The Science Fact & Fiction Concatenation
SF2 Concatenation was an annual review zine distributed annually from 1987 to 1997 at the British Eastercon by Jonathan Cowie, Graham Connor and Tony Chester. Subsequently it became a text-only archive website that continues to present.
While SF² Concatenation's principal target audience is that of 'scientists who have a love of SF', it also strives to appeal to 'science fiction aficionados who have an interest in science fact'.
In the early 2000s it added new content and developed into a seasonal news and reviews e-zine (www.concatenation.org) by webmaster Matt Freestone. Alan Boakes replaced Matt Freestone as webmaster in the early 2000s: Jonathan Cowie remained as news and reviews editor continuing with the support of Graham Connor and others. Tony Chester left the editorial team in 2009. The full team consists largely of scientists and engineers who have an interest in, and enthusiasm for, science fiction.
In addition to producing the zine, throughout its history, the SF2 Concatenation team engaged in a number of projects. Following the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1990, several cultural exchange projects were conducted with eastern Europeans including visits both ways: east to west and west to eastern Europe. A fair proportion of the content generated in the 1990s and 2000s relates to European SF with, following the 1990 fall of the 'Iron Curtain', efforts to engage with Eastern European fans. Additional to the fanzine, this last has included cultural exchange fanac with visits by western fans to eastern Europe and vice-versa. These have included mayoral meetings, local and national level press coverage, and BBC World Service broadcasts to Hungary and Romania.
In 2005 Jonathan Cowie and Tony Chester conducted a formulaic analysis of the genre listing popular vote (as opposed to juried) award winning works using a crafted algorithm . This was published as Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide .
SF² Concatenation's move to the internet in 1999 was initially simply a venture to archive the print fanzine online. However new content seemed to attract visitors. 2004 saw regular posting of news and reviews at the beginning of each the northern hemisphere's academic year terms (namely spring – January, summer – April, and autumn – September).
In 2006 the site entered into a formal arrangement with the science journal Nature with permission (subject to author approval) to reprint the four best 'Futures', one-page SF stories of the 51 printed each year on the journal's inside back page. The choice of four was determined by SF² Concatenation's core team. Back in 2006, these stories were behind Nature's pay-wall, so having a selection re-posted by the fanzine was the only way to bring them to the attention of a broader readership. Since 2006 SF² Concatenation has posted one story between each of its seasonal editions plus an extra one in December before Christmas.
The content of the three seasonal editions each year typically contains a large news page with subsections covering: SF news (SF awards and so forth), SF film, television, publishing, forthcoming UK book releases (respective listings covering SF, fantasy and popular science with non-fiction SF), general science news, natural science, astronomy and science/SF interface. In addition, there are articles on aspects of SF and science. These include series of articles. One extensive series is by SF authors who have a science degree that nominates the scientists born in the 20th century that have inspired them.
Annual regulars include a diary listing of national and international SF conventions and a forthcoming SF/fantasy SF film release listing, as well as a Gaia column of science and SF whimsy. There is also an annual meta-analysis of 52 weekly British Isles box office data compiled into an SF/F film top ten for the year. Since 2010 the fanzine's team have informally listed in January several of what they consider the best books and films of the previous year. Many of these, later in the year, go on to win major SF awards: this has become something of a feature garnering attention.
In the late 2010s, with rise of 'fake news', all subsequent science coverage in the seasonal news page includes a citation of the primary research paper on which the item was based, so readers can fact-check by cutting-and-pasting into Google Scholar.
SF2 Concatenation has won a number of awards including European SF Awards in: 1994 (Best Fanzine); 1997 (Best Promoter European SF); 2004 (Honorary); and 2012 (Best website). In 2006 ESFS gave Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide a commendation. No other person, group or publication has won as many or in as wide a range of categories of European SF Awards as has SF2 Concatenation.
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