After a great deal of discussion on several fan forums and fan blogs, with the help of kevin_standlee, I have drafted the following motion to put before the 2011 WSFS Business meeting:
The purpose of this motion is to remove audio-visual periodicals (such as pocasts) from the "Best Fanzine" Hugo category, and recognize them with their own Hugo award category. Full text and commentary are included in the linked Google Doc.
Feel free to comment here or send email to the address in the Google Doc
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- Do you nominate or vote for the Hugo Awards? If your answer is no, thank you for participating, you don't need to comment.
- Do you listen to fan podcasts or watch fan video periodicals? If your answer is no, thank you for participating, you don't need to comment.
- How many fan podcasts do you follow?
- Are they centered around a single topic or multiple fannish topics?
- How many fan podcasts do you follow that are good enough you would nominate them in the Hugo Awards if there was an appropriate category?
- Are you a podcaster?
A "podcast" is an audio periodical. With iPhones, iPads, Androids and other video-capable devices, there are now also video periodicals.
There are parallels here. Are there parallels that suggest splitting "podcasts" from fanzines? In the fiction categories, there's a big break between the written fiction categories (subdivided by length in words) and dramatic presentation (subdivided by length in time). There are clear differences between the experience of reading and the experience of watching/listening. There are significant differences between the skills required to publish text and produce video and audio presentations. It would be absurd to suggest that a movie based on a novelette be voted against novelettes instead of against other movies, long-form TV shows and plays.
So, yes, there's strong precedent to differentiate between text and a/v. But does that mean there's a reason to add a category for "podcasts?"
One of the loudest arguments from fanzine fans for splitting podcasts from fanzines is that podcasts have a much wider subscriber-base, are much more popular than fanzines, are going to steal the award from fanzines every time they're nominated. If that's true, then it's clear "podcasts" deserve to be considered for award even more than fanzines.
It's true. In many fan communities, podcasts are the leading tool for fan communication. Sure, go to a general SF convention, and there will be a few podcasters, maybe even a recording session or two. Go to a Doctor Who convention and you can't swing a cat without hitting a podcaster. There are recording sessions on the program, recording sessions in the consuite, recording sessions in the hotel lobby, recording sessions at the dead dog party.
It's a vital and active part of fandom.
So at this point, we've got strong arguments for separating text and a/v fanac, and a strong argument for having an award for a/v fanac. Let's look at what we've got for rules:
3.3.7: Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Any theatrical feature or other production, with a complete running time of more than 90 minutes, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year.
3.3.8: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year.
3.3.13: Best Fanzine. Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects which by the close of the previous calendar year has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, and which does not qualify as a semiprozine.
So here's a hash:
Best Fancast. Any generally available non-professional audio or video periodical devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects which by the close of the previous calendar year has released four (4) or more episodes, at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year.
Please note: Best Fancast. There are podcasts that have nothing to do with fandom. There are podcasts that are commercially produced. There are fannish audio and video periodicals that are not distributed through iTunes or other traditional "podcasting" services.
Which fits nicely with the fanzine category. There are, after all, non-professional 'zines that aren't fanzines.
The "Best Fanzine" category should be updated to exclude nominees that qualify for Best Fancast.
Does this all make sense?
- Estonia. Crap. Not Greece-level crap. Not Portugal level crap, but hardly the kind of song that should lead off the winners.
- Romania. OK song, needs a better singer.
- Moldova. WTF? Devo, meet Boingo.
- Ireland. OK, I have to love Jedward. They're like crack on crack.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina? Wow! Dino Merlin makes it through! Dino Merlin is probably the oldest performer in the final! And he's really good!
- Denmark's "A Friend in London" has a good, solid ballad.
- Austria! Yay! It's a drag queen classic in the making! And she's got a great voice!
- Ukraine has an OK song, but the real talent is the sand painter
- Slovenia had a weak opening, but did get better.
- Sweden! Yay! Sorry, but I've got to love Eric Saade.
The Netherlands had an OK song, but oy, their choreography was painful. Belgium's fabu acapella group was doomed, doomed I say! Even (probable) silicone boobs couldn't prevent the singers from Slovakia from being flat. Cyprus was missing its autotune. Bulgaria had probably the best hard-rock number of the entire contest, and got knocked out. I so wanted to like Macedonia, I love pop folk but the singer was lame. The triumphant return of Israel's Dana International was hardly triumphant, more weak actually. Belarus showed so much promise, and then they started singing. Latvia was just "meh."
It's kind of weird. I loved Moldova, but I really didn't want them to make the final. Still, every Eurovision final needs some comedy. Belgium and Bulgaria not making the cut are both very disappointing.
- Serbia's little 60's retro number is fantastic. Lots of fun.
- Lithuania's showtune-style power ballad is a waste of the singer's excellent voice.
- Greece, oh, Greece, we know you can't afford to win, so how did the crap you sent this year make it to the finals in spite of being crap?
- Azerbaijan? Was that odd harmonies or just bad intonation? I know, both!
- Georgia's mash-up of hard girl-rock, hip-hop and goth metal should be a tragedy, but it's strangely alluring. The bad costumes not so much.
- Switzerland's charming little folk ballad is, well, charming.
- I think the Hungarian singer found the classiest drag show in Budapest and said "Give me that outfit or I'll cut you!" The song is destined to be a drag classic.
- Finland's folk ballad with a social conscience was cute, and used the stage better than anything else. How it didn't crash and burn I'll never know.
- Russa's entry strikes me as a boy-band member attempting a solo career. Not the good one, either.
- Iceland's entry just offends my sensibilities. Sure, they're great singers, but it's a bad cross betwen Swedish dansband and English music hall. And they're badly dressed at that.
Poland was decent Eurovision dance pop. Stella Mwangi (Norway) was excellent with "Haba Haba." The redheaded rocker from Albania was pretty good. Armenia was just plain weak. Turkey had an OK song, but a really bad production design (what was with the crappy globe and the phoenix costume we didn't see until the last 5 seconds?). I loved Malta's fabulous synthpop. San Marino was another waste of the singer's voice. Croatia had an OK song, a sloppy production design, but a really great costume-change trick (twice). Portugal's song was worse than Greece and their production was worse than Turkey.
So I like half of the entries that advanced to the final. I'm really disappointed that Norway and Malta didn't advance. I think that Poland and Albania were still better than some of the crap that did.
On Thursday, it's lather, rinse and repeat for the second semi.