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

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

Just my thoughts.


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

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

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

To begin, the commentary to the motion is deeply confused. The first graph acts as a brief history of fan writing and makes the case for it, noting its long history in fandom, its influence on the field despite being the recreation of a relatively small number of people, and noting that many of its practitioners “would become well-known professional…

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

  1. Erik V. Olson

    The best Fan Writer Hugo really has nothing to do with fanfic. Fanzine, Fan Writer and Fan Artist are more “meta” — the simplest definition I can give is that it’s done for fun and it’s generally not fiction at all. Often, it’s fans writing about being a fan, or about other fans, or convention reports, or travelogs, or whateverthehelltheywant, but not fiction. (Of course, they occasionally do write fiction!) If you’re paid for writing something, it may invalidate that piece for Fanzine (but no Semiprozine), but a particularly well written fanfic wouldn’t be awarded Fan Writer, it would be slotted into one of the four main fiction categories (Best Novel/Novella/Novelette/Short Story.) This is how John Scalzi, a multiple Hugo winner in the best written works categories, and one who is very clearly a professional writer was nominated for Fan Writer, based on the writing in Whatever — because his blog is not a sold work, the writing on it becomes eligible for consideration.

    Fan Writer and Artist are also different in that they’re awarded to a person, rather than a given work — the rest are generally awarded for a given work. They tend to be body-of-work awards. Technically, you’re supposed to only evaluate the work done in the year, but in reality, that’s almost impossible to do, so they become full body of work.

    The biggest exception is Best Pro Artist, (rather than Best Art Work.) That was tried, but it became impossible to nominate correctly, because artwork didn’t have a publication date and didn’t have easy distribution. I’ve often thought that could change now that the Internet is pervasive, but when Best Art Work was tried in the ’80s, it was just unworkable, thus, Best Pro Artist.


    1. Thank you for the info! That helps clear up a lot, and helps me see just how seriously this whole thing might be taken. It also helps me see that it’s not too different from some of the stuff that inspires posts on Tumblr combating the “you’re not fan enough” nonsense.



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