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The Decline And Fall Of The Big Three Empire

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My review of The Rise Of The Cyberzines by Mike Ashley was published in the BSFA Review #18. This will be available as a free download on the BSFA’s website in a couple of months and I’ll post a link then. But for now (and following the recent announcement of this year’s Hugos) I wanted to pick up on a point I make in the review:

Ashley writes that “this volume [became] longer than anticipated and has meant that I have had to prune the appendices.” As we’ve seen, there are other things he could have pruned but there are still near enough a hundred pages of appendices, almost entirely a list of every issue of every magazine covered by the book. This raw data is a valuable resource… for a small number of people. What would have been more useful was greater analysis but elsewhere Ashley doesn’t take a very data-driven approach to the book.

He opens the book with the killer fact that “the last short story from a traditional print magazine to win [the Hugo Award] was in 2012, and the last to be nominated was in 2018.” It is pretty eye-opening reading this now; from the standpoint of 1991, it seems miraculous. But the book contains only ten tables and not a single one of them compares 1991 to 2020.

The first table, right on the second page, summarises the venues responsible for the most Hugo and Locus nominations and Gardner Dozois ‘Year’s Best’ selections between 1991-5. This clearly shows Asimov’s domination of the field and is a fascinating and succinct snapshot of the first half of the Nineties. The exercise is repeated but in a different format and with a different scope of Hugo, Locus and Nebula nominations for 1996-2001. Then bizarrely we jump to Nebula nominees only for 2013-2016.

So I thought I’d do a few charts myself to accompany the review. Firstly, one that tells the whole story of the book:

Second, a variation on this theme highlighting the extraordinary fading of Asimov’s dominance over the last couple of decades (and particularly the last ten years):

And finally a pair showing the end of the print era and the rise of the online area, highlighting a potential successor Big Three but also the greater market diversity.

Written by Martin

15 September 2022 at 06:51

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