Candidates for Best SF Web Site Hugo
ConJosé, the 2002 World Science Fiction Convention, has taken advantage of its right to create a one-off Hugo Award category by announcing that it will give an award for the best Web Site related to science fiction or fantasy. In an effort to help nominators, I have gathered a list of sites that impress me as both eligible for the award and worthy of consideration. The groups into which I have divided the candidates are, I hope, self-explanatory. If they aren't, it doesn't matter. Within groups, the listing is alphabetical - not in order to be fair but just because it's easiest that way.
A site's inclusion on this list is not necessarily a ringing endorsement, but I have tried to limit the selection to those with primarily stfnal content, an acceptably pleasing appearance and frequent updates. Some sites that might have been included proved to be inaccessible to less-than-state-of-the-art browsers. I take it that their creators aren't interested in low-techs like me and have left them out. Also out are sites whose servers don't reliably respond and those on which I happened to see excessive numbers of dead links.
Update, 4/19/02: Here are the nominees, as announced today by ConJosé:
SF Site, Rodger Turner, publisher/managing editor
Tangent Online, Dave Truesdale, senior editor; Tobias Buckell, webmaster
Showing how easy it is to overlook first rate sites in the semi-chaotic world of the Web, three of the nominees aren't listed below. Each is, however, very worthy of its nomination. Locus Online is the Web version of Locus, the science fiction field's dominant newszine. It is one of the best places to find up-to-the-nanosecond news about professional SF and also covers Worldcons and other major fan activities. SF Site is most notable for its book reviews, but it is also strong in interviews, articles and links to professionals' and fans' personal sites. Tangent Online occupies a unique niche. Its objective is to review all short science fiction works soon after publication. A $5.00 annual subscription gains access to reviews when they are posted; freeloaders have to wait three weeks. SciFi.com is the alternative name for Science Fiction Weekly, which is noted below, as is Strange Horizons.
Update, 9/2/02: And the highly deserving winner was Locus Online, Mark R. Kelly editor/webmaster. In a related development, Ellen Datlow won the Best Editor Hugo for her work on Sci Fiction.
As an experiment, the Best Web Site category proved quite successful, drawing the fourth largest number of nominating ballots (after Best Novel, Best Dramatic Presentation and Best Editor). There doesn't appear to be any sentiment for converting it into a permanent category, but perhaps Worldcons will revive it every three or five years. It would be interesting to see how the results evolve.
eFanzines includes a dozen fanzines in downloadable form, links to the Web sites of many others, a regular fanzine review column by Ted White, and some fanhistorical materials.
FANAC FanHistory Project: An archive of fanzines, photographs and other materials related to the history of science fiction fandom. New material is being steadily added. Being a (not very active) member of the sponsoring organization, I have a conflict of interest but nonetheless recommend this site highly.
The Fannish E-Mail Directory serves the simple, utilitarian purpose of facilitating communication among fans. It lists e-mail addresses and Web site URL's for several thousand fans and fannish organizations. John Lorentz deserves our gratitude for this labor of love.
The UK Science Fiction Fandom Archive's principal attraction is a complete run of Ansible. It also has updates to The Science Fiction Encyclopedia (Clute & Nicholls) and The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (Clute & Grant), Rob Hansen's in-progress history of British fandom and other interesting material.
(Note: Omitted here, as presumptively ineligible, are sites that simply reproduce the contents of a printed zine. Those belong in the Best Fanzine category.)
Emerald City, edited by Cheryl Morgan, has nothing to do with Oz; the editor just liked the name. The site is very attractive and well-designed. Content consists primarily of Cheryl's book reviews and convention reports. The PoV is that of the Cosmic Hyper-Left, but if you like that sort of thing, this is the sort of thing that you will like.
File 770: While most of the content of this site finds its way into the printed zine, its initial publication on the Web may be sufficient for Hugo eligibility. File 770, edited by Mike Glyer, has long been one of the leading sources of news about fandom. Issues have recently been thicker and more frequent, contrary to the typical trajectory of faneds.
Gegenschein, edited by Eric Lindsay, began life in 1972 as a mimeographed genzine. It is now a Web personalzine consisting of pithy comments on a variety of subjects and a large number of very short book reviews. The editor is gradually adding an archive of back issues. As of this posting, he has worked his way backwards as far as 1990.
SF Crowsnest, edited by Stephen Hunt, calls itself "Europe's most visited SF/F site". It includes publishing and media news, book, video and Web site reviews, and articles on such topics as vanity publishing and "Is Buffy a succubus?". Free "subscriptions" (an e-mail summary of each issue when it's posted) are available but turn out to be an opt-in to junk e-mail lists.
SFRevu, edited by Ernest Lilley, covers news about science fiction publishing, TV and films. Its scope is similar to Locus and Science Fiction Chronicle. Issues are monthly; "subscribers" (no charge for subscriptions) receive an e-mail with a summary of the contents when each issue is posted.
Aphelion emphasizes work by new writers. It doesn't pay them but does have editors and doesn't simply publish everything submitted. Contents are fiction, plus some poetry, a column or two and a comic strip. New "issues" appear monthly.
Nuketown publishes short fiction (for which it pays a flat fee), all sorts of reviews (book, movie, game, Web site, etc.) and some odd items such as a column on Internet hoaxes. It describes itself as "pro-individual, pro-reason and pro-science".
Planet Magazine has been posting quarterly issues since 1994, probably making it the oldest surviving SF webzine. Contents consist of fiction, poems and digital artwork. Writers are not paid, but the zine's longevity suggests that the editor has some talent to finding semi-precious stones, at least, among the sludge.
Sci Fiction is a professional science fiction outlet edited by Ellen Datlow. In addition to original writing by authors like Ursula K. LeGuin, Michael Swanwick, Nancy Kress and Robert Reed, it reprints classic stories. The only evidence of its ownership by the Sci Fi Channel is its banner ads.
Science Fiction Weekly, published by the Sci Fi Channel, contains news, articles and reviews focusing on what its parent regards as science fiction. Books are not completely ignored. The presentation is, as one would expect, top quality.
Strange Horizons is a monthly zine featuring a mix of articles (mostly scientific popularizations and potted history), fiction, book reviews and poetry. It pays modestly (4¢ a word for fiction). Copies are available for free download at Fictionwise.
Bob Eggleton is a multiple Hugo-winning artist. His site includes reproductions of many of his paintings and sketches, and he is also happy to sell a painting now and then.
The Worlds of Teddy Harvia is Hugo-winning fan artist David Thayer's site for his cartoons, photographs, stories, etc. He is posting cartoons in more or less chronological order, showing the development of his work.
Evelyn Leeper, perennial Best Fan Writer nominee, has lots of SF book reviews, travelogues and convention reports on her site. Her con reports are the most thorough in the business and come close to the elusive goal of preserving conversation in the gross medium of print.
Steven H Silver, another Best Fan Writer nominee, presents book reviews and other writings, including a good guide to Chicago sightseeing (originally written for the Chicon 2000 progress reports), a long list of famous SF authors' first stories and material of alternate history.
Fo'Paws Productions, operated by Scott and Jane Dennis, sells a SF/F t-shirts and amusing latex puppets modeled after dinosaurs. Along with OffWorld Designs (see below), they deserve much of the credit for the high artistic quality of fannish attire.
Novaspace Galleries sells astronomical and other SF art work, ranging from original paintings to calendars and posters.
OffWorld Designs features t-shirts and art work by Ray VanTilburg. It also sells hats, jackets, tote bags and other merchandise, all with SF/F themes.
Science News Sites
Astronomy Picture of the Day: Each day NASA posts an astronomical photograph with a caption by a professional astronomer. Started in 1995, the site now contains over 2,000 images.
Universe Today is a beautifully constructed, information-packed site carrying news about astronomy, space flight and science in general. In addition to daily updates, it includes an archive of past stories organized by topic, an extensive bibliographical section and nearly 4,000 links to interesting sites. By permission of the publisher, each day's content is dynamically reproduced on Stromata's own Universe Today page.