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Blogs, Bloggers & the Hugo Awards

HugoThe Hugo Awards are the awards of Heinlein, Asimov and Ellison. The legends of the pocket-sized paperback. The giants of the genre.

This year, we're going to WorldCon, so we get to vote. We get to add our tiny voices into the calls for the next LeGuin or Niven. And with natural and predictable narcissism, we looked at what it takes to get our (charming) (beautiful) (kind to puppies and children) blog taken into consideration. But as what? And, more worryingly, will we ever get this chance again?

This is the issue currently championed by Stefan Raets (Far Beyond Reality), Justin Landon (Staffer's Musings) and Kristen Bell (Fantasy Book Cafe). Although there's been great debate about prozines, semi-prozines, fanzines, related works and fan writers, bloggers seem to fall through the cracks, with no clear definition of where we belong.

The current consensus is that blogs are a type of "fanzine", but, according to one proposed amendment, even that loophole could be on the way out. This is a bit bonkers. Stefan, Justin and Kristen all emphatically argue the importance of blogs, and there's not much we can add to their arguments. Blogs are important. They're democratic. They're quick. They're interesting. They run the gamut from rampant populist pleasure to long-tail specialisation. Some are very, very good; some are very, very bad. Some are people shouting on soapboxes; some are feverish conversations.

But one thing is undeniable: blogs are Fans Being Involved. 

So here's our suggestion. Keep the wording for the category as it is, but change the title to "blog". All those lovely descriptors I threw out above? They're true for fanzines too. Zines, however, are now a tiny minority when it comes to ways that fans express themselves. Blogs aren't the online subset of zines: fanzines are printed, irregular blogs. (And, ironically, most of them are now distributed online.)

If this were 10 or 15 years ago, and the committee was like "meh, no one 'web-logs'; let's roll them into fanzines, 'cause those'll always be the big fish", I'd get it. But the times have changed, and we should follow suit. Fandom is no longer a matter of irregular regional meetings and mimeographed handouts. It is a global community, driven by enthusiasts with internet access and extraordinary enthusiasm.

We're living in a science fictional world; isn't it time the world of science fiction acknowledged it?