The Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine was split off from Fanzine in 1984 in order to limit that category to true fan publications. (The former Professional Magazine category had been replaced by Best Editor in 1973.)
Any generally available non-professional periodical publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects which by the close of 2017 has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in 2017, which does not qualify as a fancast, and which in 2017 has met at least one (1) of the following criteria:
- paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication,
- was generally available only for paid purchase.
In 2008 a motion to eliminate the category was passed on for ratification at the next Business Meeting. However, the proposal was not ratified in 2009 so the category was kept. At the 2012 Business Meeting, additional changes were ratified to better differentiate between professional publication, Semiprozine, Fanzine, and the newly created Fancast category. The distinctions are still not necessarily clear to the average nominator, but a directory of eligible candidates is maintained at Semiprozine.org.
Out of the magazines that I regularly read, I nominated the four that qualify as semiprozines:
I would like to see this category opened up to include professional magazines as well. Eliminating the division between semi-pro and pro, but still leaving fanzines separate. As a reader, there’s no obvious difference, and I believe they could absolutely compete with one another. Of course, that would have a lot of knock-on effects.
There’s already a fair amount of overlap between this category and Best Editor, Short Form. Including pro mags would almost complete the redundancy and make it entirely too likely for someone to win two Hugos for the same thing. But eliminating Short Form Editor would leave short fiction editors who don’t have magazines out in the cold. And it would be odd to have a Long Form Editor category without the Short Form. You would also need to reword the Fan Writer and Fan Artist categories as they both include “semiprozine” in their descriptions.
Kevin Standlee blogged about this a few years ago and suggested adding Best Publisher and Best Anthology or Collection in place of the editor categories. It would be strange to award their employer rather than the editors themselves, but a heck of a lot easier to determine who’s eligible and what they’ve done. And I would definitely need to up my anthology and collection reading if I wanted to nominate in that category. I do hope something along these lines gets proposed because I would really like to see what people think and how it might be hashed out. Terrible idea or one whose time has come?