31 August, 2010

Toast of the Vogels

Time Space Visualiser, the fanzine of the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club, won the 2010 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Fanzine at the national science fiction convention held in Wellington last weekend. This is only the second time in nearly a decade that these awards have been run that TSV has picked up a Vogel, so this is cause for celebration.

As former editor and founder of TSV I am of course delighted at this news. All credit - and the actual award - should go to Adam McGechan, who took over from me as editor several years back. Adam was responsible for producing the issue (TSV 76) under consideration for this year's awards.

Several months ago I predicted here that the nomination was the most recognition TSV could hope to receive from these awards. I was wrong.

The fanzine category this year has been awarded jointly to both TSV and Phoenixine, the fanzine of the Wellington science fiction society. I presume this means that both publications received equal numbers of votes. This is remarkable given that voting took place at a convention held in Wellington and was likely attended by most if not all readers of Phoenixine. Furthermore, judging by the lack of comments on the Doctor Who club message board, it would appear that very few TSV readers were in attendance.

So how did TSV manage to do so well?

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that for the first time in the history of these awards, TSV was available for anyone to download and read as a PDF during the voting period. This was born out of necessity. The usual procedure is for physical copies of each of the nominated publications to be displayed at the convention, but this particular issue of TSV sold out many months ago and with a small-run reprint proving too costly, Adam and I elected to re-release it online. I did not have a spare physical copy available to supply to the convention, but I did provide the PDF download link, which was added to the ballot listing on the Vogel Awards website.

I'm assuming therefore that a number of voters clicked the link, downloaded the issue and had a read of it before casting their votes. Perhaps these readers were impressed at the standard of the writing, the range of articles and reviews, the great cover artwork and the well-ordered stylish layout. TSV 76 is, I think, one of the best of the half-dozen issues produced by Adam so the zine was shown off to its best advantage.

In my earlier post I stated, "The awards are not about quality but popularity." I don't mind conceding that I may have been wrong in that view. Either that or TSV is far more popular in the general New Zealand science fiction community than I had realised.

Adam has posted about winning the award on his blog here. Note: 'Adam Christopher' is his literary pseudonym.

15 August, 2010

TSV and Time Unincorporated

Time, Unincorporated is a series of books published by US-based Mad Norwegian Press reprinting collections of Doctor Who fanzine articles. Volume 1, issued last year, collected the writings of prolific fanzine contributor and author Lance Parkin. Volume 2, issued earlier this year, is a collection of essays broadly themed around the classic series by a various writers.

I recently purchased a copy of Volume 2 and have been dipping into it over the last week. Some of the material has a ring of familiarity. This is because over a third of the essays originated in the pages of Enlightenment, a rather wonderful long-running Canadian fanzine that I’ve been following for many years. Up until recently, Enlightenment was edited by Graeme Burk, who also, perhaps unsurprisingly, co-edited the second volume of Time, Unincorporated. I’ve corresponded with Graeme online a number of times over the years but we’ve never actually met.

Even though I’ve previously read some of the articles, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this great collection of intelligent and thoughtful writing, which also includes pieces from other fanzines such as Shockeye’s Kitchen, Dark Circus and Shooty Dog Thing. Although it is purportedly a collection of fanzine articles, over a third of the 74 essays have never been printed within the pages of a fanzine. There are a number of pieces from the Doctor Who Ratings Guide website and others were written especially for this book. I have no problem with this, though I do think that the inclusion of two chapters from the recent book Time and Relative Dissertations in Space (published 2007) is unwarranted. I’m sure that like myself, many other readers will have purchased both titles, rendering such duplication redundant.

The Time, Unincorporated series is of interest to me both as an enthusiastic supporter of fanzines and as a fanzine editor. So far the series has not featured anything from my own publication, Time Space Visualiser, but that is not a reflection on the quality of material. The omission is in fact due to future plans for the series. To quote from the foreword to Time, Unincorporated Volume 2:
Outside the UK, one of the most influential zines published over the past twenty years is TSV (Time Space Visualiser), the fanzine of the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club, but it’s hoped that TSV will get a future volume of Time, Unincorporated all to itself.
That's very flattering to have my fanzine described in such glowing terms. It was not until I bought a copy of the book and read the foreword that I realised that plans (however tentative) for this future volume had now been made public.

Publisher Lars Pearson first ran the idea past me of putting out a TSV themed volume of Time, Unincorporated back in 2008. Soon after that Graeme asked if he could publish material from TSV in the volumes he was compiling. These two approaches seemed to me to be at odds with each other. Naturally Graeme would have wanted to pick out the best and most interesting pieces from TSV’s back catalogue, leaving the later TSV specific volume lacking some of its showpieces.

We did not get as far as discussing the individual items under consideration for reprinting, but Lars, Graeme and myself all agreed to hold back all TSV material for its own volume. In retrospect I can see that this decision denied Volume 2 of some of its potential diversity. The reason that there is so much material from Enlightenment in that book I think is at least partly attributable to the withdrawal from consideration of anything from TSV.

There are many more volumes planned in the Time, Unincorporated series, and Lars has indicated that the TSV volume will be some way down the track. So, as yet, I’ve made little progress with this project. I have at least made a start on assembling a list of contents.
It has been interesting to look back through past issues and select pieces that I believe are deserving of a place in the collection.

For copyright reasons, the book will not feature fiction or artwork, so the collection with be comprised of articles and longer story reviews. There are several pieces that have reappeared in other publications which may count against their inclusion. In addition, I will need to seek permission from each and everyone of the writers whose material I want to use. I have kept in contact with many past contributors, but I daresay there will be some individuals who will require a bit of detective work to track down.

I think too, that just as Graeme has done in his volume, I may commission some original pieces for the collection so that, even for someone familiar with all 76 past issues of TSV, there will still be something new and interesting to discover in the book.