who clearly hate fandoms not their own be nominated for a Hugo Award? My concept of fandom is a big umbrella under which all of us can hang out and do our own thing in a non-judgmental setting. To read screeds against other fans is depressing. To see those screeds nominated for awards? Gah. Seriously, did any of the people voting on the slates actually read these works and say, "Yes, this is the best writing about fandom I saw in 2014." and, if so, why? How? How can writing that rips someone apart be the best? Why all the hate?


Tom Galloway said...

Yep, those three were all slates...as was Johnson. Mixon is the only non-slate entry.

As for what constitutes Fan Writing, really it's a "I know it when I see it" type of thing. It doesn't have to be reviews (although that's certainly a valid variety), or even much about sf, fantasy, or fandom. Something like the old Suicide Squid threads on rec.arts.comics would've qualified in my opinion. It comes out of the very old school pre-net fanzines and their writers, although it's certainly modified and mutated in recent years (which some old-timers aren't pleased about). Pretty much what you think works and is best for this category is how you should go with it, IMO.