SF MAGAZINES: Yes, That Again

June 9th, 2008 | brainjuice

Neil Clarke, of the excellent web-based sf magazine CLARKESWORLD, threw his hat into the ring in re: the decline in the major print sf short-fiction magazines (a thing that’s been interesting me for years, and an occasional focus of my writing here for a year or so). In making points I never got around to because it was the print magazines’ plight that was interesting me — such as, obviously, that short fiction is making its new home on the web — he generated some interesting graphs.

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These are found in the comments section of the post, which you need to pop because there’s some really interesting stuff in there. Anyway. Provided LOCUS’ data are unimpeachable, those lines are really pretty difficult to refute.

A note on ASIMOV’S, which I’ve been reading again for the past several months (after all the shit I talked about the print sf magazines, I bought a bunch of subscriptions in the interests of fair play): I haven’t seen it yet mentioned that they seem to have cornered/re-invented what my friend Rosie Sharp calls the "sigh-fi" market. I’m trying not to sound disparaging, because I think it may be a good thing, but some might term it "Oprah sf." Stories in which the daughter defeats the evil father to save the mother. Stories in which the surrogate mother saves the daughter-figure. Stories in which, yes, the disgraced man complicit in the daughter’s death becomes the faithful family dog to aid the heroic estranged wife. There seems to be a definite skein of Women’s SF forming there. Which, given that women have been believed to be the dominant sector in the reading market for years and years, would appear to be a rich vein indeed. I’m not certain anyone involved has realised it. The packaging is the same dismal regurgitation of "classic" sf themes that all these things wrap themselves in like a homeless person piling cardboard on themselves at night.

I am going to be interested to see how WEIRD TALES fares year-on-year following their dramatic re-invention.


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