Not every worthy project that deserves more exposure is a fanzine. And even though this series focusses on fanzines, I have decided to feature some non-fanzines that deserve a boost as well. So today’s featured not-a-fanzine is the Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times podcast, which for Hugo-purposes counts as a semiprozine, since it’s a paying fiction market.
But whatever category it fits in, it’s a great podcast and I’m not just saying that, because they produced a lovely audio version of one of my stories, “Patient X-5”, last year.
So I’m happy to welcome Jean-Paul Garnier of Space Cowboy Books, a great SFF specialty bookstore in Joshua Tree, California, as well as producer and narrator of the Simultaneous Times podcast.
Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times is actually three different projects that operate under the same name. It started, and continues, as a science fiction anthology podcast (semiprozine) with cast readings and original soundtracks. Then I started our fancast – Simultaneous Times Supplementary Log, which features interviews with the authors and composers of the podcast. Lastly, we also produce a monthly print fanzine newsletter that features interviews with authors and editors, small press new releases, artist spotlights, articles, speculative poetry and more. We have also released an anthology of stories from the podcast called Simultaneous Times Vol.1, with Vol.2 scheduled to be released in spring of 2021.
Who are the people behind your site or zine?
Zara Kand is the co-founder of Space Cowboy Books, she also does all of our visual art, proof-reading and a lot of voice acting. Our music department for the podcasts is: RedBlueBlackSilver, Phog Machine, and Field Collapse. And I (Jean-Paul L. Garnier) serve as the editor of the newsletter, producer of the podcast and voice actor, and anything else that might need to get done. And of course our work would be nothing without all of the wonderful authors that contribute their work and take the time to be interviewed. We are also ever grateful to our audience.
Why did you decide to start your site or zine?
I started the podcasts because I grew up listening to radio dramas, such as X Minus One, and always wanted to produce one of my own. I have a background in audio production and am friends with some amazing composers, so when I re-listened to one of my favorite programs Mind Webs, I said to myself, I’ve got to make a show like this.
The Simultaneous Times Newsletter started when the pandemic lockdowns started. Usually I’m at my bookstore six days a week, and since we specialize in science fiction, most of my conversations center around the genre. Immediately I began to miss the conversations and my customers, so I started the newsletter as a way to stay connected with science fiction fans. Since then it has just grown. But we still give free subscriptions. I thought people would prefer to get a letter in the mail over receiving an email.
What format do you use for your site or zine (blog, e-mail newsletter, PDF zine, paper zine) and why did you choose this format?
Several members of my team, including myself, have a background in radio. When we all started talking about starting a podcast we decided that we wanted to produce the program the way that radio shows were produced in the past. Really take the radio arts approach instead of going with modern trends in podcasting. Since then we’ve even teamed up with the radio station KZZH 96.7 in Northern California, so our program did end up on the air.
The Newsletter is print because I wanted to put something physical in people’s hands, especially during this time of not being able to see each other. That being said, I have started to put the back issues on our website, so the archive is available to everyone.
The fanzine category at the Hugos is one of the oldest, but also the category which consistently gets the lowest number of votes and nominations. So why do you think fanzines and sites are important?
I believe that they are important because they are a gateway into the genre, and one that is not provided by the industry itself. Because it comes from the fans it is trustworthy in ways that commercial interest cannot be. Fanzines tend to be unpaid passion projects, and because of this tend to be run by people who really care and want the genre to stay healthy and to move forward in interesting ways. Also, because there usually isn’t a commercial factor behind the fanzine they can take risks, do things their own way, and move faster than the traditional publishing world. Most of us live for science fiction, for me it is largely that I want to give back to a field that has brought me so much enjoyment over the years.
In the past twenty years, fanzines have increasingly moved online. What do you think the future of fanzines looks like?
I think that because most things have moved online people will eventually get tired of the format and react against it by trying new things, and or doing things the way we used to. We’ve often seen this with nostalgia over which mediums we use to listen to music. Ultimately the content is more important than the medium, but I do worry over the temporary and fragile nature of the internet, one coronal mass ejection and it all gets wiped away. I also think we will see more hybrid formats and mixed media. That being said, any way people can connect and share their passions is a good thing, and we will continue to try and connect with each other regardless of the medium.
The four fan categories of the Hugos (best fanzine, fan writer, fan artist and fancast) tend to get less attention than the fiction and dramatic presentation categories. Are there any awesome fanzines, fancasts, fan writers and fan artists you’d like to recommend?
Oh yes! There are so many great ones I don’t know if I can list them all here. But here’s a short list:
I currently write for https://warpspeedodyssey.com/ which is a relatively new Canadian SF blog run by Steven Morrissette
As I’m sure your readers know http://indiespecfic.blogspot.com/ is a wonderful resource!
http://galacticjourney.org/ is always putting out great content!
And here’s a few others that I have found useful:
Where can people find you?
Simultaneous Times Podcast (semiprozine): https://spacecowboybooks.podomatic.com/
Simultaneous Times Supplementary Log (fancast): https://spacecowboybooks.bandcamp.com/album/simultaneous-times-supplementary-log-interviews-with-the-authors-and-musicians
Simultaneous Times Newsletter (fanzine): https://spacecowboybooks.blogspot.com/p/simultaneous-times-newsletter.html
Space Cowboy Books online store: https://bookshop.org/shop/spacecowboybooks%20
Thanks, Jean-Paul, for stopping by and answering my questions.
Do check out Simultaneous Times, cause it’s a great podcast. And should you ever find yourself in Joshua Tree, California, visit Space Cowboy Books in person or check out their online store from anywhere in the world.
Do you have a Hugo eligible fanzine or site and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.