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January 2002

Now that there is a Hugo Award category for Best Website, website editors are able to campaign for nominations, subtly or not-so-subtly, just like writers do. And they are.

As a potential nominee for this category — however likely or unlikely, it is hard to say, the category being unprecedented — I feel incumbent to make a clarification, and a recommendation.

First, the clarification. Judging from comments at conventions, and e-mail correspondence to Locus, most people suppose that this website is produced by the same people who produce Locus Magazine. That is not the case. Locus Magazine is the creation of Charles N. Brown, who started it in 1968 and who continues to publish and edit it to this day, with the help of an in-house and remote-via-email staff of worker-bees, contributing editors, and proof-readers. Over the past 30 years, Charles Brown and the magazine have won nearly two dozen Hugos, in fanzine and semi-prozine categories.

In contrast, Locus Online is the creation of me, Mark R. Kelly, beginning in April 1997, just about 5 years ago now. I've been a reviewer (i.e. "contributing editor") for Locus Magazine from 1989 until 2001 — when I retired from monthly reviewing — but I created the website on my own, at my initiative, though certainly with Charles Brown's approval. The design, content, and upkeep of this website are entirely my own responsibility (with no proofreaders, alas).

Certainly I would be the first to acknowledge that without Charles Brown and Locus Magazine, this website would be nowhere. It was begun with the approval and cooperation of the magazine; it continues with the cooperation and input from the magazine. Still, the website design and content, for better or for worse, are entirely my own responsibility.

I mention this on the off chance that any potential Hugo nominator might fear that the weight of yet another Hugo Award in Locus's direction might threaten the stability of the San Andreas fault in the San Francisco Bay area, where Charles Brown resides over Locus Headquarters.

But no, a nomination for this website would threaten only that fault in Southern California, where I live in Los Angeles, 400 miles south of Oakland.

That fear aside, I'd like to make a recommendation to Hugo website nominators. That is for the Locus Index to Science Fiction []. Despite the similarity of names, this is actually a distinct website, this one the responsibility of William G. (Bill) Contento. Bill has, for over a decade now, converted the Books Received listings from Locus Magazine, combined with his own indexing of the contents of books and magazines, into a massively-hyperlinked website index of published SF books and stories.

It is by far the most webbish website I know of: it takes full advantage of the capabilities of the web to continuously accumulate data, and to hyperlink it together. Think about those qualities in contrast to other SF websites that, however interesting their content might be, might as well print and distribute their updates every week or month on paper, as post it on the web...

Of course, this raises the issue of what is a distinct website. The Hugo administators seem to be leaving it up to the nominators to decide. OK, here's my take and recommendations as a Hugo nominator myself: Sci Fiction, edited by Ellen Datlow, for instance, is a distinct website from (which might be construed as the 'publisher' of Sci Fiction), and deserves to be nominated indepedently of Similarly, Fantastic Metropolis is clearly a distinct website from its host, SF Site — and both deserve nomination, in my estimation. Just as, I hope you might consider, independently, both Locus Online and the Locus Index to Science Fiction for nomination...

This leads me to an apology, for not having kept up this site, Locus Online, as well as I would normally do so, in recent weeks. The reason is that, having recently retired from reading and reviewing duties for Locus Magazine, I have returned in full force to an ongoing project of mine for nearly a decade now, namely what I'm now calling the Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards. I would construe this site, though its URL resides on the domain, as independent of Locus Online -- certainly I've deliberately set up its design as distinct from Locus Online's -- but I'm refraining from suggesting the site as yet another consideration for this year's Hugo Award, because it's not yet complete. The site as presently posted has a great deal of information, but the complete site, as I've long envisioned it, does not yet include complete results for some awards, additional indexes and cross-reference indexes, tallies and statistics of variously sliced-and-diced data, answers to frequently-asked-questions, and so on... All of these are now in work, rather obsessively in recent weeks. (If you've ever been a programmer, and fallen asleep at night thinking, for example, If I construct the bylines by linking the selected titles to the awardsname parameter for ballot/prize/shortlist type, would that solve the null-value nominee-name selection problem..??, then you'll appreciate where I've been the past three weeks.)

The complete awards site (which I dwell on because its structural inspiration is in large part Bill Contento's Locus Index to Science Fiction) should be finished sometime in the next two or three weeks, I now estimate — too late for this year's Hugo eligibility period, darn. That aside, I promise that Locus Online coverage, including all the Weblog pages and New-in-print listings, will return to full force very soon...

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