Hugo season is upon us. Nominations are not yet open, but DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, has just announced its Hugo Award related policies to some controversy, particularly with regard to limiting the number of names listed per finalists to four, which disproportionately impacts the fanzine, semiprozine and fancast categories, who often have large teams.
Some of you may remember that last year I started the Retro Reviews project to raise the profile of potential candidates for the 1945 Retro Hugos. The project did move the needle a bit, though not as much as I’d hoped.
The 1946 Retro Hugos were already awarded in 1996, so there will be no Retro Hugos this year. I will still continue to do Retro Reviews, because I enjoy (re)discovering great forgotten stories, but not with the same intense frequency and focus as last year.
However, the Retro Hugos are not the only Hugo-related thing that could use a boost. There are also regular Hugo categories that get little attention and few votes and nominations. Particularly the Best Fanzine category could use more love, since it consistently gets the fewest nominations and votes and is actively endangered by the 5% rule.
So I decided to do my part to raise the profile of the Best Fanzine and give more attention to the many worthy sites and zines out there. And so I decided to start a new project called “Fanzine Spotlight”, for which I will interview Hugo eligible fanzines and fansites and the people behind them.
The first Fanzine Spotlight will go live tomorrow and I have another scheduled for Friday. I will also continue to interview eligible fanzines throughout the Hugo nomination period. Do you have a Hugo eligible fanzine or site and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.
So check out all the great zines, sites and newsletters that will be featured and consider nominating your favourites for the 2021 Hugo Awards.
ETA January 18, 2021: None of the below has been a problem yet and I don’t expect that it will, but nonetheless, here is a clarification of policies:
I want to feature as many different zines and sites as possible and everybody is welcome to participate. However, I reserve the right to refuse to feature something, e.g. if a site or zine (and/or the people behind it) is known for shitposting, harrassment and generally terrible behaviour.
I will post responses as I get them, including potentially controversial answers, unless there are egregiously problematic, e.g. racist, sexist, homophobic, etc… comments, in which case I will contact the interviewee to discuss edits.
Finally, a feature is not an endorsement. Instead, the Fanzine Spotlight project is intended as a resource to show Hugo nominators what’s out there and hopefully increase nominations in fanzine and the other fan categories.
ETA2 February 3, 2021: I have decided to expand the scope of the project to also encompass fancasts, because the fancast category could also use a boost. And besides, the borders between fanzine and fancast are porous anyway.