Save the Semiprozine – Part 1

hugoThe fate of the Best Semiprozine Hugo will be determined next week at Worldcon. In preparation for the vote, I’m been spending some extra time  reading what the opponents of the award have to say. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting some quotes, their sources, and my responses. By all means, consider this an open discussion. Use the comments, make your case, but remain civil. I know that passions have run high in some corners. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Please be respectful of that.

First off, a couple of statements made during last year’s business meeting:

“Reason we have categories is that we like to honour work. Locus has done a marvelous job. But we like to have categories where it’s an honour to be nominated.”  –Ben Yalow, 2008 WSFS Business Meeting Minutes

Locus has done an incredible job over the years and has won its stack of Hugos courtesy of the voter’s recognition of their accomplishments. While Locus Magazine can be quite proud of this accomplishment, we (the other nominees) feel no less proud for being nominated. This nod from Hugo voters is an incredible honor. Given the number of nominations the category received this year (nearly as many as the Campbell Award and more than several non-endangered categories), these nominations have meaning to more than just those who receive them.

“We don’t seem to have any nominees for this category apart from the five who get nominated each year. It’s a weak category.” –Ben Yalow, 2008 WSFS Business Meeting Minutes

There are over 25 semiprozines listed on this site. They represent a broad range of fiction and non-fiction, online and print, and new and well-established magazines. They’ve won awards, received honorable mentions and Year’s Best citations, introduced new authors, published  established authors, lead the way in online publishing, and have made valuable contributions to the community. They are anything but weak and it is my hope that we have opened more than few eyes to both the quality and quantity of semiprozines through this website.

Furthermore, I direct your attention to some recent calculations by Warren Buff (posted at File770).  He has discovered that over the last ten years,  the level of venue diversity on the semiprozine ballots has been very similar to that of Best Fanzine, Best Fan Writer, Best Fan Artist and Best Professional Artist. No one is suggesting those Hugos be eliminated, nor should they.

Greater representation of the field on the ballot is a worthy goal in any category and I’m happy to see people looking at it. How would you go about educating people about the alternatives? Has anything been tried in the past?

2 thoughts on “Save the Semiprozine – Part 1

  1. The struggle of semi-prozines may merely be a reflection of the struggle endured by anyone attempting to publish short fiction or any Sf related material. It seems to me that even the pros have been experiencing difficulties in keeping a high profile, and more to the point, in selling copies of their magazines. Less sales means less exposure to potential Hugo voters, means a larger possibility that they won’t be on the ballot next year.
    Semi-prozines by their nature must sell less copies and thus have less exposure. For a magazine like Albedo One it is doubly difficult. Not only are we in a small market – SF – but we are also in a small geographical market – Ireland. The cost of postage for a single copy of the magazine from Ireland today is more than the cover price of he magazine six years ago. Also, as we are stuck out here on the edge of civilization we don’t get the chance to network regularly at cons because of the costs involved in getting the editorial team, or even one of us, to conventions in the US or even Europe. And no-one from our home markets is really in a position to nominate us – probably less than thirty fans will go to any Worldcon from Ireland.
    So we are likely to stay un-nominated for the forseeable future, although when Worldcon was last in Europe, in Glasgow, we got a chance to do some serious networking and actually got to seventh on the nomination list (or something like that) but not high enough to get onto the final ballot.
    But even getting onto the final ballot would be like a Hugo to a small magazine like ours and what a victory it would be. Ireland has a population of less than 5 million so we’re sixty times smaller than the US. Maybe if the voting was done on a per capita basis we would stand a chance. We would only need one nomination to get onto the final ballot for a start.
    All I would say to people who want to dispense with this award is to ask why our only infinitesimal chance at glory should be swept from our grasp? What else have small operations like ours got to reach for?

Comments are closed.