To Fancast or Not!

April 8, 2012 by Tony C. Smith

I’m not going to comment on all of this year’s Hugo categories, I’ll leave that for greater minds of this genre industry to mull over. I’m just concerned with the one that effects StarShipSofa – the Fancast.

Well, truth is I like it – I like it a lot.

The Fancast feels like its the right place to put something like StarShipSofa, The Coode Street Podcast, Galactic Suburbia Podcast, SF Signal Podcast, SF Squeecast and all the other great genre podcasts out there. I didn’t think this at first but now I have had time to reflect. It feels right. We now have a place to call our own in this whirlwind that is the Hugo Awards.

In 2010 when StarShipSofa got herself nominated for a Hugo in the Best Fanzine category the amount of negative vibes and comments about how a podcast was not a fanzine was simply staggering. I was not prepared for it. Thankfully, I had a few shoulders to lean on, especially Cheryl Morgan, who in my eyes has done more for the bringing together digital and print factions than any other single person I know. Before any of this new breed of podcaster or blogger (I include StarShipSofa in this group), Cheryl and her Emerald City (1995 – 2006) blog were there banging the drum for us all to march to. We have a lot to thank Cheryl for – I especially. Thank you Cheryl.

So, are we agreed? Is the Fancast the best place for podcasts? I think so. Will we be happy? I hope, though I suspect some will still grumble, and saying all that, I will be one of the first to grumble the loudest if the Fancast is not voted back next year.


  1. I had my reservations at first, and the negative comments around the 2010 win didn’t help, but I think you are right. The nominees for Best Fancast this year are amazing, and it is an honour to be in such good company. And let us not forget: it was StarShipSofa’s win that changed the Hugo Awards!

    • I have up to now… not heard one negitive comment about the Fancast cat. Like I say – this can only be a good thing. Lets hope it stays.

  2. Well, personally I’d like to see a category called – Audio Science Fiction Magazine, but I think fancast is the next best thing. My only issue, and it’s not a grumble, is that it sort of puts us in a similar light as fan-fiction and does not seem to properly acknowledge that while the Sofa and other such podcasts are run by fans, they are producing and distributing genre fiction by respected authors, while at the same time also providing a venue for newcomers.

    But it’s good to see that the category at least prevents fisticuffs between the “zine” folks and the “pod” folks – best not to ‘fan’ the flames as it were…

    Keep up the great work Tony, you’re an inspiration!


    • You’re too kind with your words Morgan but thanks. Its you as well, that have made the Sofa what it is today. So……. thank you!

  3. There is certainly a logical fit for what’s being called fancast, and it does happily distinguish those done for love, and those done to promote a publishing enterprise.

    The only thing that saddens me, speaking as a former fanzine editor, is how irrelevant the fanzine community want to be. It reminds me a lot of the people who pop up on every forum with a discussion about ebooks expressing astonishing that anybody would ever chose to read a novel on a device, that surely the medium is more important than the content.

    • You would think so Nick but in 2010 that wasn’t the case at all. Maybe they’ve mellowed.

    • I have to admit that I was surprised at how much of a backlash there was back in 2010. I agree that the content is far more important than the medium and, for me, StarShipSofa is a magazine that happens to be delivered in an audio format.

      That said, if the Fancast category becomes established as a way of recognising the efforts of the Sofa, and others, without upsetting the more hide-bound members of the SF community then it may well prove to be the best way forward.

  4. If you’ve seen my previous comments in the forums about this, you’ll know that I disagree strongly with the ghettoisation of podcasts into a single category, while keeping so many other categories open for the written medium. I realise the rules haven’t been changed yet and that is why I voted for the ‘Sofa and other podcasts in categories outside “Best Fancast”.

    I fully support “upsetting the more hide-bound” members of the SF community”. Every community has cliques and some are more vociferous than others. I realise there is a cost involved, but it strikes me that about 10,000 people downloaded last week’s ‘Sofa and yet the Hugos onlyl received about 1,000 ballots (and that was a record).

    The Hugo awards are as representative of “the community” as any other self-selecting sample, but they’re all we’ve got. If we feel strongly that certain groups are not represented, it behooves us to get more involved.

    Aaand relax! 🙂