Author Topic: New and improved(?) Hugo Award catagories  (Read 4451 times)

VonTainthammer

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on: November 14, 2012, 09:00:53 AM
Forgive me if this isn't deserving of a new thread (or bitterly eschew all forgiveness while scornfully directing me towards previous related discussions, por favor).

So, after all the controversy and such during this year's Hugo Awards about What should be categorized How, it struck me that these debates seem to reflect an interesting (and changing) era for F&SF.  Fans and professionals with a mutual love for good speculative fiction came together to evaluate and characterize the notable writers, editors, publications and mediums through which our great mutual love is experienced and delivered.  Then of course, those that paid membership dues voted and passed legislation while the rest of us sat around and bitched one way or another.  As is the way of all things political.

The solution to these 'What goes Where' controversies (that seem to be an annual occurrence now at Worldcon) appears to be the ratifying and addition of new categories.  For example, podcasts even have their own category now!  Unfortunately it's called "Best Fancast".   ::)

I can't begin to imagine how frustrating it must be to taxonomize it all-- prozine, semipro, fanzine, dramatic presentation, etc.  But if big awards and recognition matter at all then I imagine these things deserve to be debated and reasonably hammered out.  Furthermore, I think there are ramifications for how we tag ourselves and the cultural art we care about.

I think we'd all love to see Escapepod win a Hugo one day.  In the right category.  My question and I guess the point of this thead is:  What would that category be?  and why?

Here's the World Science Fiction Society's take on things now, if you missed.

One of the more controversial items was in the redefining of the Semiprozine category, which is the one Escapepod would be eligible for... if we didn't all get this awesomeness for free each week.  How should we define a "Semipro" market then?  Aside from "branding that doesn't sound particularly awesome when tagged to your publication."

 Still, I guess with the "Best Prozine" category also eliminated there's no other choice.  Just gotta make due with a Semi.

"That's what." --She


« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 03:41:37 PM by VonTainthammer »



eytanz

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Reply #1 on: November 14, 2012, 09:13:35 AM
It sounds like the kind of thing that would deserve its own thread, if I had any idea what you're talking about. For the benefit of those of us who only are aware of the Hugos when they get awarded, what are you talking about?



VonTainthammer

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Reply #2 on: November 14, 2012, 10:02:33 AM
My bad, I thought those links kind of surmised the issues.  Here are some more--
http://deirdre.net/semi-prozine/
Patrick Neilson Hayden on the YA fiction catagory http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/014324.html#014324



eytanz

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Reply #3 on: November 14, 2012, 10:29:11 AM
They do - at the time I posted, your post seemed to consist of only one sentence.



eytanz

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Reply #4 on: November 14, 2012, 10:39:57 AM
So, if I get this right -

- EP doesn't count as a professional publication because it doesn't pay 25% of it's staff's overall income.
- The fanzine category has been split into audio/video (fancast) and other (fanzines) medias.
- But since EP pays its authors, it counts as a semi-pro zine.

Am I correct about this?

My main reaction to this, by the way, is I don't understand why they are awards for publications at all. There should be awards for authors and stories - for the art - and awards for high quality discussion of the art (e.g. SF Squeecast). There could also be awards for best editor, maybe. I don't get the point of giving awards to the entities publishing the art. EP should get recognition by EP stories and staff winning the Hugo, not directly by winning a Hugo itself.




VonTainthammer

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Reply #5 on: November 14, 2012, 03:33:28 PM
So, if I get this right -

- EP doesn't count as a professional publication because it doesn't pay 25% of it's staff's overall income.

Nah, for Hugo purposes EP doesn't count as a Semipro zine because of that.  And because it's free.  And maybe because it's a podcast.  There is no award for Pro publication.  No idea how they are going to determine those staff income quotas for Semipro though... mandatory financial audits?


The fanzine category has been split into audio/video (fancast) and other (fanzines) medias.
Yep.  


- But since EP pays its authors, it counts as a semi-pro zine.

Nope, that just makes it not a fanzine.

My main reaction to this, by the way, is I don't understand why they are awards for publications at all. EP should get recognition by EP stories and staff winning the Hugo, not directly by winning a Hugo itself.


Fair point indeed.  And they agreed with you and dropped Best Magazine 30 years ago, changing it to Best Editor.   The only reasoning against this switch that I can think of is that those 'entities publishing the art' as you said, are entities-- not one single person.  There's a whole team of talented schmucks factoring in to a zine or podcast's success-- slush readers, assistant editors, submission editors, audio producers and production managers, show hosts, wed designers, admin and accountants, list on.  I'm not saying I support the whole Semipro category thing (hell, it's a joke anyways- Locus has won it almost every single year since the category began in 1984), just that I also see how honoring a publication has its own merits.  Recognizing good work by an entire fiction market only through a "Best Editor" award feels kind of like giving an NBA Championship title to Lebron James instead of the Miami Heat.  

There should be awards for authors and stories - for the art - and awards for high quality discussion of the art (e.g. SF Squeecast).

I love Squeecast!  But how an enterprise run exclusively by 5 Hugo-nominated/winning professional writers qualified for "Best Fancast" is beyond me.  I was definitely happy when they won, but it was with the same puzzled, reticent giddiness I would also feel if Christmas all the sudden happened in November and I abruptly found myself staring at an ass-load of free shit wrapped and piled under my chimney.


« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 03:58:54 PM by VonTainthammer »



eytanz

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Reply #6 on: November 14, 2012, 04:14:58 PM
As for the criteria for semiprozine - they seem to be rather messy and reported differently on different sites. The wording about "25% of income" comes from the section defining a "professional publication", and not mentioned in the semiprozine section. The relevant criteria that the semiprozines must meet are (to the degree I could find and understand them):

1 - Published at least 4 times in a year
2 - Pays EITHER its staff OR its authors in money (OR alternativfely, costs money to buy)
3 - Not eligable to be a fancast.

EP clearly meets 1 and 2, as it's weekly and it pays its authors in money. The problem is that EP seems to be eligable to be a "fancast", because that seems to cover any audio or video presentation that doesn't meet the "professional publication" criteria (i.e., 25% income). So if EP was a text publication then it would not have to meet that criterion, but because it is an audio publication it does.

---

As I said above, I think the distinction I want is the distinction between publications that publish stories (regardless of media) and those that discuss SF (regardless of media). The Worldcon people seem to want to conflate those two, and instead make a distinction between print and audio/visual.

Now, you make good points about production values, but to go down that route you need to seperate the different media - it makes no sense for print to compete directly against video, or for audio to compete against video. And it makes sense to have that sort of award. But I don't know if those need to be the same awards as the ones for the stories themselves.

Maybe the problem is that the Hugos is trying to be - not all things, but a rather bizzarely chosen set of things. It should choose one avenue of attack - by financial status, by media type, by content type - and arrange itself around it, not the current series of "you're X unless you're also Y in which case you're Z".



VonTainthammer

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Reply #7 on: November 17, 2012, 12:48:15 AM
Well according to what the SFSA says (http://www.chicon.org/docs/wsfs-bm-3-2-semiprozine.pdf) EP (and most other podcasts I know of that work with the Creative Commons model- Drabblecast, Dunesteef etc) wouldn't qualify because of the new amendment listed as:

(2) was generally available only for paid purchase

Then there's the heavy emphasis on podcasts as "Fancasts" as you mentioned.  EP is clearly not a fan cast.

I agree with you that it makes sense you have the distinction between publications that publish stories and those that talk about SF, both regardless of media type.  There are those that do both (Starship Sofa comes to mind) but I think it makes sense to have "publishing stories" take priority there.  I think I've heard Mur talk about SF at least once or twice.  ;)

Seems to me the problem is the blurring of "amateur/fan" and "professional" that has come naturally with the rise of self-publishing and the internet.  We can't track distribution anymore so they are looking at internal financial statements to be considered professional (one staff must make 25% of total income from work with the publication).  This makes sense for businesses outside of the internet but is skewed against Creative Commons and other types working online.    What if Escapepod had run Jo Walton's winning story this year instead of Tor, would it ever have had a shot? 
They've bit the bullet and made a fanzine/fancast distinction now, how did professional fiction markets largely not in print form miss the call to arms?
 



eytanz

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Reply #8 on: November 19, 2012, 12:15:23 PM
in the previous calendar year met at least
Well according to what the SFSA says (http://www.chicon.org/docs/wsfs-bm-3-2-semiprozine.pdf) EP (and most other podcasts I know of that work with the Creative Commons model- Drabblecast, Dunesteef etc) wouldn't qualify because of the new amendment listed as:

(2) was generally available only for paid purchase


You've taken that out of context. The full text is:

Quote
In the previous calendar year met at least one of the following criteria:

(1) paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the
publication,
(2) was generally available only for paid purchase

EP (and Drabblecast) don't meet (2), but they do meet (1), and therefore are eligable.



VonTainthammer

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Reply #9 on: November 20, 2012, 02:15:15 PM
Indeed, you appear to be correct sir!  Thanks for pointing that out.  Someone else pointed out to me recently that Escapepod is actually considered a professional market by the SFWA http://escapepod.org/guidelines/ which would make it ineligible for the Semiprozine category anyways.