Locus Online


April 1999
More Comments from the 1st Online Poll and Survey

§ Well as you can tell from my responses I am not on the cutting edge. I read SF&F, some Mystery, Historical Fiction, Male Homoerotica, History, Vampire fiction, Auto/Biography, and General Fiction. I have a huge TBR pile, so most of the new stuff doesnít get read in the year its published in. In fact I often donít buy stuff in the year its published -- so I am always looking for info about older stuff. Not real old classics, or stuff that is being re-printed, but stuff that may have been out a while. I also tend to like series and want to see more info about which books are in a given series, and what order they are supposed to be read in. Once enough books are out a series type review would be nice too.

I also like vampire fiction which seems to not be in horror anymore, so more info on that. Specifically about the books spun off of White Wolfís game World of Darkness (Vampire). I am not into the game, but do like many of the novels. They are all written by different people, and trying to find them, and not buy the game books by mistake is hard.

The comments can be taken for the magazine and/or the online site. On line if there were more reviews that would be great too. Again some older stuff, and books other than Ďbig deal blockbuster best sellersí. You can get the info on Robert Jordan, Stephen King (the rest of your list) .... anywhere, do something different.

(Locus Online feels that people who don't have huge TBR piles aren't taking their reading seriously enough.)

§ I keep checking back daily, I guess for something really exciting, or some great news, or whatever -- not sure what Iím looking for, just hope to find it one day!

(We'll keep trying.)

§ I look at Locus Online for both professional and personal reasons (as a writer and reader). I visit the site quite often and have found it very valuable. It is a great companion to the magazine, which I buy at my local bookstore each month. Great job.

§ Iíd like to see the ''Forthcoming Books'' section updated weekly.

(But (1) the information doesn't change that frequently; (2) it takes a long time for the magazine staff to assemble updated information from all those publishers; (3) the website only posts selected titles anyway. Would it help to make the current month's expected titles more prominent on the website somehow?)

§ Living overseas for the past several years, I find the Locus website an essential source of information on the field. I think youíre doing an outstanding job and would encourage you to keep at it. Iíd like you to maintain your focus on books and provide more information about authors that give us readers answers to the questions we all want to know (e.g. Should we give up hope on seeing Samuel R. Delanyís sequel to Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand?)

(Last we heard, at the Worldcon in Glasgow in 1995, Delany had rather lost interest in writing the sequel.)

Short fiction --

§ Why not ask about collections/anthologies or stories, Mr. Short Fiction Reviewer? Iíve read far more new collections than novels in the past year. Nice website, though. Keep up the good work!

§ What about best collection? I find I read more short fiction than novels, now.

(See poll #2)

Recommendations --

§ Book recommendations for the time-impaired ('if you read one new book this month...') and a button for 'planning to buy, eventually' in the poll.

(Maybe a ''waiting for the paperback'' option?)

§ Itíd be good to see ratings (like on a scale of 1 to 5) on books you mention on this site ... and not just have them lumped under one heading of ''Recommended'' ....along with whatever commentaries (summaries) you normally add.

(There have been several suggestions like this; we'll see what we can do.)

§ Iíd like to see a #1 monthly recommendation, like if you're going to read one new book this month, read this one. There's so much to read relative to the available time, that it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

(We're overwhelmed and we're the ones trying to keep up with this stuff!)

Good ol' days --

§ A SF Classics regular article focusing on pre-1960 SF.

(We'll try to keep better tabs on classic SF that comes back into print, at least, such as the current Sturgeon and E.E. Smith reprints.)

§ I would like to see Locus push for a much needed Renaissance in SF. Writers seem to have forgotten what is was that made the Golden Age great. I buy, enjoy and read more of the old stuff than any of the new efforts published today. We so need Gernsback, Wright, and Campbell to come back for a while and help our editors.

[This person voted for Empire of the Ants as best sf novel; H.P. Lovecraft as best SF writer, Lewis Carroll as best fantasy writer, and Jack Williamson as best current writer.]

§ I would read more new SF each month if it wasnít all Star Trek/Star Wars or other mass market stuff. (I.e. if there was more good, original stuff out there.) Remember the midlist? I am turning more and more to small publishers who publish better work. That usually means online purchasing, but not always.

§ Youíre doing a great job. And your website gets better and better every time I visit. Like many, Iím missing the Sense of Wonder in contemporary sf and wonder if this topic could be covered in a future print or online issue? Who are the authors who consistently write stories and novels imbued with that quality? Neil Gaiman, James Patrick Kelly, and Dean Koontz for sure. Who else?

§ Neither was listed, but I do regularly read SF Age and New York Review of Science Fiction. Also, in an upcoming poll, maybe you should ask what/how-many out-of-print books people have bought used in the last year. It might be interesting to see just how many people are out there (such as myself) who are constantly trying to find ''old'', worthwhile SF that is no longer being printed.

(Locus Online agrees there's plenty of worthwhile older SF that's out of print and deserves to be read, recognized, and remembered -- this is one of the guiding principles behind the forthcoming Locus Online Guide to the Canon (and Awards) of Science Fiction [or whatever we decide to call it] -- but we can't agree that current writers are inferior to those of yore. Less naive, perhaps; inevitably, less innocent. We readers can't be 12 years old again.)

International --

§ More international features.

§ I live in Italy, so I get the translations later than the US or UK market, so Iíll probably see the 1998 books here somewhen in 1999. Iíd like to see more non-US SF reports, like a monthly report on SF in different countries (especially non-English-speaking European ones). Regards.

(The magazine does this extensively -- the current issue, April, has reports from Greece, Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden.)

§ Came to the site for the convention listings. Plan to come back.

§ I really like Locus Online, I was very pleased to find it. Your poll caused me to discover that I either donít read ''new'' SF, or donít recognize it when I do. Iím very partial to anthologies, and I didnít see that mentioned at all in the poll, short stories seem to be absent in general.

My favorite part of the website is the editorials and letters section. I especially like to read discussions of what is happening in the field in general at a given time. The discussion of media tie-ins for example is very interesting. Iím also interested in ''craft'' discussions, though not the mechanical stuff, I find that rather dreary.


§ As much as possible! An active, vibrant SF site.

§ Cool site I'll be coming back.

§ More new writers! Or more older writers who arenít Anne McCaffrey and Robert Jordan and the other big names. Theyíre okay and all, but thereís a limit. New authors with new stories please.

§ Itís embarrassing. Iím a professional, and I read very little in my own industry. Which is one reason that I come to Locus so often -- it gives me glimpses of what I should concentrate on during those times when I am able to pay attention.

§ While I appreciate you asking if we watch TV (you donít ask about Dilbert?), you donít ask about music (filk), computer games or other relevant interests. Iím surprised at that. Most sci fi readers I know are not big TV/movie watchers, but Half-Life is a contageous desease.

Thank you for not asking about Star Wars.

(Dilbert started since the poll went online, and the questions about other interests were a sample, not an exhaustive survey of relevant interests. Next time.)

§ Locus Online is on my scan list with CNN and -- all three sites fill my need-to-know!

I read my Locus magazines from cover to cover. I enjoy the Carolyn Cushmanís reviews most of all. I read and enjoy all the ads, especially the line of ads that was showcasing individual authors with interviews (Connie Willis for Remake was a gas!). The People and Publishing section and the Forthcoming Books are also necessary to my Science Fiction Reading Habit.

Good work, keep it up.

§ It would have helped to see a list of SF/F/H books that came out in the last year, even if such list was a monster, so I could check off the books Iíve read, rather than estimate, and I could more accurately recall which I had enjoyed the most.

(Maybe we'll try this next year. Not having such a list is why we only asked for a single vote in each category, rather than 5 as in the magazine poll. For poll #2, with short fiction questions, we'll try something a bit different.)

§ Subscription info on UK and small-press magazines (Interzone, Weird Tales).

Coverage of SF/F/H on other media (audio, internet, CD-ROM).

Coverage of related non-fiction (author Biographies, artist books, books on genre writing, books on genre criticism).

(But we have links to the websites for those magazines, where they have their subscription info listed [so that we don't have to maintain it ourselves]! See the magazine links pages...)

§ More on Writing; Interviews with Agents, Distributors, Editors!

§ I would be interested in seeing reviews from readers of Locus Online posted. I would also like to see publication dates posted and British release dates distinguished from U.S dates.

§ More current news of the SF&F world; more book reviews.

(Is there news we're missing? Or isn't there enough news happening?)

§ I didnít comment when I sent my entry, but after reading some othersí comments, I thought Iíd send in this blank one with my own thoughts.

Locus is the only magazine I subscribe to (I pick up fiction magazines only when I see an author listed that Iím interested in). Without the news, reviews, and forthcoming books, Iíd be so far out of touch with whatís going on in the field that Iíd probably never pick up a book written by anyone other than the authors already on my shelf. To name just a few of the authors whose work I was clued in on through Locus: Sterling, Lethem, Noon, Egan, and most recently Dan Simmons. I have never read a Simmons book, but Iím looking forward to The Crook Factory, which I would never have heard about or seen on the bookstore shelves were it not for the Locus reviews.

As for the site, itís a great way to get the latest info (especially date-sensitive stuff like author appearances). More review content online would be nice, but short of soliciting no-fee reviews from your readership, and having to wade through the 90% garbage, how do you get decent reviews that donít undermine your print sales?

Oh, and as far as Iím concerned, online doodads and fluff like some of the polls and such requested by other readers arenít all that valuable. Any attention span-deficient web roamer can click a button and give you useless data to post. Other than the annual print poll and maybe a periodic online version like this, content should be content, not bells and whistles.

§ Youíre doing a great job; Iíve only been to the site a couple of times but each visit I found something new.

§ I especially like the (somewhat moderated) bulletin board with its commentary on the SF field.

§ Maybe coverage of comics-related material? More book reviews (perhaps reviews of books currently only available in the UK?). I like the page as it is, though I donít often read it -- I do subscribe to the regular Locus, one of my favorite magazines.

§ Science Fiction Weekly.


§ Women authors listed in the books from 1998 on this online survey.

(How about red-headed authors? Left-handed authors? Does it make a difference?)

§ Anything which will encourage readers to check out the Magazines! Asimovís, F&SF, SF Age, and Analog. We need to cultivate a stronger SF community!

(We agree, but the Locus Online staff is limited and we admit being light on covering current magazines and short fiction while working to get the vast Locus Online Guide to SF/F/H Awards And The Canon of Science Fiction [or whatever we decide to call it] up and running... Better magazine and short fiction coverage will resume shortly.)

§ I donít have a TV any more, so I donít currently watch either broadcast shows or videos. However, when I did have a TV, I watched all the shows above except ER and Voyager.

I also read SF Chronicle. (That's OK, so do we.)

Usually, I read mostly SF, but Iíve been a very reading-intensive school program, so Iíve had to cut back on my recreational reading. My typical average is 5+ SF books a month. I also read mysteries, and a wide variety of other genres.

When you list books sold, please list agents and editors as well as authors and houses.

(Hmm, so you're an agent or editor or else interested in who the agents and editors are...)

§ You can tell from my responses that I donít get out much! I, too, read Locus magazine almost cover-to-cover. I donít pay too much attention to reviewersí comments because over the years Iíve learned that my taste and theirs do not always match. I still read them, though, to at least know whatís available. I do not read much more than 1 fantasy every 5 years -- I got burned on the Thomas Covenant series, which is, I guess, still ongoing! I read as many (or, lately, more) mysteries as science fiction. I also commute enough that I listen to books on tape. Just finished listening to ''The Shipping News.'' It was excellent -- highly recommended.

§ Great site, great magazine, a better source of info than Publishers Weekly.

§ I havenít visited often enough to offer any criticism. I must say that I do love your magazine. Thanks.

§ Bringing back the periodic fiction-market information listings would be a nice touch.

(This is the kind of information that does change weekly, which is why Locus doesn't try to keep up on it. There are some websites that post this information, or you might try the SFWA Bulletin.)

A few last comments:

§ Iíd like to see Locus expand its coverage of Media tie-in books. This doesnít mean I want to see more coverage of Star Trek (oh no! :P), but instead I would like Locus to take a look (or even a relook) at *other* media book lines, some of which have made astounding improvements in the last 10 years (i.e. the Doctor Who book line bares absolutely no resemblance to what it was in 1989).

§ The occasional article by an industry insider on trends, etc., and an occasional in-depth analysis of a book or authorís works would be very interesting. Thanks, keep up the good work!

§ Your ''have you read or purchased the following 1998 books'' question needs another category -- Ďhavenít bought it or read it but planning to as soon as money finds its way into my pocket.í As a college student with no time or money, I find your list of books like a shopping list were I to win the lottery tomorrow.

(Reviewers and magazine publishers often forget that many readers don't have the easy access to current books that they do. Depending on the response to the second poll, we'll consider trying to keep closer tabs on paperback releases of important books.)

§ Iíd love to see classifieds (or links) for employment opportunities in SF-related industries (books and media).

§ I love the site, and would like to see more reviews (of books not covered in the magazine, or of web sites). Maybe some retro reviews of minor gems or forgotten classics, or even group reviews by theme. Also, more opinion columns and letters.

(...All comments duly noted.)

© 1999 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.