The Holmsies Awards

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Award
Name: Holmsies Awards
Date(s): 2014
Frequency: Once
Format: Vote
Type: fanfiction awards
Associated Community: SherlockBBCficrecs and Fuckyeahteenlock
Fandom: Sherlock
URL: https://sherlockbbcficrecs.tumblr.com/tagged/the%20holmsies
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The Holmsies Awards was an attempt to honor the excellent writing in the Sherlock fandom. After a nomination process, the awards were presented but controversy immediately surfaced. Accusations of ballot stuffing, deletion of works after failure to win, and even objections by winners for being noticed, led to the awards being dissolved. The Holmsies showcased the problem with recognition within fan communities. Differing perceptions of fan writing made the very concept of offering awards for fan works problematic and the blowback led to the destruction of the fan communities who sponsored it.

Announcement

The Holmsies awards were started and administered by two fan communities Sherlock BBC Fic Recs [[1]] and Fuckyeahteenlock [[2]]

The announcement for the awards was posted on tumblr as well as on the webpages of the host sites.[1]. It was reblogged to other fan communities and was mentioned on the Midnight Fic Obsession Podcast. [2]

Rules

Nominations were decided by the mods of fuckyeahteenlock and sherlockbbcficrecs. The maximum number of nominations per category is five, but some categories have fewer fics - these categories had fewer submissions than others, and we didn’t feel it would be fair to always include five for every category (e.g., if there were only seven submitted total).

As a reminder from when we started the Holmsies, all the fics on the list should have less than 25,000 hits on AO3 and less than 250 reviews/comments on any other forum - we did calculate hits as of when we received the submissions a few months ago, so there are a small number of fics that have crossed that limit since. They’re still included in the nominations.[3]

The votes and comments were placed on a google form. Some vote spamming was noticed.

On that note, please remember that we are working off of an honor system, here. I know that these tallies are completely anonymous, and so there’s really no stopping anyone from potentially submitting two, three, four, sixteen times. However, this is not American Idol, and something like that has the potential to really skew the tallies in an unfair way because one vocal person thinks that their personal opinion is better than reaching an honest consensus.


What I’m saying here is that I’m getting really sick of one particular fic getting quite obviously spammed. I’m not a computer generator, I will not simply relay results because they’re there, without paying any attention to obvious patterns. I’m deleting the spammed votes. And if it becomes too annoying to tally around it because I have to keep deleting the extra votes (they’re really, really obvious) I will not hesitate to simply pull that fic from the running. Which would be a shame, and frankly just so unfair to the author and to the people who genuinely voted for it.[4]


Nominees and Winners

Categories based on LENGTH OF FIC

  • Best longfic/slow burn
    • Till We Have Cases by fiorinda_chancellor (winner)
    • Missing in Action by amphigoricsymphony
    • These Violent Delights by pasiphile
    • Not Yet Dead by castiron
    • Can’t Rewind Now We’ve Gone Too Far by basser
  • Best shortfic
    • Quite the Excitable Young Lady by taylorpotato
    • 34 Minutes by bendingsignpost (winner)
    • Parallel, Perpendicular, Parabola by calamitybreak
    • With Words We Build and Words We Break by alutiv
    • Kiss the Tin Man by hyacinth_sky747


Categories based on GENRE

  • Best original AU
    • Art Of The Reasoner by tellytubby101
    • The Bone Fiddle by htebazytook/vulgarweed (winner)
    • A Moment’s Surrender by anchors
    • A Study In Squawking by castiron
    • The Dead Bury Their Dead by jezunya
  • Best fusion
    • Dragon Heartstring In Ebony, Nine Inches, Quite Stubborn by what_alchemy (winner)
    • They Mostly Come Out At Night by tawabids
    • Unsettled by axemeaboutaxinomancy
    • The Madness of Angels by ayalesca
    • I Wake Up And I Wake Up And You’re Still Dead by thisprettywren
  • Best magical realism
    • Beautiful Dreamer by worldaccordingtofangirls
    • Invisible by chappysmom
    • Bring Me A Dream by lotherington
    • Cold Burn by anactoria (winner)
    • Genius Loci by silverware
  • Best smut/PWP
    • The Seduction of Dr. John Watson by xistentialangst (winner)
    • Off, Off Book by scullyseviltwin
    • Five Times by strangegibbon
    • The Subversive Potential of Gender Transgression, Or: Goddamnit, Sherlock, Stop Drugging My Drinks by trashyfiction
    • Stairway to Heaven by beautifulfiction
  • Best fluff
    • The Bottom of the List by atropabelladonna1120
    • Euphoria Morning by anonymous
    • We Call Them Miracles by theuniversewillsing
    • Evidence by jezebelgoldstone
    • Sherlock-the-Pooh by thisprettywren (winner)
  • Best angst
    • Finish Lines by wunderxfunk
    • Lion’s Teeth by basser
    • Master And Hound by joolabee
    • As It Happens by cathedral_carver (winner)
    • Apokalypsis by songlin
  • Best crack
    • How To Accidentally Summon A Demon by patster223
    • No Request Is Too Extreme by moony
    • Fairy Tale Of Regent’s Park by basingstoke (winner)
    • Intellect And Instincts by kryptaria/mitaya
  • Best humor
    • The Cycle Of Revenge Is Not Going The Way I Planned It by azriona (winner)
    • The Adventure Of The House That Was Not Empty by ancientreader
    • The Adoption of John Watson Holmes by cyerus
    • Please Switch Off All Mobile Phones During The Performance by garmonbozia
    • Psychophysical Examinations of Perceptual Effects Of Differential Somatic Stimulation by jedusaur
  • Best crossover
    • The Dog Who Did Nothing in the Forbidden Dog Park by bishopsbird
    • Paper Chase by copperbadge
    • Like a Phoenix by chappysmom
    • Initially, He Wanted To Be a Pilot by ariane_devere (winner)
    • A Brief Account Of Life With Zombies by silverpard
  • Best missing scene
    • A Girl’s Name by caseyrocksmore
    • Landscape With the Fall of Icarus by caitlinfairchild
    • A Little Leverage by awanderingminstrel
    • Orange by emmagrant01
    • Ask John by prettyarbitrary (winner)
  • Best epistolary or texting!fic
    • Folder Name: John H. Watson by joanagomez (winner)
    • Baker Street Letters by mcxi and zooeyscigar
    • In Confidence by emmadelosnardos
    • FILL by lizzledpink
    • What He Wrote by fitofpique


Categories based on TROPE

  • Best teenlock
    • Constable in the Alley by crimpsyche
    • Poster Boys by peevee
    • Us Against by augustbird
    • At Seventeen by archipelago
    • The Boys of Summer by mazarin221b (winner)
  • Best university AU
    • Six Crates of Beer and One Cigarette by persiflager/peevee
    • Proxy by cherryblossomtide
    • Five Times Molly Hooper Lent Sherlock Holmes A Helping Hand and One Time He Made Her Coffee by verity
    • Bad Influence by azriona (winner)
  • Best parentlock
    • The Third Holmes by heartsdesire456
    • Once Upon A Bookshop by moffnat
    • The Case of the Teddy Interrogation by amypound
    • Luminosity by what_alchemy (winner)
  • Best kidfic
    • Free Falling by twistedthicket1
    • The Sign of Three by emungere (winner)
    • Starlight and Fairy Tales by starysummernights
    • Family Affairs by s0mmerspr0ssen
    • Never Never Land by shay_fae
  • Best rarepair
    • Echoes by siluslocke/x57
    • Gravity by impishtubist
    • The Deepest Secret Nobody Knows by sciosophia
    • Molly and the Woman by trashyfiction (winner)
    • Our Burning Fragments by sweetcupncakes
  • Best genderswap
    • Modus Operandi by joolabee
    • At the Bottom of the Pool by philalethia
    • Obvious by patternofdefiance
    • How The Mouth Changes Its Shape by breathedout
    • No Bangs Without Foreign Office Approval by reckonedrightly (winner)
  • Best omegaverse
    • Expecting the Unexpected by sweetomegachild
    • The Diary of a Young Omega by corpsereviver2
    • Five Steps to Freedom by lunavere
    • A Happy Accident by keeliethompson1 (winner)
    • A Case of Identity by mycake


Categories based on PLOT OR WRITING STYLE

  • Best characterization
    • An Unlikely Association in Seven Fish by bold_as_brass
    • It’s Going to Take a Lot to Drag Me Away from You by therestisdetail
    • Intersections by mazaher
    • Naked, Stripped, and Raw by nikoshinigami (winner)
    • You Were Great by patster223
  • Best original character
    • No Bed is Narrow by innie
    • Endgame by ajhall
    • Miracle Year by chase820
    • The Secret Identity of John Watson by scifigrl47 (winner)
  • Best interpretation of classic ACD story
    • Betwixt and Between by ivywatcher
    • The Holiday by scriblit
    • Bent by lifeonmars (winner)
    • The Young Men Carbuncular by plaidadder
  • Best original plot or casefic
    • Cu Sylvatica by sprl1199
    • If You Can’t Move Heaven, Raise Hell by splix (winner)
    • Holmes:Moriarty by garmonbozia
    • The Poster Girl by stardust_made

Aftermath

Attitudes about the awards varied. Some of those nominated were anxious about having their fandom works judged against others.

Comment from one nominee on a forum

Ugh, I had forgotten all about this. And of course you bump the thread by saying how much you liked a fic I'm being judged against. Lovely. I'm sure it's just the best in the whole world.[5]

Another nominee deleted her nominated work and all of her other works after losing.[[3]] She also blocked access to the work through the internet archive. Whether this was because she lost, or due to other factors, we do not know.

The negative reactions were particularly troubling considering the work the planners did to read large numbers of suggested fics to make the nominations. Residentbunburyist said

Awwww, heck yeah. I don’t usually repost fic on this account, but dammit this was a SHITLOAD OF WORK HOLY MOTHER OF GOD NEVER AGAIN so I’m going to share! Yay!

For everyone who has been waiting for these, and is planning on voting, I have only one request– please, please check out all of fics in the category you’re voting for rather than just voting the one that you recognize. You might find something new and exciting that you like!

This is especially important because the entire point of this contest was to give a little bit of love to fics that people found underrated and don’t quite have the amount of recognition that they deserve. It would be undermining the spirit of that to ignore the ones that you don’t know yet. We took a lot of time (six months!!) reading through hundreds of fic to dig up what we thought was the best in each category, so I promise that they’re worth the read! (well… most of them. I can’t vouch for the categories I didn’t judge. lol.)

Go forth! Have fun!

Personally? If someone asks me to read a piece of fanfiction in the next three months, I will probably make them eat it. O_O NO MORE. NOOOO MORRRREEEE.[6]

What began as an optimistic attempt to celebrate fanfiction led to divisiveness as feelings were hurt. At least one winner refused the award. This suggests that negative attitudes toward fanfiction do not only exist in corporate spaces, but have been internalized by the fans themselves. Fans expressed negative views about their own works, and the purposes that they were being used for.

I highly doubt we'll ever hold the contest again. It wasn't meant to be anywhere near as serious as people took it.... Obviously we can't fault anyone for taking a contest however they wanted to take it, but we had no idea how much attention it was going to get and had virtually no control over how people shared it, yet we were blamed for everything that went wrong. We even had an incident of vote spamming that we had to deal with. And no matter what rules we implemented, or how strictly we monitored everything, in the end, all our work was still labeled just a popularity contest, because hey, that's what all contests are, right? Even though we read literally thousands of fics (we had about 2300 entries total) just to get nominations together, we had constant complaints about things that we thought just weren't that important (like having a crack category. And then adding a humour category because everyone said crack was too limiting. And then being told we had too many categories because we added one to make the humour people happy--I'm sure you see my point). We received very, very little thanks for the near year of work that went into it and a whole lot of complaints from people who never offered suggestions for how to fix what they wanted. Everyone involved with one exception was left feeling like the fandom was just a big, ungrateful swarm of locusts. [7]

The Holmsies served as an example of a good thought gone wrong. Since recommendations were made by readers without consulting the authors before announcing nominations, some writers were upset because they did not want their works recognized. Others who hoped for validation felt shame or anger when they lost, perhaps because they conflated judging a work with judging the person. Those who ran the contest put in a great deal of effort and received mostly a critical response. The Holmsies should serve as a warning to those attempting to create fan awards to carefully gauge the attitudes of the fandom first.

Legacy

Despite the problems which led to the ending of these awards, the nominations make an excellent rec list of the best Sherlock works of 2014 and before. Many of the authors who won awards are still contributing new works today.

References

  1. ^ Fuckyeahteenlock (January 19, 2014). "Holmsies Awards Announcement". tumblr post. Retrieved February 17, 2021. 
  2. ^ Alessnox (Aug 1, 2014). "Midnight Fic Obsession 10 - Magic, Angst, and Humor". Podcast. Retrieved February 17, 2021. 
  3. ^ residentbunburyist (July 17, 2014). "The Holmsies nominations announced". Tumblr thread. Retrieved Feb 17, 2021. 
  4. ^ residentbunburyist (August 7, 2014). "The Holmsies update". Tumblr thread. Retrieved Feb 17, 2021. 
  5. ^ Basser (Aug 12, 2014). "The Holmsies". Forum thread. Retrieved Feb 17, 2021. 
  6. ^ See 3 above.
  7. ^ Grace (Oct 1, 2014). "The Holmsies". Forum thread. Retrieved Feb 18, 2021.