Big news: Interzone is now available on the Kindle!

443_largeOver the last few years I've published nearly a dozen stories in the British SF magazine Interzone, and I've been a subscriber for even longer. Simply put, Interzone is THE magazine for cutting-edge SF. When you add in the amazing art and mind-blowing reviews, this is a magazine every genre lover should be reading.

Except, most of you don't. Which is understandable since the magazine is difficult to find in much of the world. In the U.S., for instance, only a handful of bookstores carry Interzone. And when the magazine can be found it's always rather expensive. Similar issues arise with the ebook editions of Interzone, which until now have been on distribution systems not used by most people.

So I understand why more people don't read Interzone. But guess what – your excuses are now dead little fish left in the sun for three days. I mean, they're no longer even valid as excuses and stink big time.

Because now Interzone is available on the Kindle!

You can download Interzone 239 here. The issue features great fiction from Matthew Cook, Suzanne Palmer , Nigel Brown, Jacob A. Boyd, Nick Lowe, Steve Rasnic Tem, and Jon Wallace. Kudos to Andy Cox and all the Interzone crew for putting the magazine where so many new readers can discover it.

And if you hate everything Amazon, don't worry – the magazine is still available on Smashwords and Fictionwise

Update: Black Static, Interzone's horror-magazine sister, is also available on the Kindle.

My Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Award nominations

Below are my nominations for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards.  The deadline for Nebula nominations is February 15 while Hugo nominations are due March 11. The Locus Award deadline is April 15 and their "recommended reading" list is in the current February 2012 issue.

Please note my nominations are arranged in alphabetical order by title. I should also note that Ken Liu had an amazing year as a writer, with two nominations on my list. In addition, his short story "Staying Behind" from Clarkesworld was on my nomination short list (but was bumped by his equally amazing "The Paper Menagerie").


  • God's War by Kameron Hurley (Nightshade books)
  • Osama by Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)
  • Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh (Nightshade Books)
  • The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
  • The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (Tor)


  • Kiss Me Twice by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov's)
  • The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi * With Unclean Hands by Adam Troy-Castro (Analog)
  • The Ice Owl by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Fantasy and Science Fiction)
  • The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson (Asimov's)
  • The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary by Ken Liu (Panverse)


  • Fields of Gold by Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse 4)
  • Mortal Bait by Richard Bowes (Dark Horse)
  • Ray of Light by Brad Torgersen (Analog)
  • Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders (
  • The Old Equations by Jake Kerr (Lightspeed)

Short Story

  • For Love's Delirium Haunts the Fractured Mind, by David Mercurio Rivera (Interzone/Fictionwise)
  • Movement by Nancy Fulda (Asimov's)
  • Shipbirth by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov's)
  • The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu (F&SF)
  • The World Is Cruel, My Daughter by Cory Skerry (Fantasy)


  • Attack the Block by Joe Cornish (Big Talk Pictures)
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor's Wife by Neil Gaiman (BBC Whales / BBC America)
  • The Adjustment Bureau by George Nolfi (Universal Pictures)


  • Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking Children's)
  • Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol (First Second)
  • Nightspell by Leah Cypess (Greenwillow)

* I totally forgot that The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi was a finalist for last year's Nebula and is not eligible for this year's awards. My bad on that. So I've substituted the next novella from my shortlist.

My picks for the 26th annual Asimov's Readers' Poll

The 26th annual Asimov's Readers' Poll is open for votes through February 1. As is the norm, Asimov's had a very strong year in 2011. Unfortunately, I was limited to three votes in each category. But I could have easily voted for twice as many stories.

My votes for the awards are as follows. Please note that while the actual votes for the award are ranked in order of preference, my list is organized by author last name.

Best Novella

  • The Man Who Bridged the Mist—Kij Johnson
  • Kiss Me Twice—Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Stealth— Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Best Novelette

  • Two Thieves—Chris Beckett
  • Clean—John Kessel
  • Corn Teeth—Melanie Tem

Best Short Story

  • Smoke City—Christopher Barzak
  • Shipbirth—Aliette de Bodard
  • Movement—Nancy Fulda

Best Cover

  • September—Maurizo Manzieri
  • March—Marc Simonetti
  • October/November (for “The Man Who Bridged the Mist”)—Paul Youll

“Heaven’s Touch” sells to Asimov’s and I go all touchy-feely daydreaming of childhood SF magazines

My grandfather's mid-December 1983 copy of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, featuring the Hugo-winning story "Speech Sounds" by Octavia Butler. Note the mailing label still attached.

Exciting news: my novelette “Heaven’s Touch” has sold to Asimov’s Science Fiction! The story involves a race for survival on a near-future comet and is one of the hardest science fiction tales I’ve written.

This will be my first appearance in Asimov’s and I want to thank Sheila Williams for both accepting the story and giving me a number of excellent suggestions regarding rewrites. I naturally took these suggestions to heart because only a fool argues with a Hugo-winning editor whose ideas vastly improve your story!

Obviously I like Asimov’s since I subscribe to the magazine. However, Asimov’s also played a critical role in my development as a science fiction writer. When I was growing up there were three SF magazines I daydreamed about writing for—Analog, Asimov’s, and Interzone.

Because I grew up in rural Alabama, finding an issue of the British magazine Interzone was out of the question. But I continually noticed that many of the stories I loved in the various “year’s best” collections were first published in Interzone. So while I may not have seen physical copies of Interzone as a young man, the magazine still influenced me greatly.

Analog and Asimov’s were more familiar since my grandfather collected SF magazines. But of the two, my grandfather clearly had a special place in his heart for Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine—as it was then called—because he was a subscriber. I remember once when my mom picked up my grandparent’s mail while they were away on vacation. The mail contained a new issue of Asimov’s and I stared at that magazine for a long time, wondering if my grandfather would notice if I read it first.

I still have copies of my grandfather’s Asimov’s with his mailing label attached. They’re among my most valued heirlooms.

Once I left for college I subscribed to Asimov’s. This was during Gardner Dozois’ famous editorship, when he won the Hugo for best editor nearly every year while the stories he picked also dominated the major awards. On days when the magazine might arrive I’d race to my apartment, hoping to discover a new issue. The first thing I'd read each month were Issac Asimov’s editorials, followed by story after story from groundbreaking authors like Michael Swanwick, Connie Willis, Tanith Lee, Greg Egan, Mike Resnick, and many more. I even submitted a few horrible stories and poems to Gardner during those days—thankfully he rejected them quickly and without fuss.

And now I’ve landed my first Asimov’s acceptance. It’s amazing that I’ve placed stories with all the magazines I used to daydream about. But it’s also damn exciting to place a story in a magazine like Asimov’s, with which I’ve had such a long, loving relationship.

My Sequel to "Plague Birds" Accepted by Interzone

My sequel to "Plague Birds" has been accepted by Interzone and will be published in the next few months. The story, titled "The Ever-Dreaming Verdict of Plagues," follows Cristina de Ane as she settles into life as a plague bird, a person containing a powerful AI which is both police officer, judge and executioner to the human/animal hybrids who inhabit her future world.

You can read the original story as a PDF download by clicking here. "Plague Birds was first published in issue 228 (May/June 2010) of Interzone and has been reprinted in the Czech SF magazine XB-1 and podcast on Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine.

I should also mention that my story "Her Scientifiction, Far Future, Medieval Fantasy" will be published in the next issue of Interzone (issue 234, May/June 2011). So if you haven't already subscribed to what is easily the best SF magazine in the world – hey, I'd love them even if they didn't publish so many of my stories – you should do so right now!

My Interzone Readers' Poll Selections

The Interzone Readers' Poll is running now through March 31. Any story or art published last year by Interzone is eligible. You can vote for or against the stories and art over on the Interzone forum or by emailing Martin McGrath at

I've been honored to have my stories win the last two readers' polls: "When Thorns Are the Tips of Trees" in 2008 and my novella "Sublimation Angels" in 2009. While I have a number of stories eligible for this year's award, it would not be appropriate to campaign since I've twice won the poll. 

My votes this year are (in alphabetical order by author):

  • "Flying in the Face of God" by Nina Allen (issue 227)
  • "The Shipmaker" by Aliette de Bodard (issue 231)
  • "The Shoe Factory" by Matthew Cook (issue 231)
  • "Orchestral Manoevures In The Dark Matter" by Jim Hawkins (issue 229)
  • "A Passion for Art" by David D. Levine (issue 228)
  • "Dance of the Kawkawroons" by Mercurio D. Rivera (issue 227)
  • "Alternate Girl's Expatriate Life" by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (issue 229)
  • "Again and Again and Again" by Rachel Swirsky (issue 226)
  • "The Insurance Agent" by Lavie Tidhar (issue 230)

For the artwork, that's a hard call. Warwick Fraser-Coombe illustrated all six covers for Interzone in 2010; when combined, the covers create this impressive image. If I had to pick one person to win the award, it would be him because of the sheer scale and beauty of what he accomplished. But there were also a number of great interior illustrations.

My votes for best art are:

  • All 6 covers by Warwick Fraser-Coombe (and their combined illustration)
  • Illustration for "Peacemaker, Peacemaker, Little Po Beep" by Warwick Fraser-Coombe (issue 231)
  • Illustration for "Plague Birds" by Darren Winter (issue 228)
  • Illustration for "The Shipmaker" by Richard Wagner (issue 231)

I've cast no negative votes for either stories or art.

Why Doesn't Locus Review Daily Science Fiction?

If you've had your head buried in the sand for the last year, you can be excused for not knowing that Daily Science Fiction is one of the most exciting new SF/F magazines to emerge in 2010. Established by editors Jonathan Laden (a Clarion alumni and Writers of the Future author) and Michele Barasso, DSF has a simple publishing model–stories are emailed for free to subscribers five days a week. The stories are also archived on the DSF website.

Because DSF pays professional rates, they have been able to publish stories from top writers like Lavie Tidhar, Cat Rambo, Tim Pratt, Colin Harvey, Mary Robinette Kowal, and many more.

But despite this success, some people seem to wish DSF would go away. And yes, Locus Magazine, this head-in-sand attitude is coming from you.

I'd noticed that Locus hadn't been reviewing Daily Science Fiction. However, what this meant didn't click until I read this review on Diabolical Plots. After praising the September fiction offerings from DSF, Frank Dutkiewicz mentioned how he'd asked "the editor of a leading review outlet on why DSF is ignored. The answer I got back was there was too much to review and the editors must be nuts if they think they can keep up throwing so many stories, at the rate they pay, for essentially free."

Can anyone guess who this "leading review outlet" might be?

Here's a hint: After reading that quote, I went through my back issues of Locus. No reviews of any DSF stories until the current Feb. 2011 issue. I also checked Lois Tilton's online reviews of short fiction. Again, no reviews of DSF.

This is not acceptable.

To the credit of Locus, they did include Lavie Tidhar's DSF story "Butterfly and the Blight at the Heart of the World" on their 2010 recommended reading list. The story was reviewed by Gardner Dozois in that same Feb. 2011 "Year in Review" issue.  As he says, DSF "has the ambitious – perhaps too ambitious – goal of publishing a new SF or fantasy story every single day of the year. Probably unsurprisingly, most of them are not terribly good, although some interesting stuff pops up occasionally."

I appreciate that Gardner took the time to review the story and DSF. His review is exactly why I subscribe to Locus. I'm not asking them to heap praise on DSF; I'm asking the magazine to treat DSF like any other outlet and simply review their stories.

I'll admit when DSF first came out I was also suspicious of their publishing model. But they've established themselves by now and deserve to be treated like any other professional-paying magazine. In fact, I recently submitted my first story to DSF and had it accepted. I wouldn't have done this if I didn't think DSF was a quality publisher.

I must also admit I was hesitant to criticize Locus for not reviewing DSF. Not only do they frequently review my fiction, I'm a long-time subscriber to the magazine. So while I hope other people will join me in calling for Locus to start reviewing DSF on a regular basis, don't take this as a reason to cancel your subscription or call the editors nasty names.

Locus holds an integral place in our genre community. I simply want them to remain integral by regularly reviewing professional-paying magazines like DSF!

A Response to Dave Truesdale's "New Direction"

Last month Dave Truesdale posted an essay titled "A New Direction" in Tangent Online, one of the few publications which regularly reviews genre short fiction. In the essay Dave described why after 17 years of running Tangent he decided to change their editorial focus. The biggest change is Tangent will now only cover "professionally paying markets"—ie, those paying SFWA rates of 5 cents a word—meaning semi-prozines will no longer be reviewed. Tangent will also publish more reviews of classic SF and old pulp magazine stories.

Even though I hate to see semi-pro magazines dropped, I'd understand the change if Dave said that Tangent simply couldn't review everything under the sun and needed to narrow their focus. Or if Dave had instead said Tangent would only be reviewing magazines of "professional quality" (a term Dave does finally mention toward the end of his essay). In my own reviews of short fiction, I rarely write about poorly written stories which are not of professional quality. After all, time is a limited concern in any life, and I'd rather spend my time reviewing professional-grade stories.

But instead of saying any of that, Dave states the reason Tanget is dropping semi-pro magazines is because "The genre is going in directions that don't move me—intellectually, or with a sense of wonder, or both—like it used to. Frankly, it bores me." Dave then takes aim at new writers "with not a new idea or take to be had."

Is Dave basically saying he doesn't want Tangent to review semi-pro magazines because there's not much short fiction worth reviewing at either the professional or semi-pro level? Or is Tangent dropping semi-pros because these magazines publish so many new writers? Unfortunately, I'm not clear on which specific reason he is giving.

So according to Dave, what specifically is wrong with the genre and new writers—and by extension semi-pro magazines?

"I'll boil it down to the fact that I'm weary of a genre infested with politically correct thinking—at all levels. Where editors (for but one example) are bullied (or willingly acquiesce) into making sure there are exactly the same number of female and male authors listed on the covers of their magazines or collections. Where far too much SF/F is about trivial, mundane, quotidian affairs, and where emotional trauma and angst take precedence over any Idea or Story. Where far too much SF/F is about the small and the relatively unimportant (but my, how that author can write!), or the SF/F element is used merely as background or in an obligatory, perfunctory manner—as window dressing if you will. Hardly anyone would argue with the premise that SF is an all-encompassing genre, that it is open to all kinds of stories--from the pure adventure tale to the Important Message tale and everything in between. Some of it looks to the future while some is set in the past. Variety is good as a general proposition. The devil is always in the details, however, and I find, for my own personal taste, that too much of what is being produced these days (and for some years) just doesn't move me in any meaningful fashion."

He adds:

"Taken as a gestalt—the 'smallness' and relative unimportance of many of the stories, the tired, lazy thinking on the part of many of the writers (primarily the new), the politically correct element (editorially, and in individual stories), and the fact that while I still love the good short story but I now desire the time to read more of what excites me (which I find in Classic SF/F and the Pulp Magazines), I decided to eschew reviewing the less than pro-paying markets to free up my reading time."

Again, this is Dave's choice. Tangent Online is his baby and he can raise the kid as he chooses. And he is well within his rights to use his time reviewing the types of stories he prefers.

However, I disagree in no uncertain terms with his sentiments on new writers.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but it sounds to me like Dave is dismissing an entire generation of new writers simply because they don't write stories like the ones he used to read, and is implying that these writers are only being published in semi-pro magazines (which he describes as "akin to reading published slush"). None of which is, of course, true. Many of the best new authors write both cutting-edge stories which could have only been written today AND stories which could have been at home in many classic magazines of the last 50 years.  These new writers are also published in more than semi-pro magazines; their stories can be found in professional-paying magazines like Clarkesworld and Fantasy and Asimov's and so on. And while there are bad semi-pro magazines, there are also many great ones.

To me, one of the many important roles genre magazines have—with the first being to publish the best possible stories—is to bring new writers to the attention of a larger audience. To say you won't review certain magazines because they are doing precisely what they should be doing is not a course I would chart.

This is not intended as an attack on Dave Truesdale. And as I said, it is his right to decide which magazines Tangent reviews. And since Tangent is one of the few genre outlets for short fiction criticism, I will continue to read their reviews. I also urge people to read his essay and draw their own conclusions on what he said.

But speaking for myself, I'm very disappointed by this decision—and more disappointed by the reasons given for going in this "new direction."

Subscribe to Interzone, receive the Jason Sanford special issue for free

Jason-Flyer Andy Cox, the editor of Interzone and Black Static, has sent me some exciting news: For a limited time, anyone who subscribes to 12 issues of either Interzone or the Interzone/Black Static combination can receive the Jason Sanford special issue for free!

As I've mentioned before, the upcoming issue of Interzone focuses on my fiction and contains three of my newest stories, an in-depth interview with me, and more. The issue will be published November 12th.

I highly recommend subscribing to Interzone and Black Static. Interzone is the best science fiction magazine in the world and I've been a subscriber for quite a while (well before they began publishing my stories). And as Ellen Datlow has said, Black Static is "the most consistently excellent horror magazine published." It's hard to argue with her assessment.

To receive this special offer, simply order a 12 issue (two-year) subscription to either Interzone or the Interzone/Black Static combination through the TTA Press online store. Then, in the Shopper’s Reference box, enter JASON SANFORD. That way you'll receive the special issue for free.

And as a note to overseas subscribers like myself, subscribing to 12 issues cuts down on your price because TTA Press sends out half those issues without any added shipping costs. Add in another free issue and you can't beat this deal.

I don't know how long Andy plans to make this special offer, so I urge people to take him up on it. And if you need any more convincing, check out the promo flyer above and its illustrations from the upcoming issues of Interzone and Black Static. Not only do these magazines publish some of the best short fiction in speculative literature, they're also the most beautifully designed.

Realms of Fantasy yet again takes my money and dies

Realms of Fantasy is closing again, and this time their death is likely permanent. As publisher Warren Lapine explains, he dropped more than $50,000 into reviving the magazine but the horrible economy prevented the fabled magazine's resurrection.

I'm sympathetic to Lapine and appreciate him trying to revive the magazine. And I wish editors Shawna McCarthy and Douglas Cohen all the best in the coming days. But I'm also irritated about this death--irritated at myself.

You see, this is the second time Realms of Fantasy has taken my subscription money to the grave. I wasn't angry the first time. After all, periodicals occasionally fail and I prefer to err on the side of supporting great magazines. And it isn't like I rushed in when RoF returned from the dead. When Lapine revived the magazine, I took a wait and see attitude. I'd heard people at conventions muttering about the collapse of Lapine's previous DNA Publications, so I wanted to see RoF actually succeed before I resubscribed. Instead of subscribing I simply purchased copies from bookstores. If the magazine didn't make it, I wouldn't be out anything.

Then came the infamous "subscribe or we die" letter. I should have taken that as a warning to stay away, but again, I want to support my genre. So not only did I urge others to subscribe, I finally did the sub nasty through RoF's online payment system.

That's when the trouble started. My payment went through immediately but my subscription didn't. I emailed about my subscription. I repeatedly called their customer service number. Despite all that, I only received my first issue two weeks ago. And now the magazine is dead. Again.

As they say, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I saw this coming but didn't want to believe it. So many people told me this would happen, but I didn't listen.

I won't make the same mistake a third time.

The Real Scandal at the Virginia Quarterly Review

If you are already familiar with poet and critic Dan Schneider, you likely either love him or hate him. If you don't know him, I'll simply tell you that he has an ability to cut through literary BS like no one else.

In the last few weeks we've all heard about the scandal at The Virginia Quarterly Review. How the editor of that prestigious university literary journal supposedly bullied an underling into committing suicide.

Well, after reading Dan's examination of the issue I realized that suicide drama isn't the real scandal. Instead, it's the fact that editor Ted Genoways was paid $134k a year to run a magazine which only had a few thousand readers and was supported by public funds. Even worse, the magazine lost amazing amounts of money each year even as Genoways spent down the magazine's once-sizable endowment.

As Dan points out, this is similar to how corrupt CEOs and high-flying Wall Street firms nearly brought down our economy even as they coated their parachutes in solid gold.

In the second half of the article Dan also critiques some of the writings published by VQR and states that the real reason journals like VQR are in trouble is because of their "I'll publish you if you publish me" attitudes. This is an issue which has been debated around literary publishing for decades and I doubt Dan's comments will change anyone's mind. But it's still an interesting analysis.

Now I'm a fan of literary magazines, and even helped found an online journal called storySouth. However, the numbers Dan has pulled together about VQR are outrageous and must be seen by everyone. Go check out the essay.

How literary journals can scream "Hey, we're irrelevant!"

So the literary journal Tin House has announced that under their new submission policy, "Unsolicited submissions must be accompanied by a receipt for a hardcover or paperback from a real-life bookstore." What's that, you say? There's no bookstore in your area or you prefer digital books. Well don't worry--the editors will also accept grovelling from authors explaining "why he or she cannot go to his or her neighborhood bookstore, why he or she prefers digital reads, what device, and why" if it is done in a literarily acceptable manner.

As Tin House editor Rob Spillman explained, "We believe that there are more people who want to be published in literary magazines and small presses than there are people buying these magazines and books. This program is not meant as the solution. There is no one solution."

Actually, there is a solution. It's called finding a better way to connect your books with the people who want to buy them. Instead of equating the purchase of digital books with people not purchasing books at all, find a way to reach the growing audience for e-books. And while I love in-person bookstores, the simple truth is there's not a brick and mortar bookstore in everyone's community. That's one reason why online bookstores have done so well of late.

I totally understand the dynamic behind Tin House's submission push. And if writers aren't also readers, then they damn well won't make it as a writer. But to pretend that digital books and online bookstores are on the same level as people not buying books, well, all that screams is that your literary journal has found itself on the road to being irrelevant in our digital age--and doesn't know how to chart a new course.

Interzone and GUD magazine giveaway

Today I saw copies of Interzone 227 (March-April 2010) in a local Barnes & Noble bookstore. It's been over two years since a U.S. bookstore chain has carried this great British SF/F magazine, so I strongly suggest people pick up a copy and see what we Americans have been missing. And at only $7.50, the price can't be beat.

In celebration of my story in the next issue of Interzone, I have two copies of Interzone 227 to give away. I also have a copy of Greatest Uncommon Denominator, issue 5, for a lucky winner. GUD is a wonderful cutting edge literary journal. Back in March I reviewed both of these magazines

If you want to receive one of these magazines, simply post a request in the comment section below. Be sure to tell the world why you have lived a deprived life without these magazines to embrace and read.  : -) Anyone in the U.S. is eligible to win, and I'll give people a week to post their requests. I'm going to let my children pick their favorite comments as the winners, so feel free to release your inner kid below.

Note: Please do not post your address below. When you comment, include your email address in the requested box. If you win, I'll email you for your mailing address.

Is Online Genre Fiction All Powerful?

I received an interesting email the other day from Tom Dooley, the editor of Eclectica Magazine. After Tom crunched his own statistics around this year's Million Writers Award—arriving at similar if slightly different numbers as Robert Laughlin, whose stats I reported on last week—he noticed something interesting. Among the top 18 magazines with the most notable stories in this year's Million Writers Award, genre magazines held the top five spots, and overall landed 33 of those magazines' 69 notable stories (or 48%).

This general pattern also holds over the last two years. However, if one looks at the overall notable story stats for the entire seven years of the award, then genre fiction doesn't do as well. Only three of the top 13 magazines with the most notable stories over that seven-year span are genre magazines, and their stories only account for 44 of those magazines' 236 notable stories (or 19%). This means non-genre magazines used to do much better in the Million Writers Award.

As Tom said, "The statistics show the MWA has come to be dominated by genre fiction. What they don't show, or at least, what THESE statistics don't show, is why."

I should note that Tom isn't condemning genre fiction, nor is he complaining. His magazine regularly publishes high-quality genre fiction alongside non-genre stories. He's also long been a vocal supporter of the Million Writers Award, which is open to both genre and non-genre stories and tries to be a level playing field where different stories compete against each other. After reading Tom's email and looking at his stats, I was also curious whether or not genre fiction now dominates the Million Writers Award—and by extension online fiction in general.

To figure this out, I counted the magazines with notable stories in this year's award. There are approximately 108 magazines on the notable story list, with 81 of those being "non-genre" and 27 being magazines focused on SF/fantasy/horror/crime or other mixes of genre fiction. Please note these estimates are rough. I could have miscounted, and I'm sure I didn't slot some magazines into the proper category. There are also magazines like Eclectica which, while counted as non-genre, also publish genre fiction. The simple truth is it's sometimes difficult to divide magazines and fiction into convenient categories.

But assuming my counts and category cramming are close to correct, that means about a quarter of online magazines on the notable list are genre magazines, while around 75% are non-genre or more general "literary" magazines. And if the MWA notable story list is truly representative of online fiction today—I know, another assumption, but one I believe is likely true—that means genre magazines probably make up a quarter of all online fiction magazines.

Yet here are online genre magazines holding down the top spots in this award for the last two years, a fact out of proportion to the number of genre magazines out there. Why is this happening?

I think the reason is simple: The best genre fiction magazines now occupy an equal weight to genre print magazines.

For example, when you look at this year's list of genre magazines with the most notable story selections—Fantasy Magazine, Clarkesworld Magazine, Strange Horizons, Subterranean, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Thuglit, and Apex Magazine—it is interesting to note that almost all of these are professional-level speculative fiction magazines (with Thuglit instead being a crime magazine). Why so many spec fic magazines on this list? I believe it is because this genre has, to a large degree, accepted online magazines as a legitimate place to publish and read short fiction.

In the speculative fiction genre, there are a handful of English-language professional print magazines with large circulations, such as Analog, Asimov's, Black Static, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Interzone, Realms of Fantasy, and Weird Tales. There's also another handful of great print magazines like Greatest Uncommon Denominator, Necrotic Tissue, and On Spec which are also extremely professional but have slightly lower circulations and distribution.

My point? I just named what many people would consider the top speculative fiction print magazines. But there are an equal number of professional online magazines in this genre. By professional, I mean these online magazines publish works by top writers, pay professional rates, have top editorial standards, and have large readerships. That means over half of all the professional-level magazines in speculative fiction are now online magazines. Because of this, they publish some of the best stories online, carry critical weight both inside and outside their genre, and are very hard to compete against.

Compare this to non-genre or literary magazines, where the majority of top magazines are still in print. While there are great online magazines like The Barcelona Review, Eclectica, Storyglossia, and Word Riot, if you want to read the vast majority of fiction influencing today's literary world you must turn to The New Yorker, The Southern Review, Granta, The Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly (through their annual fiction issue), and so on. Yes, some of these print magazines also cross-publish online, but in most ways they still consider the web a mere afterthought. And while some non-genre online magazines like Blackbird and Narrative are seen as the equal of The New Yorkers of the world, proportionately they make up a much smaller percentage of the top-end literary fiction market than in the speculative fiction genre.

Please note this is not an attempt to put down online literary magazines like The Barcelona Review or Eclectica, which for my money often publish better fiction than The New Yorker. But the simple truth is that despite all the changes of the last decade, the world of non-genre or literary fiction still considers print as superior to online publishing.

That's why I believe genre fiction is doing so well these days, both online and in the Million Writers Award. It's like a professional baseball team competing against a college team. While the college team may have some great players who play at a professional level, overall they'd have a tough time against the New York Yankees. And at the moment the Yankees of the online fiction world are speculative fiction magazines.

Below are some of the Million Writers Award stats referenced in this post.

2009 Notable Story Leaders
(genre magazines are bolded)

Fantasy Magazine, 7 notable stories
Clarkesworld Magazine, 5
Strange Horizons, 5
Subterranean, 5
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 4
Blackbird, 4
Kill Author, 4
Thuglit, 4
Writers' Bloc Magazine, 4
Agni Online, 3
Apex Magazine, 3
Eclectica Magazine, 3
Kenyon Review Online, 3
Knee-Jerk Magazine, 3
Prick of the Spindle    3
Storyglossia, 3
Toasted Cheese, 3
Word Riot, 3

2008-09 Notable Story Leaders
(genre magazines are bolded)

Fantasy Magazine, 13 notable stories
Strange Horizons, 11
Narrative Magazine, 9
Clarkesword Magazine, 9
Blackbird, 8
Storyglossia, 8
Eclectica Magazine, 7
Agni Online, 7
Subterranean, 7
Carve Magazine, 7
Word Riot, 6
Thuglit, 6
Apex Magazine, 6
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 6

All Time Notable Story Leaders
(genre magazines are bolded)

Eclectica Magazine, 38 notable stories
Pindeldyboz, 31
Strange Horizons, 27
Narrative Magazine, 24
Agni Online, 22
Word Riot, 22
Blackbird    19
Storyglossia, 19
Clarkesword Magazine, 17
failbetter    17
Fantasy Magazine, 5
King's English, 15
Mississippi Review, 15

A magazine reading frenzy

For the last two weeks I've been reading nothing but magazines. Here's what's excited me of late on this front:

  • Interzone 227, which contains very good stories from Mercurio D. Rivera, Chris Beckett, and many more. My favorite is the sublime "Flying in the Face of God" by Nina Allan, about a harsh method of space travel and what it does to the people who dare embrace the stars. I'd be surprised if Allan's story isn't on the shortlists for the Year's Best anthologies and the major awards.

    As a side-note, this issue should soon be available in U.S. bookstores, so look for it. Interzone also recently accepted another science fiction story of mine (titled "Millisent Ka Plays in Realtime"). That means I have two stories forthcoming in the magazine.

  • I'd heard rumors that The Baffler, the great magazine of fun-to-read cultural and political criticism, had returned from the dead. Last weekend I discovered a copy in a local bookstore and am pleased to announce it is as good as ever. If their next issue is as good as the current one, I'll likely subscribe.
  • Issue 5 of Greatest Uncommon Denominator Magazine arrived in the mail and I'm having a great time reading it.  First off, the cover art is amazing, and to my shock I've enjoyed almost all of the poetry inside (especially the poems by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming, Lucy A. Snyder, and Alicia Adams). Since I'm very picky about the poetry I read, this is quite impressive. There's also a interesting essay on computer pioneer Douglas Engelbart. I'm still reading the fiction, but so far my favorite story is the science fiction "Getting Yourself On" by Andrew N. Tisbert. If you haven't read GUD before, this is a cutting edge literary journal well worth checking out.
  • Finally, the editor of the new online magazine NOTHE asked if I'd pass the word on their call for submissions. Consider it passed. The magazine plans to launch their first issue in May.

Winners of the great TOTU giveaway

Here are the winners in the great Tales of the Unanticipated giveaway. I asked people to explain why they were worthy of receiving a free copy of this great semi-prozine. I then picked the four best responses.

My favorite response was from Aaron:

I need a free copy because I just blew my discretionary magazine allowance on an Interzone subscription, which is entirely your fault because "Sublimation Angels" kicks ass . . . although that Eugie Foster "Sinner Baker Candlestick Maker" story kicked ass too, but don't try to change the subject . . . and also I like that they publish Jason Stoddard a lot, but I thought you and he were the same person for the longest time, so I'm blaming you for that, too.

That's right. Play on my guilt. But in this case it worked.

Shaun kept things short and sweet:

TOTU is my literary soulmate, destined to spend our leisure time together since the ancient Golden Age. Thus, I want a copy.

Who am I to deny someone a leisure-time merging with their literary soulmate?

John won a copy for this plea:

I'm an avid fan of Norm Sherman's Drabblecast - a podcast I'm thinking you're aware of, what with the links to it from your "Book Scouts of the Galactic Rim" on Dunesteef. From what I've just been looking into, there'll be stories in issue 30 of TOTU that will remind me of some of the work presented on Drabblecast!

In any case, a simple request seems in order. Just a simple one, now. So, to ask nicely for one rare duplicate: Please?

What pushed John's pleasant request into the winner's bracket was how he hid my name in the last two sentences as a riddle (and in full confession mode, he also thankfully told me about the riddle, otherwise I'd have missed it). Even if he misspelled my name, that brought a smile to my face.

Last but not least, William confessed that deep, dark gardening secret all genre fans have contemplated:

I'm TOTU worthy because I once kept a secret garden in which I planted discarded computer circuits, hoping robots would grow from them.

Congrats to all the winners. And don't forget, you can order copies of Tales of the Unanticipated issue 30--which contains my "Twenty-First Century Fairy Love Story"--directly from TOTU Ink.

The great TOTU giveaway

TOTU30I've received my contributor and subscription copies of Tales of the Unanticipated issue 30 and, in the interest of bringing attention to this long-running semipro magazine, I'm giving away four copies.

Inside is my "Twenty-First Century Fairy Love Story," which is a story I loved writing. There are also a number of great stories by other authors. Among my favorites are "If You Enjoyed This Story..." by Sarah Totten and Matthew S. Rotundo's "Ashes, Ashes." In addition, I absolutely loved "Personal Jesus" by Martha A. Hood, and believe it should be considered for the year's best lists.

If you'd like a free copy of issue 30, email or DM me on Twitter; be sure to explain why you are TOTU worthy. :-) I'll pick the four best responses I receive by next Wednesday and give each a copy. Please note I'm only able to ship these issues to addresses in the US, Canada, and Mexico. My apologies for international readers, but TOTU is a hefty magazine/anthology and what little money I have is being squeezed tight.

Writers should also be aware TOTU will open to submission from March 15 to 30. Be sure to read their complete guidelines. And whether or not you receive a free issue, consider purchasing a subscription and helping support this great semiprozine.

StarShipSofa and a podcast Hugo

When I wrote last year about circulation estimates for online magazines, I was surprised to discover that major podcasts like StarShipSofa and Escape Pod have astounding levels of listenership, with tens of thousands of downloads per month. If there is a resurgence in written SF going on these days, with new readers and fans embracing the genre, then much love for this fact should be thrown the podcast way.

So on this Valentine's Day, why not show our podcasts how much they mean to us by nominating one for the Hugo Award. Ideally, there should be a podcast Hugo, but until that time Amy H. Sturgis suggests nominating StarShipSofa for the Best Fanzine Hugo. I think this is a great idea.

There are many great genre postcasts (in addition to Escape Pod, another of my favorites is the wonderfully produced Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine). But StarShipSofa has been around so long, and has influenced so many others, that I agree it should be the first to get the nod. And when you add in the amazing work they did last year with their fundraiser to help Jeanne and Spider Robinson, well, they proved not only do they deserve to be the first podcast to win a Hugo, they are also the fanzine most deserving of this year's award.

Complete information on nominating for the Hugo Award is available here. Remember, the deadline is March 13.

Samples from Tales of the Unanticipated issue 30

TOTU30Tales of the Unanticipated is a long-running semi-pro magazine, having been published consistently since 1986. Edited by Eric Heideman, the magazine features a range of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and is now an annual trade paperback 7.5 x 9.75 inches in size containing 130 plus pages and a full-color glossy cover. Among the authors they have published over the years include Damon Knight and Neil Gaiman.

TOTU issue 30 will be published April 1st and includes stories by Eleanor Arnason, Stephen Dedman, Martha A. Hood, Patricia S. Bowne, Patricia Russo, and many others, including myself. The issue will be priced at $14.95. But until April 1, you can pre-order your copy for only $12.50.

To entice more people to buy and subscribe, TOTU is offering samples of a number of stories from issue 30. These PDF download samples include:

I should also note that TOTU is very supportive of new writers. Many writers have received their first genre publication in TOTU, including myself. But be aware that TOTU has very specific guidelines. Basically, they open for submissions for about a month each year, then give each story a lot of consideration and feedback. Notice that last word: FEEDBACK! When Eric has rejected my stories, he has included a good bit of dead-on feedback from all of the TOTU editors on exactly why they passed on the story. As any new writer can tell you, this level of feedback from a magazine is almost unheard of these days. So while their response time is slow due to this feedback, the payback is immense.

So consider purchasing issue 30, or a subscription, and help support this great semi-prozine.