Future of the SFRA Review Survey Results

Yesterday, I posted the results of the SFRA’s survey regarding the future of the SFRA Review. I believe that the results point toward a need for compromise between the necessity of digital publication and the desire for some members to have a print version. These are the results of the survey:

These are the results of the recent poll that the Executive Committee conducted to determine membership opinion on the future publication and distribution model for the organization’s official publication, the SFRA Review.

1) How would you prefer to receive the SFRA Review?

Online : 55 votes : 60%

Mail : 36 votes : 40%

Total : 91 votes

2) If the review were published online, what format would you prefer?

PDF : 45 votes : 51%

ebook : 27 votes : 30%

Blog : 14 votes : 16%

Wiki : 3 votes : 3%

Total : 89 votes

3) If the SFRA Review were published online, how often would you like to see it released?

Quarterly : 58 votes : 66%

Continuous : 30 votes : 34%

Total : 88 votes

The results from this poll as well as the many opinions expressed on the SFRA email list will be weighted at the annual business meeting held at the conference in Poland on July 7-10, 2011. You may download the graphed results as a PDF attached to this news post.

The results and a pdf with graphs are available here.

Did You Know That Many Back Issues of SFRA Review Are Available Online?

Did you know that you can find many issues of the SFRA Review, the official publication of the Science Fiction Research Association, online for free?

There are two online repositories for back issues of the SFRA Review. First, all issues from 2001 (beginning with issue #250) to the present are available for download in PDF format from the SFRA’s official website here. This is also the primary place to find new issues as soon as they are published.

Second, you can find many of the earliest issues of the SFRA Review at the University of South Florida Library’s Special and Digital Collections website here. They provide scanning and hosting services for (currently) 118 Newsletter/SFRA Review issues from 1974-2008.

The SFRA Review is a leading source for original scholarship, conversation, and reviews in the field of science fiction and fantasy. In more recent years, it has expanded into other media in a big way including teaching guides, research, and reviews of genre film and video games.

The SFRA is the oldest professional organization for the study of science fiction and fantasy in all media. The SFRA promotes scholarship, teaching, and professional discourse through awards, publication, and its annual conference.

Following Our Mission, Improving SFRA.org with 101 Feature Articles

There is an exciting new addition to sfra.org beginning today! As part of the organization’s mission “to encourage and assist scholarship” and “improve classroom teaching,” the SFRA is adding the 101 Features from the SFRA Review directly to our website. As you may know, the 101 Features are instant immersion articles that introduce readers to the major arguments and concepts within a field of study. These articles are useful to scholars, graduate students, and survey course students alike, because they briefly present a thorough overview of a given topic. Some of the 101 Feature topics include: Postmodernism, Comic
Studies, Mundane SF, Slipstream, New Weird, Science Studies, and Fan Studies. Adding the 101 Features to sfra.org as a public resource will help circulate this important scholarship in an open and easily accessible way, which will get 101 Feature authors more attention while increasing the visibility of the work of the SFRA. This will better enable public discovery and searching of these materials, and allow members to directly link to the 101 Features rather than pointing to the original SFRA Review PDF (you may have read Neil’s email earlier today about Ritch Calvin in an Orion Magazine article about literary SF–Ritch won the 2009 Mary Kay Bray Award for his Mundane SF 101 article). Karen Hellekson initiated this new plan by donating her recent “Scholarly Research and Writing 101” article from
SFRA Review #292, which is now available on our website at <http://www.sfra.org/node/101>. Michael Klein is in the process of requesting permissions from other 101 Feature authors to include their work on sfra.org. If you are a member of the SFRA and would like to contribute a new 101 Feature to the SFRA Review <http://www.sfra.org/review>, please contact the editors with your proposal.

The Internet Speculative Fiction Database

Over the years, I have occasionally run across the Internet Speculative Fiction Database when I would perform Google searches as I began researching a particular topic or work. Back at IAFA, Ritch Calvin told me that the ISFDB is a very important research tool that he uses a lot.  Based on his recommendation, I have used it explicitly a few times in my recent work–including my entry on Bicentennial Man for Peter Wright’s The Critical Companion to Science Fiction Film Adaptations. If you need to find reviews of works and print histories of SF and fantasy works, then I would recommend you check out the ISFDB when you start your research.

Another cool aspect of the ISFDB is that Ritch is tirelessly posting SFRA Review metadata to the ISFDB, which means that my reviews are now indexed on there, too (see here).  Thanks, Ritch!

Review, Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader

In the next issue of SFRA Review, I will have two non-fiction reviews, and one of those is on Hilde G. Corneliussen and Jill Walker Rettberg’s Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader.  As a WoW player and researcher, I found this anthology to be an indispensable body of work on the W0W phenomenon.  I am currently working on a paper in which I use my own digitally mediated definition of cosmopolitanism to demonstrate how a game like WoW can counterintuitively teach players to be more cosmopolitan in the physical world.  Here is a short except from my longer review:

            World of Warcraft (WoW) is the insanely successful fantasy and science fictional massively multiplayer online role-playing game launched by Blizzard Entertainment in 2004.  It continues to break sales records with its expansion packs The Burning Crusade (2007) and Wrath of the Lich King (2008), and it currently supports a worldwide subscribership of 11.5 million players.  The game, already lush with history and lore, has spawned a collectible card game, books, collectable figurines, manga, and comic books.  Furthermore, it has seeped into the cultural archive.  For example, it inspired an Emmy award winning episode of South Park titled “Make Love, Not Warcraft,” and it was featured in a Jeopardy! question.  Also, the game’s fantasy origins do not prohibit it from being a postmodern mash-up of real world history and popular culture.  Obviously, there is something to the World of Warcraft phenomenon that deserves further investigation and critique, but who has the time to study such an extensive and socially demanding rich text?

            Enter The Truants.  The members of The Truants guild are academics who study and play World of Warcraft.  Digital Culture, Play, and Identity:  A World of Warcraft Reader, an anthology of essays edited by Hilde G. Corneliussen and Jill Walker Rettberg, is the end result of their in-game and online collaboration as players and scholars.  They simultaneously studied the game and its participants, played the game themselves, and used the game as a place in which to meet and talk (in addition to other online and in-person collaboration work).  Their gamer intensity is tempered by the rigor and attentiveness found in each of the chapters in this collection.

To read the full review, click over to sfra.org and join the oldest, professional organization devoted to the study of Science Fiction.  Also, our 40th annual meeting will be in Atlanta, Georgia in June.  Find out more about the conference here, and join us for author readings, essay presentations, and panels on the dual themes:  Engineering the Future, and Southern Fried Science Fiction and Fantasy.