We are into the second half of this years fantastical fan-writing finalists. Tomorrow we hit the wonderful world of the W’s.
I believe I first encountered Bogi on Twitter. Of course, nobody should be defined just by their social-media but given that fandom is a social phenomenon, the role of media such as Twitter is significant when considering fan-writing as a genre. Bogi has been providing years worth of recommendations for marginalised voices on Twitter under the diversestories and #diversepoems hashtags. Our 2020 collective-Hugo-mind theme this year is Fan Writers as messengers between worlds and communities and it’s this kind of work that helps illustrate that, even though the nature of expectations tends to focus on essay-style writing. Don’t worry though, there’s plenty of that as well!
Bogi describes emself thusly:
I am a Hungarian Jewish agender trans person. My personal pronouns are e/em/eir/emself or singular they (I’m fine with either). I have been living in the US for the past five years, and I have transformed from a nonresident alien to a resident alien. R.B. Lemberg is my spouse and I spend a lot of time gushing about them. We have a child (my stepchild), Mati, who is thirteen years old. All of us are neuroatypical and are on the autism spectrum, which causes adventures!! I have motor dyspraxia and a variety of rather aggravating chronic health issues. These have been blamed on everything from pesticides to Chernobyl. I write short-form speculative fiction and poetry, and I have been published in a variety of venues like Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Apex and Strange Horizons. You can find my bibliography here.https://www.bogireadstheworld.com/about-me/
But that page starts with with a shorter summary that is almost a mission statement:
“Hello and welcome – I am Bogi Takács and I read an inordinate amount of books.“
Drawing from personal experience, Bogi is a short story writer, poet and anthologist (specifically the Lambda Literary Award winning anthology Transcendent 2) but also somebody who reviews, promotes and advocates for marginalised writers. Eir blog has a wealth of resources (https://www.bogireadstheworld.com/resources/) as well as on-going reviews of works that go well beyond the same limited range of writers that get the most attention. That work also extends to the Tor.com blog (https://www.tor.com/author/bogi-takacs/) which includes reviews of older works as part of a QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics series.
Bogi’s writing is a positive challenge that asks people to reconsider the scope of works that they engage with. “Positive” in the sense that it is driven by creative output and the advocacy for creators of speculative fiction rather than the sense of simply being ‘feel-good’ or avoiding pointing out the ingrained prejudices and issues within the wider SF&F community.
Bogi’s Hugo Packet contribution contains eight essays, mainly review essays but also three recommendation lists that are well worth reading. One thing I particularly like about eir packet is this section:
Some of my fan writing is in the form of databases and bibliographies; I’m going to link them here (you’ll need an internet connection for these, but everything else should be in this ebook):Bogi Takacs – Hugo Packet 2020
• The 2018 trans- and intersex-themed speculative stories database
• A comprehensive list of QUILTBAG+-focused SFF anthologies (very long!)
• On Twitter, a lengthy meta thread of trans writing, reading, booooks
This kind of fan-work doesn’t translate easily into awards or Hugo Packet contributions but collation, resource gathering and similar activities (eg Renay’s Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom, Cora’s equivalent one for the Reto Hugos etc) is very much part of what fan writers bring to fandom. The essay-form is the easiest way of comparing fan-writers but the importance of fan-writing and fanzines is also in aspects such as news and resources (or sad work such as obituaries).
However, for those who want essay-style fan-writing, the reviews show Bogi’s capacity to critique fiction. I particularly liked Bogi’s review of A Spectral Hue by Craig Laurance Gidney, a book and author about whom I know nothing.
“There is a tiny subgenre of Weird fiction focusing on artwork, and its effects on people. I love this subgenre, and I think it works best with approaches that are more beguiling and enticing than brutally horrific (though I’ve also seen the latter done convincingly). A Spectral Hue is more dark fantasy than horror – certainly many aspects of horror are present, and the past of Shimmer is rooted in slavery, but the overarching ambience of the story is more languid and beatiful than stark and terrifying, despite the presence of supernatural creatures and happenings. I also liked how a certain purplish color, the titular spectral hue pulled all the themes together. (In this sense it reminded me of another Weird story that stayed with me throughout the years, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Flash Frame which does this with the color yellow, and film rather than art objects.)”Bogi Takacs – Hugo Packet 2020
That there is demonstrating a key part of good reviewing. I obviously don’t know if it is accurate reviewing but I do know that by this point I want to know more. Exciting curiosity in the reader about books is something an effective book review can do.
Bogi has include two Tor.com pieces in the packet but acknowledges the current ambiguity voters have around fan-writing and paid venues, so has put them at the end. If you want to skip over them you can.