I’m gratified of course to be nominated for the Best Website Hugo Award, again. At the same time I’m a bit surprised about the other nominees this time. I’d have thought that SciFi.com, SF Site, and Strange Horizons were my strongest competition, whereas eFanzines is a site I’ve linked from my Links Portal page but, frankly, have not paid much attention to. I recall that 3 years ago I editorialized about the best website nominee prospects and wondered how the components of SciFi.com would be parsed. From what I heard later that year, the Hugo administrators took the nominations at face value and ended up with SciFi.com as a nominee, not its component Sci Fiction, which is the nominee this year.
As for Emerald City, Cheryl Morgan’s 3 nominations this year are a testament to her powerful presence and influence over the past two or three years. Despite her own admonition in her blog, her monthly ‘zine got nominations both as a fanzine and as a website — probably, as I noted in my commentary to the Locus Online Hugo nominations list, the first time the same content has gotten two Hugo nominations by virtue of its appearing in two different formats. James Patrick Kelly’s modest proposal for five Hugo website categories struck many people as extravagent, but something in that direction might be needed to solve counter-intuitive results such as this year’s.
Caught up on new books listings tonight, though I’ve already seen a couple more ‘major’ titles for the last week of March listing, and expect to see a couple more via Amazon orders before the end of the month.
I subscribed to the new Amazon Prime service a few weeks back, which for a flat $79 payment offers 2-day shipping service for a year, though the catch, as it turns out, is that delivery is restricted from weekends. That is: the two-day service works if you order on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, but only those days… three out of seven… otherwise deliveries are delayed until past the weekend following your order. (If you order on the weekend, the order for some reason isn’t processed until Monday, so the earliest delivery day is Wednesday.) Still, for the number of books I order from Amazon, the annual cost savings is more than worth the initial fee. (You don’t think I get review copies of all these books, do you??)
I understand that the final Hugo nomination list will be released on Saturday….
I’ve just now added links to the Locus Online homepage to RSS feeds provided by one Alexander Turcic, at www.mobileread.com, for the homepage headlines and for the Blinks column. Try them out and see if they work for you.
Had a good time in Fort Lauderdale at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA), despite an ailment that kept me confined to my room half the time, ruined my appetite, and persists even after my return home. Which is why I’m behind posting reports about the talks and papers delivered there, posting new books pages on the website, and responding to emails. I am, in any event, back home (which is saying something).
I’d also like to mention, re Cheryl Morgan, that I have no intention of leaking anything. Not that there’s anything to leak. Necessarily. (Yet… if someone has received a notification and accepted the nomination, thus guaranteeing their placement on the Hugo ballot, what is the harm in mentioning that…? I can see where alluding to someone else’s nomination, someone who might conceivably refuse the nomination, might cause awkward consequences. But otherwise?)
I left for the airport this morning, in LA, just about an hour before the emails reporting Andre Norton’s death started coming in. I’d made late arrangements for this trip on an airline I’d never previously even heard of — AirTran — and had expected a 3 hour layover in Dallas/Fort Worth. As it turned out, due to stormy weather in Florida that delayed departures of flights heading here, I sat in DFW for nearly 6 hours, and spent the time (in between meals) reading David Mitchell’s fascinating, amazing Cloud Atlas (I’m only just past the half-way point), when I suppose I should have ponied up the few bucks to log into the local airport wireless network to check on my email, and the breaking news; I could have posted the news about Andre Norton from there. Anyway, it’s posted now, and it’s gratifying that so many readers, expecting Locus Online to be the focal point for breaking SF news, sent me e-mail alerts about what they’d not yet seen posted. Thanks, and I’ll try not to be out of touch so long (over 12 hours!) again.
ICFA: Barring travel complications or catastrophes, it seems I will make it to the ICFA in Ft. Lauderdale this year after all, various domestic disturbances and obstacles successfully surmounted or avoided, to permit a scheduled departure first thing tomorrow (Thursday) morning.
Hugos: OK, I admit it: the Hugo ballot deadline being last Friday, with the administrators’ promise to announce the final list by Easter, and with the ‘best website’ category temporarily revived, I’m checking my inbox each day wondering if a ‘do you accept the nomination?’ email will appear. (They don’t announce the final list until all the nominees have accepted; any who decline are replaced by the next-highest ranking nominee.) A lot has changed in 3 years, and the online world has expanded greatly, so I take nothing for granted. But one can hope. I understand why, even for big-name writers, nominations are significant validations; because otherwise, for most of us, there’s so little feedback, other than complaints, that it’s easy to lose perspective about whether one’s efforts are valued, or even noticed.
Locus Curse: Last week James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net column audaciously proposed no less than five website Hugo categories; this week Cheryl Morgan linked this nasty response from 8-time Hugo Award winner (for fanzine and fan writer) Mike Glyer, which ends with the comment
There are also plenty of people who simply feel “We don’t need another Hugo to give to Locus every year….”
I’ve never seen this sentiment so explicitly stated, though I’ve always suspected it. (I don’t follow fannish press, I’m afraid.) I will simply mention that a Hugo to Locus Online is *not* another Hugo to Locus; the website is 99.5% my effort, working in a city 400 miles away from the Locus offices, with only the most incidental support from the overworked staff of Locus Magazine, with any advantage to my website obviously outweighted by the bias against the Locus brand for its continued success over many decades. And I should probably stop there.
I just now posted a new version of the homepage that’s been redesigned with more extensive use of style sheets and a simplified html layout. I started the redesign late last year when I was attempting a blogger/RSS supported version of the page, a task I’ll get back to eventually. For now, today’s redesign streamlines the html and makes it easier to edit and maintain. (There’s no embedded table for the middle section anymore, just header and para tags suitably defined. And, to paraphrase Mommie Dearest, no more font tags!.) It should look virtually identical to the previous version — captured for the moment here — the only intentional difference being some tweaks to the coloring and linking of headlines in the center section. If anything else looks different, or wrong, let me know of course.
I’m sure the page will not look right in older browsers — such as Netscape 4.7, which I still have installed — but the same is true of lots of sites these day. And even current browsers have some css problems The one bug I spent some time solving, or avoiding, is something that turns out to be known as the IE version 6 ‘peek-a-boo’ bug, where text aligned next to an image tends to disappear when scrolling the page, or tabbing to another application and back again. This was happening in the center section at every entry where a thumbnail cover is shown. There are complicated workarounds that css hacks have discovered; I think I solved it by just using different tags than the ones that cause the problem.
The next step is to extend the style consistency to all the current pages, which I’ve been doing piecemeal for a while, but not systematically. There are still pages with links indicated by underlines…
March already! How time flies when you’re having, er, fun.
260 Locus Poll ballots received thus far, with several categories indicating clear leaders and others still too close to call. I’ve seen only ballots submitted online, however, not any of the paper ballots mailed into Locus HQ, where the over-worked staff has only just begun to transcribe them into the website form. The results might well be perturbed by the differential in constituencies…
Speaking of awards, I’ve once again been invited to submit nominations for this year’s Sturgeon Awards, even though, as in the previous two years, I’ve not been reading short fiction (let alone reviewing it) regularly. In fact, I must confess, as of this moment I’ve yet to read a single work of short fiction (unless you count novella-length books like Shepard’s Viator — and even that is on a long side for a novella, I suspect) from 2004. I will now be buckling myself into a chair for the next 10 days to read as much as I can, so as to nominate intelligently for both the Sturgeon Award and for the Hugos. I have the Locus recommended reading lists to guide me, of course, as well as personal best lists from Jonathan Strahan and Rich Horton, available various places online, not to mention Jonathan’s and Karen Haber’s two best-of-the-year anthologies, which I’ve now purchased both in hardcopy and in electronic format, the better to read in whatever circumstance I might find myself. My plan is to focus on short stories, and maybe novelettes, so that I can read as many stories as possible in the time available, leaving longer novelettes and novellas for later… the Locus Poll deadline isn’t until May 1st.
All of that said, if anyone reading this has any strong opinions about stories (especially short stories or novelettes!) that I absolutely must read before making any nomination decisions, by all means let me know.