Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

On Spec and Neo-Opsis for the Hugo

by Rob - January 6th, 2009.
Filed under: Awards 2009.

This is the first in a series of blog posts in which I’m going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year’s Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.

Last year, at the World Science Fiction convention in Denver, a motion was passed to eliminate the semiprozine category for the Hugo Awards. If that motion is ratified this year at the World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal, the category will be eliminated, and this will be the final year that the award is given.

The semiprozine category was created essentially to keep Locus, the California-based trade journal of the science-fiction field, from always winning in the best fanzine category. Semiprozines are magazines that are not amateur efforts, but aren’t on the same level of commercial enterprise as the prozines (“professional magazines”), such as Analog, Asimov’s SF, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Since the category was created, Locus has almost always won this Hugo, and many think that’s reason enough to retire the category, hence the current motion.

However, a great many worthy publications have emerged over the years that are also semiprozines, including The New York Review of Science Fiction from the US and Interzone from the UK.

Consider this:

  • No Canadian publication has ever been nominated for the semiprozine Hugo.
  • The Hugos will be given in Canada this year.
  • This may well be the last year in which a Hugo Award is given in this category.
  • English Canada has not one but two world-class semiprozines: On Spec from Edmonton, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and Neo-Opsis from Victoria.

Both On Spec and Neo-Opsis are perfect-bound digests printed on quality paper, and, frankly, are physically better products than Analog and Asimov’s are these days. Both routinely publish excellent fiction, as well as provocative nonfiction.

Last year, it took just 38 nominations to make the Hugo ballot in the semiprozine category; last year, only seven people bothered to nominate On Spec and some number fewer than five (the threshold figure for which results were reported) nominated Neo-Opsis. Get with the program, people!

I’m going to be nominating both On Spec and Neo-Opsis for the semiprozine Hugo this year (and will also be nominating the NYRSF and the SFWA Bulletin, both of which also are worthy of the award).

If you have an attending or supporting membership in this year’s World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal, or had one in last year’s Worldcon in Denver, you’re eligible to nominate, too.

Neo-Opsis and On Spec are terrific Canadian publications. They deserve to be nominated; heck, they deserve to win. I urge you to keep them in mind when making your nominations.

Nominations for the Hugos are open right now — don’t delay, the nominating window is short. Participate — and maybe one of those shiny Hugo rockets will stay in Canada this year.

  • On Spec, Diane Walton, ed.
  • Neo-Opsis, Karl Johanson, ed.

Remember, this may be their last chance ever to become Hugo finalists, but for all time they’ll be able to proclaim “Hugo Award nominee!” on their covers.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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