Starship Sofa for the Hugo

One of my happiest discoveries last year was Tony C. Smith’s StarShip Sofa podcast. Each week the indefatigable Tony would sit down with some of science fiction’s luminaries and chat about what they were up to, the day-to-day issues confronting the science fiction field, and so on.

The podcast was bright and smart and funny.  I was delighted when Tony invited me to appear on it, and very disappointed when he decided to stop producing it before I could.  Now, I hear he also has a very fine audio podcast where he publishes audio versions of terrific stories, but the Sofa podcast was my favorite and I do miss it.

Now I hear that podcasts are eligible for the Hugo Award, which makes perfect sense to me, and it seems like StarShip Sofa is eligible for Best Fanzine. Produced by one man with a microphone, a Skype account, an awesome accent, and a love of SF, it should be eligible and I, for one, will be nominating Tony and the Sofa this year.

I’ll add, I don’t usually campaign for awards, but this is a little different.  A podcast up for a fanzine Hugo is a new thing, and I think we need to embrace such things, making sure the award remains relevant to what is happening in the field today.

13 thoughts on “Starship Sofa for the Hugo”

  1. Well said, sir! As one of the many fans who has become an active contributor to StarShipSofa: The Audio Science Fiction Magazine, I want to thank you for supporting the show. This podcast has brought so many people together and involved us more deeply in the genre – and with each other as a community. I know my bookshelves are richer thanks to this show – so many great authors! As far as fanzines go, StarShipSofa is a significant one that makes terrific use of new technologies. The Hugos would do well to have the show on the ballot.

  2. The podacast you were invited onto must have been The Sofanaughts, which was a really interesting forum for science fiction related discussion, although that’s not currently running the original StarShipSofa Aural Delights magazine is very alive and well. Both shows appear to be eligible for a Hugo, hopefully both can be nominated, I think either would fall into the Fanzine category. I think Tony through StarShipSofa has done more for SF fandom than any other amateur publication in recent history. It certainly brought me back to the world of sci-fi literature. For me sci-fi was a literary genre that I had enjoyed in my youth but had completely lost sight of until I was introduced to the high quality new breed of author who’s stories regularly feature on the show. So anyone out there who has nomination rights for the Hugos, please consider nominating this show for the best fanzine Hugo.

  3. I agree with you whole-heartedly! Tony does an astounding job week in and week out to produce something that is as close to a magazine as audio can get: editorials, fiction and poetry, interviews, science articles, genre history, reviews of books, films, graphic novels and online fiction as well as a mention of news-worthy items and new book releases. But the reason why StarShipSofa should be nominated for and win a Hugo for best Fanzine is because Tony isn’t alone. There are many people who contribute each week and everyon. Does it voluntarily. No one gets paid – not even the authors! So, it is truly a Magazine for and by the fans of the genre.

  4. A podcast up for a Hugo is a grand idea. But wouldn’t it be better competing in the magazine category. Fanzine is a very specific category with its own history. Changing the definition of a fanzine is going to frankly piss off some people who are very protective of what they do.

  5. It is not long since I finished reading The Starry Rift and The New Space Opera and I loved them. StarShipSofa is putting out similar SF in it’s weekly podcast and also including interviews, essays, reviews, poetry, science news, beautiful art. Tony and the team are doing a great job putting this together, it would great if they were rewarded with a Hugo nomination.

  6. There is no magazine category. I think fanzine is the ideal category for it. And, yes, there are people with a very specific idea of what it is, but I think it’s not always a bad thing to be willing to reconsider definitions.

  7. I should probably add, I’m not redefining what a fanzine is. That’s been done by the WSFS. Nominating something like StarShipSofa is only following those nominating rules.

  8. Thank you for your support of StarShipSofa! I do hope it is nominated.

    It’s an exciting time for the Hugos. Tchnically speaking, electronic publications have always been eligible for the Hugos. The year 2009, however, brought two new and exciting developments for those of us who support new media: first, the audiobook METAtropolis (by Joseph E. Lake, Jr., Tobias S. Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, and Karl Schroeder, and edited by John Scalzi) was nominated for a Hugo in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form category, a first for a straight-to-audio production; and second, 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, thereby formally acknowledging what had always been the case de facto, that electronic publications were eligible.

    I hope that this year, StarShipSofa can open doors for podcasts the way that METAtropolis did for audiobooks. My fingers are crossed!

  9. I’d love to see StarShipSofa get its due, in the form of a Hugo (in any category). I write as a long-time fan (I can sorta claim the title of “Fan Zero”) and sometime contributor. SSS has increased my participation in the SF world a thousand-fold, educating me in the classics and introducing me to the latest hot authors. Tony’s efforts have been huge, and deserve recognition.

  10. 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.

  11. I’m adding Starship Sofa to my fanzine nominations (the Sofanauts too, which I loved more, and greatly miss). No one is paid for the podcast, unlike Escape Pod, so it’s very much the right category.

    In fact I’ve now got thinking about other podcasts that should be included. What about Wil Wheaton for Best Fan Writer? Memories of the Future, Memories of the Futurecast, Radio Free Burrito and his blog must surely be eligible…

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