Friday, January 29, 2016

2016 Hugo Longlist, Part 4: Nonfiction and Institutional Categories

Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together 2016 Hugo Awards Longlist! (Parts 1, 2 and 3.)

This time we are looking at what are, for lack of a better term, the "nonfiction and institutional categories": Best Related Work, Best Semiprozine, Best Fanzine and Best Fancast. Now, those who follow this blog know how cranky I can get on the subject of certain categories and their bizarre eligibility guidelines--and we've got two of them today (Best Semiprozine and Best Fancast). Nevertheless, I will do my best to stay calm and stick to the rules, frustrating as they can be. I reserve the right, will, however, get a little snarky and passive-aggressive in the process.   

There are, however, some sticky issues that made putting this list together a bit difficult. Knowing what does or does not constitute a "fanzine" in the era of blogs, for example--and given that we may already be on the downward slide of that era, it only promises to get more difficult as time passes. Nevertheless, we have tried to create clear and consistent guidelines for inclusion in this category. Thus, to qualify, a fanzine: (1) must be a fan venture (i.e. must not generate a significant amount of money, or pay professional rates for work); (2) must publish a lot of content in a given year; and (3) must publish "award worthy" content. We did not discount single-author blogs from consideration, but criterion #2 makes it difficult for most single-author blogs to  merit consideration. Consequently, while a couple made it, most did not--including some very good ones.  

I also feel obliged to mention that 'nerds of a feather, flock together' is eligible in this category, but whether we belong on anyone's list (short, long, good or bad) is another story, and part of a conversation we aren't inclined to join. We'd much rather talk about all the other sites we like to read (and which meet the criteria outlined above). 

The category Best Fancast also presented issues, namely, on the question of whether podcasts hosted by profit-making websites were still fancasts. The issue here comes down to whether the podcasts qualify (given token-level payment for the podcasts themselves) or do not (given that the parent companies can employ at least some people full-time). There were internal disagreements on this question, but in the end we decided to include the podcasts in question, but make note that they may not meet the eligibility requirements. I personally encourage you to vote them in that category--both because they belong there and, consequently, because a rule that keeps them out is dumb. But that's just me.

Before moving on to the recommendations, a gentle reminder that this list is not and does not intend to be a comprehensive survey of genre or fandom. Rather, these are recommendations we suggest you consider alongside whatever other candidates you have in mind.  -G

Best Related Work

Day, Felicia. You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) [Touchstone, 2015]

Jordan, Robert, Harriet McDougal et al. The Wheel of Time Companion [Tor, 2015]

Klastorin, Michael and Randal Atamaniuk. Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History [Harper Design, 2015]

Landon, Justin. "The Hugo Awards: an Entity at War with Itself" (Pornokitsch)

Makeup & Vanity Set. Wilderness [Telefuture Records, 2015]

McCown, Alex. "Mr. Robot: 'eps1.5br4ve-trave1er.asf': Rage, rage against the dying of the light" (and related articles in series) [Onion AV Club]

Whitehead, Adam "A History of Epic Fantasy" [The Wertzone]

Williams, Renay and Shaun Duke, eds. Speculative Fiction 2014 [Book Smugglers Publishing, 2015]

Prune [iOS game from Joel McDonald]

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt [multi-platform game from CD Projekt Red]

Best Semiprozine

Beneath Ceaseless Skies (Scott H. Andrews, ed.) - publisher of high quality adventure and literary short fantasy

Black Static (Andy Cox, ed.) - premier British publisher of short horror and dark fantasy fiction.

The Book Smugglers (Ana Grilo and Thea James, eds.) - top-notch SF/F and YA blog and now an up-and-coming publisher of short fiction.

Interzone (Andy Cox, ed.) - Britain's premier short SF magazine.

Lightspeed/Nightmare (John Joseph Adams, ed.) - high prestige publisher of SF/F and horror, respectively. Notable for its "Destroy" series of special issues.

Pornokitsch (Jared Shurin and Anne Perry, eds.) - savvy SF/F and geek culture group blog that, like the Book Smugglers, is now and up-and-coming publisher of short fiction.

Strange Horizons (Niall Harrison, ed.) - publisher of literary fantasy and science fiction also notable for strong nonfiction content and focus on diversity issues.

Best Fanzine

A Dribble of Ink (Aidan Moher, ed.) - pour one out for Aidan Moher's dearly departed fantasy site, which won the Hugo in 2014. This is its last year of eligibility.

BiblioSanctum (Mogsy, Tiara and Wendy B, eds.) - great site for book and game reviews

Chaos Horizon (Brandon Kempfner, ed.) - addictive site that tries to predict SF/F nominees and winners.

file770 (Mike Glyer, ed.) - the beating heart of fandom

Lady Business - fantastic group blog with a distinctive, feminist and pulp SF/F slant.

Neon Dystopia - a fun new group blog that focuses on cyberpunk and derived matter across the arts (books, comics, film, tv, games, etc.)

Scy-Fy (Stuart Flynn, ed.) - massive number of interviews with genre bloggers at a time of great change in the "industry." Plus the most parsimonious/elegant book reviews you will find anywhere.

SF Mistressworks (Ian Sales, ed.) - a site dedicated to celebrating the (often under-appreciated) contributions of female SF/F writers to the genre

SF Signal (John DeNardo, ed.) - this venerable fanzine qua blog, and multiple Hugo winner, is always worth your consideration.

SFFWorld (Dag Rambruat, Rob Bedford, Mark Yon, and Nila White, eds.) - A fantastic place to go for reviews and interviews (and the forums still live).

Best Fancast

Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing (Kristi Charish and Brent Bowen)

Cabbages and Kings (Jonah Sutton-Morse)

Fangirl Happy Hour (Ana Grilo and Renay Williams)

Galactic Suburbia Podcast (Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Alexandra Pierce)

The Grim Tidings Podcast (R.S. Matheny and Philip Overby)

Midnight in Karachi (Mahvesh Murad)

[Note: Midnight in Karachi may not be eligible because the podcast is hosted by a parent company that pays its full-time employees, despite the fact that said parent company does not pay podcasters at professional rates. Yes, I know--nonsensical. In such event, however, it would still be eligible for Best Related Work.]

Rocket Talk (Justin Landon)

[Note: Rocket Talk may not be eligible because the podcast is hosted by a parent company that pays its full-time employees, despite the fact that said parent company does not pay podcasters at professional rates. Yes, I know--nonsensical. In such event, however, it would still be eligible for Best Related Work.]

Skiffy & Fanty (Shaun Duke, Jen Zinc, Paul Weimer, Julia Rios, David Annadale, Mike R. Underwood and Rachael Acks)

Speculate! (Gregory A. Wilson)

The Three Hoarsemen (Fred Kiesche, John E.O. Stevens and Jeff Patterson)