Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Hugo For StarShipSofa

Because of a rewording of the rules, The StarShipSofa podcast could be eligible for nomination for the Best Fanzine Hugo. Wait. Could be? The truth is, we can't know for sure until we get in somebody's face and force the issue by actually scoring nominations from lots and lots of people. You happen to be one of lots and lots of people. Info on how to nominate is right here: http://www.thehugoawards.org/2010/01/nominatons-open-for-2010/



You didn't know it until you got to the end of this sentence, but StarShipSofa is your favorite podcast. You think it's because the Sofa has given you content from many of the greatest writers in speculative fiction: Moorcock, Gaiman, Wolfe, Haldeman, Shepard, Brin, Sellar, Kosmatka, Bacigalupi, Chiang, Jesus, I can't even name them all here. (Author's Note: In that last sentence "Jesus" was an exclamation, not a speculative fiction writer who has been featured on the StarShipSofa. Though he has starred in a couple of the stories.)

You think it's because the podcast has the best stable of narrators in the podosphere, hands down, so many, in fact, the Sofanauts Awards ballot could be fifteen names long in the Best Narrator category and still not have room for all the fantastic ones. You think it's because those folks have read so many award-nominated and award-winning stories. You think maybe I'm going to say it's because you haven't had to pay a flippin' cent to get all of that plus interviews, essays, reviews, poetry, science news, beautiful art and probably a couple of other things too.

You'd be wrong.

Well, okay, maybe you'd be partly right.

But one of the things I love about the Sofa is that it's a podcast of the fans, by the fans and for the fans. It's like all those Little Rascals films where the gang puts on a show for the other kids in the neighborhood and let's face it, for themselves. That's what the sofanauts do every week. Aside from Tony and those generous authors, every single person involved started out as a fan of the show before pitching in to lend a hand. The Sofa's like a kick-ass pirate ship that picks up eager crewmembers in every port. Want to join in? You can. Just offer up your talent and you're in the show. It's an awesome party that we throw ourselves every week.

You're happy just listening but want to meet and chat with the folks who put together the show? Head to the forums. We're like an enormous Mormon family who takes in strays and orphans by the hundreds. We're there to cheer each other's successes and commiserate during the low points. How many babies have we had since the show started? We support each other's projects, enjoy each other's work and many of us have become penpals and co-twits outside of the show as well.

Tony's that awesome big brother who got his license first and drives motorcycles. Diane is my beloved sister. Fred is the eccentric uncle we keep in the attic. Larry's the creepy cousin who keeps to the basement. Where the bodies are.

Amy, Grant, J.J., Skeet, Josh, Alllie, Church and The Assassin. You're all at the picnic. Skelly, Judy, Dee, Kate, Christie, Elke, Steve and all of you who are shaking your fists at me because I didn't mention you by name, you're there too. One of the greatest programs out there comes together from all over the globe every single week because of nothing but love. And whether you're a contributor or listener, you're a part of that. If that's not a fanzine, there's no such thing as a fanzine. If the Sofa never wins an award it will still have achieved something unique in all of science fiction history: It will have been our home.

But let's win an award anyway.

Please tell all your speculative fiction friends, cronies and neighbors. Spread the word! Tweet about it (And hit me up on twitter @upwithgravity so we can link up and spread the love together). Link to this post or these other nifty posts below and let me know if you've written one yourself, so I can add it here. Tell us your own stories about what the show has meant to you. Finally, think of all that the StarShipSofa podcast has given you and vote your gut.

Let's give a Hugo to ourselves.

Amy: http://eldritchhobbit.livejournal.com/284404.html

Larry: http://blufftoninthedriftless.blogspot.com/2010/02/lets-get-podcast-starshipsofa-hugo.html#links

Jason Sanford: http://www.jasonsanford.com/jason/2010/02/starshipsofa-and-a-podcast-hugo.html

Paul: http://www.pulpmovies.com/blog/2010/02/podcast-hugos-and-starshipsofa

Jonathan Strahan: http://www.jonathanstrahan.com.au/wp/2010/02/20/starship-sofa-for-the-hugo/

Aliette de Bodard: http://aliettedebodard.com/2010/02/20/starship-sofa-for-the-hugo/

Jim DeVona: http://anoved.net/2010/02/a-hugo-for-the-starshipsofa/

Mur Lafferty: http://murverse.com/2010/02/24/hugos-and-podcasts/

Cheryl Morgan: http://www.cheryl-morgan.com/?p=8056

The English Assassin: http://theentropytango.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/campaign-for-the-starshipsofa-to-get-a-hugo/ Lots-O'-Links here.


Christie said...

A damn fine post and a convincing argument. Fan community FTW!

Duly retweeted.

Diane Severson said...

Oh, Matt, my brother, you make me teary! What a fantastic post putting all of what makes the Sofa special into such eloquent words. The Sofa wouldn't exist without Tony but he does say week after week that he couldn't do it without US!

AHS said...

Thank you, my friend, for a fantastic post. I'm linking to it now from my blog.

It's our home, indeed. See you there.

Robyn Bradshaw said...

On behalf of those of us mentioned as unmentioned, I dutifully shake my fist in your general direction, and gleefully re-post your wonderful entry all over the place!

Unknown said...

Go Sofa! Thank you so much for writing this. I still have yet to fill out my nomination form. :)

Elke said...

The preceding comments are a powerful reinforcement of your excellent argument. Hi Christie! And Diane, Amy & Robyn have already popped by too!

Thank you for putting it in these terms. The home metaphor works beautifully. It's wonderful to be welcome there. Besides being only right & proper to award StarShipSofa, it could be a big invite to our awesome house party.

Your maritime metaphor works for me too. Now that you've said it, I see it clearly: I'm a happy pirate! And never sailed with finer than Captain Tony C. Smith.

Wait, do I have to wear one of those dresses with all the silly flounce & the lung-smushing bodice? The tall leather boots would be much more fun. I'm not crazy about the big white shirt that usually goes with the boots, though. Hm...did I forget which board I was on again? Nevermind.

Larry Santoro said...

Hey! I'm not all that creepy and I'm scared of bugs! Cellar, indeed, I hang in the belfry where all the good people are.

But seriously. The Sofa is a family and is one of those little communities that helps build the future! Yes! Nominate SSS for a Hugo.

Phil Ackerman said...

Matthew great post. There are some great SF podcasts out there (Escape Pod, Dunesteef, X-minus One, Hairy Mango etc), but StarShipSofa is the best for all the reasons you state so well.

All cheer for the SSS and may it win.

Julie D. said...

Well said. Thank goodness you straightened me out on just why SSS is so wonderful. I had been thinking of some of those other reasons you mentioned ... but completely forgot the fan community that has helped with the Sofa That Tony Built.

Robyn Bradshaw said...

I just wanted to chime in about my own experience with terrific podcast StarShipSofa: The Audio Science Fiction Magazine, and how it has turned me from an isolated fangirl into community contributor. I guess I’m an example of a voice that would never have been heard in connection with the science fiction genre – that is, if I hadn’t hopped aboard the StarShipSofa back in 2006 and found the gumption to send Tony that first email. And I’ve become a more engaged consumer of the genre ever since! Before getting involved with StarShipSofa, I never read genre magazines or went to cons or anything – I just bought lots and lots of novels that I read quietly in my basement “and washed my hands afterwards” (to misquote Robert Heinlein).

Now I am writing promo blurbs, narrating short stories, doing audio reports, emailing/ blogging/ friending/ tweeting all over the place, and working on the show’s next book project. You could say I’m in it up to my eyeballs and nine ways from Sunday! And I am by no means the only one – the crew of the good ship Sofa is verging on the huge at this point, with contributions large and small, and all out of our sincere enthusiasm and appreciation for this great show. This is exactly what Larry Santoro, Matthew Sanborn Smith, Amy H. Sturgis and so many others are talking about – the emergence of a whole new kind of Futurians network: passionate fans coming together just for the joy of it, using the latest technologies at hand, and actively building the genre and its culture! If that’s not Hugo worthy, I don’t know what is . . .

Anonymous said...

Aggressive campaigns to win fan hugos have backfired in the past, but of course you wouldn't know that.

Anonymous said...

It's never occurred to you that an award you *asked* for is hardly worth getting, is it? You self-promoters make me sick. You devalue awards and turn them into Gimmes.

Anonymous said...

It' too late for your dumb idea, now that lots of people in SF fandom have posted links to this, and the Hugo committee is surely aware of it.

This has been tried in the past, and always fails.

-- Andrew Porter (not hiding behind a dumb alias or posting anonymously)

Anonymous said...

Ain't no harm in a "Just sayin'..." post to let people know you're eligible, but log-rolling like this? Oh Noes. Where's the bit that says "If SSS is your favourite fanzine, you can now vote for us." No, I can't see it either. All I see is "let's win an award anyway."

As much as I have liked SSS, because of this post I will now actually NOT be voting for it. The integrity of my vote is as valuable to me as a devalued Hugo obviously is to you. It's precisely this kind of contacts-based voting that's the reason fans have wrecked their own most prestigious award, and a 'Fan' Hugo at that.

Anonymous said...

If you're serious about this then all you'd actually accomplish would be the further degradation of the Hugo Awards into a meaningless circle-jerk. Hey, I've got no problem with your podcast; Starship Sofa *is* a good bit of fanac, but shilling for the Hugo like this is pathetic. It degrades you. I think it's time that we abolished the Hugos altogether rather than allow this kind of childishness.

Curt Phillips

Anonymous said...

It must be a big thrill to contemplate standing up at the Hugo award ceremonies and accepting a rocket you "won" by stuffing the ballot box. But as Curt Phillips said, campaigns such as yours are just another reason that the Hugos should be abolished. Your tiny ego might be happy, but everyone who know anything would consider it a stolen "victory."

--Robert Lichtman

"Orange Mike" Lowrey said...

podcasting is the new gathering place for the fans? Oh, really? Sez who?

Do you remember that brief era when much of the best SF text came out of Usenet newsgroups like rec.arts.sf.fandom and rec.arts.sf.written?

Some of us are actual readers, mostly or completely text-oriented, and find podcasts incomprehensible or merely annoyingly inaccessible. I would would rather see an online "fanzine" win than a podcast, at least until podcasters provide transcripts as a matter of course.

Podcasting is an audio-visual medium, and belongs with radio/TV/film content. There is nothing with the concept of a new Hugo category for "Best SF-Related Non-Fiction Audiovisual Material"; just don't call it a "fanzine" if it can't be read.

brianwoods said...

Is a fan award voted on by fans of the show...degraded when all the so called'ballet stuffers' are fans?

Seems to me that is the point.

So... If I like another podcast other than SSS I'm must vote for one I like less to keep my integrity?

Its like telling Trekkers they have to vote for Battlestar because they wouldn't want to win a HUGO because they have a better communuity and more fans? That wouldn't be fair!

Again..isn't that the point?

Unknown said...

Andy Porter said:
>This has been tried in the past, >and always fails.

Unfortunately, it doesn't always fail--for instance, last year.

You might not be expected to know any better in the current web climate where everyone who has anything eligible for any Hugo award tends to promote his/her work and urge his/her readers to vote for it -- but fandom went a good thirty or forty years with the Hugos absent this promotional "tradition." There probably aren't enough of us, now, to just abolish them all, but that's the reaction that reading promotional blurbs like yours inspires in me.

Matthew Sanborn Smith said...

Hi, everyone. I saw all these comment notifications on my e-mail and expected it to be a bunch of spam. I was very happy to see that it wasn't. Thanks to all of you who commented.

If you like the StarShipSofa podcast more than anything else that is eligible for Best Fanzine, you should nominate it.

If you don't, you shouldn't.

Unknown said...

Preferably, you should also read some fanzines, so that you have a basis for comparison. If you haven't seen very many, a wide variety of them are available in HTML and PDF formats at http://efanzines.com.

Grant said...

I agree with Orange Mike: all podcasts must provide transcripts!

Also, I refuse to watch any more television. Instead, I'll wait for the transcripts of all the shows to be delivered to me so I can read them. What was Logie Baird thinking?

(Currently reading: America's Funniest Home Videos - the novel)

Matthew Sanborn Smith said...

A lotta nutshots in that book.

Grant said...

Well, OK, maybe I was a little facetious. But to answer Orange Mike, the reason podcasts can be eligible is that the World Science Fiction Society Business Meeting ratified a constitutional amendment that added the words “or the equivalent in other media” to various Hugo Award category definitions. So no, podcasts can't be read. But the sofa is equivalent to a fanzine.

I would imagine that with this change, Escape Pod is eligible for consideration as a semiprozine as well, assuming Steve declares that it is one.

Church said...

"Preferably, you should also read some fanzines..."

Or listen. That's rather the point here.

And serial anonymous guy, you do realize that SSS isn't Matt's project, right?

Larry Santoro said...

To Orange Mike in all 's many e-carnations, here an elsewhere, and to those who agree with him: literature is not about writing, not about holding something in your hand. It is tale-telling. Traditionally by mouth and only later by print. And now, going back to the origins, by mouth.

So, as pointed out, the podcasts -- in particular those which, weekly, bring forth a passel of new (as well as previously printed) material, in particular, those which offer reviews, articles, comments, interviews, et al, such as is provided by SSS, I say that, A) the form deserves consideration for this award and, B) that SSS, in particular, deserves a nomination.

Matthew Sanborn Smith said...

I just added some new links to The English Assassin, Cheryl Morgan and Mur Lafferty at the end of the post. The discussions on Cheryl's and Amy's posts raise some interesting points.

In rereading some of the more negative comments here, it seems to me that OrangeMike is the only one here who is opposed to the Sofa being eligible. The rest just think I'm a wanker.

I think this is all very cool.

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