The British Science Fiction Association
A Year in the Chair

Allen Stroud looks back at his first year
As the BSFA's new Chair


British Science Fiction Association



We’d known it was coming. Donna Bond and I had discussed her succession plan at the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) for the last eight months.  One or two key friends had broached the matter with me discreetly.  Donna and I have been friends for a number of years, so my gradual integration into the British Science Fiction Association’s management group was fairly smooth.  Given the extended timescale from late 2018 we had time for some work shadowing and opportunities for me to wind down some other responsibilities before the handover.


First, let me give you an idea of what the BSFA is and does.  We’ve been around since the 1950s.  Our mission is to promote, support and enhance Science Fiction throughout the United Kingdom.  Traditionally, we have concerned ourselves with books and print publications including Vector, but we also support SF in other mediums.  We are a membership organisation and produce regular publications for our members.  These include: BSFA Review, Focus and Vector.

BSFA magazine Vector

You can find a great deal of the BSFA’s publishing archive over at FANAC -

You can join the BSFA either as a UK member or an International member.  Our website is available here:


Getting started
As for my own involvement, when I started my Ph. D in 2013, I’d become aware of the BSFA and its sibling, the British Fantasy Society (BFS).  Initially, I saw myself as a Fantasy writer, so the BFS seemed a more natural fit.  I contributed some articles and reviews to its publications and its website, before becoming the editor of its journal in late 2015.  Giving up those editorial responsibilities at the British Fantasy Society was a wrench.  I’m very proud of the progress made with the BFS Journal from when I took over (issue 15) to when I left (issue 20).  The incoming editor, Sean Wilcock, had managed some of the peer reviewing and co-editing for a period before stepping into the role, but as with all things, the change does bring with it, additional responsibilities.  Many of the publications we produce for members are reliant on a small team with quite a specific set of skills (no, not those skills, Liam!).  Looking at this aspect of the situation pragmatically, the BFS were losing a person who could make books and ebooks. The BSFA were gaining someone who could do that, but also losing Donna, who has similar skills – so it was a like-for-like trade.


2019 summer
Looking back now, the summer of 2019 was something of a honeymoon period and an adjustment. After completing my teaching, my partner Karen and I ran a convention, had a holiday in Cornwall and generally took a bit of a break. Part of the period also involved the Worldcon in Dublin, which was a lovely event and very different for us, with me now being responsible for a table in the trader’s hall.  We were ably assisted by Dave Lally and Jo Walton. At that stage, we were already starting to see some encouraging signs though.  An email from treasurer, Martin Potts telling us we were getting a lot of new memberships from the event was a really good sign.

Into the autumn and work began in earnest.  Issues with the newsletter system, which had gone undiscovered since 2017, revising the association’s constitution and managing the association’s publications was a challenge.  We revised the membership renewal system with a newsletter reminder, which really helped, and began the process of developing a front foot strategy for the association.

The planned Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in December, was a very positive step in the right direction.  Confirmation of Farah Mendelsohn being nominated and elected as Treasurer, succeeding Martin Potts in a gradual succession plan, and the acceptance of Luke Nicklin to the group to do the same with the association’s membership officer position were massive boosts.  Both people bring new ideas and fresh energy. Their predecessors, Dave Lally and Martin Potts, have remained around the association to ensure the transfer of responsibility has been gradual so as to ease Farah and Martin into their new roles.


Into 2020
2020 and the global pandemic changed the landscape for everyone in all walks of life.  For the BSFA, an immediate action to try and reach out to members and science fiction fans was instigated by Jo Walton and Polina Levontin, the co-editors of Vector.  We collated a variety of free writing offered by authors, posting and promoting it on the BSFA website and organised a reading series, with writers recording videos of them reading from their new novels.  All the while, we continued to manage our publication schedule.  Then, as the year's Eastercon was replaced by a virtual event, we quickly re-organised the BSFA Awards as video presentation, hosted by Luke Nicklin and myself from my spare bedroom!

BSFA magazine Focus

An arrangement between the BSFA and FANAC has also seen a large archive of publications go online for enthusiastic fans to browse.

Late summer – August 2020 and the BSFA held its first ever online AGM.  The new constitution – a revision of the previous memorandum and articles which have been pretty much unchanged since the 1990s.  A variety of alterations were needed so that the way the association operates is reflected in its rules and guidance.  We had introduced some of the ideas for discussion from the 2019 EGM, but to finally get everything ratified this year, was a massive achievement.

As part of the AGM, we said goodbye to Stephen Baxter, who announced his decision to step down as President and elected Pat Cadigan, our Vice President, as the new President of the BSFA.

This year has also seen changes amongst the appointed group of BSFA officers.  Clare Boothby, our awards administrator has stepped down, as has Martin Mccallion, our website administrator, and Alex Bardy, one of our magazine designers, all of whom have made massive contributions to the association in the last few years.


Towards the future
Moving forwards, the BSFA is now working hard on the development of a new website which will provide members with better options for managing their status and accessing BSFA materials.  The transition is not easy, we’re trying to maintain the older system whilst moving over to our new set up, which has resulted in a few snags, but we’re getting there, and everyone is committed to the project.

For myself personally, being the Chair has been an honour and one I am enjoying.  The challenge to make a difference in these difficult times and to leave, when my term is over, with the association having progressed positively, is a constant aim – a moving target in some ways as new situations and difficulties arise, but we’re doing well and I think people see that.  Memberships are up and hopefully we can be a source of comfort and community in these trying times.

Allen Stroud


Allen Stroud

Allen Stroud is a lecturer at Coventry University. He has a PhD in “…writing structures and world development techniques in Science Fiction and Fantasy”.  He worked on the computer games, Elite Dangerous (2014), Chaos Reborn (2016) and Phoenix Point (2019) developing world backgrounds, plot and fiction.  He has written short stories, novels and music as well as reviewing for SF² Concatenation.  His latest science fiction novel is Fearless (Flame Tree Press, 2020).


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