Here are comments, presented anonymously and grouped by theme, submitted by voters in this year’s Locus Poll and Survey. Results of the poll were published in the magazine’s July issue; survey responses will appear in August.


About the poll and suggestions for making it better…

Keep up the good work! But could we go back to Tax Day as the poll deadline?


April 1 is too early a deadline for the Locus poll; I can’t get as much read as I’d like when the deadline is this early! You appear to weathered Charles Brown’s death well and are still producing a quality magazine. Much appreciated!

Keep up the great work. I do think that non-fiction books and art books should be two separate categories in the Locus Poll. I also regret having historical anthologies (such as Straub’s American Fantastic Tales) lumped with original anthologies, and having historical collections (such as the ongoing Sturgeon volumes) lumped with collections by contemporary writers (such as Skillingstead’s), but those would be tougher knots to cut.

A good idea to review and Poll horror/dark fantasy, given the numbers in 2009.

Please, PLEASE start acknowledging the difference between middle grade fantasy & young adult fantasy.

I don’t think that the poll is fair. You’ve picked some stories (novellas, novelets and short stories), which by my opinion don’t represent the best of the last year’s crop, but I’m not such a fanatic to go through every issue of Interzone, Black Static, F&SF or Asimov’s to pick my favourites, although I know I should. I think that almost none of your picks would be in my first five.

Is there a long list somewhere of all the fiction that comes out in a given year? I rarely know when anything I read was published, so I’m missing a lot of write in opportunities.

Filling out this poll has shown me, yet again, that I really need to start reading new releases more often.

For the umpteenth year in a row, your survey presumes that everyone reading LOCUS has at least completed high school. I point this out every year.

I did not think combining art books with general non-fiction was fair to either. They both deserve a separate category. Locus has remained at a high caliber of professionalism despite the death of Charles Brown. Thank you. I believe you said you started a new mailing system. At least for me it takes even longer than before. The change added two more days to the time it takes for me to get the magazine. As a long time reader, I believe that SF is as vibrant as ever. However, I notice that it is not as represented in e-titles offered for sale. Once again, thanks for the fine work. My monthly Locus is a much awaited event. Locus Online is also very much enjoyed.

This was almost too long. I would say next year make this shorter.

It is time for a new ‘All-Time Best’ Poll from Locus. It’s been over a decade since the previous one. Inquiring minds need the vital information that only you fine folks can intelligently and impartially gather, collate, and publish. I’ll spring for a new subscription if you do! Sorry about the tacky attempt at bribery, but I’m desperate. Thank You!

I would like to see “artwork” as a category both in the poll and in the survey (as in “subjects you are interested in”).

How about another “all time” poll? Wouldn’t it be easier now with your evidently streamlined online polling process (see above)?

I question the wisdom of combining all categories of magazines; I don’t see how you can get any meaningful results.

Either the horror or fantasy categories should explicitly include “urban fantasy” — that’s a big part of my reading that I didn’t really see a place to indicate.

Should add ebooks to the new/used categories. In addition to cable/satellite/netflix, consider adding Roku or a generic ‘watch the Internet on your TV’ category.

As usual, I can’t vote for new books as I wait for the paperbacks — ditto magazine stories, as I wait for the “best of” collections.

It might be useful to collect information about what people have bought but haven’t yet read — I have a number of books from the lists that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

Nice upgrade on the poll!

Some of your questions don’t have enough response options.

Your server appears to be misbehaving — when I submit this poll there’s a long wait, then I’m presented with a blank screen rather than the expected ‘thank you’ screen. You may receive several copies, since I’m resubmitting it until I either give up or get a proper confirmation.

Had major trouble getting this to go through online. Hope it didn’t go through multiple times.

I may have submitted this twice, because the first try at submitting this did not appear to work.

An idea for a future poll: Name your top 3 to 5 top SF main ideas that interested, excited or have stuck with you during your SF reading days: i.e. Ringworld, Dune, Spindizzy taking Scranton PA into outer space(Cities in Flight), hermaphordite civilization in Left Hand of Darkness, inside Rama, or Stapledon’s disembodied viewpoint cruising through 2 billion years of human history. Those ideas, concepts, worlds, artifacts, etc. that you find most memorable and which define SF for you. Just a suggestion.

Suggest adding “How many used books do you buy a year?” Include hc/tp/pb as one category. Also, “Do you use book swapping websites?” “Monthly or annually?” “How many sites?” I get used books from swapping, say 10-40 annually.

I’m a book hoarder more than a book collector. 🙂 A very large percentage of the books I buy are “remainders” and I’m never sure if they count as “new” or “used”.

Putting non-fiction with art books doesn’t make sense to me, they should be separate categories.

I would be interested in finding out in the ebook reader section how many people have Kindles vs other ereaders. And next year you may need to add in the iPad.

Excellent series of questions, though I do wish there were more concerning horror/dark fantasy.

How about adding filk to related subjects. (I just was at 2 of the 3 filk conventions that have occurred this year and its only the 2nd week of February.)

I buy lots of books (I have a 50-150$ *monthly* book budget based on what appears and financial status) but over 90% of the books I buy are now in electronic form so they count as new but do not appear in the form above; I recommend adding ebooks to it for next year

Fun fun survey I had an enjoyable time reading and filling out this survey. Thanks!!!!!!

Whatever happened to your fun poll questions, the quirky ones like what kind of pets do you have?


About science fiction and fantasy and the current state of the field…

SF & F makes life worth living! There is nothing more creative and fun than exercising the imagination at the highest levels – world-building in all media.

It seemed a lackluster year for short fiction this year, but the best were really good. I thought it was a great year for SF novels. Due to the economy I haven’t been able to buy as much as I normally do. Locus continues to be the best SF/Fantasy news magazine (in print and online) of any of them.

Wake me when the vampire/werewolf/faerie/etc fad is over. Yawn.

It’s tough to lose SF/F/H venues like IROSF and Jim Baen’s Universe, but others start up. And frankly, there’s an embarrassment of riches available from publishers. For 2010 poll you should ask if people have seen Avatar? In 3-D? Gone to see 3-D movies in general? Thanks!

I have virtually stopped buying new SF, mainly because I still have so many books (and magazines) that I haven’t read. Why pile on even more? Unfortunately, I will probably not renew my Locus subscription — you’re doing a great job — but I can’t see the value in trying to keep up with the current scene any longer.

The best thing, hands down, last year was The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny. Otherwise, I see more and more “product” and less and less which even mildly interests me. I’m almost ready to give up on SF completely — almost, but not quite.

The survey doesn’t allow for it, but I’m actively trying NOT to buy any new fiction in print form, except for an occasional signed book. I have had a Kindle for almost a year now, and buy all my book-length fiction on it through Amazon’s Kindle store. I do still subscribe to many print magazines, but I confess to reading very little magazine fiction. I’ve thought about subscribing to Asimov’s on the Kindle, but haven’t made the jump. My rule now with books is, “if it doesn’t have lots of pictures, charts, and graphics, it’s on the Kindle.” No discussion.

There seems to be a lot of “Romance” SF or Fantasy novels coming out now. A lot are disguised as “Urban detective” stories. They all seem to have a woman on the cover holding either a sword, a gun or some sort of weapon.

I have been finding that I am purchasing less books than last year. This seems to be because there are less to purchase. I’ve noticed a huge increase in Fantasy/Horror/Romance fiction with vampires. This is not something I purchase.

Reading less SF (and less fiction in general) as I get older. For the most part it just doesn’t seem to hold my attention.

I really need to start reading more new sci-fi. I didn’t recognize most of the work/names listed in the poll! I’ve been writing and reading mostly horror this year… definitely need to branch out again more.

So many books, so little time.

I’m not a big sci-fi fan, but I’m good at discerning quality. If it’s sci-fi and I like it, it’s probably amazing.

The number of books I buy has gone to 0 since I got my Kindle. I still buy books (probably more then before), but am not sure how you would classify them. I buy about 20-30 e-books per year now, so feel free to include them wherever you would like to. It’d be great if I could convert my hundreds of paperbacks in to Kindle books, but no cigar… Keep up the great work! I am sure Charles would be proud of you! And man, for someone I have never met in person, I sure do miss Charles!

I’m noticing a definite shift to electronic media, even for traditional magazines, and to multi-media approaches like podcasts. It feels like spec fic is in the midst of a slow transition from print to e-books, e-mags, etc. I keep hoping this will include more experimentation with things like hypertext, music soundtracks and sound effects, links to non-fiction on sf and fantasy topics or maguffins, and who knows what else. The future is here! Let’s dive in!

As the television networks (especially “Syfy”!) continue to fail in meeting the desires of the reading and thinking public, the internet stretches to meet our needs, desires, and demands. Visible social evolution.

I most love “hard science fiction” but love to read pre-1920 speculative fiction precursors of science fiction. I read Locus every month cover to cover.

I answered “0” to most of your questions about how many hardcover, trade, and paperback books did I buy because I have almost completely gone “over to the Kindle side.” I purchased over 30 Kindle novels and downloaded over 50 (legal) free ebooks last year. It is kind of hard to vote for Baxter’s ARK since it won’t be available in the US until later this year. I would like to have voted for FLOOD which came out in May of 2009 (Kindle a bit later). Just an observation.

I am so far behind in my reading because of research that I am lucky to be reading books published three to five years ago. Thus I will not be able to nominate any books or stories from 2009 until about 2013. But I do get to Locus within the year it is published. And btw my “subscriber number” looks nothing like your example

Wish I had time to keep up with all the new stuff that’s written each year. It keeps getting harder to do so.


About Locus and the passing of Charles N. Brown…

Thank you for continuing Locus! The Quality is high and I still read it cover to cover after all these years.

I am a loyal reader and buy your magazine every month. I have never subscribed as I don’t have a very big mail box and I don’t want to clog it up with magazines. However, you can always count on me buying your magazine at the news stand. Keep up the good work. I was sorry to see the passing of Charles Brown this last year. My condolences.

I could write all sorts of things. Locus is doing a great job, both in print and online. Keep up the good work and all of that . . . it’s true. But I can’t write all that much at the moment. I miss Charles. Doing the survey just reminded me that he’s gone. Dang.

Hi! Thanks for another year of good stuff.

Since Locus has been such a fundamental part of my life for so many years I’m thrilled that you guys are continuing to do such a great job despite the untimely loss of Charles (May His Memory Live Forever!). Keep up the good work, for all of us.

Still sorry about Charles! But Locus is still going strong. Keep up the good work! There is too much fantasy (or not enough sf…) and really too much series of novels.

Thanks for carrying on the great tradition of Locus!

I love Locus, and look forward to receiving and reading it each month. Keep up the good work.

Thanks for being there!

Love it. Glad Charlie Brown provided for it to continue after his passing. I would be in the dark about so much in the SF/F and Horror world without Locus.

We will all miss Charles, but he left the magazine in good hands. Keep up the good work! I wish I had more time to read…and that “old age” hadn’t settled in my eyes so soon.

Locus is fabulous. Thank you for continuing on after Charles Brown’s death. Sorry I couldn’t vote for more categories. As a librarian, I have to read lots of other stuff besides SF.

Thank you for continuing Locus after Charles’ death. He would be proud of the continued quality of the publication and its staff! It remains the only magazine I read cover to cover.

Locus is especially important in helping me keep up with the huge amount of material published in SF (even if that amount is down from previous years) that might have some interest to me. I have had much less time in the last couple of years than usual to read anything outside of academic and research-oriented material, so Locus in both paper and digital forms has gained even more importance in giving me some information on what is being published that I might take the time to read. You have both the best reviewers and the best information–a combination impossible to beat! Bravo!

You guys are doing a great job in Mr. Brown’s absence. Locus reviewers have turned me to many, may good and worthwhile books. Long may you run.

I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Charles. He made reading about SF interesting and personal. He will be missed. Good Luck to all of you who are carrying on the magazine. I will continue to be a subscriber as long as you guys will continue to publish. Hang in.

RIP Charles Brown. The Locus crew has done a great job in his absence.

Thanks for Locus. I miss Charles.

Great magazine – the only way I can ever keep up with the genre. I am glad that Charles Brown’s legacy will continue – I started reading Locus when I was in high school in the mid-1970s.

I love Locus! I hope you all are transitioning okay after the sad loss of Charles. Please keep up the wonderful work!

I’m really really sorry we lost Charles. He was always so kind and supportive whenever he met me, and now that I’ve finally sold one of my completely own books to a major publisher and dedicated it to him, I just wish he could have still been around to see it. But the next best thing to having Charles and Locus, is still having Locus. Hang in there, guys, if I sell another major book I plan to do the ten-year thing.

Thanks for keeping Locus going. I hope to see it last at least as long as I do.

Vous faites un travail formidable, continuez ! You are making a great magazine, thanks

Just keep up the good work! It’s been amazing seeing what you all have continued to accomplish since Charles passed away — but we’re not surprised… knew you were all up to the challenge, and to exceeding the challenge! Looking forward to introducing my niece and nephew to Locus as well, in about ten years, so don’t go anywhere!

Keep on truckin’…

I can’t vote for favorite writings because I haven’t read enough of the nominated pieces. Best of luck to all! And thanks for continuing Locus post Charles Brown. He is missed, but you’re all going a great job.

Keep up the great work!

Go on, go on, go on — we need you.

Locus is unique as a magazine which covers everything in its domain. It has no competitors real in SF.

My condolences about the loss of Charles Brown. I never had a chance to meet him, but I very much enjoyed his voice and vision in the pages of Locus. Thank you for continuing to publish an indispensable magazine. (And in case you’re wondering why I’m not a current subscriber, I choose to take the financial hit of buying the magazine at newsstand prices, to encourage Barnes & Noble to continue carrying it so new readers will have a chance to discover it.)

Brilliant work!

Keep up the good work. I would like to see the print in the magazine a little larger. Sometimes it’s hard to read the smaller print and caused eye strain.

May Locus live forever! Bye, Charlie…

I was sorry that Charles passed away last year but I am glad that the staff is keeping the magazine still going. Thanks for a good job.

Keep up the good work! I will subscribe again as soon as I am out of my personal bankruptcy.

Honestly, no great interest in foreign sf reports, I just skip them. Otherwise, love the magazine.

Please don’t interpret my sparse voting as disinterest; it’s purely a time issue. As a mother and grandmother who works full time and whose husband had a stroke, I just wish I had more free time for recreational reading. I DO, however, look forward to Locus every month; it’s one of the few magazines that I subscribe to that I read cover to cover. Thanks for all you do.

I buy Locus at the bookstore when I can. Thanks for the poll!

Thank you Locus for a great publication.

I try to support you as much as possible by linking to Amazon through your site when I buy books. I wish you had more reviews/synopses with which to do so. Thank you, however, for putting online as much as you do.

Thank you so much for being there. It is hard to imagine feeling in touch without Locus. I don’t know how to define SF, but my best definition is “it’s what Locus covers.”

I want to express my condolences to the staff of Locus on the loss of Charles N. Brown. I also want to express my pleasure that you’re all ‘soldiering’ on. Locus deserves to continue — it’s irreplaceable.

I’m particularly interested in heroic/high fantasy/sword & sorcery and would love to see more coverage of these subgenres.

Keep up the good work.

I regularly use Locus Online for reading suggestions. I have written reviews of a number of fantasy books on and am in general very interested in literary fantasy and sci-fi as well as the intersections between myth, speculative fiction and history/historical fiction. I mainly read in English, which is my second language but would be very interested in translations of non-English works in the genre (though I try to follow what happens in the genre in Denmark and Sweden).

Do more with urban fantasy.

The genre of romantic Science Fiction is huge, and I wish Locus gave it more coverage.

I am a Speculative Poet that spends most of my retirement writing SF Poetry. Locus magazine has been extremely helpful in having me make decisions, which books-magazines, I prefer to read. Keep up the good work. “Thank You”

Thanks as always for providing an outlet for fans to simply vote on what we like best.

You’re doing a great job in what must have been a difficult year for you.


Liza Groen Trombi writes in the August issue editorial—

I had a chance to read through all the comments that came in with the Poll & Survey this month. Most of the notes were people saying that they missed Charles, but were impressed that we had maintained the quality, and that they were still enjoying every issue. The encouragement goes a long way around here. A couple of folks said the April 1 deadline was too soon after the Recommended Reading issue for them to read enough. Noted. It did help us to have a couple more weeks to prep for the Locus Awards, but I’d rather have more meaningful votes, so we’ll probably push it back to Tax Day again this year. Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote and do the survey.

From Locus Online’s editor Mark R. Kelly—

We’ll consider suggestions for expanding or adjusting various categories of the poll and survey, though one limitation is the physical amount of space on the printed Locus Poll & Survey form (unless we abandon that altogether). We also consider the trade-off between making changes for sake of tracking new trends and maintaining stable categories for generating results that are meaningfully comparable from year to year.

We did have some server issues with the poll form, and invested in an upgrade to our server in April.

The website does plan to host a new all-time survey (or perhaps a series of them), sometime later this year.