Fan Q Awards

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Name: The Fan Quality Awards, Fan Q
Date(s): 1977 - present
Frequency: annual
Format: vote
Type: fanzine award
Associated Community: Halkan Council, SeKWesterCon, MediaWest*Con
Fandom: Multimedia
URL: Fan Q awards 1977-present

Subpages for Fan Q Awards:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
an example of an award certificate, 2004
an example of an award certificate, 2014

The Fan Q Awards were run by ongtime fans Paula Smith and Sharon Ferraro at the first Fan Q Awards at the second SeKWesterCon. According to Gordon Carleton, a rose was handed to the winners of that first award.[1]

The "Q" stood for quality and the phrase, when spoken aloud, sounds like "thank you." [2] It was to be a recognition of the best work appearing in Star Trek fanzines. In the first year of the award, there were only two categories: In the "best writer" category, Leslie Fish won for The Weight, which was still being serialized in Warped Space. Connie Faddis won for "best artist" for her body of work in the previous year.

Fan Qs were awarded at various cons for the first few years until 1981, when they were awarded at MediaWest*Con 1, where they've been awarded ever since. In 1982, the first Fan Q awards were given to Star Wars fans.

klangley56 offers her take on what might have led to the creation of the FanQ Awards: "Back in The Day (1974) two ST zine authors, Jackie Lichtenberg and Laura Basta, were nominated in the zine category of the prestigious Hugo Awards. A furor arose in the ranks of SF fandom (part of the ongoing disgruntlement SF fandom felt towards ST fandom at the time). This was one of the factors that led to the creation ... of the FanQ Awards..." [3]


Winners of Fan Q Awards are listed by year:

Some Histoy

printed in 1981 in Warped Space #46, a bit of history

From the 1981 MediaWest*Con program book:

The Fan Quality Awards were originated by Sharon Ferraro (Short) and Paula Smith in conjunction with SeKWester*Con, Too in 1977. The categories in that year were Best Author/Writer and Best Artist. Leslie Fish won Tor Best Author/Writer (primarily for "The Weight" series), and Connie Faddis won for Best Artist.

The categories remained the same in 1978 at T'Con, and Leslye Lilker won for Best Author/Writer (primarily for the Sanj series), and Alice Jones won for Best Artist.

With the same categories remaining In 1979 for 2'Con, Maggie Nowakowska won for Best Author/Writer (primarily for her ThousandWorlds series—the first time a non-STAR TREK nominated item won in the brief history of the Fan Q's), and Martynn won for Best Artist.

When Joyce Vasner and Devra Langsam chaired Mos'Eastly in 1980, with Linda Deneroff as Fan Q Co-ordinator, the categories were changed to Best Author/Writer (Judy Lee Cascio and Lois Welling for "Executive Privilege" In RIGEL 4, 5, 6 ...), Best Artist (Hans Dietrich), and Best Editor (Lori Chapek-Carleton).

As a result of majority decision by all interested fans participating at Mos'Eastly the 1981 categories at MedlaWest*Con I are Favorite Fanzine, Favorite Long Story, Favorite Short Story, Favorite Poem, and Favorite Single Piece of Artwork. The winners this year will be announced rollowing the Saturday banquet.

Those people attending first the KWest*Cons, then the Lansing cons, and Mos'Eastly last year, have reflected fandom's changing trends. The Fan Q's are essentially a popularity contest, with (one hopes) emphasis on the quality inherent In the most popular fandoms our attendees are involved in. Congratulations to the past winners, and to this year's winners and nominees. It's not too late to start thinking of the 1982 nominations, for items published in Ihe 1981 calendar year.

The categories changed over the years, as did the fandoms honored; eventually it was decided that any fandom with three or more nominations in a category could have their own award.

1987 nomination form included in Datazine #45, click to read

In 1982, the sixth award year, it was announced there would be three genres: Star Trek, Star Wars and Other. In 1987, the form still had only three categories, Star Trek, Star Wars, and General, but the awards themselves ended up being more varied. See: here.

A sample e-mail ballot from 2004 can be found here.[4]


At various times, multiple communities of fans felt shut out or minimized from the FanQ nominating and award process. Others felt that the awards where taking themselves too seriously and for a few years organized mock awards that they called the QuanFoo Awards. [5]

In 1981, Lori Chapek-Carleton explained a change in rules in an attempt to bolster the number of people voting: "We're putting in a new regulation this year, for the Fifth Annual Fan Q Awards. In order to insure representative and fair awards, we are going to insist on participation in the nominations and voting. At least one-third of MediaWest*Con membership has to partici pate, otherwise there will be NO AWARDS, gang. Nominations should begin after December 31 and be in by January 31, 1981, so they can be listed in the 2nd Progress Report in February. Anything published in a media fan zine in the calendar year 1980 is eligible. The categories are: Favorite Fanzine, Favorite Short Story, Favorite Long Story, and Favorite Poem. Since all the other categories are judged by the piece(s), Favorite Single Artwork must be judged by the same criteria, and it must be a published piece."[6]

In 1984, K/S fandom began offering their own awards in an effort to offer Star Trek slash writers some recognition: the K/Star Awards. The K/S fans would repeat this effort again in the late 1990s when the Philon Awards began in 1998.

Two years later all of Star Trek fandom began to feel shut out of the Fan Q's, and they started the Surak Awards, given out at a variety of K/S and gen Trek cons. From Boldly Writing: "A couple of odd things happened in the Star Trek category in 1986. First, as reported earlier, Rosalie Blazej and Kin of the Same Womb Born got on the ballot, despite the fact that the story had been published in 1984 and was not eligible. Rosalie and her story were subsequently withdrawn. Second, No Award won for best Star Trek fanzine and best Star Trek poet. (Syn Ferguson won for best Star Trek writer for Courts of Honor, but hers was the only name on the ballot after Rosalie's was withdrawn; and Caren Parnes won for best Star Trek artist.) Kim Dyer, the Fan Q administrator, explained: "'Please make sure your readers know that if the guidelines for keeping a category were in force last year, there would have been NO Star Trek categories'. The Fan Q administrators made some changes because of these events. First, nominees were required to document their year of publication. Second, voters were explicitly informed that "No Award" meant "none of the nominees in this category are worthy of receiving an award." (Apparently many fans voted No Award because they felt they must vote in every category, and if they were not familiar with the category, they checked No Award instead of skipping the category and leaving it blank.) A group of fans responded to the lack of Star Trek nominations in the Fan Qs in a different way. These Star Trek fans created their own award, the Surak Award."

By the early 1990s, more members of the slash fandom community felt that slash fan fiction still wasn't getting the Fan Q recognition it deserved. (Some fans alleged that for years, the Fan Q people simply threw away ballots which voted to nominate slash stories or novels.) In 1992, they started their own parallel award via a separate balloting process, the STIFfie Award which was given out at MediaWest*Con. Although the STIFfie Awards presentation was held annually at MediaWest*Con, they were not in any way affiliated with MediaWest*Con. The STIFfie Awards continued for another 9 years.

Possibly in response to this, in 1993, slash and gen zines were broken out into separate categories for the FanQ awards, and no longer competed against each other for categories like, "Best Zine", "Best Cartoon", etc.

A fan in November 1997 wrote:

What did annoy me to no end was the collapse of the FanQ awards, because the person who was supposed to be handling them disappeared! And here I'd been hoping that the awards would get back on track, after all the scandals about suppression of slash entries and whatnot. In the end they did give out awards, several hours after the cancellation of the ceremony; but I'm pretty sure that those were based solely on the ballots filed at the con itself, with all the mail-ins (including the ones from non-members who had paid $1 each for the privilege of voting!) ignored. [7]

Rogue Nominees and Winners?

It appears that the last year for Fan Q Awards given to Beauty and the Beast (TV) fanworks was 1991. Fans of that fandom instead awarded the Beauty and the Beast Fan Quality Awards. Some fans did not understand the distinction, or chose not to explain to others about this unofficial split.

The Splintering of Fandoms

From the third progress report in 2004:

We had 1488 electronic nominations and approximately 300 paper ones. I think we have quite a diversified ballot and I hope you will take part and vote. An online ballot is now available. Paper ballots were mailed to the few people who requested them and sent a SASE. As always, paper ballots can be turned in at my room, if you are passing by, or in the ballot box that is usually in the 'Zine Reading Room. If you see something "missing" from the ballot that you know had three nominations, it probably didn't have the requisite competition and will be given an Honorable Mention. We had many of those this year - I don't have the exact numbers but it is up from last year. As the fandoms keep splintering, there is less and less competition for some groups.

The Fading Print Fanzine Era

In March 2015, one fan inquired whether the FanQ awards would ever embrace online fan fiction:

"I have a question. As years go by, paper zines are getting fewer and fewer, as people retire from zine publishing and no one new comes along to keep the fire burning as it were. In addition, with the rise of social media, tumblr, and digital outlets, it's eventually going to get to the point where there aren't going to be enough zines out there to have a Fan Q around anymore. That said, will the Fan Q ever update and branch out to include artists and writers who publish to online outlets and to fandoms where zine culture hasn't existed because it's too new?"[8]

Awards Booklet

In 1981 and 1982, The convention committee published The Annual Fan Q Awards Nominations Booklet prior to the convention so that voters could sample the work of the nominees. It is unknown if this was a booklet that was published in other years.

Meta/Further Reading


  1. ^ from Jundland Wastes #14
  2. ^ "We thought, let's do a 'fan quality" award. We'll call it a 'FanQ' to thank all the people who were writing good stuff." from a 2010 interview with Paula Smith for Transformative Works and Cultures
  3. ^ Source: comment in Fanfiction and the Nebula Awards, dated Feb. 23, 2008, accessed Feb. 9, 2011; reference link.
  4. ^ Sample FanQ Ballot from 2004 [1].
  5. ^ canellfan "....and a couple of other friends (Cathy "Kitty" Woldow and Sally Smith) for two to three years organized a parody of the FanQ Awards, which we called the QuanFoo Awards, and which we promoted and presented during MWC (usually the same night that the FanQ Awards came out. This was a point at which some of the fan writing that was being glorified by the FanQs seemed unbelievably pretentious and stilted, and so we made fun by creating some truly bizarre award categories and gathered quite a few friends to bestow our dishonors onto what we all thought was "overdone" fan writing at the time...The QuanFoo Awards were short-lived and only lasted for the last few years that MediaWest*Con was at its original East Lansing location. Once the convention moved to its current Lansing location, they ended. Source: Savage Says: The Most Dangerous Fan is an Obsessive Fan: Day-to-day drabbles from a teleholic, dated Jan 10, 2010.
  6. ^ from Interstat #39
  7. ^ from Strange Bedfellows (APA) #19
  8. ^ Babs M.'s post in Fan Quality Awards as presented at MW*C Facebook Group on March 29, 2014.