Kittywompus Tracks Fanzines - the FAQ

What is a fanzine?
People have different answers to this. In broadest terms, it's an amateur magazine of any kind. But I would normally restrict it to amateur magazines which are available for "the usual" (see below). A fanzine can be a single page news update like Ansible, or a massive compendium of articles, illustrations and letters like FOSFAX. Or most things in between.

KTF includes a separate page for fanzines distributed electronically, and web fanzines. But my first love is print fanzines and you may expect the site to reflect that. What's more, whereas I think it's not too hard to log everything that physically falls through my door, there's no realistic chance of my capturing every fanzine out there on the web.

How do I get hold of fanzines?
Each fanzine I list will have contact details. Webzines and e-zines are normally the easiest to get hold of; you can go and view webzines, and get the writer to email you the e-zines. Otherwise the listing will normally say how you can get yourself a copy. A polite request, accompanied by sufficient return postage, a promise of a letter of comment, and the single copy price of the fanzine if one is listed, will secure most fanzines. But remember that I'm reviewing the current issue. It's quite common for editors to send out all of the current issue, and not have any to send speculative requests. So you may have to wait until they publish again, and this can be some months. Or years.

Some fanzines, like Plokta (the fanzine I co-edit), are paper fanzines which keep their back issues on websites. The advantage of this is that you can go and read the fanzine online, and only ask for a paper copy if you think you'd enjoy it.

What is "the Usual"?
"The Usual" is a term of art in the world of sf fanzines; and it's been adopted by some other fanzines as well. SF fanzines are not normally sold, but are given away, in trade for another fanzine, or in return for a contribution (article or illustration), or letter commenting on the previous issue. A single issue will be available either for a suitably sized envelope with appropriate postage, or for a single issue price (which I've listed where I know it) to reflect the cost of printing and postage. This, all together, constitutes "the usual".

What sorts of fanzines are there?
All sorts. But there are some general types; the definitions of which not everybody agrees on.

  • A genzine is normally edited by one or more people, but contains contributions by a range of people, either on a theme or on a range of topics.
  • A perzine, by contrast, is mostly or entirely the work of one person, plus letters.
  • A newszine is primarily focused on letting people know what is happening, either in SF or in fandom.
  • a clubzine is produced by a particular SF club or organisation. Some clubzines are indistinguishable from genzines, whereas others are mere lists of dates and events for the club.

Why is your column called KTF?
It's an old fanzine joke. There are lots of those. KTF is a reviewing style, most easily summarised as 'abusive'; you will have to decide for yourself whether Kittywompus Tracks Fanzines conforms to that style or not.

Will you review my fanzine?
If you send me a paper fanzine I'll at least list it. But I don't guarantee to review it, and I certainly don't guarantee to be nice about it. I'll probably only list webzines and electronic zines where I think readers will get some benefit out of going to look at them.

My fanzine is both an e-zine and a paper zine. Why have you reviewed it as one (or the other)?
The critical test is which format I receive it in. If you send it to me on paper, it will be reviewed as a paper zine; if I just get the bits, it goes on the e-zines page.

Last updated on May 11, 2000

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