Fanzine Spotlight: James Nicoll Reviews

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 James Nicoll Reviews and welcome four time Best Fan Writer Hugo finalist James Davis Nicoll to my blog.

James Davis NicollTell us about your site or zine.

James Nicoll Reviews (1) is where I review genre and genre-adjacent works. This translates mostly to science fiction and fantasy but “genre-adjacent” is license to review anything that catches my eye.

I try to cast as wide a net as I can, because that’s more fun. Anyway, who needs yet another site featuring 60-year-old white reviewer who stubbornly sticks to the stuff he liked back in 1975 (2) while ignoring all the wonderful new material people are producing? To this end, JNR features a number of projects covering a wide range of subjects (3).

Originally, I intended to read and write a book a day but this proved impractical. To date there are about 1800 works reviews on the site, of which 256 were posted in 2020.

1: I went for a very straight-forward site name because I opted for whimsical when I named my old game store Imperiums to Order, with the result people were not sure what I sold or how to spell the store’s name.

2: Granted, my Because My Tears Are Delicious to You reviews are nostalgic in focus but they cover the whole of 1974 to 1981! Not just 1975. Anyway, 1977 was a better year for science fiction than 1975.

3: Also, I keep stats! Because nothing says whimsical spontaneity like off-handedly asserting that of the 256 works reviewed on JNR in 2020, 139 were by women (54%), 105.5 were by men (41%), 8 were by non-binary authors (3%), 3.5 were by authors whose gender was unknown to me (1%), and 99.5 were by POC (39%).

4: Sometimes footnotes appear without proper markers in the text.

Who are the people behind your site or zine?

I write the reviews, Karen Lofstrom translates my gibberish into comprehensible English, and Adrienne L. Travis manages the website. My Patreon patrons fund it, for which I am very grateful.

Why did you decide to start your site or zine?

The two organizations for which I reviewed books suddenly stopped sending me material and friends convinced me to start up my own site.

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?

In olden days, they were part of the conversation. Currently, despite the notorious effervescence of electronic media, they can serve as the genre’s memory. True, paper can last decades or centuries, but only if someone actively curates them, but as long as e-fanzines are copied in enough places, they too may survive.

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 Nicoll Reviews:

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

Check Out James Nicoll Review for reviews of SFF old and new.


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: James Nicoll Reviews

  1. Pingback: A handy guide to all SFF-related posts and works of 2021 | Cora Buhlert

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