Name: Paul Weimer
Nerds of a Feather: http://www.nerds-feather.com/search/label/paul%20weimer
The Skiffy and Fanty Show: https://skiffyandfanty.com/author/jvstin/
Paul Weimer is a fan, a photographer, a podcaster, a review, a critic, a traveller and did I mention that he is a fan? A prolific reviewer and a frequent guest on numerous podcasts, Paul does not literally know everybody in science fiction but I like to imagine that he does. These days you are most likely to find paul at the Nerds of a Feather fanzine blog or on the Skiffy and Fanty podcast or among the webpages of Tor.com.
Weimer has a generous approach to engaging with stories, looking for the elements that engage people and pull them into the worlds that they offer. You can see the photographer’s skill in his writing: the need to show what is literally there but in a way that enables others to see both the details and the broad aesthetics of what he is observing.
In the introduction to his packet contribution he describes his approach:
“What I am known for, and you will find here are reviews of mostly current science fiction and fantasy (my love of vintage SFF mainly is represented in podcasts). I also do Mind Melds (a feature originated at SF Signal) and “Six Books” interviews with authors and genre types. I am primarily known for is being prolific. It is a rare week that a piece of mine isn’t being published somewhere, or I am on a podcast or what have you. Also, since I’ve been reading SFF for around 40 years, I like to think I have a decent knowledge of genre. I like to connect books I am reading to other works, contemporary or otherwise.”Paul Weimer 2022 Fan Writer Selections
What’s in the packet
Paul Weimer’s Hugo Packet is a substantial selection of his work from 2021 from multiple outlets. It includes a wide range of reviews as well as some interviews and an example of the Mind Meld feature that Paul revived where a range of authors and fans offer answers to a what-if question (I’m in that one!)
Above I described his approach to reviews as “generous” in that he is looking for what will appeal to people in a work and he is very good at finding connections between a modern work and the broader history of the genre. That doesn’t mean his reviews are relentlessly positive or ignore flaws, a good example of his approach can be found in his review of Antediluvian by Wil McCarthy provided in the packet.
“This first portion feels a lot like a L Sprague de Camp or Harry Turtledove or Judith Tarr historical fiction novel, except set in a legendary time and place in the neolithic. The story of Manuah and his world, and his and his civilization’s fate are clearly meant to evoke several myths and legends–the biblical Flood, the story of Atlantis, and, given his name and story, the Hindu Rig Veda as well. We get a look at the developed city and life of Manu and some real interesting speculation and good worldbuilding on how a neolithic metropolis might actually work in practice.”Also here http://www.nerds-feather.com/2021/06/microreview-book-antediluvian-by-wil.html
“The fatal weakness of the novel is one I didn’t recognize or see in his previous fiction (and I fear the suck fairy, now) is the, in the most charitable view, strong male focus that the novel has. Less charitable would be to call this a sausage fest. While there is some spouted theory that the “quantome” might exist on other chromosomes other than the Y, the very premise of the novel means that only men , the male point of view of history, is the one that gets recorded, the one that counts, the one that gets saved in our very genes.”
I haven’t read this book but that’s the essence of what an effective book review needs to do: communicate to somebody who hasn’t read a book what it would be like to read a book but in far fewer words than a novel. The more you think about it, the more impossible book reviews seem and yet people like Paul Weimer manage this impossible task of encapsulating in an essay the essence of a novel.
Why you should vote for Paul Weimer
Paul Weimer is at heart a fan of science fiction in general. That doesn’t mean he is not a fan of specific stories or series or sub-genres but what I’m getting at is that he is a fan of the idea of science fiction and its influence on our culture. He uses that energy and love of the genre to build connections and to create snapshots of books, films, and other expressions of stories that give you a great sense of what they are like.