The World SF Blog

Speculative Fiction from Around the World

The Best Fan Writer Hugo

The Best Fan Writer category of the Hugo Award is one of the odder – and historically irrelevant – categories of the Hugo Award, there to recognise people who write about SF in a non-professional capacity (It is “given each year for writers of works related to science fiction or fantasy which appeared in low- or non-paying publications such as semiprozines or fanzines”). I say it’s historically irrelevant since the same person won it for 21 times – it’s a bit like China Mieville winning Best Novel every single year for two decades.

But in the past few years the category became somewhat more interesting, with Cheryl Morgan winning in 2009, John Scalzi the year before her, and at the moment it seems like a new field. Worth highlighting, perhaps?

Last year’s winner, American writer Jim C. Hines, has recently posted his recommendations for the award shortlist for this year. Disappointingly, but not perhaps surprisingly, his list is composed entirely of American writers, and I thought it might be interesting to propose a list of some non-Anglophone writers who, I believe, add significantly to the global discussion of science fiction today.

Charles Tan, Philippines

Charles Tan is perhaps the hardest-working fan in the world. I’ve lost count of the places he contributes to, his own blog is always fascinating, and the World SF Blog would not be the same without his help. Charles has twice been nominated for a World Fantasy Award for his work, but never for a Hugo. I’d love to see him on the list – I can’t think of anyone more deserving of some recognition.

Abigail Nussbaum, Israel

Nussbaum blogs at Asking the Wrong Questions, with some of the most in-depth look at genre TV, film and novels of anyone writing today. In her spare time she edits the review section of Strange Horizons. She has come close in the past to making it onto the shortlist – perhaps this year she could break through?

Jaymee Goh, Malaysia

Goh blogs about steampunk and post-colonialism at Silver Goggles. She is one of the most insightful writers into the intersectionality of genre fiction, post-colonial theory and its often problematic handling of race and gender.

Jonathan Dotse, Ghana

Jonathan has been making waves since beginning his Afro Cyberpunk blog, with exposure in Wired and elsewhere. Writing about Cyberpunk and genre fiction from an African perspective, it is an important new voice in the global discourse on science fiction today.

Requires Hate, Thailand

Probably the most divisive name on this list, gathering around her as many fans as she does outraged voices, this is a writer who pulls no punches, uses inflammatory rhetoric and says things many people simply don’t want to hear. As Sean Wallace recently commented, “While a lot of what she says is uncomfortable, it probably needs to be said,” and I would add that I think hers is perhaps the most important critical voice in science fiction today. I doubt we would ever see her on the list, but SF fandom could do worse than take that step.


Athena Andreadis (Greece) blogs often and eruditely on all matters relating to SF; So does Aliette de Bodard (France), who was already up for a Hugo for her fiction; and Aishwarya Subramanian (India) is a voice to seek. There are many others, and we’d love to see some recommendations from you in the comments. What do you think?


January 9, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


  1. Excellent point, Lavie! If I had kept my blog I’d ask you to put my name in the list. :) But, jokes aside, I will ONLY nominate non-Anglophone writers to Best Fan Writer – I’m tired to see almost always names of American fanzine writers who doesn’t contribute with absolutely NOTHING to the global SF conversation, and are best known only in the USA.

    Comment by fabiofernandes01 | January 9, 2013

  2. Looks like an interesting selection. The one thing that worries me slightly about the post DL world is that the winners largely seem to be Hugo nominees in their own right under other categories. Novelists, editors and so on. Much as I enjoy some author’s blogs, I’m not convinced that this is what the award was intended for.

    Comment by nickpheas | January 9, 2013

  3. I would say Bogi Takacs should be on this list.

    She is doing an important and robust work with her reviews.

    Here is her site with the post on nominations eligibility

    Comment by Komaváry | January 9, 2013

  4. Bogi Takács (Hungary). E is my go-to person for clueful and insightful reviews of short fiction. (e prefers Spivak pronouns).

    Comment by Rose L. | January 9, 2013

  5. [...] this climate of wild radicalism, my name finally came up: as a footnote in the relevant entry of the World SF blog by Lavie Tidhar; and more prominently in the livejournal of Nick Mamatas. Given my habits, I will not list the blog [...]

    Pingback by Astrogator’s Logs » Blog Archive » The Hugo Awards, or: Tweeter Expands My Horizons | January 10, 2013

  6. Interesting list Lavie, what’s perhaps more interesting is that while I am Australian and until relatively recently fairly ignorant of non- US, UK, AUS fction, I have heard of half the people on your list and virtallynone aside from Jim on the actual ballot.

    Comment by seantheblogonaut | January 11, 2013

  7. [...] Lavie Tidhar, (his novel Osama won the World Fantasy Award) said something interesting about the The Best Fan Writer category of the Hugo Award over at the [...]

    Pingback by The Science Fiction Award Season Buzz | Indian SF | January 11, 2013

  8. [...] The Best Fan Writer Hugo Lavie Tidhar with some great suggestions for potential nominees for the Fan Writer Hugo (I agree with the assessment that it’s an odd category as well). [...]

    Pingback by Linkspam, 1/11/13 — Radish Reviews | January 11, 2013

  9. [...] Lavie Tidhar’s “The Best Fan Writer Hugo” [...]

    Pingback by My Draft Hugo Ballot 2013 « Ruthless Culture | February 18, 2013

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