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Now, normally, I'm pretty proud of my membership in SFWA. Yeah, I know, I'm an anachronism, but I've been one all my life so why change now. I'm a proud member of Writer Beware and I believe we're doing some good on that committee.

However, something seriously wrong.

I was surprised when the Star Trek fan film "Worlds Enough and Time" appeared on the Nebula ballot. I thought it had to be a mistake. Sure, lots of things get nominated for the Nebula, but it had to get winnowed out. It's video fanfic for God's sake. Sure, it might be pretty darn good fanfic, but you know, I think wishweaver writes pretty damn good HP fanfic, and so does quillscribe, perivayne and a host of others and I'd never consider nominating them for a Nebula.

Why?

BECAUSE IT'S NOT RIGHT.

I can think of a lot of media tie-in works that probably could be (and should be) nominated. What's the difference, I hear the voice in the peanut gallery asking? Well, first off, it's approved by the license holder, it's vetted through editors and the licensor, it's properly copy edited and the publisher ensures it gets into bookstores around the country.

And the author gets a professional credit for doing the work and they get paid.

None of these things happen in fanfic. Now, I realize there are some professionals who're working with Star Trek:The New Voyages. That's all well and good. I know professional authors who write fanfic also. You don't see their fanfic getting nominated for Nebulas.

Now, I see this fan film has made the final cut for the Nebulas. This is an outrage.

It's not professional work, and if the producer is making money off this, I hope Paramount buries him or her. I remember how quickly Lori Jareo disappeared after Lucas brought out the 600 pound gorillas when she tried to sell "Another Hope".

I just have to hope that SFWA comes to its senses and damn quickly.

Otherwise, I'll have to see if I can work on Writer Beware without being a member of SFWA.

Comments

( 9 howls — Howl with the Pack )
jimhines
Feb. 23rd, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
Have you been following the discussion in the Lounge on this one? It sounds like they're still trying to hammer out how officially this was approved by Paramount, and how professional it was. (It does sound like the people involved were professionals, and were paid, but I don't know enough to say so for certain.)

I'm going to disagree with a few of your points. Much as I love my own editors, copy-editing isn't a requirement for award eligibility, nor is nation-wide distribution. A self-published book is every bit as eligible for the Nebula as the latest Baen or Tor bestseller.

That said, I agree that nominating fanfiction is highly problematic, due to the legal issues involved. I don't expect Paramount to come down on them, because my sense is that they very well may have approved of this production. But again, I don't know the facts, and even if they did okay WEaT, I don't know if that approval was a quiet, under-the-table sort of thing or a formal license to produce the show. And that does make a big difference.

I'll be very curious to see what decision SFWA comes to on this.
nightwolfwriter
Feb. 23rd, 2008 02:15 am (UTC)
Discussions in the lounge? Nope. Don't even know where the lounge is, to be honest. As I told Michael the other night, I spend as little time on SFF.net as humanly possible. I used to go there when I first joined and ran like hell.

Now, wrt to Star Trek: The New Voyages (or Star Trek:Phase II as they're now calling themselves:)

They do not have a license.

They talked about WEaT at Farpoint. They mentioned they're thinking about trying to get licensed.

It's been more Paramount has looked the other way because it was "fan" produced and no one was making money off this. If someone made money on this production, then they're way out of line.

(No, I didn't mean copy editing was necessary for nomination for a Nebula. I was trying to point out the difference between fanfic and professional media tie-in writing with those list of differences. Apparently not as clearly as I had hoped.)
jimhines
Feb. 23rd, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
"I spend as little time on SFF.net as humanly possible."

Heh. You're probably a much wiser man than I am...

I liked the episode, but if it's a "look the other way" deal, then I would certainly agree with you that it shouldn't be on the final ballot, regardless of quality. I can also see where this would feel like a slap in the face for folks doing licensed tie-in work.
ghostbearmw
Feb. 23rd, 2008 04:35 am (UTC)
And another tick goes in the "don't join SFWA" column.
e_cunningham
Feb. 23rd, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
Wow. This caught me flat-footed. I've been a member of SFWA for years, on and off, but as a shared-world (aka media tie-in) writer, I've always felt like persona non grata. In fact, I withdrew from the organization after Norman Spinrod was elected president and prompted disbanded the committee that dealt with work-for-hire contracts. Not only was he an outspoken critic of shared-world fiction and those who write it, but he was actively excluding it from SFWA's radar. His stand on this issue was more vehement than most, but SFWA is not known as a very friendly place for people who work in licensed worlds.

So the news that unlicensed fan fic made the ballot is doubly surprising to me.
dark_opus
Feb. 23rd, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
A tough one, especially since art and the business ecosystem that surrounds art is (and should be) fluid, dynamic, and evolving. However, a common, accepted practice for any reoccurring awards contest having a desire to outreach beyond existing bylaws and qualification credentials is to carve off and separately treat such prospects on some kind of trial basis. Which sounds like what should have been done here.

Note: I'm not SFWA nor even qualifying yet. I actually did enjoy WEaT and selfishly consider it better Star Trek than some of the more recent professional attempts (which is irrelevant for this specific topic).
lingster1
Feb. 23rd, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)
A lot of strange things manage to get themselves nominated, Richard. Not all of them win, obviously. Hang in there.
tiggerallyn
Feb. 24th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
I'm of the opinion that SFWA got pwned here.

(I was going to use "gamed," but the more I think about it, the more "pwned" fits.)

Getting on the Nebula ballot confers some measure of legitimacy.

New Voyages wants a license from CBS, and making the ballot gives them ammunition in their argument.

Given that the barriers to entry were low enough to make the prelim ballot, it's not surprising that they'd have found a way of making the final.

New Voyages gets a PR coup for their goals, and SFWA comes away getting pwned.
perivayne
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)
but...but...don't you love me enough to nominate me? >;-D

You should at least say you'd consider nominating Wish, if only for preemptive self-defense reasons...heheheh.
( 9 howls — Howl with the Pack )

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