Semiprozine

Tagged: Publication | Theme

In the terminology of sf Fandom, this expression – once colloquial but enshrined since 1983 in the constitution of the World Science Fiction Society, the body that administers the Hugos – means a semiprofessional magazine as opposed to an Amateur Magazine, or Fanzine. Originally, according to that constitution, a magazine with a circulation of more than 10,000 is a professional magazine (though the revision of the Hugo rules which divided the Best Professional Editor category into long and short forms – the latter covering both magazines and anthologies – removed the Prozine definition). A semiprozine, it might thus be inferred, must have a circulation of less than 10,000, a requirement – if the term semiprozine had any currency beyond fandom – that would disqualify many of the most respected literary journals of the past century from professional status. The actual requirements, according to the constitution, are to have published at least four issues (at least one in the previous calendar year) in print or other media, and to fulfil two of the following five criteria: have an average press run of at least 1000 copies; pay its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication; provide at least half the income of any one person; have at least 15% of its total space occupied by advertising; or announce itself to be a semiprozine. Charles N Brown, when editor of Locus magazine (which has won numerous Hugos for Best Semiprozine), stated additionally in his regular commentaries on magazine publishing that the frequency of a semiprozine should be at least quarterly, and that unlike a professional magazine it should not have national newsstand circulation.

A number of the most important magazines of comment in the fields of sf and fantasy, and several of the magazines that publish fiction, are or have been semiprozines. The first fiction-based semiprozine to be shortlisted for a Hugo Award under this definition was Whispers in 1984 and 1985, followed by Interzone, but there were earlier magazines that could qualify as semipro retrospectively. In theory Unusual Stories published and edited by William L Crawford was the first magazine to meet some of these criteria in 1933. The semiprozine Hugo was the exclusive domain of Newszines until Interzone's win in 1995. A more decisive-seeming swing to fiction magazines came in 2009, when the winner was Weird Tales, followed by Clarkesworld in 2010, 2011 and 2013 – though Locus won again in 2012. [PN/MA/DRL]

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