British Science Fiction Association

The British Science Fiction Association was founded in 1958 by a group of British science fiction fans, authors, publishers and booksellers, in order to encourage science fiction in every form. It is an open membership organisation costing £29 per year for UK residents and £20 for the unwaged. The first president of the BSFA was Brian Aldiss. Stephen Baxter is the current President and the current Vice-President is Pat Cadigan. The BSFA currently publishes three magazines, sent to all members:

  • Vector – The critical journal of the BSFA, published two to three times a year.
  • Focus – The BSFA's writers magazine, published twice a year.
  • The BSFA Review - A digital only magazine, launched in late 2017. Published approximately six times a year.

Matrix was the news magazine, but ceased publication.

The BSFA Awards are presented annually by the British Science Fiction Association, based on a vote of BSFA members and members of the British national SF convention (Eastercon). The BSFA also nominates two out of five of each year's judging panel of the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

British Science Fiction Association
Logo of the British Science Fiction Association
PredecessorScience Fiction Association (SFA)
PurposeAn organisation of readers, authors, booksellers & publishers for the appreciation and promotion of science fiction in every form.
Donna Bond


The BSFA was the fourth attempt to set up a national organisation of science fiction fans in Britain. The first, the Science Fiction Association (SFA), was set up in 1937 by fans who attended the first British science fiction convention in Leeds in May of that year and was "devoted to the stimulation of interest in science fiction and scientific progress", but it had to be disbanded on the outbreak of the World War II barely two years later. The second attempt was the British Fantasy Society (which has no connection with the present organisation of the same name, which is a 1971 offshoot of the BSFA), which was established in June 1942 by many of the people behind the SFA with the objective of giving members (who numbered nearly one hundred) better access to science fiction through its extensive library. The BFS did not long survive the war, being wound-up in November 1946. In 1948 Captain Ken Slater, who ran "Operation Fantast" - a trading operation which bought and swapped books and magazines - proposed the founding of a new national fan organisation, and thus the Science Fantasy Society was born. Unfortunately Slater was later posted to the army in Germany and the remaining committee members did not share his "flaming enthusiasm" for the organisation; in September 1951 the SFS was declared to be "a glorious flop".

By the late 1950s, British science fiction fandom was in serious decline. The annual Eastercon had become a purely social event with a rapidly diminishing attendance (150 in 1954, 115 in 1955, 80 in 1956, fewer than 50 in 1958). Spurred by this, the 1958 Eastercon held in Kettering held a discussion on the whole future of British fandom. It was agreed that both British fanzines and science fiction conventions had become inward-looking and had moved so far away from science fiction that they were not attractive to newcomers, and there were no routes in to British fandom anyway. It was decided that the only way forward was a new national organisation devoted to the serious study of science fiction but also carrying material in its publication about fandom, so that newcomers could go on to more personal involvement in fandom. After considerable debate on the name ("science fiction" being considered a stigma in dealing with the Press), the BSFA was formed and had over 100 members by its first anniversary.


  • Weston, Peter: "Behind the Scenes: Origins", Vector #250, November/December 2006.

External links

Air (novel)

Air, also known as Air: Or, Have Not Have, is a 2005 novel by Geoff Ryman. It won the British Science Fiction Association Award, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and was on the short list for the Philip K. Dick Award in 2004, the Nebula Award in 2005, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2006.Ryman initially wrote a short story for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction entitled "Have Not Have", which was included in the April 2001 edition (later reprinted in the June 2014 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine). This was expanded into a novel initially titled Air: Or, Have Not Have, and renamed to just Air in all editions since the first.

Andrew M. Butler

Andrew M. Butler is a British academic who teaches film, media and cultural studies at Canterbury Christ Church University. He is a former editor of Vector, the Critical Journal of the British Science Fiction Association and was membership secretary of the Science Fiction Foundation. He is a former Arthur C. Clarke Award judge and is now a member of the Serendip Foundation which administers the award.

He has published widely on science fiction and, less often, fantasy, in journals such as Foundation, Science Fiction Studies, Vector and The Lion and the Unicorn. His interests include Philip K. Dick, Terry Pratchett (Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature, co-edited with Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn was nominated for a Hugo Award), Jeff Noon, Iain M. Banks, Ken MacLeod, Christopher Priest and Philip Pullman. An article for Science Fiction Studies, "Thirteen ways of looking at the British Boom", on the British science fiction boom won the Science Fiction Research Association Pioneer Award in 2004.

BSFA Award

The BSFA Awards are literary awards presented annually since 1970 by the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) to honour works in the genre of science fiction. Nominees and winners are chosen based on a vote of BSFA members. More recently, members of the Eastercon convention have also been eligible to vote.

BSFA Award for Best Novel

The BSFA Awards are given every year by the British Science Fiction Association. The Best Novel award is open to any novel-length work of science fiction or fantasy that has been published in the UK for the first time in the previous year. Serialised novels are eligible, provided that the publication date of the concluding part is in the previous year. If a novel has been previously published elsewhere, but it hasn't been published in the UK until the previous year, it is eligible.

British Fantasy Society

The British Fantasy Society (BFS) was founded in 1971 as the British Weird Fantasy Society, an offshoot of the British Science Fiction Association. The society is dedicated to promoting the best in the fantasy, science fiction and horror genres.

In 2000, the BFS won the Special Award: Non-Professional at the World Fantasy Awards. The society also has its own awards, the annual British Fantasy Awards, created in 1971 at the suggestion of its president, the author Ramsey Campbell. It held its first Fantasycon in 1975.The current British Fantasy Society has no direct connection with the earlier science fiction group using the same name from 1942 to 1946.

Chasm City

Chasm City is a 2001 science fiction novel by British writer Alastair Reynolds, set in the Revelation Space universe. It deals with themes of identity, memory, and immortality, and many of its scenes are concerned primarily with describing the unusual societal and physical structure of the titular city, a major nexus of Reynolds's universe. It won the 2002 British Science Fiction Association award.

David V. Barrett

David V. Barrett is a British sociologist of religion who has widely written on topics pertaining to new religious movements and western esotericism. He is also a regular contributor to The Independent, Fortean Times, and the Catholic Herald.The backflap of one of his books claims he was an intelligence analyst for the UK Government Communications Headquarters and the United States' government's National Security Agency prior to his career as a writer. He is a regular book critic and his critiques have appeared in Literary Review, New Scientist, and others.He has been involved in science fiction critique, having edited Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association in the late 1980s, and organized and chaired the Arthur C. Clarke Award for three years.

Epic Pooh

"Epic Pooh" is a 1978 article by the British science fiction writer Michael Moorcock, which reviews the field of epic fantasy, with a particular focus on epic fantasy written for children. In it Moorcock critiques J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings for its politically conservative assumptions and for being escapist literature.

Originally written for the British Science Fiction Association, "Epic Pooh" was revised for inclusion in Moorcock's 1989 book Wizardry and Wild Romance.

Feersum Endjinn

Feersum Endjinn is a science fiction novel by Scottish writer Iain M. Banks, first published in 1994. It won a British Science Fiction Association Award in 1994.

The novel is sometimes referred to as Banks' second science fiction novel not set within the Culture universe, the first being Against a Dark Background.

Ian McDonald (British author)

For several other people called Ian McDonald or a similar spelling, see Ian McDonald.Ian McDonald (born 1960) is a British science fiction novelist, living in Belfast. His themes include nanotechnology, postcyberpunk settings, and the impact of rapid social and technological change on non-Western societies.

Ian Whates

Ian Whates is a British speculative fiction author and editor. In 2006 he launched the independent publishing house NewCon Press. He lives with his partner Helen in Cambridgeshire.

As of 2009 Whates is currently a director of both the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) and the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA). He has had short fiction published in Nature, Hub and TQR. In 2007 his short story The Gift of Joy was nominated for the British Science Fiction Award. His space opera novel, Pelquin's Comet (The Dark Angels Book 1), was published in 2015.

Keith Roberts

Keith John Kingston Roberts (20 September 1935 – 5 October 2000) was an English science fiction author. He began publishing with two stories in the September 1964 issue of Science Fantasy magazine, "Anita" (the first of a series of stories featuring a teenage modern witch and her eccentric granny) and "Escapism".Several of his early stories were written using the pseudonym Alistair Bevan. His second novel, Pavane, which is a collection of linked stories, may be his most famous work: an alternate history novel in which the Roman Catholic Church takes control of England following the assassination of Queen Elizabeth I.Roberts wrote numerous novels and short stories, and also worked as an illustrator. His artistic contributions include covers and interior artwork for New Worlds and Science Fantasy, later renamed Impulse. He also edited the last few issues of Impulse although the nominal editor was Harry Harrison.Roberts' first novel, The Furies, makes an appearance in the American TV series Bones in the third season's third episode "Death in the Saddle" (9 October 2007).

Roberts described himself as a political conservative and

an anti-communist.In later life, Roberts lived in Salisbury. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1990, and died of its complications in October 2000. Obituaries recalled him as a talented but personally "difficult" author, with a history of disputes with publishers, editors and colleagues.

Ken Slater (science fiction)

Ken Slater (1917–2008) was a British science fiction fan and bookseller. In 1947, while serving in the British Army of the Rhine, he started Operation Fantast, a network of science fiction fans which had 800 members around the world by 1950 though it folded a few years later. Through Operation Fantast, he was the major importer of American science fiction books and magazines into Britain - an activity which he continued, after its collapse, through his company Fantast (Medway) up to the time of his death. He was a founder member of the British Science Fiction Association in 1958.

List of awards and nominations received by Geoff Ryman

Geoff Ryman (born 1951) is a writer of science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, he was also one of the founding members of the Mundane science fiction movement. In 2008 a Mundane SF issue of Interzone magazine was published, guest edited by Geoff Ryman, Julian Todd and Trent Walters.

Ryman says he knew he was a writer "before [he] could talk", with his first work published in his Mother's newspaper column at six years of age.

He is most well known for his science fiction writing, however his first novel was the fantasy The Warror Who Carried Life, and his revisionist fantasy Was has been called "his most accomplished work".Much of his work is based on travels to Cambodia. The first of these The Unconquered Country (1986) was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. His novel The King's Last Song (2006) was set both in the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.He was guest of honour at Novacon in 1989 and has twice been a guest speaker at Microcon, in 1994 and in 2004. He was also the guest of honour at Gaylaxicon 2008.Ryman has written and published seven novels, inclusding an early example of a hypertext novel, 253, or Tube Theatre. He is currently at work on a new historical novel set in the United States before the Civil War. His novels and novelas have won multiple awards, including the World Fantasy Award, and his novel Was was inducted into the Gaylactic Spectrum Hall of Fame. His novel 'Air was nominated for eight awards, winning four. In total, Ryman's works have been nominated for 59 speculative fiction awards.

List of awards and nominations received by William Gibson

William Gibson is an American-Canadian writer who has been called the "noir prophet" of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. Since first being published in the late 1970s, Gibson has written more than twenty short stories and nine critically acclaimed novels. His early works are bleak, noir near-future stories about the relationship between humans and technology – a "combination of lowlife and high tech". Several of these garnered critical attention and popular acclaim, receiving Hugo and Nebula Awards nominations in the categories of best short story and best novelette and being featured prominently in the annual Locus Awards reader's poll.

The themes, settings and characters developed in these stories culminated in his first novel, Neuromancer (1984), which proved to be the author's breakout work, achieving critical and commercial success and virtually initiating the cyberpunk literary genre. It became the first novel to win the "triple crown" of science fiction awards – the Nebula and the Hugo Awards for best novel along with the Philip K. Dick Award for paperback original, an unprecedented achievement described by the Mail & Guardian as "the sci-fi writer's version of winning the Goncourt, Booker and Pulitzer prizes in the same year". It also won the Ditmar and Seiun awards, received nominations for the year's "outstanding work" Prix Aurora Award and the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) award for best novel, topped the annual Science Fiction Chronicle poll and finishing third in the standings for the 1985 John W. Campbell Award.

Much of Gibson's reputation remained associated with Neuromancer, and though its sequels in the Sprawl trilogy – Count Zero (1986) and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) – also attracted Hugo and Nebula nominations for best novel, major award wins eluded the writer thereafter. "The Winter Market", a short story first published in November 1985, was well-received, garnering Hugo, Nebula, Aurora, and BSFA nominations and finished highly in the Locus, Interzone and Science Fiction Chronicle polls. Having completed the cyberpunk Sprawl trilogy, Gibson became a central figure in the steampunk subgenre by co-authoring the 1990 alternate history novel The Difference Engine, which was nominated for the Nebula, Campbell, Aurora and BSFA awards and featured in the Locus poll. His most recent novels – Pattern Recognition (2003) and Spook Country (2007) – put his work onto mainstream bestseller lists for the first time, and the former was the first of Gibson's novels to be shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Gibson was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008.

Nina Allan

Nina Allan (born 27 May 1966) is a British writer of speculative fiction. She has published four collections of short stories, a novella and two novels. Her stories have appeared in the magazines Interzone, Black Static and Crimewave and have been nominated for or won a number of awards, including the Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire and the British Science Fiction Association Award.

Allan was born in Whitechapel, in the East End of London, and grew up in the Midlands and in West Sussex. She studied Russian language and literature at the University of Reading and the University of Exeter, and then did an MLitt at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

After leaving Oxford she worked as a buyer for an independent chain of record stores based in Exeter, and then as a bookseller in London. Her first published story appeared in the British Fantasy Society journal Dark Horizons in 2002. She lived in the Taw Valley area of North Devon but now lives on Isle of Bute.

Her column "Nina Allan's Time Pieces" appears in Interzone.

The Unlimited Dream Company

The Unlimited Dream Company is a novel by British writer J. G. Ballard, first published in 1979. It was nominated for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1980. It won the British Science Fiction Association Award in the same year.

Tik-Tok (novel)

Tik-Tok is a 1983 science fiction novel by John Sladek. It received a 1983 British Science Fiction Association Award.

Vector (magazine)

Vector is the critical magazine of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA), established in 1958. It is free to members of the BSFA and can be purchased at genre conventions and BSFA events.

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