It’s time for the next entry in my Fanzine/Fancast Spotlight project. For more about the Fanzine/Fancast Spotlight project, go here. You can also check out the other great fanzines and fancasts featured by clicking here.
I have decided to expand the scope of the project to also cover fancasts, because the fancast category could also use a boost. And besides, the borders between fanzine and fancast are porous anyway.
So today, I’m pleased to feature the Hugo and Nebula Readership Podcast, in which sisters Alice Baker and Ann Spangler have set themselves the goal of reading and discussing all Hugo and Nebula winning novels.
Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Alice and Ann of the Hugo and Nebula Readership Podcast to my blog.
Tell us about your podcast or channel.
Alice: We’re a book chat podcast where two sisters are reading their way through the Hugo and Nebula award winners in chronological order.
Who are the people behind your podcast or channel?
Alice: It is just myself and my older sister Ann. We both read the books and host the podcast and I do the editing.
Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?
Alice: For me, it was because I was looking for a way to connect with my sister who I do not often get to see in person. We both have a love of the genre (although Ann likes Fantasy more), and since we were going to be discussing it anyway, I thought we should record them. I have some previous experience on the Educating Geeks podcast. Also, I find it difficult to read for hours like I used so I am trying to retrain myself.
Ann: Alice has always been able to talk me into new and interesting projects and this one wasn’t a hard ask because I really do enjoy SF/F. The podcasting bit has been a learning curve for me, fortunately Alice has been able to talk me through most of the technical aspects. Once we got started I found that reading the foundations of SF classics has been incredibly informative. One of the goals I set for myself at the beginning was to be able to improve my ability to discuss the books I’ve read; slowly but surely this skill is improving.
What format do you use for your podcast or channel and why did you choose this format?
Alice: Our standard segments for the podcast are the history lesson (brought to you by sister Ann), the general discussion, and then our 4 questions segment where we always answer: 4 Questions
1. The turn of phrase you found most appealing.
2. The most interesting word you had to look up, if at all
3. Does it make you want to read more by the author?
4. What was your favorite thing about the experience of reading the book?
Ann: There is some history to our format; the history lesson is my bailiwick because as a library geek I cannot resist a research project, the interesting word or phrase is in honor of our mother who used to keep little notebooks of interesting words she found while she was reading, and the favorite thing experience is a part of the natural growth and learning from doing the podcast itself.
The fan categories at the Hugos were there at the very beginning, but also the category which consistently gets the lowest number of votes and nominations. So why do you think fanzines, fancasts and other fan projects are important?
Alice: I think one of the things that has happened in the later half of the 21st century is the realization that we have not done a good job ensuring diversity in the voices heard/seen/read. Fan created material is one of the areas where that can happen more. The issue is always finding your tribe — locating those voices.
Money is always a factor. Publishing fees, web hosting costs, equipment costs, marketing costs. It is very challenging to get diverse voices heard/seen/read. When access to money is along racial, and other divides. Even in 2021 the amateur podcast community still feels very white cis male.
I also think Fan material is important because it is not “groomed” content. When it is fan voices, there usually isn’t the influence of a large marketing organization controlling the narrative. I think that is important. I also think it is just good in general for people to be recognized for putting in the effort and being brave enough to put something out in the world to be judged by others. The amount of talent in the world is amazing.
Ann: I spend a lot of time looking backwards, doing the research into the backgrounds of the authors and books we are reading, and have come to realize that most of them began their careers as fans. Almost all of their life stories start with how they were fans of the genre, they had favorite authors, hung out in libraries reading everything they could get their hands on and sometimes, when we read a re-issued copy of a classic, the book will have an introduction in the front where a modern author retells the story of how this particular book started them on their path to becoming an author. And so the cycle continues. We are all fans.
In the past twenty years, fanzines have increasingly moved online and fancasts have sprung up. What do you think the future of fan media looks like?
Alice: I don’t think fanzines will ever go away entirely. Back before the COVID times, I was in Berlin and happened upon an indie comic fest and picked up a handful of fanzines. But yes, the future is mostly online – early to reach a bunch of people and maybe easier to find your tribe.
I am not a great futurist. I think there will continue to be a banding together of “fringe” things much like the old BBS will keep popping up. I think Discord is the new BBS.
Ann: I am not as up-to-date as Alice, clearly, as I have no idea what Discord is, but I agree with the idea that things seem to be moving to online formats. My teenagers are avid subscribers of comics/anime online, but still regards one of their artists getting published in a traditional format as “moving on up”
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. Are there any awesome fanzines, fancasts, fan writers and fan artists you’d like to recommend?
Alice: I assume blogs are today’s Zines. I enjoy Jim’s SciFi Blog. I often go there to read his reviews. (https://jimsscifi.blogspot.com/)
Alice: In addition to the other two Hugo podcasts I follow, Hugos There Podcast and Hugo, Girl! I really enjoy The Most Excellent 80s Movie Podcast.
Best Fan Writer:
Alice: I don’t have one in this category
Best Fan Artist
Alice: All of the amazing Critter (as they call themselves) created fan art for the Critical Role DnD live play program.
Ann: Wow, Alice is much more in touch with ‘Happening World’ than I am! (We just finished Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner)
Where can people find you?
We are hosted on Libsyn at https://hugonebulareadership.libsyn.com/ but we’re also available on many of the standard podcast applications via RSS feed.
The twitter for the podcast is @nebulahugo
The email for the podcast is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you, Alice and Ann, for stopping by and answering my questions.
Do check out the Hugo and Nebula Readership Podcast, cause it’s a great fancast.
Do you have a Hugo eligible fanzine/-site or fancast and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.