This is the first of six posts highlighting each of the Hugo 2020 Best Fan Writer finalists. I’m going through by alphabetical surname order (as listed here https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2020/07/05/its-hugo-fan-writer-finalist-week/ )
Other Sites:https://retrosfreviews.blogspot.com/ & http://indiespecfic.blogspot.com/
In the introduction to her blog packet, Cora describes her fan writing actives as:
“I write about old and new science fiction and fantasy books, movies, TV shows, writing, food and anything else that comes to mind at my personal blog as well as at Galactic Journey and elsewhere around the web. Together with Jessica Rydill, I also co-run the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a blog focussed on science fiction, fantasy and horror by small press and self-published authors. At the Speculative Fiction Showcase, I post a weekly round-up of interesting links from around the web as well as a monthly round-up of newly released science fiction, fantasy and horror books by small press and self-published authors.”Hugo Voter Packet 2020 by Cora Buhlert, Pegasus Pulp Press
Cora has been doing the hard working of promoting self-published and small press SF&F for years. While sections of fandom have been trying to reframe publishing mode as some kind of partisan ideological battle, Cora has been writing, publishing and promoting indie sci-fi consistently and in a way designed to enhance science fiction writing.
The same can be said of her exploration of the pulp-era classics and if you are voting in this years Retro Hugo Awards for 1944, her writing is a greta place for insights into the era. Skipping ahead a few decades, Cora is also the German correspondent for Gideon Marcus’s Galactic Journey project, the time-travelling blog currently living in 1965.
In her 2019 essay The Golden Age Was More Diverse Than You Think, Cora took a long look at both the prejudices within 1940s era sci-fi but also our stereotypes and expectations of that time.
“Survivorship bias can be found doubly in the Retro Hugos, because not only do people (and the Retro Hugo nominator base is small compared to the current year Hugos) tend to nominate the famous stories, the ones that endured, they also tend to nominate and vote for writers (and editors and artists) whose names the recognise. This is why unremarkable debut stories by future stars tend to get nominated for the Retro Hugos, while better but lesser known works and authors tend to get overlooked.”
A common theme of this year’s fan writer finalists is that are each people who join worlds together. Cora is a paradigmatic example of that, Europe, indie publishing, the pulp era and contemporary sci-fi & popular culture*, Cora is a traveller between adjacent universes.
Cora has provided a very nicely curated selection of fifteen essays. I know it can be a real struggle to work out how much or how little to include in these things and given the voluminous output of this year’s finalists I’m sure there were lots of difficult decisions to make. Even though I regularly read Cora’s blog there selection still contained things that were knew to me or which time and life had meant I’d skipped over originally. I’d go so far to say that 15 looks like an optimum number: enough for variety but not so much that the contents page looks overwhelming.
There is an excellent mix of Cora’s multiple interests: contemporary reviews of Star Trek Discovery and Star Wars, pulp-era re-evaluations (eg Eric John Stark – Social Justice Warrior of Mars), Galactic Journey extracts and, of course, the ever popular Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents. [Also, easily the best fan writer Hugo Packet cover art, by Tithi Luadthong]
*[…and also other genres https://indiecrimescene.blogspot.com/ ]