So on a Thursday when I’m writing my latest Realms of Fantasy reviews and have just realized, due to some pissed-off stares from the cats, that I forgot to change the kitty box last night (one second while I go do that…), a couple “thoughts” (inasmuch as the random neurons firing in my brain can be considered true thoughts). What Thursday thoughts do you have, beyond, “VanderMeer is a weirdo”?
MySpace – A few people asked why we chose MySpace to launch a New Weird site, and I’ll tell you true: it’s not because of the great functionality of the location. MySpace templates tend to be somewhat clunky. No, it’s because of the potential connectivity between different media, and the idea of reaching an audience of weirdos outside of the normal genre suspects. There are really amazing readers not allied to “genre fiction,” readers of weird graphic novels and lovers of strange art, who we want to reach out to. It’s a little too easy to continue with the received idea of MySpace-is-bad without realizing that is still a large and diverse community, with no more self-indulgence than any community.
The Hugos – On Scalzi’s blog, I commented on his disappointment about little io9 coverage of the Hugo finalists, saying basically that it’s tough to get too worked up about it knowing how few people vote, although I’m always happy for the finalists. But also saying the Hugos have zippo pop culture appeal, and mentioning that when I was a finalist I was thrilled about it. Is that contradictory? No. The pomp and circumstance of the actual Hugo ceremony at a World Con is addictive and wonderful. The people treated me great and I enjoyed the hell out of it. But you’ve got to look at these types of things in the context of the bigger picture. A Hugo win does sell some books, and some people outside of genre may have heard of it even as it continues to be an oddly arbitrary and inconsistent award (as just one example, irrespective of its quality, can you imagine the Chabon getting on the ballot if he was joe blow?). As for the announcement of the finalists not getting more coverage…I’m sure the Hugo folks are sick of hearing suggestions on doing a difficult job better (I sure wouldn’t want the job), but, that said…if you want pop culture coverage, if you want wider coverage period, it wouldn’t hurt to make an event of the actual announcement of finalists. If you can’t do a live video feed, at least do a dead one: hold a press conference. Who cares who attends or doesn’t? Film the event and put it up as a YouTube video and send that around. Do outreach to the youth. Hell, put up a MySpace page if you haven’t already. Recognize that you can’t have it both ways–you can’t not be proactive and then expect the world to automatically assign you the importance you had when you were the only game in town (30 years ago). This is a fragmented media world we live in, with a lot of different subcultures and power constituencies. In that environment, the Hugos are like an island losing little bits of coastline every year. Unless you shore it up, it’s going to continue its erosion. The Hugo ceremony itself, surrounded by the pomp of a WorldCon, still gets plenty of coverage, but that’s a single moment in time. That’s really not enough to get the job done. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with that. Just don’t expect the totality of the rest of the world to care as much as you care.