Hey! I'm eligible for "Best Fan Writer" this year, so here's my eligibility post
Another turn around the sun, another season of awards eligibility posts from all your favourite writers, artists, creators, and book industry folk. Like me! (Hopefully?)
2021 was an exceptionally busy year for me as a fan writer, a professional writer, as well as for Astrolabe—my all-purpose SFF and retro gaming newsletter (which you're probably reading RIGHT NOW)—which featured more issues than last year, lots of great guest contributors, like Amy Ratcliffe, Patrick Klepek, Ty Schalter, Harper Jay MacIntyre, and Chris DeMakes, and a gamut of fun content.
If you think the summary of my work was award worthy this year, thank you. If you need convincing, however, here's a re-run of everything I did in 2021.
I am personally eligible for "Best Fan Writer" awards. This award encompasses all of the genre-related writing I do for Astrolabe, Twitter, and elsewhere within fandom. A particular highlight is "Hayao Miyazaki’s Lost Magic of Parenthood" in the January/February 2021 issue of Uncanny Magazine.
Astrolabe published 11 full issues, in addition to several special features. It's eligible for "Best Fanzine."
All of my essays are eligible for "Best Related Work." They range widely, but if you're going to check out one in particular, I'm very proud of "Your Grandma’s Tube TV Is the Hottest Gaming Tech" for Wired.
Astrolabe for "Best Fanzine"
Astrolabe came hot out of the gate last summer, and I carried all that energy and momentum over to this year, producing more content, expanding the newsletter's coverage, and digging into a lot of great conversations happening throughout fandom.
If you're looking at Astrolabe for "Best Fanzine," I'd suggest starting with the following for a high-level sampling of what it offered in 2021:
Astrolabe 10: Several sagas, Japan's pop culture dominance, and the perils of going viral
Astrolabe 14: Writing for Kids with Matt Wallace, Time's Illusion, and Indians on Vacation
Astrolabe 16: The heroes of today, a mystic quest, and Ellen Ullman's life in code
I also launched a new interview series for Astrolabe called Transmission Received. This series dives deep into conversations with writers, fans, journalists, and professionals about topics ranging from toxic fandom, the perils of creativity during the pandemic, sports in SFF, and more. I'm particularly fond of this conversation with games journalist Patrick Klepek about the challenges of growing up in public.
The entirety of Astrolabe's 2021 run can be found at this full archive of past issues.
Essays for "Best Related Work"
The bulk of my writing this year appeared in Astrolabe or professional outlets. I want to specifically draw attention to "Hayao Miyazaki’s Lost Magic of Parenthood" in Issue 38 of Uncanny Magazine, as well as a few other pieces.
Hayao Miyazaki's Lost Magic of Parenthood - Uncanny Magazine — uncannymagazine.com One of life’s great joys is watching your children play. Through a kitchen window overlooking your backyard, at the beach, exploring a park. There’s great pleasure in observing the unobserved. You see their joy, watch them solve problems, navigate complex social situations, work together, fight, hug, laugh, run. Be free. You become lost in their […]
This piece lived in my head for several years while my children grew up and were introduced to the works of famed Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. I was so thrilled it found a home with Uncanny Magazine. In addition to contributing to my eligibility for "Best Fan Writer," this essay is itself eligible for "Best Related Work."
Here's an excerpt:
One of life’s great joys is watching your children play. Through a kitchen window overlooking your backyard, at the beach, exploring a park. There’s great pleasure in observing the unobserved. You see their joy, watch them solve problems, navigate complex social situations, work together, fight, hug, laugh, run. Be free. You become lost in their imagination and for a fleeting moment recapture the wonder of a long-ago childhood. Watching your children play is an opportunity to see the world through excited eyes.
It’s this warm, emotive sense of simplicity and well-being—as though, somewhere deep within your heart, life’s purpose becomes something you can finally grasp. It’s fleeting—like a soot sprite captured between clapped hands, gone the moment you try to examine it, smudged palms the only trace of its existence.
As I struggle to articulate these feelings in a way that doesn’t feel contrived or artificial, the cinematic works of famed Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki call from the back of my mind. Particularly loud are his triumvirate examining these themes with ageless, crystalline clarity: My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, and Ponyo.
Additionally, I wrote several high profile pieces for professional publications. While they may not count toward my eligibility for "Best Fan Writer," they're also all individually eligible for "Best Related Work."
Here are some highlights:
Your Grandma's Tube TV Is the Hottest Gaming Tech | WIRED — www.wired.com Thanks to a retro gaming renaissance, enthusiasts are scouring online marketplaces for 20-year-old CRTs.
This piece at Wired finally gave me a chance to write about a hobby I deeply care for: gaming on original hardware. I dive deep into the surging interest among retro gamers in hunting down old TVs and professional monitors to get the most out of their favourite games.
But why do I own a TV that most people moved on from 15 years ago? And why have I spent a ton of money designing a family room around it and another vintage display? Whether it's going back to enjoy Chrono Trigger's time traveling goodness or digging into the amazing fan translation scene, it's all about retro gaming.
While gaming through the 1990s and into the aughts, I focused on the newest games and hardware. Sure, I replayed old favorites, but for the most part my retro collection was relegated to a dusty closet. It wasn't until Nintendo released the SNES Classic Edition in 2017 that I started taking retro gaming seriously. Though I loved playing through a bunch of my favorite SNES games on my flatscreen, I knew something was missing from the emulated experience. So I went hunting for a solution and fell down a rabbit hole so deep it'd make Alice's skin crawl.
How Boss Fight Books Changed Video Game Literature for the Better — www.fanbyte.com The boutique publisher has become well-known for telling video game stories, from the people who make them and play them.
My debut at Fanbyte is a detailed profile of boutique book publisher Boss Fight Books. I spoke with Boss Fight's founder and several of their authors to understand how games writing has evolved, and why there's so much room for complex, full-length books about video games.
While gaming is now widely accepted as a popular activity for adults, video games were predominantly marketed towards kids back in the ‘90s — and the writing in major magazines, like Electronic Gaming Monthly and Game Players, reflected that. Several decades later, video games have matured and expanded, their audience rightfully recognized for its diversity along all spectrums. Subsequently, the profession of games writing has come a long way from the days of young men writing wet dream jokes to amuse their audience of predominantly adolescent boys. And Boss Fight Books is a big part of that shifting tide.
After 25 years, this cult SNES game finally gets a proper English translation — www.inputmag.com 'Bahamut Lagoon' is a labor of love two decades in the making.
This hybrid interview and feature talks with legendary programmer Near about their decades-in-the-making fan translation of cult SNES game Bahamut Lagoon.
Sadly, Near passed away earlier this year, leaving behind a legacy of work unmatched by anyone else in the games emulation, fan translation, and ROM hack community. They're greatly missed, and I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity to tell their story.
Like many Japanese strategy RPGs, Bahamut Lagoon's combat-heavy experience is wrapped in a politically-charged story about empire and rebellion, Dragon Squads, a Church of Memories, and a lot of proper nouns. This made it a particularly challenging target for localization by a relatively inexperienced team.
Nevertheless, the Dejap fan translation has remained the go-to ever since, offering English-speaking gamers a chance to play one of the Super Nintendo's most elusive games. But that wasn't enough for Near and their pursuit of the "perfect" localization.
Whether you're involved in the awards community or not, whether I make your ballot or not, or you've just enjoyed my work this year, I appreciate your support and attention. 2021 was a challenging year for us all, and I feel proud to have been able to create so much content that, hopefully, brought you some joy this year.
There are lots of ways to support Astrolabe and my other work. Check ‘em out!
Keep In Touch
Enjoy Astrolabe? Want more SFF and retro gaming goodies? You can find me on Twitter and my website.
Astrolabe banner photo by Shot by Cerqueira on Unsplash