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Hugo Category Highlights: Best Fanzine and Best Semiprozine

Best Fanzine: This Award is for anything that is neither professional nor semi-professional and that does not qualify as a Fancast. The publication must also satisfy the rule of a minimum of 4 issues, at least one of which must have appeared in the year of eligibility.

This is the last of the “Fan” categories, meaning the ones that don’t meet the Hugo definition of professional, which, as I’ve mentioned a time or two before is loose enough to drive a Death Star through.

At a guess, I’d say the rule of thumb for whether or not something fits here is that it doesn’t fit better into any other category, and it doesn’t pay or – at most, if a printed zine – pays in copies. Based on the rules and prior nominations, blogs about writing definitely count, including book review blogs that focus mostly on SF & F.

Based on how I read these rules, Mad Genius Club is eligible (please don’t. Most of us don’t want a rocket, we just want to see more people involved with the awards process). So is Otherwhere Gazette. Tangent Online is a good, solid contender. I also like Shiny Book Reviews for their reviews of books that are often overlooked by the bigger players (they review a lot of independent and small press works as well as works from the major publishers).

Take a look, and if you like what you see, drop a recommendation in

Best Semiprozine: This is the first of the three serial publication/work categories. To qualify, the publication must have produced at least 4 issues, at least one of which must have appeared in the year of eligibility (this being similar to the requirements for magazine editors in Best Editor, Short Form), and meet additional requirements as listed below.
Semiprozine is the most complicated category because of the need to define semi-professional. A lot of science fiction and fantasy magazines are run on a semi-professional basis: that is they pay a little, but generally not enough to make a living for anyone. The object of this category is to separate such things from fanzines, which are generally loss-making hobbyist pursuits. To qualify a publication must not be professional (see above) and must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  1. The publication pays its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication.

  2. The publication was generally available only for paid purchase.


I’m wrapping this category into the same post for a couple of reasons: the main one being that I have absolutely – and sadly – no idea what would count here. Again the definition is kind of… flexible… but publications eligible for this have to pay something, and probably should charge something or be behind a paywall. Beyond that? This one is over to you to pick out your favorites.

Please add your favorites  – I’m only human and I can’t chase down good suggestions for every category.


Speaking of which – every category this year is also open for nominating candidates for the Retro Hugos, so naturally, Sad Puppies 4 is taking suggestions for works published in 1941. Please add any suggestions for Retro Hugos to the appropriate page with a note that this is a Retro Hugo suggestion. Some categories are sure to be a bit thin on the ground, particularly the fan and semi-pro categories, for the simple reason that it’s a heck of a lot easier to start a fancast or fanzine now than it was 75 years ago.

I’ll separate out the retro suggestions when the list is collated – hopefully we can get enough of them in enough categories to inspire some nominations, since the Retro Hugos don’t always get enough nominations to justify an award.

  1. Craig N. #

    Important note: the “1941 Retro-Hugos” are the ones that would have been awarded at the 1941 Worldcon; that is, they are for works published in 1940. So don’t nominate anything published in 1941!

    January 7, 2016
  2. Uncle Lar #

    Come on milady, strikes me that a Hugo rocket would make a fine improvised stake in a pinch. Save the trees don’t you know.

    January 7, 2016
    • Now, now. Kate is starting out nice. Dunno how long it will be possible to stay nice, but there will be plenty of time later for the, er, somewhat rocket shaped items so closely associated with one of Kate’s inspirational historical figures.

      January 7, 2016
  3. One other problem with retro fanzine Hugos is that here were so few copies of most that the potential voters will be hard pressed to find a copy of most possible candidates. The “press runs” of must were probably two digit numbers; while that for typical prozines would be in the thousands or more. Ray Bradbury’s Futuria Fantasia can be found in Project Gutenberg. I am not sure where one could find copies of any of the other possible candidates.

    January 7, 2016
  4. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    Sorry I haven’t the spoons to participate this week.

    Lotta Axis propaganda was fiction, and some of it was science flavored. (I’ve been reading some of Churchill’s war and pre war speeches.)

    There may be more historical experts who could turn up that sort of thing than could find very many qualifying samples for some of the marginal categories.

    Yes, I went there. That said, I am entirely ignorant of specifics. Okay, it looks like Hee Haw, Tokyo Rose, et al were active during that time period. I imagine Third Reich claims about the pharmacological effects of meth and coke were hilarious. Beyond that, I dunno.

    Think American war time propaganda radio serials could qualify as a podcast? Or would that be the drama category?

    January 7, 2016
  5. Iridium #

    One of the first hits on Google looks like a reasonably comprehensive list of semiprozines (and just as importantly, confirmed non-semiprozines):

    January 8, 2016
  6. Ben Yalow #

    Let me try to clarify the Fanzine/Semiprozine/professional rules. I’m not this year’s Hugo Administrator, but I’ve been part of the Hugo Administration team, and am pretty familiar with the current rules, and how they got that way.

    Initially, the professional/non-professional distinction was made on the basis of print run — if you had a print run of more than 10,000, you were professional. But, in an environment where a lot of material is distributed electronically, that no longer made sense. So the rule was changed to say that a professional publication was one that made someone a substantial amount of money. Specifically, if it provided someone with more than a quarter of their income, either personally or through a corporation, it was professional (and otherwise, non-professional).

    So the first test that a publication must pass to be in the Fanzine or Semiprozine category is whether it’s professional or not. Only non-professional publications are eligible in those categories. Note that there used to be a Professional Magazine category, but that was replaced in the 70s with Professional Editor so as to make book editors eligible (since the field went from having dozens of professional magazines in the 50s the a half dozen in the 70s; that category was later split into Editor-Short and Editor-Long).

    And the difference between Fanzine and Semiprozine is based on whether it’s totally free of money, or whether there’s money involved. If you can read it for free, and nobody gets paid for contributing (except free copies if it’s printed), then it’s a Fanzine, otherwise it’s a Semiprozine.

    This includes blogs and other electronic publications, as well as traditional fanzines (and most traditional fanzines are now available electronically, as well as on paper; the largest archive, which has a huge number of current traditional fanzines, is at If it’s free, and doesn’t pay anyone for contributions, it’s a Fanzine; if it’s behind a paywall, it’s a Semiprozine.

    A non-professional A/V work is eligible in Fancast.

    Fanwriter and Fanartist are basically writers and artists whose work appears in non-professional places.

    Note that, for works of fiction, there is no requirement for the work to have been professionally published. It simply needs to have been published for the first time in the correct year, and which of the four categories it appears in is determined by the word count.

    I hope this helps clarify the rules. It’s not an official ruling on any particular work (only the Hugo Administrator gets to make those, and the Administrator doesn’t make rulings unless a work gets enough nominations to force an eligibility determination), but following that explanation is likely to give results that the Administrator for any given year is likely to agree with.

    January 12, 2016

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