From the Secretary: Minutes of the 2020 Executive Committee Meeting

SFRA Review, vol. 50, no. 2-3

From the SFRA Executive Committee

From the Secretary: Minutes of the 2020 Executive Committee Meeting

Sean Guynes
Secretary, SFRA
Senior Editor, SFRA Review

July 30, 2020 / 2pm EDT / Via Zoom

Attendees: Gerry Canavan (President), Sonja Fritzsche (Vice President), Hugh O’Connell (Treasurer), Sean Guynes (Secretary), Keren Omry (Immediate Past-President), Katherine Bishop (Webmaster)

The Webmaster

Gerry: Thank you to Katherine Bishop for her work as webmaster.

Katherine Bishop discusses the need to end her tenure as webmaster and outlines the key webmaster duties going forward. Of principal concern is Wild Apricot — poor user interface that is clunky to work with, not easily editable, allows privacy overrides so that Wild Apricot can own our content, there were members who did not want to renew memberships because of the end-user license agreements. Overall this creates a poor digital brand for SFRA. We are considering using a WordPress website and using the WordPress Business account to manage membership, payments, and other services Wild Apricot offers. If SFRA does want someone to build a website from the bottom-up, Katherine suggests (after Pawel’s suggestion, several years before) that the person who takes on the website rebuild be paid a one-time design fee for services. As of the end of this meeting, Katherine’s tenure as webmaster will be ended and the executive committee will need to find a new webmaster. /Katherine leaves the meeting.

Discussion: What order should the webmaster and website redesign take? We want to ensure continuity so that a website redesign is potentially separate from the webmaster position, so that future webmasters don’t necessarily have to have HTML and web design experience. Moving forward, then, we will advertise a webmaster position that will be slightly more discursive than in previous years, with the intent to formalize a 3-year position. We will move forward with the webmaster before the web design so that we can have their input. Keren notes that we also want to have the next generation of the SFRA website part of a larger rebranding, including of the SFRA’s award trophies, logos, etc.

General Discussion

Award committees for 2020-2021 are set.

The Support a Scholar grant search will be begun shortly.

There will be no student paper award given in 2020-2021.

There are remaining logistical questions re: the 2021 conference as a result of the pandemic; the SFRA community and Executive Committee will need to think actively about the 2021 conference and possibilities for digital conferencing should the pandemic continue to disrupt academic conferencing.

We have two great recent examples of digital conferencing we can build on for 2021 if necessary: Lars Schmeink’s asynchronous cyberpunk conference (a large conference featuring videos, live Discord chats, and an archived website of the conversations/videos; pro — low participation burden offered by the asynchronous format across 3 days; con — conversations suffered intellectually and length-wise when compared to in-person conference) + Rebekah Sheldon and David Higgins’s synchronous “zoomposium” of SF scholars (a smaller conference of 16 folks who knew each other rather well, allowing a bond that kept folks together for 8 hours x2 days; pro — conversation is deeper and more engaged; con — burnout and exhaustion). Other models include specific “feeds” of papers and events that participants sign up to, but this limits what folks can do.

Sonja suggests we can expand the recognition of SFRA and virtual conference engagement (if it comes to that in 2021) by leveraging the new SFRA Country Reps; we will want their inputs to make sure that we have broad global participation if the pandemic continues to disrupt academic conferencing.

Committee Member Reports

Keren: the issue of the trophy redesign is still outstanding; we would like an update on Beata and Yoshinaga’s Support a New Scholar Grant projects (Sean will reach out to them for the SFRA Review).

Sonja: will be responsible for the upcoming round of the Support a New Scholar Grant call and applications in September (with a late October deadline for applicants).

Sean: nothing to report from the Secretary.

Hugh: we will likely go in the red by between a thousand and several thousand dollars, since memberships are stagnant this year as a result of the conference cancellation and because membership costs mostly go to pay for members’ journal subscriptions.

From the Editor

From the Editor

Sean Guynes
Senior Editor, SFRA Review

The previous issue of SFRA Review appeared in February of this year. Then, there weren’t even a dozen cases in the U.S. Now, the U.S. is once again a world leader in deaths caused by political leaders’ stupidity and the need by citizens to rebel against authority. Huzzah to this America-made-great and, well, really sorry about those tens of thousands dead. Despite the shittiness of our times, I’m convinced this double issue of SFRA Review (the spring issue delayed by COVID) will bring some smiles even as many readers return to universities while administrators look away, put fingers in ears, and shout “LALALALA” in an effort to pretend it’s all going to go fine, just fine, nothing to see here.

New Review Website

As has become the chorus of the editor’s note the past few years, this issue brings with it the announcement of several changes—all, we hope, for the betterment of the Review. To begin with, you’ll hopefully have discovered our new home on the web at

Prior to the creation of this website, SFRA Review had made the important transition in the mid-2000s to an online publication, providing the PDF of each issue online for free; by the mid-2010s, the Review had gone entirely online, with no print option. But, even if a PDF is freely available, presenting a PDF as a downloadable link poses significant issues for contemporary journals publishing—and for the tens of authors published in each issue. For one, PDFs put on a website as a downloadable link are not text-searchable, even if the PDF, once downloaded, is. Say a scholar, reader, fan, or whomever is searching online for an essay on Israeli SF or a review of a certain work of scholarship. That’s how most of us begin our scholarly reviews. But an article in a 100+-page PDF (hosted as a downloadable file no less) won’t show up in your search. Moreover, at a time when the discoverability and shareability of scholarship is tied to a scholar’s ability to promote herself, to be “known” in academia, and thus to get further writing commissions and/or relevance in an increasingly irrelevantizing job market, the inaccessibility of a full-issue PDF impedes discoverability, makes shareability next to impossible (unless you cut up the PDF and host just your article on a personal website), and ultimately dissuades folks from contributing to a journal. I could go on, but you’re already bored.

Tl;dr—ours is a scholarly ecosystem in which digital presence makes or breaks a journal (often regardless of the content of the journal!). My day job is spent as the editorial coordinator for Michigan Publishing, part of which means managing a journals program with more than 35 online open access journals. And yet until last month I was helming a journal that, quite frankly, I’d have been embarrassed to have in the program I manage. But no more! We are online, our website looks not bad, and each article and review has a permalink (not a DOI yet, sadly) that ensures authors can share their work on social media and elsewhere. SFRA Review has stepped into the present (of online journals publishing). And we’re excited to see how this will augment and help our growth in the coming years.

Speaking of growth, some announcements.

Editorial Collective

First, as of this issue, SFRA Review has rethought the relationship between the editor and editorial staff. From now on, we are operating as an editorial collective divided into two groups: the general editors and the reviews editors. The reviews editors are the heart and blood of the journal, which properly retains the review focus of the publication in its title and endeavors to publish an increasingly number of fiction and media reviews in the coming year alongside the considerable number of nonfiction reviews we already publish. The main change is that, rather than attempting to divide editorial duties between a “managing” editor and “associate” editors—and recognizing that duties often overlap and that work tends to unfold more as a collective effort than as a neatly oiled machine—the general editors will all take the title of “editor,” with the lone exception of the lead editor whose goal is to guide the overall direction of the journal and ensure timely publication (when the world makes that possible). That person (this is awkward, but: me) will be called the senior editor, with the acknowledgment that this is not a position “above” other editors but rather a recognition that the journal needs an official representative to the SFRA. We have also begun discussing a process for replacing the senior editor, which will involve members of the editorial collective (general and review editors) nominating themselves and submitting their reasoning to the whole collective, which will vote for a new senior editor that must ultimately be approved by the SFRA Executive Committee. Collectivity rules; rules drool.

Active Calls for Papers

SFRA Review has endeavored these past few years to engage the wider scholarly SFF community through two means: (1) special issues on topics of particular relevance and importance to contemporary SFF studies, and (2) symposia collecting papers originally presented in person or virtually at conferences, institutes, symposia, and other scholarly gatherings of SFF studies nerds. The present issue provides an excellent example of what a solid special issue in SFRA Review can look like, thanks to the wonderful editing chops of Virginia L. Conn (recently PhD’d!).

At present, we have two calls for papers active.

Us in Flux: Community, Collaboration, and the Collective Imaginations of SF

The first is a special issue being edited in collaboration with Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, which started the Us in Flux project in April to curate flash fiction SFF stories about the near-future ends of current crises and has included stories and interviews with authors like Nisi Shawl, Kij Johnson, Tochi Onyebuchi, Sarah Pinsker, Usman T. Malik, Ernest Hogan, and others. We have issued a call for papers for a special issue that builds on the Us in Flux stories through critical thinkpieces that address how SFF can help us figure out our shit and build a better future. The CFP can be found here: Abstracts for thinkpieces are due October 4, with full drafts of 2,000-3,000 words due November 29. Please consider joining this exciting collaboration!

Mormonism and SF

Much further in the future, and which I’ll plug more in a later issue, is a special issue edited by Adam McLain on Mormonism and speculative fiction. The CFP can be found here: Abstracts will be due March 1, 2021, with full drafts of 2,000-3,000 words (or more) due May 15, 2021.

In the future, please look out for a special issue CFP on Hungarofuturisms to be co-edited by Beata Gubacsi. The next issue, 50.4, will have two symposia, one spinning out of Lars Schmeink’s cyberpunk conference and the other from the German organization Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung’s annual conference in collaboration with German Popular Culture Studies Association.

SFRA Review is actively soliciting future special issues and conference symposia. Please reach out to the general editors to discuss possibilities for collaboration:

In this Issue

In this issue, the editorial collective is happy to present not only an incredible article by former fiction reviews editor Jeremy Brett on information science in Fran Wilde’s Fire Opal Mechanism, plus the usual range of features, including Rachel Cordasco’s regular column on SFF in translation and an interview with up-and-coming scholar Julia Gatermann, but also a wide-ranging special issue on Sinofuturisms offering the brilliant insights of a dozen scholars from all over the world! Thanks to editor Virginia L. Conn for putting this together and editor Amandine Faucheux for helping with copyedits. Because the summer issue of each Review typically follows the annual SFRA conference, this issue features some Executive Committee musts, including the Treasurer’s report on SFRA’s financial situation and the Secretary’s report on the annual Executive Committee meeting. Moreover, although we couldn’t celebrate them in person, this issue presents to you the winners of SFRA’s annual awards, along with awards committee statements and the letters from each winner. Finally, but never least, you’ll also find an incredible number of reviews of recent works of SFF scholarship, and several fiction and media reviews.

Enjoy, share, and join us, won’t you?

From the Editor

SFRA Review, vol. 50, no. 1

From the SFRA Review

From the Editor

Sean Guynes
Editor, SFRA Review

This issue brings with it a further few changes, the last for a while as we settle in to our newly redesigned and revamped era of the Review.

The winter 2020 issue welcomes two new reviews editors: Jeremy M. Carnes, as fiction reviews editor, and Megan N. Fontenot, as fiction reviews assistant editor.

The second change is superficial but nonetheless an important signal of the Review’s standing in the SF research community: we have adopted a volume/number scheme, making the first issue of 2020 volume 50, number 1.

In addition to more than a dozen reviews of recent scholarship, fiction, and media, 50.1 features a symposium collecting papers from the day-long Medical Humanities and the Fantastic conference held at the University of Liverpool last July, compiled and edited by Beata Gubacsi.