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Brown, Charles N

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Editor, Fan.

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(1937-2009) US publisher and editor, an sf fan who began his involvement in the field in the 1950s and who remains best known for co-founding (with Ed Meskys and Dave Vanderwerf) and running the sf news magazine Locus in 1968, initially as a Fanzine (see Newszines) addressed primarily to fans in the Boston, Massachusetts area; but eventually expanding its remit until it became the default organ of record and source of reliable information for and about the entire field: dispensing news, reviews, bibliographical updates, interviews, obituaries, Convention data and reports, and some gossip. Eventually, the sf world began to see itself through Locus. Under various masthead descriptions of his role, Brown remained the central figure behind the magazine, which had won twenty-nine Hugo awards in its category by the time of his death, shortly after he had edited issue #582 (July 2009); that issue lists him as Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. In person, Charlie Brown – a nickname he disliked for over half a century, ever since the Comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M Schulz (1922-2000), became famous – could be opinionated, though always knowledgeable; but (as Charles) he was deeply convinced that Locus: The Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field (a subtitle which expanded over the years) could only succeed if two conditions were met: that it was comprehensive; and that it propounded no agenda – Brown never indulged in feuds or campaigns in its pages – beyond an implicit but utterly clear commitment to the sense that sf (and later fantasy) comprised a body of imaginative literature of great significance. Charlie was a goad; Charles was a mentor.

In collaboration with William G Contento, Brown began in the mid-1980s to compile yearly round-up volumes which recorded the growing bibliography of the field with some thoroughness, though their dependence on the monthly Books Received columns in Locus – initially compiled solely from books received for review – somewhat constricted the range of earlier volumes (see Bibliographies). But as the compilations of the monthly Locus checklists grew in sophistication, the sequence of round-ups itself became more and more valuable – Hal W Hall's ongoing Research Index from the 1988 volume onwards was a significant addition – and later volumes were very nearly comprehensive. The sequence covered the years 1984 through 1991, with coverage year 1984 being issued out of sequence [see Checklist for titles]. The bibliographical function of the sequence was continued through the annual issue on CD-ROM of The Locus Index to Science Fiction, edited by Brown and William G Contento only. Brown's own very substantial book collection, amassed over many years in conjunction with Locus, was acquired after his death by Duke University; proceeds from the sale were fed back into the magazine. In his earlier career, Brown had written book reviews for Asimov's and elsewhere, and throughout his life he served on juries for various awards. But almost all of his career, and most of his life, was Locus. [JC]

see also: Anthologies; Eaton Award; Small Presses and Limited Editions.

Charles Nikki Brown

born New York: 24 June 1937

died in the air over San Francisco, California: 12 July 2009


works as editor


Locus Annual Roundup

other works as editor


previous versions of this entry

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