When I was invited to join the BSFA committee in 2007, I felt honoured. I’m passionate about the BSFA and the role it plays at the heart of fandom and was thrilled at the prospect of contributing in some way. That September, I attended my first committee meeting, with the intention that I should take over editing duties at Matrix.
I arrived with a number of proposals, having no clue how they or I would be received. I didn’t know many of the committee members and had no real concept of how the BSFA functioned. What I found was a group of people who were just as passionate about the organisation as I was but were weary; weary from trying to constantly do too much with too few resources. There was even a suggestion that the BSFA should be wound up. I opposed this vigorously, believing then as I do now that the BSFA still has a vital role to play.
Some of the proposals I presented involved revamping the website and launching BSFA forums, which we did. The forums initially flourished, though a move of servers and the subsequent loss of users’ accounts has seen them wither in recent times.
Other proposals were a little more controversial. Any member could see that the organisation was struggling to fulfil its publication commitments, a fact which became all the more apparent at the meeting. At the time, the BSFA undertook to deliver six mailings a year. In 2006 they had delivered five, just. This was now late September 2007 and, as of that point, three mailings had been sent out. The shortfall wasn’t due to any lack of desire or dedication but a lack of man hours and resources. I proposed that we recognise reality, accepting that six mailings a year was beyond us, and instead set a less ambitious schedule that we could actually keep to: four mailings a year. Niall Harrison, the then-editor of Vector, felt confident that he could boost the page count so that the four issues would contain more actual content than the five delivered in each of the previous couple of years.
Part of this additional content would be provided by moving items across from Matrix