Monthly Archives: October 2010

World Fantasy Con, Columbus OH

I am indeed at this year’s World Fantasy Convention, in Columbus, Ohio; I arrived Wednesday evening, and will be here through Monday morning. It’s a good thing I had no dinner invitation this evening (not that this was likely), or I might not have gotten my daily post for the website done today — the latest Magazines and Websites page, just posted a few minutes ago.

The site for this year’s convention — Columbus, Ohio — is still not an obvious location for a fantasy convention; the most relevant aspect is that the city was the home of James Thurber, the noted American humorist, though not for fantastic themes. At a glance, from my hotel room on the 18th floor, Columbus looks like many another Midwestern city, with its tight concentration of downtown high-rises surrounded by miles of industrial suburbs.

The convention is hosted in the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the adjacent Greater Columbus Convention Center; the facilities are entirely adequate, with a handy food court in the convention center. There is a substantial dealers room, with mostly book dealers, and a decent art show, though I can’t say that much of the fantasy art there appeals to me.

I’ve attended many of the discussion panels, and will post notes about them next time. After years of attending cons, the subjects of convention panels aren’t the attractions — they tend to recycle — rather, what attracts are the the panelists; but between the subjects and the panelists, there were several worth noting (–next time). In addition, a benefit of attending conventions is to meet in person people you’ve only dealt with via email or online; and this year I met Stephen Haffner and (‘the’) John DeNardo, and that was worthwhile. More on the panels tomorrow.

I joined an interesting dinner group last night, Friday night, consisting of Farah Mendlesohn, Karen Burnham, and a group of others, for a stroll down to Barley’s Brewing Company, where we ate burgers and drank beer (and gin and tonics) and talked about the Elizabeth Moon kerfuffle. Otherwise my meals have been uneventful.

I might also mention that I attended the annual Locus Foundation meeting, Friday morning, where were discussed finances, plans for the Foundation, which will acquire ownership of the magazine shortly, and plans for the future. There are several imminent changes scheduled to coincide with the 600th, January 2011, issue of Locus Magazine, that will be announced soon.

Considering Issues

I was cleaning up the homepage today and decided to build a reverse-chronological thread backwards of ‘previous posts’, analogous to the links on io9.com or Tor.com that lead to URLs like “http://www.tor.com/?page=2″. (Parts of Locus Online are automated via WordPress and have such links; the main part of the site, including the homepage, is hand-built and manually maintained, with only feeds from the News and Roundtable blogs automated.)

I arranged the previous posts by month, on fixed pages, so that the bottom of the homepage now offers links to archives for September, August, and so on. (I should note that there have been, all along, pages that archive posts by group — reviews, monitor listings, etc. — just not all together in one chronological stream.)

The division by month is somewhat arbitrary, but it aligns with the magazine publication. And it recalls the debate a while back about the distinction, if there is one, between magazines and websites, and how to distinguish between websites that use the issue model, with content posted once a month typically, or the blog model, with continuous posting every day. (On a technical note, I debated how to handle hybrids like Lightspeed in the database where I compile descriptions for the magazines/websites page. Lightspeed does come in issues, but releases parts of each issue weekly, so demands attention more often than monthly. I decided to create a single database entry for each Lightspeed issue, and update that one entry thoughout the month, rather than create a new entry for each week’s posts. You can see that in the descriptions of Lightspeed on those pages, and in how many links it creates on the associated Directory page.)

What struck me in compiling the Locus Online archive pages today, and in tracking the numerous online ‘zines lately, is the difference in volume among them. If you gather a month’s worth of Locus Online posts onto a single page, you get something that looks like this: September 2010. That’s moderately impressive as an “issue’s” worth of material, if I do say so myself — acknowledging of course that 1/3 or so of the posts are material derived from the magazine, while the many News posts (put out by Locus HQ in Oakland) don’t show up in this view at all.

Gather up a month’s posts from Tor.com or io9.com and it would be even more substantial. At the other extreme, it’s remarkable that *most* of the online fiction ‘zines, I would say, publish noticeably less material than the average print mag, per issue or per year. Most online fiction ‘zines publish a couple stories per issue, perhaps four, over the course of a month; those with more than that, like Subterranean or Flurb, publish less frequently. This would be more obvious if everything was in print, in physical form. Seen on the web, volume is less apparent, and what impresses is the design of the site — and of course the quality of the material — more than the volume.

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Update Saturday 9 Oct 2010 — On the September index page I’ve tipped in the entire list of News blog posts from that month, replacing the link to the blog archive. I’ll do this on the other pages, and similar lists for the Roundtable posts, presently.