Fanzine Spotlight: nerds of a feather, flock together

It’s time for the next entry in my Fanzine Spotlight project. For more about the Fanzine Spotlight project, go here. You can also check out the other great fanzines featured by clicking here.

Today’s featured fanzine is the four-time Hugo finalist for Best Fanzine nerds of a feather, flock together.

And now I’d like to welcome The G., Vance K., Joe Sherry and Adri Joy of nerds of a feather, flock together.

Tell us about your site or zine.

Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together is a review and commentary site that covers a broad array of fandom areas and topics. Although we focus mainly on SFF books, we also cover short fiction, comics, video games, TV, and contemporary SFF, horror, and cult movies.

In addition to reviews and interviews, we have recurring series, such as “6 Books with…,” in which authors share six books that are and have been meaningful to them, “New Books Spotlight,” where we highlight upcoming releases we’re excited about, and “Thursday Morning Superhero,” which looks at new and upcoming comics and comic-adjacent topics/adaptations, etc. We’ve also had the opportunity to provide our contributors a platform to publish thoughtful deep-dives into specific topic areas or works, such as ecospeculation, the superhero zeitgeist, horror, and the evergreen, ever-expanding Star Wars universe.

For the past several years, we’ve also tackled a larger, themed topic area. In 2020, we launched Nerds on Tour — a look at fiction, movies, and other content from outside the traditional United States-Canada-Western Europe focus area. Past projects include Feminist Futures, The Hugo Initiative, Dystopian Visions, and Cyberpunk Revisited.

We launched in 2012, and have had a not-inconsiderable cast of contributors in that time. Different writers cover different topic areas and interests, so types of coverage may wax or wane, but what brings us all together is a love and passion for all things nerdy, and respect for each other’s viewpoints and contributions.

Who are the people behind your site or zine?

The site’s founder The G started the site in 2012 with co-editor Vance K, and we’ve added co-editors Joe Sherry and Adri Joy in the last few years. In addition to the editors, who also contribute content, our current team of writers includes Aidan Moher, Andrea Johnson, Chloe N. Clark, Dean E. S. Richard, Mikey, Paul Weimer, Phoebe, Sean Dowie, Shana DuBois, and Spacefaring Kitten.

Why did you decide to start your site or zine?

At the time, I was reading a lot of SF/F and – being an opinionated person – felt the need to blast those opinions out into the ether. But I also didn’t think running a blog on my own sounded like as much fun as running one with other people. So I asked Vance if he wanted to start one with me (it didn’t take him long to say yes). After that we gradually added more people – some we knew personally, and others we met online. — The G, founder

G and I were next door neighbors in Los Angeles for about three years — both transplants from places with robust and storied BBQ traditions. There was a lot of grilling in our shared courtyard as a result, and over the course of many beers and cooked meats, we talked a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. After we’d both moved to new spots, he got the idea for a blog, and I think the night he reached out about it, I had just watched a deeply odd French psychological horror movie, and I was like, “I know just what to write about.” — Vance K

What format do you use for your site or zine (blog, e-mail newsletter, PDF zine, paper zine) and why did you choose this format?

It’s a blog. In the long-long ago of 2012, blogs were all the rage. And it seems like it’s still an effective medium for collaboration, shared access across our entire team, and as a way to get daily content out. We have added a newsletter, which Adri (sporadically) manages.

The fanzine category at the Hugos is one of the oldest, but also the category which consistently gets the lowest number of votes and nominations. So why do you think fanzines and sites are important?

These types of platforms — going way, way back to mimeographed zines and including things that became iconic publications like Famous Monsters of Filmland or Locus — have always been about fans being able to share things that they love, and that speak to them, and to find others like them. Beyond our team of writers and contributors, each of us involved in Nerds of a Feather have expanded our relationships online and met new people — other fans, other creators — that we never would have found without it.

Even though the form of fanzines have changed over the decades, the core purpose has remained consistent: this is a space for fans to talk to each other about science fiction and fantasy, a space where fans can shape the conversation of the genre.

Plus, it’s really nice to have a platform where smart, passionate people can share thoughtful, in-depth looks at media that you love and respond to, and shine a new light on it.

In the past twenty years, fanzines have increasingly moved online. What do you think the future of fanzines looks like?

Nerds of a Feather has always been a website and over the past few years we’ve been proud to share our community with other sites full of thoughtful, engaging analysis like Lady Business, The Book Smugglers, SF Bluestocking, Galactic Journey and Quick Sip Reviews, as well as awesome print fanzines like Journey Planet and Banana Wings. For many people – including some of our editors – the online community is the main way we engage with fandom and fan topics, and although social media has changed the blogging landscape significantly since the heyday of Livejournal and the like, it feels like there will always be a space for curated long form fan writing, and online fanzines are the natural fit to fill that gap.

That said, there’s no reason that the ease of creating and sharing digital content should mean an end to print fanzines. In fact, it’s interesting to see the ways in which online fan cultures are returning to physical products in other areas, like the popularity of zines which collect fanart and fanfiction for specific ships or topics, which are crowdfunded and volunteer-created and then shipped to fans all over the world. While that’s a different type of fanwork to the Hugo fanzine category, it’s clear that online and physical media are going to keep shaping each other when it comes to fan engagement, and fanzines are a big part of that.

The four fan categories of the Hugos (best fanzine, fan writer, fan artist and fancast) tend to get less attention than the fiction and dramatic presentation categories. Do you have any recommendations for any of the fan categories?

Adri: As well as the zines mentioned above, I always like to shout out The Quiet Pond, run by CW (https://thequietpond.com/), which is fanzine eligible. It’s a SFF and YA blog which runs lots of interesting news and reviews, and what makes it unique are the graphics and story snippets which are all about the animal residents of the Pond, including an axolotl called Xiaolong, Cuddle the otter, Sprout the sparrow and lots of others.

Fan writers I’ve been particularly impressed by this year – at least, the ones who don’t write for Nerds of a Feather – include Stitch of Stitch’s Media Mix (https://stitchmediamix.com/), who has done fantastic work on the intersection of fandom and race, and Jeannette Ng’s pieces on Medium (https://medium.com/@nettlefish), especially the ones diving into the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe, and her takes on the complexities of cultural appropriation and authenticity and how they affect writers of colour.

Also, I’m a huge fan of Booktube, which saw its first nominee in Fancast with Claire Rousseau last year, and I think there’s loads being developed in that community which deserves wider recognition. A few of my other favourite channels are Noria Reads/Chronicles of Noria (https://www.youtube.com/user/sitenoebulu), Kalanadi (https://www.youtube.com/user/kalanadi), My Name is Marines (https://www.youtube.com/c/mynameismarines) and Onyx Pages (https://www.youtube.com/c/ONYXPages) – but there’s tons out there to discover. On the podcast front, I think The Fantasy Inn (https://thefantasyinn.com/category/podcast/) had some great content last year (as well as being a cool fanzine too!) and I’m always a fan of Skiffy and Fanty (https://skiffyandfanty.com/).

Joe: Adri mentioned a number of really great ones, but anyone interested in the history of science fiction and fantasy, and in the Hugo Awards in particular, should really check out both Hugo, Girl and Hugos There – two podcasts reading through each of the Hugo Award winners for Best Novel.

Where can people find you?

Nerds of a Feather can be found at www.nerds-feather.com. Each of us are also on twitter. Links to the twitter accounts for each of our writers can be found on the sidebar at Nerds of a Feather, but if you want quick links to the editorial twitter handles we can be found right here:

@nerds_feather

@joesherry

@AdriJjy

@SciFi_Romance

Thank you, Adri, Joe, Vance and the G., for stopping by and answering my questions.

Do check out nerds of a feather, flock together, cause it’s a great site. Also check out their 2021 eligibility post.

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Do you have a Hugo eligible fanzine or site and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.

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1 Response to Fanzine Spotlight: nerds of a feather, flock together

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