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Difficult Times For SF Magazines 218

Posted by kdawson
from the genre-you-save-may-be-your-own dept.
Lawrence Person writes "Another speculative fiction magazine folds: Realms of Fantasy is ceasing publication. This comes hot on the heels of the announcement that the venerable Fantasy and Science Fiction will be moving from a monthly to a bimonthly schedule, and underscores what a tough environment this is for science fiction and fantasy magazines, all of which have suffered declining circulation for quite some time. This is a real problem, since short fiction is generally where new writers cut their teeth, appearing in print alongside their more famous peers. Given that a one-year subscription costs less than the average video game, those with an interest in science fiction might want to consider buying subscriptions to Asimov's, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Analog. (Those in the UK might want to add Interzone and/or Black Static and Postscripts as well.)"
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Difficult Times For SF Magazines

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  • by dov_0 (1438253) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:13PM (#26681701)
    Maybe people are doing most of their reading on online? Spending too much time on /.?
    • Re:Online uptake? (Score:4, Informative)

      by houstonbofh (602064) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:23PM (#26681749)
      Or the Bean Free Library. http://www.baen.com/library/ [baen.com] Also a good place for authors starting out.
  • by j1mmy (43634) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:14PM (#26681715) Journal

    i thought they died out in the 60s

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rlseaman (1420667)

      They started their decline about the time Astounding turned into Analog (around the time of Sputnik), but really the SF magazines are being dragged to their death from above. Having grown up reading science fiction, I'm now embarrassed to be seen anywhere near that section of a book store. The speculative aspect of the genre has been completely lost. The adolescent drivel has triumphed. But then, short fiction of all types is endangered.

      Of course, written science fiction of all types has been diluted by

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:55AM (#26682105)

      No they haven't died out, the heydey of Analog was actually in the 60's. Analog went through a few years when it was published in a large format offset printed magazine with some very nice artwork. And the content was wonderful. Among other things Dune was serialized in Analog during those years.

      There was some good stuff in the 70's too. Joe Haldeman's Forever War, which Ridley Scott is planning to make into a movie first appeared as a serial in Analog then.

      I still have my old large format Analogs in a box in my garage. I've been a continuous subscriber for 43 years... since I was about 12. It is now quite painful to read knowing the former glory. I have about 3 years of back issues now that I haven't read.

      The publication volume numbers are also painful to look at. They are less than 10% of what they were in the 60's.

      Given the tough economy and the general trend away from the sciences and worse yet reading anything longer than a web page it would not surprise me to see Analog stop publication for a while. Or forever.

    • by Goffee71 (628501)
      Reading magazines is coming back, at least in the UK, there are a couple of new short story mags launching, http://www.firsteditionpublishing.co.uk/ [firstediti...hing.co.uk] and another couple that escape me - cheap disposable reads may well work in this CEC
  • bi-monthly

    adj.

    1. Happening every two months.
    2. Happening twice a month; semimonthly.

    • Context.

      If it's less than ("ceasing publication", "declining circulation") then assume the first, if it is more than (ie: "new publication") assume the second.

      But you already knew that.

    • by leamanc (961376)
      Although that is the dictionary definition, it is antiquated at this point. It almost always refers to the first definition. "Semi-monthly," as noted in definition 2, is universally used for twice a month now.
  • I've been buying Asimov, Analog, and S&SF for a LONG time, but I won't subscribe to them. The extra cost involved if you don't live in the US means it's the same price - or less - to buy it at the local book store. AND, unlike when I *did* subscribe, it arrives at the book store a month earlier. WTF is up with that? What are they doing - taking back the overstock and mailing it out to subscribers?

    • What are they doing - taking back the overstock and mailing it out to subscribers?

      Actually, at times, yes.

    • by microcars (708223) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:51AM (#26682089) Homepage
      I publish a magazine, so I understand what the problem is:
      When the magazine is printed, one pile gets sent to the magazine distributor who gets them to the bookstores.
      They have a relatively efficient system and they get to the stores in a timely manner.

      The other pile goes to the mailing distributor who puts labels on them and then they are at the mercy of the USPS.
      These are NOT sent First Class Mail, but Periodical rate or "STANDARD" (used to be called BULK)

      It can take from a week to 4 weeks for the mailed copies to make their way across the USA.
      I have seen people on both coasts get theirs while other people that are a 6 hour drive from where they were originally mailed wait 4 weeks!

      Some mail bags are held until there is "enough" mail to get moved from a main USPS point to someplace else. All this used to work much better when there was a lot of other BULK mail in the system, but now that there is less, a lot of this stuff just sits waiting for enough for a full truckload or something.
      It is extremely frustrating and has gotten much worse in the last year.

      This is how it works for smaller publications.
      Larger ones like TIME, NEWSWEEK, etc have their own PRIVATE Distribution system that gets all the magazines delivered to the main Post Offices around the country so they can ALL be delivered on a Friday or Saturday and that is when they also hit the Newstands.
      They can benefit from the economies of scale of their operation, smaller pubs cannot.
      • I think TIME at least is having problems too.

        Even with ads, it has been extremely thin lately.

    • by Artifex (18308)

      I've been buying Asimov, Analog, and S&SF for a LONG time, but I won't subscribe to them. The extra cost involved if you don't live in the US means it's the same price - or less - to buy it at the local book store. AND, unlike when I *did* subscribe, it arrives at the book store a month earlier. WTF is up with that? What are they doing - taking back the overstock and mailing it out to subscribers?

      I had subscriptions two at least two of these, and dropped them in favor of picking up all three at the store. I had several reasons, but the biggest ones are 1) that the postal system tears up these cheaply printed mags, and 2) I find almost all the issues with multipart stories in them to be a waste of time, so I just skip those months unless my browse in the store turns up interesting other stories. (I guess that leads me to a third reason: the quality of the stories is not always very good. It seems tha

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        F&SF is neither fish nor fowl, so it's the "weak sister" of the three, and the one I'd miss the least, though, truth be told, I'd prefer to keep buying all three.

        As for the serials, that used to really p*ss me off, but there have been some good ones. I used to have the time to read each one as I bought it, but nowadays, they sit in a stack until I can find the time, so a serialization isn's as much of an issue.

        There's an old saying - when everyone else is zigging, you should zag. Instead of cuttin

    • Funny you should mention that. My April issue of Analog arrived in the mail yesterday (January), and I'm pretty sure I've had March for about a month.

      I know about lead times and all that, but I simply cannot believe that the April issue could hit bookstores more than a few days before I got mine. Perhaps I'll drop by my local megabookcoffeebagelmusicstore and see what issue is on the shelf (but not today, thanks; I'm avoiding Superbowl traffic by staying home).

  • fanfic is the craigslist of the publishing world.
  • Well worth it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:27PM (#26681779)

    Subscribe to these magazines. I have particular experience with Analog & Asimov's and the amount of quality stories in each issue is quite high, providing many hours of good reading each month.

    I would have never discovered either if it weren't for downloading 'illegal' digital copies via IRC. One of the biggest problems of these magazines is people just don't know, the more exposure they get the better off they will be. I would advise them to freely post a certain number of back issues online to entice potential subscribers. I think they need to re-invent their content delivery model if they want to stay afloat. It would be a great loss if they faded away.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:30PM (#26681793)

    Magazines in general are hurting. Mad magazine also cut down from being a monthly magazine to being a quarterly. It's rival, Cracked, has been doing well because they adapted to the internet (cracked.com vs mad's crappy website).

    Sorry guys, it's a brave new world, it's not 1984 anymore. Get with the program.

    BTW, I don't read a lot anymore, but besides the odd fanfiction (fanfiction.net), I find fictionpress for original stuff a decent place to read. Perhaps there are others. The problem is (and what magazines with editors used to do) was picking out the gems from the crap. There are various ways to do this on those type of sites, but many still still don't make any effort and dump the whole lot of listings on you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by artor3 (1344997)

      BTW, I don't read a lot anymore, but besides the odd fanfiction (fanfiction.net), I find fictionpress for original stuff a decent place to read. Perhaps there are others. The problem is (and what magazines with editors used to do) was picking out the gems from the crap. There are various ways to do this on those type of sites, but many still still don't make any effort and dump the whole lot of listings on you.

      Having not read much amateur writing myself, I think you make an interesting point. I wonder if a magazine like F&SF could have any success by having a website on which anyone could submit stories, and their editors read through, find the good ones and publish them. All the stories could be available for users to browse through and rate, but the prospect of being put into print might attract more authors and make the site a success.

      • by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Sunday February 01, 2009 @01:18AM (#26682173) Journal

        Having not read much amateur writing myself, I think you make an interesting point. I wonder if a magazine like F&SF could have any success by having a website on which anyone could submit stories, and their editors read through, find the good ones and publish them. All the stories could be available for users to browse through and rate, but the prospect of being put into print might attract more authors and make the site a success.

        Probably not. The sticking point is-- how do you pay the editor? Editors (of the good/reputable magazines, at least) tend to be educated, and have a knack for the language, and are in tune with the "art" of writing. In short, they're talented, and this is their livleyhood. Given that:

        1) You pay for these editors

        2) You use free editors.

        With #1, you need a website making money to pay them for making the content of the website good enough to pay money for. I wonder if ouroboros.com is available?

        With #2, you're hoping for the best. You might get good editors, you might not. Would you want to read fiction controlled by Wikipedia editors?

        The last thing is the sheer volume of entries you'll get. Just ask any editor about the slush pile. Buy them a drink first. F&SF has a turn-around time of about 2-3 weeks-- and that is a phenomenal feat. Most magazines will take 1-2 months for a submission to make it through the queue. That's a lot of submissions, given that people (in most cases) still need to snail mail it. Can you imagine what will happen when you open it up electronically, and everyone including every Harry Potter/Picard fanfic writer submits? That is a lot of slush.

        I'm not saying it's not possible, but it would be quite the challenge to find a working, profitable sweet spot between amature free-for-all and professional tightly-run-ship

        • by WCLPeter (202497)

          With #1, you need a website making money to pay them for making the content of the website good enough to pay money for. I wonder if ouroboros.com is available?

          With #2, you're hoping for the best. You might get good editors, you might not. Would you want to read fiction controlled by Wikipedia editors?

          Can you imagine what will happen when you open it up electronically, and everyone including every Harry Potter/Picard fanfic writer submits?

          Why not use both?

          Assuming you have a decently interesting site that is geared towards new and semi-professional authors, you already have a large base of people with which to validate and critique new works. Let the "Option 2" people rate stories and provide feedback. The sheer volume of people should, in theory, allow the better stories to rise to the top.

          Then you have the "Option 1" editor read only the highest ranked stories, kind of like reading Slashdot at Score: 5, and then only picking the best of

  • New Writers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:30PM (#26681795)

    As an unpublished writer myself, I think what this means is that writers are going to have to get their starts by posting their stories on the Internet. If they write well, perhaps they will build a following, and that will make it easier for them to get published by more regular means (which pay better, but beginners never made that much money anyway).

    It is too bad for me that I seem to complete one short story or novella every four years, but that is my own problem... I could always put out the stories I have...

    Posting on the Internet is currently easier for novelists than it is for short story writers. Magazines want first serial rights and that means they want to get your story before the Internet does. Book publishers don't care so much about being first as about having exclusivity. So you can put your book out, and if it becomes popular, some publisher might pick it up without you having to write another one. But then book publishers prefer to keep a book in print for a while, if it keeps selling.

    It can still work for short story writers to give stories away, but only if they complete stories fairly often. If I could complete a story every month, I could offer it to the magazines first and then put it on the Net. Maybe eventually I would write something good enough that a magazine might decide to catch the next one...

    • Re:New Writers (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:45PM (#26681861)

      The issue (pardon the pun) is that having one's story in print physically sitting on store shelves gives one significantly more notority than having a story on a website. Internet only, its extremely difficult to separate the good writings from someone's crossover slash fanfic of Drizzt on Legolas while being flogged by Commander Rico under the supervision of Corwin, with many Lensmen watching the show.

      I am going to subscribe to the magazines mentioned. Even if I don't read them, there is something nice about reading a book and quality fiction, as opposed to having to separate the good stuff from the garbage. Call me an old fogie, but I can't bear to sit on a computer and read even a short story. I rather buy a book.

      • ...from someone's crossover slash fanfic of Drizzt on Legolas while being flogged by Commander Rico under the supervision of Corwin, with many Lensmen watching the show.

        Your supposedly off-the-cuff example is strangely detailed.

        How long were you thinking about it? Be honest.

      • by YourExperiment (1081089) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @10:11AM (#26683941)

        crossover slash fanfic of Drizzt on Legolas while being flogged by Commander Rico under the supervision of Corwin, with many Lensmen watching the show

        I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your magazine.

    • by HiThere (15173)

      I won't read long works on the computer. Sorry, but paper copies are much easier on the eyes. There are many papers I know I should read, but I won't unless I first print them out, which I'm reluctant to do because loose, unfileable papers make a tremendous mess.

      I've recently been throwing out old papers because I couldn't find anything...on the computer I can find it, but can't read it. As loose papers, I can read it but can't find it. As a bound work I can read it AND find it again when I want to refe

    • Re:New Writers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Sunday February 01, 2009 @02:02AM (#26682335)

      As an unpublished writer myself, I think what this means is that writers are going to have to get their starts by posting their stories on the Internet. If they write well, perhaps they will build a following, and that will make it easier for them to get published by more regular means (which pay better, but beginners never made that much money anyway).

      The problem is, it's like indie music. First, publishing on the Internet doesn't mean you'll get noticed. You may have written mankind's best SF story, but if it sits in some dark corner of the Internet that no one ends up going to, well, it sits, stagnant. You can get a few hits by using blogs and what not, but driving traffic that way gets difficult, fast. If you're lucky you'll get hit with some article in a newspaper or popular website.

      That's why the magazines got people discovered - you had the usual brand-name authors beside the more obscure ones. Flipping through the mag trying to get to a story, you may stop by the obscure author's few closing words, get intrigued, and read from the beginning. Others do the same, and some obscure author gets boosted. Or heck, being stuck with the mag and having nothing else to do, you may read some of the other stories to pass time.

      A website trying to emulate this behavior won't have the same effect - if you stick with the standard Table Of Contents model, people reading a certain author will just click straight to that author's story and stop. Then they'd go off for their next distraction (another website), while the more obscure authors go unclicked.

      While the mag's story has a few lines to possibly hook a reader, a website only has the title/subtitle to do so (leading to the "Short Catchy Title - Long explanatory subtitle" titling format we see today).

      But I suppose the demise of the mags comes from the fact that quality is going down - good authors don't need mags - they'll just post it online and get other blogs to generate traffic for them. The so-so kind either try to submit into a mag and hope, or expect to post it on the Internet and have it magically generate publicity to them. Unfortunately, getting noticed on the Internet is difficult, because with literally everyone publishing, there's way too much content out there.

      • An online magazine isn't the same as print, but it could have many advantages too. Each story submitted could have ratings, reviews, forum discussions, etc. If the site is designed to allow a community to develop, that community could do the work of finding the best new stories and bringing them to the forefront. Authors who develop a significant following on the site could have a special section of the site devoted to them, and have their stories featured on the home page. This could lead to them getting t

  • Whether writing is distributed online or in paper form, the author still has to afford to eat and should be able to recieve renumeration for their efforts.

    I think this is somewhat due to the way the middle class is being squeezed and there is less spending money than there once was. It may also be due to video games, and that does not bode well for the video game generation who spending their time moving a figure around the screen, and who lack the intellectual and brain development that comes from reading.

    • Your entire post made me chuckle.

      "Whether writing is distributed online or in paper form, the author still has to afford to eat and should be able to receive remuneration for their efforts."

      In a market economy you receive what you can get others to pay you for your labour. If you want we could increase government spending on art, but I will bet you a chicken dinner the proportion of government money spent on science fiction will be tiny compared with the popularity of science fiction. If writers are having

  • Which to get? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by urbanmapper (1466247)
    Ok, I'm game. I have always loved SF, and read quite a lot of it. I have never got into the magazines, though. Which are your favorites, and why?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by htiefshorty (597656)
      It is a matter of taste. Analog is more geared towards hard SciFi. There are also science articles geeky enough to make anyone happy. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction accepts, well, fantasy and science fiction. Even the occasional ghost story. Stephen King publishes in F&SF. I think Flowers for Algernon was first published there. Analog has published more Nova winning stories in recent years.
  • A real problem? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Facegarden (967477) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:46PM (#26681867)

    From the summary:
    "This is a real problem, since short fiction is generally where new writers cut their teeth..."

    A real problem my ass... I'm sure new writers can find a place on the internet all the same. In fact, anyone who really thinks it's a problem should go start a site right now. With the right business model, you could provide the same service to new writers and readers alike. There are all kinds of ways this could be done where writers even get paid.

    There is no problem, chill out. Print media is dead, the internet is the new library... or something. Either way, calling this a problem is like when the RIAA thought the internet was a problem for music... but it was really the answer to better accessibility.
    -Taylor

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You are sure.... I'm not. I don't know of any place on the Internet where an author can get paid for a science fiction story.

      It is very hard way to make a living. The only way Niven was able to get started was because he had the right parents. Asimov had a flexible day job.

      The pulps dying is a bad sign.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AJWM (19027)

        I don't know of any place on the Internet where an author can get paid for a science fiction story.

        At pro rates (ie, SFWA qualifying), there's Jim Baen's Universe and Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show. There are a few others around (eg, Raygun Revival) that pay quite a bit less than pro rates. (And even pro fiction rates are far, far below typical non-fiction rates. Back when, Byte magazine paid me for an article the better part of an advance on a first novel, and that's not too atypical.)

        Bu

    • IAAEM (I am an english major... how often do I get to use that acronym on slashdot?), and I can assure you that writing fiction and (more importantly) expecting to be paid for it IS a problem.

      Traditionally, writers start in small literary magazines before a larger publisher will take them seriously and offer a book deal. Very few publishers take internet experience seriously, though as I understand that is changing rapidly.

      However, fiction readership is down and continues to decline (especially the high-bro

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Nekomusume (956306)
      Real publishers, as a general rule, don't count anything that was only published online as a real credit. Being printed in a reputable magazine means your work has withstood editorial scrutiny. The web is basicly a huge step down from vanity presses in their eyes. They don't really count those either. On the internet, you're basicly an independant. If you don't already have a name for yourself, good luck getting anyone to read your work, because nobody will find your work in the first place, amongst other
    • Re:A real problem? (Score:4, Informative)

      by creimer (824291) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @02:06AM (#26682351) Homepage
      I have 100+ rejection slips (not including emails) disagree with you. Writing is hard. Publishing is harder. Whether in print or online, things are not getting any better.
  • A REAL problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:51PM (#26681891)

    > This is a real problem, since short fiction is generally where new writers cut their teeth,

    Hello! This is the future calling. You know, the one the SIFI writers have been writing about all this time...?!?

    The writers have the web. They can make more selling google ads on any blog site than they ever could have getting published in a low-volume sifi rag.

    I don't see this as a "Problem" for anyone except the publisher, and even they were clearly not in it for profit. It's just another example of people rationally abandoning their failed business model for a more high-tech one.

    Do this: Grab last year's copies of any of these rags and google some of the authors you find in there. You will find they are not dead, merely transported to another reality.

    • by FishWithAHammer (957772) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:41AM (#26682051)

      They can make more selling google ads on any blog site than they ever could have getting published in a low-volume sifi rag.

      Speaking from experience:

      Bullshit.

      Seriously. It's not as easy, nor as profitable, as you think. Furthermore, your stupid (and it really is stupid) assumption that a blog will provide the same kind of exposure is...well, exactly that: stupid. The magazines are used to find out who are the good authors. Somebody published in Analog is automatically considered better than Joe Fuckstick who posts his stories on a blog, no matter how many readers he has. The separation of wheat from chaff is largely done there.

      (This excludes stuff like Jim Baen's Universe, which are online magazines of wonderful quality. You can get Analog and the rest through Fictionwise just fine, too, however, though that's not where the majority of their subscribers come from by any means.)

      • Ok, a pool of good writers may do the same in a blog. Dead tree doesn't guarantee anything.

        • Actually, it does. They're spending money to put out those books. They're not going to put in bad work (well, most of the time--every editor has some misses, stories he likes but his readership doesn't). Dead tree is a better guarantee of quality than FIVE STARS!!! on FictionPress or wherever.

          Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there's some good writing on the interwebs. But there's more consistently good writing in the dead tree press.

      • by NitroWolf (72977)

        They can make more selling google ads on any blog site than they ever could have getting published in a low-volume sifi rag.

        Speaking from experience:

        Bullshit.

        Seriously. It's not as easy, nor as profitable, as you think. Furthermore, your stupid (and it really is stupid) assumption that a blog will provide the same kind of exposure is...well, exactly that: stupid. The magazines are used to find out who are the good authors. Somebody published in Analog is automatically considered better than Joe Fuckstick who posts his stories on a blog, no matter how many readers he has. The separation of wheat from chaff is largely done there.

        (This excludes stuff like Jim Baen's Universe, which are online magazines of wonderful quality. You can get Analog and the rest through Fictionwise just fine, too, however, though that's not where the majority of their subscribers come from by any means.)

        This is exactly right. I have a subscription to Analog - I have it because I like 90% of what Schmidt chooses for inclusion in the magazine. I read everything in the issues because I trust Schmidt's choices. That includes writers I've never heard of and stories that, on the face of it, look stupid - I still read them and am more often than not pleasantly surprised. But I read them because Stanely already did and said it was good.

        I don't have the time nor inclination to read through hundreds of blogs to

  • by sehlat (180760) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:08AM (#26681941)

    Jim Baen's Universe - http://www.baens-universe.com/ [baens-universe.com]

    Always been electronic, and I'll keep this subscription going as long as I'm breathing.
    Worth every penny of what they charge and there are membership bonuses. Some of the
    best short fiction I can find comes out of this shop.

    Fictionwise - www.fictionwise.com Carries Analog, Asimov's and F&SF. I've had
    subscriptions to all three since 2000 and intend to continue them until either they
    or I fold.

    Print may be dead, but these guys publish zero-DRM and I can stuff them into my Palm and
    go. That was the approach that got me back into reading science fiction.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MtViewGuy (197597)

      I think magazines like Analog, Asimov's and Fantasy and Science Fiction should AGGRESSIVELY pursue other means of distribution besides the printed magazine format. Why aren't they making their magazine available in encrypted PDF, Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader format? Or just as good, have the stories in these magazines available as an audiobook from Audible.com?

      • by sehlat (180760) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @01:43AM (#26682263)

        Did you go to www.fictionwise.com?

        The entry on Analog's April 2009 issue reads:

        Available eBook Formats [MultiFormat - What's this?]: Adobe Acrobat (PDF) [1.1 MB], Adobe Acrobat - Large Print (PDF) [1.2 MB], eReader (PDB) [310 KB], Palm Doc (PDB) [230 KB], Rocket/REB1100 (RB) [251 KB], Microsoft Reader (LIT) [813 KB] - PocketPC 1.0+ Compatible, Franklin eBookMan (FUB) [263 KB], hiebook (KML) [1.2 MB], Sony Reader (LRF) [985 KB], iSilo (PDB) [207 KB], Mobipocket (PRC) [547 KB], Kindle Compatible (MOBI) [601 KB], OEBFF Format (IMP) [390 KB]

        That enough formats for you? Note, Multiformat == Zero DRM.

    • by bcrowell (177657)

      Interesting. I didn't know that you could get the three digest-format magazines electronically.

      But even without including those, there are quite a few electronic-only magazines that pay professional rates of $.05/word or more. The Science Fiction Writers of America maintains a list [sfwa.org] of approved pro markets. The main criterion is that they have to pay 5 cents a word, but they also won't list them unless they have a regular publication schedule and a decent circulation. The following is a list of pro market

  • Science Fiction? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn@@@earthlink...net> on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:13AM (#26681961)

    There's a "Science Fiction" bookstore near where I live, and they've shifted gradually towards carrying mostly fantasy.

    Genuine Science Fiction has always been rather thin on the ground. Doing it well is *hard*. Hal Clement was one who did it well. Larry Niven occasionally did it well. (Known Worlds series incl. Ringworld et seq.)

    Currently I only know of Charles Stoss, though there may be others. (I've cut back on my reading a lot.)

    But a thing to note is...the Science Fiction book store near me doesn't care the magazines regularly. They can't get the distributors to deliver them. And this is in the SF Bay Area, California, USA. Books they can get, but not magazines.

    Unfortunately, in my opinion the quality of the single magazine I followed regularly, Analog(Astounding) has also deteriorated. Significantly. Very significantly. So much so that a subscription is practically a waste of money. (There have been a few periods when I also regularly followed Galaxy or Worlds of If...but those are now decades in the past.)

    And it's not that I don't still like good Science Fiction...or even good fantasy. I still buy many books. (*Almost* all of which I count as fantasy of one sort or another...but NOT Science Fiction.)

    I wish Randall Garrett had lived. *He* could have written decent Science Fiction in the current age. (He wasn't just the Lord Darcy series. There were long periods when he was the most prolific writer that J.W. Campbell had writing for him...under lots of pseudonyms.) He wouldn't have written the same stories that Charles Stoss writes...and nobody will ever know what he would have written. Sigh.

    But, in my opinion, most of the magazines don't really deserve to live. It's a real pity, because the magazines is where authors used to develop their skills. Now ... now there doesn't seem to be any decent place for such development. Which means that the people who can become authors are far fewer.

    On line? Who pays for on line? IMHO that only works if you are already a well enough known name that a publisher will pick up your work anyway. (I.e., even if they don't have exclusive rights to distribution.) A few authors can get away with that.

    Science Fiction has always been a shoe-string operation. And SF magazines have always been VERY highly dependent upon their editor. A change of editors can make a weak magazine or break a strong one. Astounding/Analog was extremely lucky in having Campbell for so long. Galaxy was lucky in HL Gold. Asimov's ... faded rapidly when he did. I don't think that Stanley Schmidt was as good an editor as Campbell (average rating...Campbell sure had his off periods!), but he was more than adequate. But he didn't keep the spark going. He didn't have the fire that inspires authors and readers. Recently...I haven't been following. Occasionally I see one and pick it up. But rarely...meaning I rarely see one. When I do see one, I'm rarely inspired to buy it.

    All magazines are falling off, but Science Fiction magazines have always lived closer to the edge...so any fall off in business affects them more profoundly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I agree that Analog has really, seriously deteriorated. I have been a subscriber since the 1950's. I would eagerly await each issue, devour it in a single sitting, and then impatiently await the next one.

      A few years ago I began to notice I was reading fewer and fewer stories. For every one I enjoyed, there would be one that was inane and incomprehensible. Then there would be more and more worthless ones, and fewer and fewer good ones.

      When I began to see more and more issues that were entirely devoid

      • That's almost exactly why/how I stopped subscribing to F&SF.

        I don't know whether it was the frequent change of editors screwing up the submission-process or a lack of quality submissions or an inability to pay better authors for their good stuff, but there came a point where I didn't enjoy reading it anymore. The columns were inane and rambling. The stories were shallow and mostly just character-sketches of fantasy characters. The only reliably good writing in the magazine was satirical or an excerpt fr

        • Speaking of columns... the editorials in Asimovs especially are now usually long rambling discursions by the editors on the glory days of SF gone by. Analog was generally more interesting, but Stan had a very predictable pattern for his editorials that also started to become tiresome.

          Some time ago I noticed that that the SF magazines are feeling OLD of all things... it hurts to say it, but for some reason the genre seems to have passed it's time. I guess several perennial topics have either happened or diss

    • All magazines are falling off, but Science Fiction magazines have always lived closer to the edge...so any fall off in business affects them more profoundly.

      The more esoteric, the more difficult it is to get people to read it. This goes doubly for science-fiction, doubly for literary fiction, and quadrupally for literary science-fiction.

    • by Bagels (676159)
      Hm. Well, give Vernor Vinge a shot. His work can be in a somewhat similar vein to Stross' stuff, but I've liked it.
    • Analog(Astounding) has also deteriorated. Significantly. Very significantly. So much so that a subscription is practically a waste of money.

      Ugh, agreeing with this. I ended my subscribtion to Analog around a year and a half ago, when I realized that the story quality had really gone down the shitter. I found myself starting to read a story, but then quitting 1-2 pages in because they were just so terrible. When I would get an issue and go through every story like this, I gave up. Stories with neat concepts

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Marticus (128290)

      Sean [seanwilliams.com] Williams [wikipedia.org].

      (Then of course, there's Peter Hamilton, Vernor Vinge, Stephen Baxter, Iain M. Banks...)

    • by Badge 17 (613974)

      I recently subscribed to Analog. I started every story in the first issue, and only one was worth finishing. Most either failed to 1) have believable, interesting characters, or 2) realize that new words are not new ideas.

      But that doesn't mean science fiction is dead - read the Hugo-winners and noms. Books like Rainbows End (Vernor Vinge) and Spin (Robert Charles Wilson) have restored my faith in the genre. Maybe I'll give Analog another chance, but right now there are too many good novels out there.

    • I visited the local Barnes & Noble the other night, and browsed the fantasy/SF section. Although I didn't search exhaustively, I didn't notice even one book that was not standard fantasy, urban fantasy, far-future SF with spaceships, stellar empires and the like, and/or a series like "Warhammer 40K" or "WarCraft." I eventually walked through the aisle with eyes closed to randomly poke books for inspection.

      *poke* "Alice returned to New Orleans to find that Hurricane Katrina had decimated the vampire cl
  • by Xolom (989077) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:22AM (#26681985)
    SF ceased to be SF long ago. walk into a bookstore, and you'll see books with a cover of a giant muscular thor-looking dude with a huge sword fighting a dragon. that is NOT SF. that is fantasy. that killed true SF (such as heinlein)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Sadly, yes. SF has turned primarily into cyberpunk/biopunk, which is fine (and enjoyable too) and Star Wars knockoffs. Once in a while there are some good surprises, but few and far between these days. :-(

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Moridineas (213502)

      I don't really agree with this. There's ALWAYS been crap pulp fiction out there. From Buck Rogers to Asimov's lesser known Lucky Star series etc. S.f.'s origin was not always a lofty highbrow enterprise! Today's pulp fiction stories are every bit as much true s.f. or fantasy as were the pulp fiction of the 1920s.

      I would also draw a divide between s.f. and fantasy....but anyway.

      The difference between then and now--imho--is that the Asimovs, Heinleins, de Camps, etc etc etc are gone, and they haven't really b

  • by Khaed (544779) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @01:03AM (#26682127)

    I really don't mean to be a troll with this. But I wanted to read RoF in order to see what kind of short stories were being published, and so I subscribed for a year.

    Most of the story content during the year I subscribed came across as snooty/snobby artsy fartsy junk fantasy. At least as far as I can recall. I have like, zero standards when it comes to reading science fiction/fantasy so long as I can pronounce the character names without needing a guide, and this stuff turned me off. Seriously, I went through a phase where fantasy stories were like crack, and these guys couldn't publish one story in a year that made me feel like the subscription was worth it.

    Maybe some of their problem comes from the fact a bunch of people didn't like the content? Content is everywhere. If you want someone to pay for content, it has to be more entertaining or valuable than they can get for free. I can get snooty art fantasy all I want at deviantart for free.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Orson Scott Card publishes a great, DRM-free, electronic-only magazine called Intergalactic Medicine Show [intergalac...neshow.com]. They don't publish on a set schedule, so you can't buy a subscription, but you can sign up (for free) to have them email you every time a new issue comes out.

    One of the nice things about their lack of schedule is that they don't have any pressure to "fill" an issue and get it to press on time: they collect good stories as they come along, until an issue is truly ready.

    Another aspect of this medium whi

  • by DavidHumus (725117) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @02:43AM (#26682485)

    I was reading in my comfortable chair, three feet away from where I'm now typing this.

    Am I the only one who still finds it more comfortable to curl up with a book than to read a screen?

    I really, really like modern digital stuff as much as any slashdotter out there but a book, or magazine, is still a superior technology in many ways: it needs no power, it's durable, I can stuff it into a pocket and take it with me, I can read anywhere there's enough light, from any position I find comfortable; if I lose it or drop it in the bathtub, no big whoop.

    Some of these advantages would go away if I had one of these new-fangled readers, I suppose, rather than the laptop I mostly use but dead trees are still more "user-friendly".

  • I've read these magazines since I was a kid, and I have subscribed on and off. They have been through good times and bad. F&SF in particular went through a period of being too artsy, but they've been great lately. Reasons for not subscribing: mailing cost to Canada ridiculously expensive, too much paper clutter to store or throw out after you finish reading it, months when I'm just too busy to sit down for a good read. But it seems to me that these magazines are ideal for electronic book readers like th
  • RoF deserved to fail (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The problem with this story? RoF deserved to fail years ago. Shawna McCarthy and friends have been publishing the most unimaginative, lame-footed fantasy and milquetoast editorials in the business and made the entire genre look like guilty pleasure mush for middle aged women. Even the barest acknowledgment of slipstream fiction, edgier urban fantasy, or anything genre-bending in the way that moves things forward would have saved them. It has nothing to do with "print is dead" -- it has everything to do wit

  • Actually (Score:3, Informative)

    by Renraku (518261) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @05:10AM (#26682951) Homepage

    The entire magazine distribution system in the United States is about to crumble. Two of the major wholesalers/distributors..Source and Anderson..have decided to up their rates to cover costs. Since they never upped their rates before, like most other companies.

    Now the publishers, for the most part, are telling them to go fuck themselves.

    Expect to see a major disruption and change in the way all magazines are handled in the US.

  • who has never bought an SF magaine, I'd be willing to do my part and subscribe to a magazine or two. On the other hand, I've never bought one, so I don't know the differences between them.

    So, how are the different magazines positioned? What kind of stories do they publish?

    Also, I have elementary and middle school aged kids at home. Which magazines are most kid friendly? We still read together, including relatively mature materials like the Terry Pratchett novels. By kid friendly, I mean interes

  • Buy An Ad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by reallocate (142797) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @09:05AM (#26683647)

    These magazines carry almost no advertising, which is where the money is. Maybe that's because their sales people aren't pushing hard enough. But, I suspect it is really due to poor and declining circulation numbers combined with the widespread assumption that everyone who reads science fiction is an adolescent acne-ridden geek with no money.

  • I want to subscribe to the mentioned magazines, but since my attention is divided enough as it is already, I'll really only have the time to read one of them. So the question is - which one? Do current subscribers of these magazines have any opinions on if you're just going to get one, which one it should be?

  • This shows how bad things are - I haven't seen any of these mags on the magazine stands in years. I thought they had all gone away. I'm glad to know they're still around, and I think I will subscribe (to at least one of them.)

    Maybe I'll submit a story!

  • I"m not surprised about this at all. IMO there is possibly one good modern author of Sci Fi - and that's William Gibson.

    I've read nearly every major author there is. There are no Farmers, or Zelaznys, let alone Dicks, Lems, Asimovs, Clarkes, Strugatskys, Sturgeons, Heinleins or Bradburys (etc etc - insert another twenty excellent '50s-'70s authors here). LeGuin is still alive but is more of a teacher than an author now.

    The fantasy literature still hasn't moved beyond Ged wannabes. But then where are we an

  • This seems like the perfect use for print on demand, if only the infrastructure was already there. Maybe they can team up with the dying newspaper and magazine industry to make this happen.

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