Friday 11 February 2011

Prism - Spring Issue

Finally got the disc for the next issue of Prism in the post today to the next person on the "assembly line" for putting the BFS Journal together.

It's probably not the best issue so far, but I must admit some of the zim has gone since I, along with the editors of Dark Horizons and New Horizons, lost control of doing the layout. I was a tad disappointed with how the journal was laid out last time. It was pedestrian at best, a bit sloppy at worst. For example, one picture was positioned two lines before the bottom right hand corner of a page. Why two lines? Why not nice and neat at the exact bottom, without two lines underneath it?  Some of the pictures were not much bigger than postage stamps, which seems nonsensical to me. They should have been much bigger. Nor did I really care for the over-fancy thin fonts used for the headings. And all my suggestions about using two columns for certain sections were ignored. I suppose it's all a matter of taste, but I do miss having total control of the magazine and what it looked like. I feel less like an editor and more like someone who just gathers stuff together and sends it off to the real editors - the people who decide what the damned thing will look like.

Now, after one issue of the Journal as a hardback, future issues will be downgraded to paperbacks for reasons of cost. So consistency has gone from the word go. As, quite obviously, has cost control. Before I produced the first Prism I made sure I got a number of quotes from various printers and went with the cheapest. That's what I would have expected for the Journal. Obviously not.

A shame. It would have been better to have started off as we meant to go on.

Personally I would, of course, prefer to go back to all three publications being published individually. Maybe that will happen. I don't know. The push for them to be produced as some "much more professional looking publication" was hammered at the last BFS AGM by the likes of Steve Jones, though why a society with fewer than 300 members should try to emulate the professional look of publications produced by genuinely  professional organisations with paid, indeed highly paid staff, I really don't know. I think people join the BFS, not because it has pretensions of professionalism (whatever that word really means) but because they are interested in the genres we share a love for and because we produce interesting publications about them. I'm not for one minute saying we should go back to the bad old days of mimeographed sheets of A4 paper stapled down the edges - those days have gone, thank God - but we really don't need to aim towards emulating the style and quality in printing terms of SFX, etc., not unless we had a membership that would be prepared to hand over a lot more money than they pay at the moment for their annual subs. I believe the existing publications already looked professional enough. I was impressed with them long before I again took up editorship of Prism. I never heard any moans about them - other than from certain people at the last AGM. who I'm certain made them more because they wanted to make an impression than because they genuinely felt the BFS needed this kind of change. It certainly seems to have created more problems - and time consuming tasks at that  - than it has saved. Which is a bad thing for an organisation which, unlike the professional organisations we are suppoed to ape, relies on unpaid voluntary work from people who have other jobs and things to do besides doing what they do for the BFS.

I have every respect for the new BFS chairman, David Howe, but I do think the last AGM gave him a poisoned chalice with the BFS Journal.  I am sure he would have been happier if he had been left free from all the complications this has presented and been able to get on with looking at special publications, which is something I fear will go by the wayside as a result. Which is a waste as, with his vaste experience in running Telos Publications, he would have been an ideal man for the task.

Nuff said.


  1. I pretty much agree, apart from this bit:

    "I do think the last AGM gave him a poisoned chalice with the BFS Journal. I am sure he would have been happier if he had been left free from all the complications this has presented."

    Surely it was David's choice alone to combine the publications, use external typesetters for them, print in hardback, try to get the first combined issue out by Xmas, etc? The AGM didn't leave his hands tied at all.

    Good to hear the journal will be in paperback from now on.

  2. Okay, I was probably being generous about it. But the impetus did come from the AGM, which must have put a lot of pressure on him to do something like this.

    It's early days yet, and it will, of course, be interesting to see how it develops. I agree, Going to paperback is good. I always did feel that a hardback version was far too extravagant.