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Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year.
(Ballot)

Ah, this is a fun one. Potentially massively incestuous, of course, but I'm not going to let that stop me. Where to start, though? Langford, of course; as good as he's ever been. Matt Cheney, for writing the essential blog of the year (although Farah Mendlesohn's Inter-Galactic Playground is a close second, and PK's journey Through The Dark Labyrinth is always worth reading). Rick Kleffel should be noted for the amazingly enthusiastic and informative Agony Column. Claire Brialey's pieces in Banana Wings and Matrix have often been memorable--and yes, we still need more sf featuring otters in zeppelins. On livejournal, I never skip Geneva's posts, or Dan's (you appeared in Meta, Dan: you're eligible), or Tony's, or anything that goes up at Coffee & Ink.

But you can see (as if you didn't already know!) that my taste runs in a fairly sercon direction. Who else should I be thinking about?

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Thank you for the name-check. But ... I have real problems with this category. The definition is only about location of writing, but the title, 'fan writer', is really about a type of writing. And I no longer know what a fan writer is. Langford is a very good writer, yes, but most of what he writes is reviewing or fiction. The only 'fan writing' he does on any regular basis these days is Ansible, and I'm not sure i would consider that fan writing in any meaningful sense. Which is not to say that if he appears on the ballot he won't win hands down, because in Hugo voting name recognition tends to count for more than anything else.

And do we want to consider blogging 'fan writing'? Are they really the same thing?

For all your kind words, I don't consider what I do on LiveJournal to be fan writing by any means - and these days I don't do any other kind of fan writing. (Incidentally, my Friends list currently stands at 111, so that gives a rough indication of the number of people likely to be at all familiar with what I'm doing. Now 111 votes would probably get me onto the ballot without any problem, but if I appeared there how relevant would my name be to the, say, 5,000 people who form the voting constituency? This, by the way, is just a new variation on an old problem I've always had with all three of the fan Hugos: as much as anything it is a vote for the size of your print run rather than the quality of the work.)

And none of this answers - or even comes near to answering - the basic question: what is fan writing? What exactly are we being asked to vote for here?
It seems to me that what you do here is related to some of the fan writing you have done in the past; there's a continuity between your criticism here and elsewhere, obviously, but also your comments on politics/events would not be out of place in various fmz of yore (eg those published by the_gardener and headgardener).

I do wonder though if it continues to be useful to define fan writing as writing done by fans, but I can think of no other definition that includes Langford's witty destructions, your reviews and coalescent's, and molesworth's heartbreaking stories.

All in all, though, these days I tend to agree with those that think the fan hugos should wither away.
The only 'fan writing' he does on any regular basis these days is Ansible

There's also his column in SFX (which, I seem to remember reading, may even be due for collection into a book soonish). But I do take your point; after I'd posted, I started to think, well, are critics such as yourself and Farah really fan writers? Is there, or should there be, a difference? And the award definition would seem to allow, for example, Jeff Vandermeer to be nominated, and certainly he's fannish at times (I loved his anecdote about getting a letter from Alasdair Grey), but he's also a published author.

And do we want to consider blogging 'fan writing'? Are they really the same thing?

On this I'm more certain. Yes, fannish blogging is fan writing. Blogging is not a unique form of writing; it is a new (ish) method of distributing existing forms of writing--reviews, or anecdotes, or what have you.

Whether what you do on your LJ is fan writing goes back to the content of what you write, I think, not the fact that it's on an LJ.

This, by the way, is just a new variation on an old problem I've always had with all three of the fan Hugos: as much as anything it is a vote for the size of your print run rather than the quality of the work.

Well yes, but if you're nominating online works there's a big difference to nominating offline works, which is that it's really much easier to go and read whatever's nominated for yourself.

what is fan writing? What exactly are we being asked to vote for here?

In the absence of a definition from On High (wherever that would be), I'm going by a definition that's as broad as 'writing about sf, or about fandom, or by fans about their interests'. I appreciate this isn't particularly restrictive, and that it may or may not match up to the true definition of fanwriting.
Dave gets paid for SFX, so that does not count.
Ah yes. Good point. Though this muddies the waters yet further, since I would say those columns are more 'fannish' than many of the other things I listed. :)
I notice you don't mention Cheryl Morgan herself, who is unambiguously a fan, a writer and a fan writer.
You're very observant, and I like that about you. :)
It would be nice if Cheryl herself acknowledged that from time to time - her LJ info describes Emerald City as a "Hugo-winning online science fiction and fantasy review magazine", with no mention of the word 'fanzine'. 'Fanzine' seems to be a term she'll only apply to EmCit when it suits her, e.g. went complaining about being declared ineligible for the Novas.
And do we want to consider blogging 'fan writing'? Are they really the same thing?

On this I'm more certain. Yes, fannish blogging is fan writing.


The question, though, is what constitutes fannish blogging? You rule out it just being fans writing blogs on the grounds of content, but I can think of examples of bloggers who may count themselves as fans, but whose blogs are, arguably, not fan-writing. Farah Mendlesohn's blog, for example, though it deals with science-fiction, could be intepreted as an academic blog and not fan-writing.

I'm not entirely sure what we're being asked to vote for, so I'm inclined to nominate what I like and if the WSFA think what I nominate doesn't fit whatever criteria they have in mind then they can ignore my nominations.
The question, though, is what constitutes fannish blogging?

The same things that constitute fannish writing in general, obviously!

I'm not entirely sure what we're being asked to vote for, so I'm inclined to nominate what I like and if the WSFA think what I nominate doesn't fit whatever criteria they have in mind then they can ignore my nominations.

I think this is a sensible attitude. And what do you like ...?
Well, the writers I like and read on a regular basis are, in no particular order: You, Tony Keen, Claire Brialey, Mark Plummer, Farah Mendlesohn. I don't read Matt Cheney regularly, but I do read him occasionally and always like what I read.
And do we want to consider blogging 'fan writing'? Are they really the same thing?

I think this is a question that deserves a lot of discussion, both online and off. Certainly, in terms of Hugo voting, it would be easier for a fan in Australia to access a blog than it would for them to easily obtain a copy of a fanzine printed in Swindon (let's say), so there's an issue of accessibility that you wouldn't necessarily get with a 'traditional' written item. I think you could have a blog that was fan writing, but only if the *majority* of traditionalists could agree that it is acceptable for an online zine/blog/lj/body of work to be accepted with the same measure of respect that traditional fan-writing outlets currently hold.
My brain is currently exploding at the possibility of winning a Hugo.

Wait, no, it's at being called a 'fan' writer. ;)
Wait, no, it's at being called a 'fan' writer. ;)

I am defining you in a way that is useful to me. Get used to it!
I am defining you in a way that is useful to me.

Colour me surprised.
I was hoping you'd be actually shocked.
This is where you claim to be rogueish again, yes?
I'm all about the showing and not telling.
Bloody fans.

*shakes fist*
Ah, I knew I'd forgotten somebody ... :p
You're the second person to make this suggestion. I'm pretty sure I am eligible, but don't expect enough people to nominate me. I bet high-heeled fishlifter makes the ballot.

But of course, Langford will win.
You are certainly eligible for best fan writer and best fanzine.
I am extremely flattered. Although eternally puzzled by what counts as fan writing.
Although eternally puzzled by what counts as fan writing.

Join the club. [g]
I honestly hadn't even thought of myself as a fan writer, and was terribly chuffed to find my name here. But that made me think:

There *is* a difference between my blog and the rest of my writing. I use the blog for initial thoughts, general rants and unsubstantiated sidesweeps. Whatever else it is, it isn't criticism and I'd be in deep trouble if I tried to publish it professionally, and the eventual book for which the blog is a research diary will look very different.

So given all that--that the blog is a diary (if of a very specific kind)--and that it's meant for a fannish, not a professional community....

Dammit, I have become a fan writer.
What you write for the inter-galactic playground is somewhere between rant, review and criticism in my book. As with PK's blog it's not what's traditionally thought of as fan writing, sure, but the Hugo definition doesn't define the form and it's what I like, so...

I'm actually not sure whether or not the blog format could really support proper, detailed criticism. My gut reaction is not; the half-life of the attention given to a blog post is fairly short, and the comments format doesn't really support serious, sustained discussion (although I think lj actually has an advantage in this regard, given that it supports threading). That's not to say criticism doesn't have a place on the web, of course.

P.S. Geneva has forwarded your email about Saturday. For reference, coalescent@livejournal.com works as an email address. Where did you find the Magdalen address? If it's online somewhere, I really should take it down!
The Magdalen address is what's in my automatic address book. You must have written to me once from there.