July 19, 2019

Hugo Reading 2019: Best Fanzine

The definition of "fanzine" is fairly loosey-goosey in these days of self-publishing and websites, but the general consensus seems to be that it's something the participants don't expect to make money from. Something that's done, either with pixels or on paper, for the love of it.

My ballot:

6) Galactic Journey

This fanzine is an exercise in nostagia, as it covers SFF books/movies/stories/music/politics/the world 55 years ago. This results in quite a few "OMG" moments: pictures of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones from 1963; an amazingly young Sean Connery in Dr. No; reviewing the brand-new British TV series Doctor Who; snapshots of Dr. Martin Luther King; and so on and so forth. Despite this, I have never particularly warmed to this magazine. I guess I'd rather look forward than back.

5) Journey Planet

This zine seems to go in for themed issues: the ones included in the packet explored Star Wars, Silicon Valley, and Flann O'Brien, among others. There were moments of interest, but there was too much meh here for me to place it any higher.

4) Rocket Stack Rank

This zine is statistics and rankings oriented, a number-cruncher's dream. The extensive database on display here is nearly more impressive than the content; I can't imagine the amount of work needed to keep this up and keep it as organized as it obviously is. Unfortunately, as I paged through the packet, it began to overwhelm me. I realized I much preferred more detailed reviews of a few stories than a one-sentence summation and numbered rankings of every single thing.

3) Quick Sip Reviews

Reviewing short fiction is really hard to do well. The sheer compression of space means that a short story has to hit its marks right out of the gate (to mangle a few metaphors) with not much room or time for subtlety. Charles Payseur does an admirable job in the few paragraphs allotted to each of these reviews, zeroing in on the characterizations and themes, and summing up the strengths and weakness of each story he tackles. This impressed me.

2) Lady Business

Lady Business won the rocket in 2017, and sat out last year. Now it's back on the ballot, and while it's still one of my favorite sites, it just didn't seem to be as strong this year.

1) Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together

Sometimes you only see the overall excellence when disparate articles are grouped together. That was definitely the case with this fanzine. Their packet was grouped by subject--Fiction Reviews, Feminist Futures, Spotlight on Horror, Conversations, Visual Media Reviews, and Features--tackling subjects as widespread and quirky as Marvel comics, Frankenstein, video games, feminist separatism, and synthesizers. I thoroughly enjoyed their packet offerings, and put them on top.

Next up: Best Professional Artist

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