The final Nebula ballot has been released.
For Best Script, one of the nominees is "World Enough and Time," one of the Star Trek: New Voyages fan films.
Yes, a fan film is on the Nebula ballot. The same Nebula ballot which would never sully its hallowed halls by allowing a media tie-in novel or short story, has a fan film on it.
Look, this isn't a knock on the fan films as such. But that's what they are -- they're fan films. They are not professionally produced. What's more, they're unauthorized and, by the letter of the law, illegal. In fact, one of the reasons why they're not prosecuted, is because they don't turn a profit, which is one of the legion of ways that they're not professionally produced.
Remember a couple years back, a woman named Lori Jareo published one of her Star Wars fanfics? Imagine if that got a Nebula nomination. Think it's crazy? Maybe -- but Another Hope is the exact same thing as "World Enough and Time."
In 2002, John Ordover -- then a Star Trek fiction editor for Pocket Books -- started a campaign to get Nebula consideration for "Isolation Ward 4" by Kevin G. Summers, an excellent story in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds IV. The story actually made the preliminary ballot, but not the final ballot. That's as close as any professionally published, fully authorized tie-in fiction has ever gotten to a Nebula Award.
Yet, a similar campaign -- and it was a campaign, because I got e-mail from one of the campaigners trying to get me to recommend this -- for "WEaT" has apparently been more successful.
Mind you, it probably won't matter. For one thing, the Best Script Nebula is quite possibly the most useless award in the history of award-giving. For another, the Steven Moffat-penned Doctor Who episode "Blink" is also on the ballot, and I'd say it's definitely the frontrunner.
But it shouldn't be on the ballot in the first place. And my opinion, as a dues-paying member of the organization, is that it should be removed forthwith as not qualifying for the award. This should also be the opinion of everyone. Why?
From the Nebula rules, regarding the category of Best Script:
Script: a professionally produced audio, radio, television, motion picture, multimedia, or theatrical script
Star Trek: New Voyages is not professionally produced. Period.
I swear, if anybody trots out the, "Well, yeah, it's a fan film, but it's soooooo well-written and -produced that it may as well be professionally produced" argument (which was used on me when the aforesaid campaigner tried to get me to recommend "WEaT"), I will personally go to their house and show them what I can do with my brown belt. Seriously. I've written fanfiction. I'd like to think it's written at the same level as my professional work -- but you know what? It's still fanfiction. I wouldn't expect it to get Nebula consideration, and the very same people who happily went with putting "WEaT" on the ballot would be disgusted at the very notion of fanfic being on the prose portions of the ballot.
But it's the exact same thing.
I therefore urge the SFWA Awards Rules Committee -- Jeffrey A. Carver, James Patrick Kelly, and Connie Willis-- to remove this non-qualifying item from the ballot.
I gotta say, between this and the distinct possibility of President Andrew Burt, I'm seriously reconsidering my SFWA membership....