Okay, so if you listen to Starburst’s BookWorm Podcast, or if you follow genre-related book news in general, you may have heard that 2015’s list of Hugo Nominations were a bit unusual. You may have even heard some wailing and gnashing of teeth, or some crowing and bragging, depending on what parts of the web you spend time on.
You may also have no idea what this is all about. I’ll try and break it down into steps, to give you an idea of what’s going on.
The Hugo Awards are an international award, presented at an event called Worldcon, an fan-run Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. They’re grand affairs, but are more about fans talking to fans than anything else, and revolve around the literary side of things mostly. Worldcon’s have been happening for over 70 years, and the Hugo Ceremony is the cool thing that happens at the end of convention. The Hugo Awards are voted for by their members.
Worldcon Membership is split (broadly) into two types: Attending and supporting. Attending membership lets you attend the event. It also lets you nominate and vote in the Hugo Awards. Supporting membership does all that, except you can’t attend the event. Because Worldcon changes venue every year, supporting memberships allow fans to remain part of the event without spending huge sums of money to go to around the world.
The 2014 Hugo Awards were notable for their progressive and interesting content. Prizes went to a wide spread of creators from diverse backgrounds. It’s also worth noting that the bulk of the winners were already quite successful and quite popular, both in critical and commercial terms.
John Scalzi is an outspoken science fiction author who is also very well regarded and very successful. He (and I quote here) believes that “women are entitled to the same rights and privileges as men, with everything that implies in terms of access to education, economic opportunity and personal liberty.” He is also credited by some for helping raise awareness about less known but interesting authors, and some say the 2014 awards list is his doing. Many disagree.
Vox Day aka Theodore Beale is an outspoken science fiction author, who describes himself as a “Christian libertarian opinion columnist” and creationist. He was expelled from the organisation the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA). If you want to go down that rabbit hole, the reasons why can be found here.
GamerGate is the name of a campaign about sexism in video games. It’s more complex than that, but for our purposes; they are a large number of sexist, misogynistic, anti-liberal, right-wing types in the GamerGate movement. It’s a loose organisation, so for every GamerGater who knows and is acting on the Hugos, they are many who have never heard of it and aren’t acting on it. (I have little idea as to how you’d get exact figures.)
The Sad Puppies is the name of a Hugo Awards campaign organised by Brad R. Torgersen, Larry Correia. They felt that they weren’t being represented by the Hugo Awards. They arranged a Hugo Slate (which can be found here). It was mostly composed of stuff they or their friends produced. It is a very narrow slice of the broader world of Science Fiction lit. The Sad Puppies recruited friends and members of GamerGate to vote in the Hugos. The name, by the way, comes from a rant that can be found here.
The Rabid Puppies is the Vox Day’s version of the Sad Puppies slate. They’re very, very similar. Gamer Gaters were also involved in the Rabid Puppies slate.
The 2015 Hugo Shortlist (a version of which can be found here) is very similar to the Sad Puppies Slate. The Sad Puppies and their right wings allies are currently declaring victory.
No Award is an option on the Hugo Ballot. It’s a run-off voting system. A running gag is to refer to the hot tipped 2015 Hugo Winner as Noah Ward.
Sir Terry Pratchett was a well loved science fiction and fantasy author who passed away recently. Upon the announcement of the 2015 Hugo Nominees, Sad Puppy supporters claimed that Pratchett never got nominated for a Hugo. This isn’t true; he was nominated for Going Postal in 2005. (If you want to read more on that, you can read it here.) It’s worth noting that Sir Terry was a regular at Worldcon events, and well loved by that niche.
George RR Martin is also a well known and well loved science fiction and fantasy author. He’s been to many, many Worldcons, and is well known figure in that community, and is also a regular at the Hugo Awards ceremony. He has blogged extensively about the whole affair, and you can read more here.
Trufan is the unofficial term for a fan of Worldcon and similar conventions. A JOF is a trufan who organises Worldcon and similar events, a SMOF is a trufan who organises the JOF’s and the events themselves. (Don’t assume there’s a hierarchy here, there really isn’t.) All these terms come from the in-jokey humour common in the community.
I’ve probably missed a tonne of nuance here, but those are the footnotes.
That magazine I write for has kept me busy recently, and you can tell by taking a look at the latest issue, 411. It’s an Avenger’s special (because of that little movie that’s coming out soon) and I got to write about the various faces of Spider Man for the mag. I was also lucky enough to interview the brilliant Simon Kurt Unsworth, the smashing Sarah Lotz and the devilish Peter V Brett about their latest works.
My title at the magazine is Sequential Art Editor, which means I wrangle comic book related things; mainly I make sure contributors have plenty to review month in, month out. The comic book review section is jam packed. We’ve also started commissioning comic strips from indie artists to go in the mag 1 This month see’s the first of (hopefully many) strips, and it’s rather fine.
Oh, and the usual book and board game stuff as well.
1: More information can be found here. The advertising package is currently a one page advert in the magazine, which is actually quite a smart deal.
It’s that time of month again. Starburst Magazine issue 410 is out, and I’ve been busy. It’s a Game of Thrones special, so I got to catch up Ser Mormont himself, James Cosmo. I also had a blast talking to the show’s story board artist, Will Simpson. Both are lovely chaps, and it makes for great copy.1 I also wrote a cheeky look at one of my favourite Game of Thrones related board games.
Also in that issue is a look at Robert E Howard’s Conan series, which was epic amounts of fun to do. I also talk to Daniel Polansky about his new novel, Those Above and natter away with Mark Stay about that movie he wrote, Robot Overlords.
There’s also the usual batch of reviews from me, and the two columns; boardgames are covered in Roll for Damage and the world of publishing is looked into with Brave New Words.
Oh, and there’s a load of fantastic content by the rest of the team, of course.
1: Interestingly, both answered beauty to my last question: Truth or Beauty. Most people answer Truth. But every person involved in AGOT I’ve interviewed have said Beauty.
It’s been a busy month for me, Starburst wise. Issue 410 is at the printers and I’ve recovered from an excellent weekend at the SFBall (more on that later.)
Here’s a list of some of the stuff I’ve produced for the lovely people at the Starburst MoonBase that is available online. If you want more, you’ll have to buy the magazine, of course; there’s some great interviews, columns and features in issue 410 that you won’t be able to get anywhere else. Look for it on the shelves of your local newsagent soon.
I’ve omitted the news parts and podcasty stuff; you should really subscribe to get those.
It’s a new year, and this means it’s Awards Solicitations Seasons, where various writer types encourage you to read their work in the hope that you’ll vote for them in the Hugo Awards.
I don’t have a book out, but I have spent the last year working with Fab Radio International and Starburst Magazine to produce Starburst’s “The BookWorm Podcast”. The station and magazine generously provide hosting and some equipment; we provide our spare time, enthusiasm and general love of books. It works quite well.
Our Podcast is eligible to be nominated for “Best Fancast”. We have a lot of fun making the show, and I gather people have a lot of fun listening to it. It’s a genre book show; we review two books a week, discuss book news and interview authors; we’ve had the likes of Robin Hobb, Sarah Pinborough and George RR Martin on in the past.
If you’ve never heard The BookWorm before, I recommend giving the Harry Potter Special a listen. You can get it via iTunes, Mixcloud or as a Direct Download . It features the full cast; Producer Al, Ninfa Hayes, Si Lloyd, Russ Smith and Rebecca ‘Del’ Derrick. They’re a great team and I am a very lucky person to get to work with them.
You can find a list of shows on our Tumblr page radiobookworm.tumblr.com .
To find out more about the Hugos, take a look at their official website thehugoawards.org
Give our show a listen and if you like us, vote for us. You can find the HUGOs Portal here.
As you may have gathered, I do a lot of writing for Starburst Magazine. Here are some reviews I contributed to the magazine this year, that you may have missed.
Ninjas Vs Monsters
Robot Overlords Robots Never Lie features giants robots. Nuff Said.
Haterz by James Goss – I totally loved this one, but goodness me is it going to put the cat amongst the pigeons.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Very derivative, wasn’t a fan.
566 Frames – indie comic genius.
Godzilla Cataclysm – The epic Godzilla story you never knew you were waiting all your life for.
Star Slammers – a fascinating relic of comics history
Six Million Dollar Man Season Six – Sheer nostalgia joy
Samurai Jack Quest for The Broken Blade – Jack, back from the past…
And that’s it for now. More soon.
The report I did for Starburst Magazine on Loncon3 can be found at Starburst Magazine.
If you do go via iTunes, don’t forget to comment/like/subscribe. If you want to, that is.