Locus

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US Semiprozine (1968-current), edited by Charles N Brown (calling himself Charlie Brown in earlier days) until his death shortly after working on issue #582 (July 2009); further editorial staff provided support in the twenty-first century, with Jennifer A Hall and Kirsten Gong-Wong sharing credit for Locus's Hugo wins in 2003 and 2004, and Kirsten Gong-Wong and Liza Groen Trombi from 2006; Trombi has been editor-in-chief since #583 (August 2009). Published by Locus Publications in Oakland, California, since the 1970s.

Locus was founded in New York by Brown with Ed Meskys and Dave Vanderwerf as a one-sheet news Fanzine or Newszine; when Brown's partners dropped out, his then wife Marsha Brown joined him as co-editor. At that time the magazine appeared between fortnightly and monthly. Brown divorced, became sole editor, remarried in 1970, and his new wife Dena Brown became the new co-editor. Locus (and the Browns) moved to the San Francisco area in 1972, a year after winning the first of its many Hugos.

In 1976 Charles Brown gave up his job as an electrical engineer and began to edit Locus full-time (Dena Brown had worked full-time on it 1972-1975). He divorced again in 1977, and became sole editor; the magazine effectively became a semiprozine at this point, since Brown was attempting to earn a living from it alone; the first paid employee was hired in 1977. During the 1970s the newsletter became a monthly, increased in size, and began (from 1974) listing all sf books published in the USA. By 1980 the circulation had topped 5000, reaching 7000 in 1984. In 1983 it increased to 48pp an issue and switched to computer setting; it became fully desk-top published with laser typesetting from 1986. Photographic covers, usually of authors highlighted in interviews, have long been the norm.

By the 1990s Locus (74pp as of June 1992 and varying between 70pp to 86pp more recently) had long been established as the trade newspaper of sf; its paid circulation has varied around 8,100-8,700 between 1988 and 1994, falling off slightly from the high of 1990. Its clear superiority over all other news magazines in the field has been confirmed by the astonishing number of Hugos (29) it has received, beginning with eight for Best Fanzine to 1983, and a further 21 1984-2008 for Best Semiprozine, winning consistently for the first nine years of the latter category's existence. The predictability of Locus's annual Hugo, which had proved irritating to some in the sf world, proved illusory when Science Fiction Chronicle won in this category in 1993 and 1994, and voters subsequently turned to smaller fiction semiprozines in 2009-2011; however, Locus returned to win its thirtieth Hugo in 2012. Thereafter, a further rules change has excluded it from the Semiprozine category.

Wholly professional in appearance, Locus excels in its news coverage (with regular columns from overseas, including the UK and much of Europe, Australia, Russia, China and occasionally various Latin American countries). Its book-review coverage is very ample, taking up a large proportion of the magazine. Brown's policy of not printing strongly adverse reviews, while understandable in view of the magazine's reliance on the book trade for advertising, is unfortunate. The policy matters less in practice than in theory, since most reviews are intelligent and well informed, although some readers find them somewhat bland overall. Nonetheless, Locus is indispensable for professionals in the sf field, and was one of the most important references used in the compilation of this encyclopedia. Locus polls its readers annually about their favourites in different categories of sf publishing, and there is a case for arguing that the Locus Awards are more securely based across the sf readership than are the more celebrated Hugos. Locus also surveys annually its subscribers' ages, occupations, reading habits, etc. Locus Publications publishes books and digital media (for further details of which, see Charles N Brown and William Contento).

Its online presence Locus Online was launched in April 1997 [see links below]. The current website, run by "Electronic Editor-in-Chief" Mark R Kelly, not only offers summaries of breaking news, blog commentary and links to notable sf developments on the web, but hosts various resources including the cumulative Locus Index to Science Fiction and the invaluable Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards. The latter, often more up-to-date than Awards' own official websites, was completely redesigned as the Science Fiction Awards Database in 2012. Though the print edition continues, Locus began digital publication of its full content from #600 (January 2011), with various ebook formats available to subscribers. The magazine is now owned by a nonprofit organization, the Locus Science Fiction Foundation. [PN/DRL]

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