Amateur Press Alliances (APA's)
The amateur press alliance, or apa, is an institution that is difficult to explain to someone who has never seen a copy. One veteran fan described an apa as a printed cocktail party. In the wired world of today, you might think of it as a printed version of an on-line discussion group. But SF fans were using apa's to communicate with each other long before anyone thought of computer networks.
Science fiction fandom did not create the apa. Amateur publishers in the mundane world used to show their productions to each other. However, SF fans may have been the first to transform the apa into an interactive medium by writing mailing comments, or observations about topics raised by another participant. For decades, the apa has given SF fans a place to talk to each other and sharpen their writing skills.
Apa members prepare their zines and send them to a central person who is often called the Official Editor. At regular intervals, the OE collates the zines, prepares a table of contents, and sends the packages to the members. The most common intervals are bimonthly and monthly, although a few run quarterly and at least one ran on a weekly schedule. Most apa's require a minimum number of original pages (minac for "minimum activity") and payment of modest dues as a condition of membership. Some apa's specialize on a certain topic, some are aimed at a geographic area, while others are more general.
Inquiring minds might wonder why the printed apa hangs on in the modern world of E-mail and instant gratification. Good question. It's possible that ten years from now most printed apa's will exist only in electronic form. But the printed page has some advantages. It provides a place for longer essays that don't fit the shorter form of an E-mail message. And a printed volume can go places where a laptop is inconvenient to carry.
For now, the print apa and electronic discussion list work in an uneasy alliance. Both are a good way to find intelligent and interesting people.
The SFC Web Site will concentrate on two apa's with strong Southern roots. If there are other apa's with a major Southern connection or a majority of Southern members, please notify the Editor so they can be listed here.
The Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA) is approaching its 40th anniversary. Many print-oriented Southern fans have belonged to SFPA at one time or another, including the Web Site Editor. One of them was a guy who went on to coin the word "cyberpunk" and make a name for himself for creating a new style of science fiction. His name is William Gibson.
According to Official Editor Sheila Strickland, SFPA distributions are bimonthly with deadlines on the last Thursday of odd-numbered months. The mailing is sent to the members over the ensuing weekend. The current membership limit is 24, but floats to match the size of the membership. The copy count is the membership limit plus 2. Minac is six pages of original and personal writing and/or artwork over two distributions; dues are $15 per year. To receive a sample copy, send $5 to the Official Editor: