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Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation, The

Entry updated 6 March 2019. Tagged: Fan, Publication.

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UK Fanzine/Newszine edited by Tony Chester, Graham Connor (until his death in late 2018) and Jonathan Cowie. Launched at the 1987 UK Eastercon as a nominally annual A4 print publication with nine issues to 1997 (skipping 1995 and 1996); after a two-year hiatus it migrated online in 1999. Currently updated each academic term: spring, summer and autumn.

Print editions of SF² Concatenation – as it is known for short – were distributed at Eastercons and by mail to specialist UK sf bookshops. With two of the three creators being sf-loving scientists (Cowie a bioscientist and Connor a physicist), it is primarily though not exclusively aimed at sf aficionados also interested in science. The content centres on a seasonal round-up of news and reviews in both science and sf. It additionally carries standalone articles and sf Convention reviews; annual features include a diary of national and international conventions and forthcoming Cinema productions; an appraisal of the year's top ten films according to the box office, plus other selected sf, fantasy and horror movies; and a page of tongue-in-cheek whimsy on science and sf bylined "Gaia". Of particular note, and unusually for an sf fanzine, its seasonal news page summarizes developments in science taken direct from peer-reviewed, primary research journals.

The online edition [see links below] began in 1999 as a text archive of selected key articles from the printed version. In 2002, new content began to be added; from 2003 onwards, the print editions gave way to regular, seasonal on-line postings. The news section also covers major sf Awards, sf on Television, and book publishing – listing forthcoming sf, fantasy, popular-science and nonfiction books from the principal UK imprints. Each edition also features a score or two of standalone book reviews: as of January 2019, there are over 1,600 standalone fiction reviews and nearly 300 nonfiction reviews on the site. The site describes its contribution and production staff as "a loose collective of a score or so with a core team of around half a dozen."

SF² Concatenation is currently running a series of articles by scientists turned sf authors, about the scientists that have inspired them. Between seasonal updates the website also regularly republishes (with permission) examples of the "Futures" Flash Fiction stories which are a regular feature of Nature.

SF² Concatenation has developed extensive links with European and especially Eastern European fandom, including though not limited to cultural exchange visits, Convention organization and attendance, and BBC World Service Radio broadcasts. The 1994 print issue (#8) was a trilingual special in English, Romanian and Swiss German, produced with the help of Romanian fans. Recognition by the European sf fan community has taken the form of Eurocon (European SF Society) Awards: in 1994 for best fanzine (the trilingual print edition); in 1997 as best promoter (of sf); an honorary award in 2004; and best website in 2012.

Spinoff ventures have included the nonfiction book Essential SF: A Concise Guide (2005) by Jonathan Cowie and Tony Chester, an algorithm-based listing of fan-voted, award-winning or survey/poll-topping sf titles, together with works continually in print for over 75 years. The website continues to post major updates three times a year. [JCo/DRL]

further reading

  • Jonathan Cowie and Tony Chester. Essential SF: A Concise Guide (Ilford, Essex: Porcupine Books, 2005) [nonfiction: bibliography: pb/nonpictorial]


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