Hugo Fan Writer: Why you should vote for…Paul Weimer

Hugo online voting is now open. Don’t forget to vote in the Fan Writer category. Speaking of which here is our fifth contestant!

Paul Weimer
Sites: &
SFF Audio:

It can’t be true that Paul Weimer knows everybody in science fiction but if we were to draw a huge network graph, I think Paul would be at on of those nodes that helps joins multiple groups together. A regular columnist and pod-casting panellist in multiple venues, Paul is an insightful observer of the wider landscape of science fiction and fantasy. Paul is a bridge that links communities and people (exemplified by his revival of the popular mind-meld posts ( ).

On his personal blog, Paul describes himself this way:

“I’m an ex-pat New Yorker who has found himself living in Minnesota since 2003. Since moving here, I have developed a taste for photography, and marry it to my love of travel, landscapes, architecture and adventures. When I am not photographing things, my Science Fiction side comes out. I am a writer, reviewer, and podcaster for the Skiffy and Fanty show, SFF Audio, Nerds of a Feather, and other places as well.”

Paul’s genre interests are broad and deep, ranging from science fiction classics to contemporary fiction, cartography and an active involvement in fandom. You can find his observations as long form essays or short comments but they are always insightful.

As the 2017 Down Under Fan Fund (DUFF) winner, Paul combined his multiple talents to create a visually stunning record of his southern hemispheric travels in New Zealand and Australia. For those missing out on a journey to the southern lands, you can experience some of it visually here While writing and photography are quite different mediums of expression, Paul’s capacity to both observe and frame what the rest of us are seeing is demonstrated in both.

Hugo Packet

Paul’s Hugo Packet contribution consists of twelve articles that mix reviews, criticism and author interviews. The reviews span across fiction, games and non-fiction.

I’d like to focus on the interview aspect a moment. It is both a popular and underrated form of fan-writing: popular because interviews make for interesting articles and underrated because the fan-writer purposively takes a back seat to show off what somebody else is saying. A good example included in the Hugo Packet is an interview with Gareth L Powell which you can also read here I like to do chunky quotes from articles in my Fan writer series but in this case I’ll do a shorter one:

3. The novel opens on a set of alien ruins, and alien Big Dumb Objects were important in Embers of War. Why do you think alien ruins are so evocative to readers as a place? What draws you to them as a writer?

Look at what the question does:

  • It establishes that the interviewer knows the book they are talking about.
  • It sets the scene for readers and gives them a sense of the book without reviewing the book or editorialising.
  • It connects an aspect of the book with the wider genre.
  • It does that connection really efficiently and let’s the reader make the leaps. Ancient alien structures? Oh, like in Alien (or like in 2001 or like in…).
  • It suggests but doesn’t belabour, why authors use that trope. Alien ruins are evocative to readers…That gives the person being interviewed something to talk about that still centres their book.

For more conventional essay-style writing I personally really enjoyed this re-visit to Ursula Le Guin’s very early work Rocannon’s World.

“That duality of SF and Fantasy viewpoints goes into the character of Rocannon as well. He does acculturate to the world he is stuck in, embodying the role others give him as “The Wanderer.” This culminates in a wonderful sequence that pushes the novel to it’s most fantastical bits: Rocannon engages with the planet and bonds with it on a psychic level. He comes away changed by the experience, more ready than ever to protect the planet against the invaders. This is the core sequence — where Rocannon must fully become part of the world in order to protect it. The journey to this moment is a fantasy-style one in which he becomes a traveler and outsider. Here, he sheds that, and becomes fully part of the world. It makes me think of the Gaia Hypothesis or the endgame sequence to Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.”

Paul is very much a traveller and he sometimes presents himself as an outsider, perhaps because of his capacity to take a step back and observe with both an analytical and holistic eye his surroundings but that aspect of being fully part of the world is what comes over in his writing.

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