Monday, May 11, 2020

2020 Hugo Award Voter's Packet

The Voter's Packet for the Hugo Awards will soon be released and made available to all members of CoNZealand and for our contribution, Nerds of a Feather has put together a compilation of what we feel represents the best and the breadth of our collective work published in 2010. While the purpose of the Voter's Packet is to help eligible voters make an informed decision when casting their ballots, we wanted to also make this available to all of our readers who may want to take a look back at what we did last year. As such, below is Adri's introduction to the Voter's Packet followed by the Table of Contents with links to each of the essays, reviews, and features we included in the packet.

If you'd like, you can also download the files we included in the Voter's Packet and take Nerds of a Feather on the go. 


We hope you enjoy!


Adri Joy

When I joined the nerds of a feather team, flock together team in 2018, the site had already been a Hugo finalist once and had just picked up its second nomination for Best Fanzine. At the time, I was a baby reviewer living in Yangon, for whom cons were something that happened to other people; getting to write reviews for a Hugo-recognised outfit felt like an amazing opportunity to join the fandom conversation and contribute to a community that I'd been admiring from afar for a couple of years. But the Hugo nomination itself was something a bit distant and abstract: it was before my time, too exciting to comprehend, and never, ever something that could be expected to happen again.

A lot has happened in those two years. I moved back to England, where going to cons and other fan things suddenly became possible, and even got to experience my first Worldcon in Dublin. N.K. Jemisin made history with her three back-to-back Best Novel wins, and the Lodestar got to exist (and later actually be called the Lodestar). Genre engaged in a difficult but deeply necessary stock-take of two of its biggest award names, and found ways to honour the diverse and brilliant humans in fandom today without allowing the shadows of flawed individuals to loom over their accolades. Plus, fandom got to experience such historical milestones as the first all-female spacewalk, the wrap-up of the MCU's 50-movie arc in Avengers: Endgame, and the week when nobody could say anything on Twitter without referencing 30-50 feral hogs. Oh, and Nerds of a Feather picked up another Hugo nomination, and I got to wear a fancy dress to that Worldcon I mentioned above.

Now, here we are, nominated for a fourth time, and this time with a fourth editor on our ballot, a baby reviewer turned co-editor who couldn't have imagined how much throwing in with a flock of nerds two years ago would shape my experience with the weird and wonderful world of genre fiction fandom. It doesn't quite feel real, and I can't overstate my thanks to everyone who read and nominated us last year.

Fanzines have changed a lot over the history of fandom, as the way that we connect and share our analysis, excitement, grumpiness and terrible jokes has evolved in response to the magic of technology. For many fans now, our strongest connections to the world of SFF all take place online, whether that be on Twitter and other public-facing social media, the world of Discord and Slack and other group chats, sites like Archive of Our Own, or over a good "old-fashioned" e-mail chain. From their original printed form, the definition of a fanzine has grown to enter the digital age with us, in the huge range of blogs, collectives, newsletters and pretty PDFs that carry the analysis of a global community. Language and other barriers might make international links difficult sometimes, but there's not a day that goes by when I'm not grateful for the opportunity to work with people thousands of miles from me (including a strangely high number of Minnesotans and an actual cat from space!) to make this weird, beautiful little website happen. Those connections are, of course even more important right now, with the first virtual Worldcon being scheduled by the CoNZealand team in response to restrictions on how we travel and socialise safely in the midst of a pandemic. These are hard, uncertain and scary times, but they are a tiny bit easier when we have each other - no matter how far away we may physically be.

Our team in 2019 consisted of Adri Joy, Brian, Chloe Clark, Dean E.S. Richard, Joe Sherry, Michael Newhouse-Bailey, Paul Weimer, Phoebe Wagner, Spacefaring Kitten, The G and Vance Kotrla. We put out essays, reviews, author features and assorted shenanigans every Monday to Friday, excluding US public holidays, racking up an epic 283 pieces for your consideration across 2019. We editors love all our babies equally, but if you feel that reading 283 essays, reviewed, author features and assorted shenanigans might be a tall order to assess our fanzine, here's a summary of the kind of work we put out last year:
  • Our 2019 project, the Hugo Initiative, looking at works from across the history of the award in a series of dossiers, blogtables and essays
  • Regular series like the weekly Thursday Morning Superhero column and monthly short fiction roundups, as well as limited series including weekly watches of Watchmen and the Mandalorian and our spooky Halloween special, Let's Frighten Children
  • A ton of author content, including an interview with Best Novel finalist Kameron Hurley and regular Six Books features with a rotating cast of awesome folk
  • An intimidating number of awesome essays, reviews and roundtables tackling dozens of good things from across the nerdy spectrum.
We're honoured to be here for a fourth time, and to be representing a tiny piece of what fanzines can be in 2020. To all those working away across book blogs, old school zines, weekly newsletters and other labours of genre-non-fiction love: we see you and we are proud to be in this community with you! If you're a return visitor, welcome back; we're glad to have you and we're sorry the virtual kettle seems to have stopped working again. And if you're here for the first time, hello and welcome to nerds of a feather, flock together! We've pulled together some of the highlights for your viewing pleasure; we hope you'll stay a while and check out what we have to offer. And thanks, once again, to everyone who has dropped by.

Table of Contents

Section I. Fiction Reviews

1. Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir
2. In an Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire
3. Empress of Forever, by Max Gladstone
4. Infinite Detail, by Tim Maughan
5. The Outcast Hours, edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin
6. The Deep, by Rivers Solomon
7. Terms of Enlistment, by Marko Kloos

Section II. The Hugo Initiative

1. The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (1993 Best Novel)
2. Double Star by Robert Heinlein (1956 Best Novel) 
3. Girl Genius (2009 Best Graphic Story)
4. Dune (1966 Best Novel)
5. Blogtable: 1968 Best Short Story

Section III. Conversations

1. Adri and Joe Talk About Books: The 2018 Locus Recommended Reading List
2. Review Roundtable: Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett
3. Time Capsule: SF: The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Ed. Judith Merrill
4. Review Roundtable: Avengers: Endgame
5. Let's Frighten Children! Bonus Conversation

Section IV. Essays

1. The Community of Apocalypse: On N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season
2. This is Not a Review of Joker
3. Battlestar Galactica as a Human Rights Narrative
4. How to End Game of Thrones
5. George RR Martin is Still Not Your Bitch

Section V. Features

1. Reading Deryni: The Bastard Prince 
2. Let’s Frighten Children! The Mainstream
3. Mondays on Mandalore: A New New Hope
4. Questing in Shorts: June 2019
5. Introducing Watchmen Wednesdays
6. Thursday Morning Superhero, 17 October
7. WE RANK ‘EM: Villagers from Untitled Goose Game
8. Video Game Review: Control