Fanzine Spotlight: Young People Read Old SFF

We’re heading into the homestretch for the 2021 Hugo nominations, so it’s time for the next entry in my Fanzine/Fancast Spotlight project. For more about the Fanzine/Fancast Spotlight project, go here. You can also check out the other great fanzines and fancasts featured by clicking here.

So today, I’m pleased to feature Young People Read Old SFF, a blog where a panel of young readers read selected older SFF stories.

Therefore, I’m happy to welcome James Davis Nicoll of Young People Read Old SFF to my blog. James is a reviewer, columnist and four time finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. James was also one of my fellow Best Fan Writer finalists last year.

Young People Read Old SFF header

Tell us about your site or zine.

Young People Read Old SFF does what it says on the tin: my volunteers read a different vintage science fiction or fantasy piece each month, then comment on their reactions. It has been very educational; I was not all that surprised to discover my volunteers are not always thrilled by vintage SF. What did astound me was how incandescently furious some older fans got when they discovered not everyone adores their favourites.

Who are the people behind your site or zine?

I write the introductions, and Adrienne L. Travis manages the website. The Young People who contributed in 2020 were (first names only [1]) ambr, Gavin, Joe, Kris, Nina, Travis, and Nina.

1: My contributors haven’t given me permission to identify them by their full names, so I am playing it safe.

Why did you decide to start your site or zine?

To quote my site:
Young People Read Old SF was inspired by something award-winning author Adam-Troy Castro said on Facebook.

    (N)obody discovers a lifelong love of science fiction through Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein anymore, and directing newbies toward the work of those masters is a destructive thing, because the spark won’t happen. You might as well advise them to seek out Cordwainer Smith or Alan E. Nourse—fine tertiary avenues of investigation, even now, but not anything that’s going to set anybody’s heart afire, not from the standing start. Won’t happen.

This is a testable hypothesis! I’ve rounded up a pool of younger people who have agreed to let me expose them to classic works of science fiction1 and assembled a list of older works I think still have merit. Each month my subjects will read and react to those stories; I will then post the results to this site. Hilarity will doubtless ensue!

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?

I have a website and I chose that format for durability.

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?

As I said in the other interview [which will be posted tomorrow], they’re part of SF’s conversation, and can function as its memory.

In the past twenty years, fanzines have increasingly moved online. What do you think the future of fanzines looks like?

No offense to the fans of paper fanzines, but the advantages of online fanzines so outweigh the drawbacks that I expect fanzines will be online to an even greater extent.

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?

My go-to sites are File 770, Camestros Felapton, a certain Facebook group of which I may not speak openly, The Dragon’s Tales, Atomic Rockets, and Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations.

Where can people find you?

James Davis Nicoll

Young People Read Old SFF host James Davis Nicoll.

Thank you, James, for stopping by and answering my questions.

Check Out Young People Read Old SFF, cause it’s a great project.


Do you have a Hugo eligible fanzine/-site or fancast and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.

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One Response to Fanzine Spotlight: Young People Read Old SFF

  1. Pingback: Fanzine Spotlight: Remembrance of Things Past and Future | Cora Buhlert

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