Chris Barkley has been an active voice in fandom for over 40 years. He’s been a volunteer at numerous Worldcons, including being the head of media relations at several and more broadly, he’s been one of those vital people in fandom who does the work to make a group of people with common interests a community.
In a recent profile of him, The Unofficial Hugo Bookclub described his impact on the Hugo Awards:
“Over the years, Barkley has affected real change through his work. He’s often commended for helping to split Best Dramatic Presentation into short form and long form, and for leading the charge to split Best Editor into short form and long form (though with typical modesty, he always offers credit to others). He worked tirelessly to create a Hugo for best Young Adult novel and was an important voice in helping create a Best Graphic Story Award, and co-sponsored the creation of Best Fancast. It could be argued that few people have ever had as much of an impact on the Hugo Award categories.”https://hugoclub.blogspot.com/2022/02/so-glad-we-asked-appreciation-of-chris.html
You can read Barkley’s own contemporaneous views on the category split of Best Dramatic Presentation in a Locus essay from 2003:
“I had realized that some sort of change in the BDP was inevitable. The number, scope and quality of sf and fantasy motion picture and television productions had been on the upswing since the early ’90s. The Science Fiction Writers of America had already recognized a sea change in the quality of motion pictures and television first; earlier that year, after a hiatus of 24 years (and some fierce internal fighting, it was reported), they re-instituted a Nebula Award for Best Script.”https://www.locusmag.com/2003/Commentary/Barkley02.html
Over the years he has written columns discussing his views and personal experiences in numerous fanzines and magazines but his recent fan writing has been in an ongoing series of columns at Mike Glyer’s File 770.
Barkley’s column of “unsolicited opinions” entitled So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask has been running at the fanzine since 2016 and began in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump. These columns encompassed Barkley’s views on politics, modern media and the impact of events on fandom, as well his ongoing activities within fandom.
What’s in the packet
Chris Barkley’s Hugo Packet contribution is a 72 page PDF collection of several of his 2021 File 770 columns. The columns cover a wide range of topics including film recommendations, fan history, convention organising, and his own experiences in fandom.
The articles include Barkley’s characteristic strong-but-reasoned views on reforming the ways Worldcon’s are organised:
“The next several Worldcons and bidding committees need to either hire or seek pro-bono help from professional convention consultants about our con-running standards, organizational planning and practices. I say this as an insider who has been volunteering at cons and Worldcons over since 1983. We NEED someone from the outside looking in because despite all of our efforts to run better conventions, we need someone to take a hard, objective look at what we do. Trying to reinvent the same wheel all over again with each new Worldcon committee isn’t very productive.”A Sampling of The Best of So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask/2021 Hugo Awards Packet Edition. See also https://file770.com/barkley-so-glad-you-didnt-ask-a-column-of-unsolicited-opinions-57/
It also includes a collection of anecdotes he collected while compiling his lengthy guide for convention press rooms (the guide itself is here https://file770.com/wp-content/uploads/Convention-Media-Relations-vPress-Room-Guide-Tom-Whitman-Edit.pdf ).
“For many, many years, I have wanted to write a manual specifically to pass along my knowledge, feeling and opinions about working in and operating the Worldcon Press office. For most people who attend any convention, they only see a fraction of what is going on behind the scenes, much like the tip of an iceberg. If those who complain about the things they see going wrong had any idea of the complex goings on that happens behind the scenes, it would certainly turn more than a few of their hairs white from shock. And believe me, I’ve earned my share over the years but fortunately, I shave every other day so I’m not reminded of how I earned them.”A Sampling of The Best of So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask/2021 Hugo Awards Packet Edition. See also https://file770.com/barkley-so-glad-you-didnt-ask-a-column-of-unsolicited-opinions-62/
Why you should vote for Chris M Barkley
There are many famous literary awards, but there is none of the same lasting prestige as the Hugo Awards which also recognise, celebrate and award fans for their work. Barkley is somebody who has been working, debating and writing within fandom for years and that work continues and, importantly, continued through 2021. Of the many things fan writing is and can be, one of them is fostering the dialogue between fans and in particular the dialogue that allows events and activities to happen.