July 9, 2017

Hugo Voting: Best Fan/Semiprozine

The nominees for best fanzine:

Castalia House Blog, edited by Jeffro Johnson
Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Helena Nash, Errick Nunnally, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, and Erin Underwood
Lady Business, edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan
nerds of a feather, flock together, edited by The G, Vance Kotrla, and Joe Sherry
Rocket Stack Rank, edited by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong
SF Bluestocking, edited by Bridget McKinney

My ballot:

6) Journey Planet

The issues on offer in this year's Hugo packet didn't appeal to me at all, unfortunately. They were just all over the place, and dragged down by some seriously bad covers.

5) Castalia House Blog

Eh. This actually wasn't too bad, despite its association with a seriously nasty person and his publishing company. Enough so that I'm not putting it under No Award. But it doesn't have the quality of those ranked above it.

4) Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together

This fanzine runs along similar lines as other zines in this category: book, movie, game reviews. Joe Sherry seemed to write most of the better articles. However, there is a multitude of authors on this site, and they don't seem to have the unified vision and consistent tone that other sites offer.

3) Rocket Stack Rank

This fanzine is definitely for the mathematical and algorithm-inclined. It concentrates on short fiction, rating every single story in several magazines and anthologies published throughout the calendar year. The reviewers have well-thought-out standards and explain exactly what they're looking for. From what I've seen, the overwhelming majority of their ratings are three-star, or just "average," so when they mark a story as four or five-star, it makes the reader sit up and take notice.

2) SF Bluestocking

I have this fanzine in my RSS feed folder, and Bridget McKinney's Hugo packet well illustrates why: she's a thoughtful, incisive reviewer, with plenty to say about books as well as SFF TV shows. Her review of the best episode of The X-Files Season 10, "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster," is dead-on as regards both the characters and the show. She also does a great job of deconstructing some not-so-good Game of Thrones episodes. (I do love a snarky takedown, but an intelligent snarky takedown is a fairly rare thing, and that's what McKinney does here.)

1) Lady Business

I nominated this fanzine this year and last, and I really hope they get the rocket this time around. This is a fanzine of multiple authors, which can be a detriment if there isn't a strong unifying editorial theme. However, Lady Business, as its name indicates, has this strong editorial theme--looking at fandom through an incisive feminist lens. By doing so, what could have been, for instance, a fluffy article about the costumes in Star Wars turns into an interesting commentary on the female roles of the franchise.

The nominees for Best Semiprozine:

Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by P. Alexander
GigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith
Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Catherine Krahe, Vajra Chandrasekera, Vanessa Rose Phin, Li Chua, Aishwarya Subramanian, Tim Moore, Anaea Lay, and the Strange Horizons staff
Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James

My ballot:

6) Cirsova

Cirsova harkens back to old-time pulp, or "heroic fantasy," magazines. It seems to be a good example of its genre, if you like that kind of thing. I don't, particularly.

5) Beneath Ceaseless Skies

This magazine (or at least the issue in the packet) only offers stories, not poems, reviews or articles. I find I prefer a magazine with the latter, as it seems more well-rounded. (That said, there are some good stories in this issue, the Kameron Hurley in particular.)

4) GigaNotoSaurus

This magazine is that rarest of beasts: a home for longer SFF stories. Rashida J. Smith picks some excellent stories, including "Brushwork," by Aliya Whiteley, one of my Best Novelette nominees this year.

3) Strange Horizons

Their offering in the Hugo packet is the delightful July 2016 issue, "Our Queer Planet," featuring the work of queer authors, poets and essayists. Standouts include the story "Her Sacred Spirit Soars," by S. Quioyi Lu, the column "Did You Mean A Romantic?" by Penny Stirling; and the poem "Sawa," by Karolina Fedyk.

2) Uncanny Magazine

Uncanny was the well-deserved Best Semiprozine winner last year. This year's quality is similar, but I think it's going to miss my #1 spot by a hair.

1) The Book Smugglers

Stories, reviews, snarky X-Men and Mary Sue articles: I really liked this magazine. It surprised me a little, as I would've thought nothing could beat out Uncanny; but this magazine managed to do it.

Next up: Best Novella

(I just checked to see the Hugo voting deadline is midnight Pacific [US] time Saturday July 15. I think I'm going to need every minute of it. Wish me luck.)

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