SF magazines' circulation numbers in sad decline

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51 Responses to “SF magazines' circulation numbers in sad decline”

  1. abb3w says:

    Cory Doctorow: Um, neither of those *novels* were ever published in a *magazine.*

    True, but unfair. Try instead: Frank Herbert’s Dune; Vernor Vinge’s The Peace War and Across Realtime; Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Weatherman” (the novella that grew into the Hugo-award winning Vor Game), Barrayar, and Cetaganda.

    I’ve had an Analog SF subscription of my own since I encountered Across Realtime back in high school; I have a complete run of back issues back to the first issue serializing Dune (and sporadic issues before that). While the size change they had a few years back irritated me (as my old plastic mini-crates no longer work), the new size is usefully close to standard DVD-case.

    I grant you, in the last few years Analog doesn’t seem to have thrown up new titans of talent with frequency on par with Ye Good Olde Dayz. However, I plan to keep my subscription going for at least another half decade before seriously worrying. (It probably helps that I seldom move.) Perhaps I’ll also start moving one of the copies of Analog over to the SF section each time I visit the local B&N, to see if I can help the circulation. =)

  2. Kev McVEigh says:

    #38 Can you name a single non-political writer anywhere in any genre ever? I can’t. They do not exist. From Plato to Chaucer to Shakespeare to Byron to Hemingway to whoever you want to name, they wrote from their own political viewpoint. Sometimes less subtly than others, sometimes that viewpoint was of the staus quo so you may miss it, but its there. Always.
    Even your own demand for non-political Sf is a political statement.

  3. tomato farmer says:

    I’ve unsubscribed to both Analog and Asimov’s within the last six weeks. Partly it was the realization that I was getting clipped by and outfit called SynapseConnect who was charging me about $45 per year for Analog’s $33 price. It’d help if Analog didn’t use such a fraudulent subscription racket.
    The other reason I’ve bailed out is that my reading dollar goes further on Amazon’s used books.

  4. J. T. Glover says:

    I think F&SF actually has made a stab at the “advance review copies for bloggers” thing, but I’ve yet to hear (?) how this has turned out.

    As far as SF subscriptions go, I’ve had similar experiences as MIKEROBINSON. Right now I’m waiting for the first issue of a fairly big name SF mag (not one of the Big 3) that I subscribed to six months ago. I don’t know what’s happened, but I’ve now queried three times — the publisher twice and the editor once.

  5. kaolin fire says:

    A simple poll gathering data–what’s your influence on the world of written fiction?.

    It’s often posited that there are more writers of science fiction than there are readers. I presume this poll will skew that direction given our user base, but I’d love to get as wide a response as possible. And if you have other suggestions to poll on, ideas on how to split up the responses for a follow-up poll, I’d love to hear them. :)

  6. torpor says:

    Face it, nobody wants to pay for pretentious supposition (what sci-fi has become) in this day and age of downloadable, free, easy to throw away without feeling guilty, content.

    Show me a return to the formats of yester-year, when it was actually worthwhile to pick up a little pocketbook full of fiction and interest, and I’ll start paying for sci-fi again. Show me authors who are not blatantly pushing some political agenda, show me people who are willing to look underneath the real covers of modern publishing mechanics.

    In short: lets just have more homebrew sci-fi zines. There are plenty of people out there with interesting imaginations; not just the selected gentry ought to have the pew..

  7. Blue Tyson says:

    37

    Easy. Learn to read faster.

    :)

  8. TripleJ says:

    It’d be interesting to see how much money Strange Horizon’s got in donations versus how much Asimov’s or another print mag grosses (SH I read, Asimovs’ I basically don’t except for the free Hugo nominees). It’s probably not that close but I think all free stories is the way to go.
    They could supplement with year end collections or something.

    also

    #38 – holy crap it was sarcasm, obviously.

  9. Crash says:

    Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF have all had digital ebook versions for sale on Fictionwise or elsewhere, as mentioned above. (Indeed, I buy and read some of them.) I wonder why revenue from those hasn’t increased as print sales have fallen.

  10. Dave Goodman says:

    Cory, acually on re-reading this article (slower, must read slower), I see you’re not saying the Big Three are exempt, and are actively contributing suggestions. My bad.

  11. Dave Goodman says:

    Cory, I find it interesting that you find these figures ‘saddening’. What is it that makes SF magazines exempt from the ‘find new business models’ dictum that you have said applies to other media outlets, from the NYT to the MPAA?

  12. Anansii says:

    (re ct 20)Will the next generation, raised on handheld computers in ways those of us even in our thirties weren’t, finally be able to break the “fetish” and embrace ebooks?

    There should not be any problem there – I’m 56 and find I actually prefer ebooks now that I’ve got a Palm TX to read ‘em off of. Fits in my pocket regardless of size (or number) of book(s). I’ve a hunch the current blockage is more a matter of not enough publishers catching on to the fact that this is the new CHEAP version, and you cannot sell them by charging new hardcover prices…

  13. Jeff Soesbe says:

    I’m going to agree with the macro point, and disagree on a couple micro points.

    Macro agreement: Some sort of online/paper hybrid approach would seem to be the best way to improve the reach of the short fiction mags. As Utilitygeek mentioned, Analog and Asimovs are available in online format. This could also help reach the worldwide SF market, and do it easier and cheaper than the print versions.

    Micro disagreement #1 with Cory’s statement “Is it any wonder that the online mags dominate the awards?”: I did a quick survey of the last 3 years of Nebula/Hugo nominees. Maybe 10-20% of the short fiction nominees were online, the rest were mags/print (and most of that was Asimov’s).

    Micro disagreemnt #2 with Warren Ellis’s referred statement “why there’s still an sf magazine called ‘Analog.’”: Well, it has more circulation than any other mag. I’m guessing the name “Analog” represents an “old-time” SF in plot, science, character, etc.

    Who am I? I’m a beginning SF/F writer who loves short fiction. I subscribe to many print/online mags and read as much as I can. I push short fiction mags/sites on fans as much as I can. I sure hope short fiction SF/F survives, in one form or another! I’m doing what I can…

    - yeff

  14. Cory Doctorow says:

    So, your problem with the short fiction markets is that you don’t like the novels they publish?

  15. Carl Rigney says:

    I’d suspect the dominance of stories from Analog and Asimov’s in the Hugo awards is because those are voted on by members of the Worldcon, who in turn are often the sort of people who still read those magazines. (Which is not to say that they’re not fine stories, or that the editors are wrong to select stories that appeal to the readers they have.) (Disclaimer: I don’t subscribe to either, although I did read all the nominees online to cast an informed ballot last year.)

    I’ve been thinking about the decline of the hardcopy SF short story market, compared to the exponential growth in anime fandom. As technology and networks have made it easier to download video, subtitle it, and share it, there’s been huge growth in Anime fandom, which in turn supports companies to license and publish DVDs in English, because when you love something it’s very natural to want to give someone money for it so they’ll make more of that. It’s trivially easy to point someone you think might like a show at a way of getting it, or burn a DVD with 2 dozen first episodes to sample.

    But if I like a short story on paper, I have to loan the physical object to someone I want to check it out, then wait for them to get around to reading it and returning it before I can share it with another friend.

    And there are very active online communities of fans discussing anime (and manga), with lots of info sharing. “Oh, you loved 12 Kingdoms? Then try Saiunkoku Monogatari!” Interaction breeds excitement and you get 30,000 people gathering to reinforce their sense of community.

    Meanwhile, maybe 3000 people gather at a SF con to re-enact their wistful dreams of an age in which rockets mattered, and go to panels about their fears for the future.

    I do both, but I can see which one is moving forward. Teenagers can be annoying, but they have a lot of energy!

  16. Warren Ellis says:

    ANALOG took on its name in 1960 (changing from ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION). ANALOG probably sounded a bit jazzier in 1960, just as 2000AD sounded like a great name for a science fiction magazine in 1977…

  17. Santos says:

    Start anew, call it Digital. Then get readers, face to face one at a time, spread virally.

  18. abb3w says:

    Cory Doctorow: So, your problem with the short fiction markets is that you don’t like the novels they publish?

    My point was that there were other novels of similar caliber to the two examples you objected to, that had indeed been published in a magazine (Analog). Not a problem with the market, merely with your counterargument.

    I believe the position that TWG is trying to establish is that the overall caliber of Analog’s writers — at whatever length — has dropped, and that he’s finding more Sturgeon’s Law examples than he prefers. My quick glance at the Hugos gave me the impression that Analog’s share of first publications had dropped, so there may be a long-term worry. For myself, I’m still satisfied with Analog, and just renewed my subscription last month; new serious Hugo contenders don’t show up every day. I can be patient for a few more years, especially since the $30 or so a year I pay is such a minute fraction of my dead tree budget.

  19. Jed says:

    Thanks much for the plug for SH!

    I’m a little confused, though, by your saying that the online mags dominate the awards. Can you clarify what you meant by that? If you meant that there are a lot of stories from online magazines nominated for and winning major sf awards, then I’d love to see that happen, but so far I don’t think it has.

    In the Hugos, nominations and winners (in short fiction) are dominated by Asimov’s, Analog, and print anthologies, and have been for years. Lately, there’s usually been a couple of online stories nominated each year, but I don’t think anything first published online has ever won a Hugo. (It may’ve happened once or twice that I’m forgetting, but not often.)

    In the World Fantasy Awards, stories that Ellen Datlow published in various online venues won awards three or four times in short-fiction categories in 1997 through 2001, but nothing since.

    And in the Nebulas, four stories from Sci Fiction won in various categories from 2001 through 2004, but nothing since.

    I imagine we’ll be seeing stories from the newish Baen and Card online magazines (Universe and Intergalactic Medicine Show) appearing on awards ballots over the next couple years, and SH stories pop up on the ballots now and then too. And there are a bunch of other online sf magazines publishing good stories. But I think we’re a long way from the online magazine dominating the awards.

    …My personal theory is that most readers these days don’t like short fiction so much. Which, as a big fan of short fiction myself, I find sad. But, speaking anecdotally, I know a bunch of people who love 900-pages novels but aren’t interested in reading short stories.

  20. Technical Writing Geek says:

    Let me know when someone writes online Sci-Fi as good as “Stranger in a Strange Land” or “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” I haven’t see it, with no lack of looking!

  21. Utilitygeek says:

    For the record, I buy Asimov’s in a non-DRM version from http://www.fictionwise.com — Analog is also available.

  22. vortex says:

    @26, Cory

    Not sure Heinlein, Merril, Tiptree, Asimov, Bradbury and Pohl and Kornbluth et al. are as apolitical as you seem to suggest. From cold war imperial style interstellar commentaries to trans/cross-sexual experiences there is a wealth of sociopolitical commentary embedded in the works of those authors. Sometimes the political content takes decades to decipher into relevence (PKD for instance), but it’s there nonetheless.

    Even new wave and cyberpunk (and post) fiction is drenched in politics, from implicit to the declared.

    Bourgeois technofetishism and commentary is no higher ground than past passionate works. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, but rarely are they fully understood and appreciated in full context.

  23. Rick York says:

    I am really impressed that so many responders indicate that electronic magazines are mostly more convenient these days than paper.

    Unfortunately, Analog – and may other magazines – charge the same for the electronic publication as they do the paper. I really want all the authors, editors and publishers to make a decent amount. But, I wonder if any of them have ever sat down and done the math to determine what the lowest possible price they would have to charge for an electronic subscription. I don’t have the answer, but I think the results of such a calculation may prove to be much lower than they charge now.

    They can always print on demand for a significant extra charge.

    Oh, and a really cheap ($100 or less) ereader would help this cause immensely.

  24. Cory Doctorow says:

    Um, neither of those *novels* were ever published in a *magazine.*

  25. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Pulp magazines were artifacts born of the invention of cheap wood-pulp papermaking processes and faster rotary presses. As an industry, they piggybacked on the older magazine and newspaper distribution systems. They were cheap and gaudy, and had a lot of reading in them. A phenomenal amount of modern storytelling and imagery first found recognizable form there.

    The world that made them is gone.

    The SF and fantasy magazines survived because SF readers and writers love their genre. Publishers and editors are willing to take on hopelessly ailing magazines and nurse them along another decade or so. Ambitious fiction writers pin their hopes on selling stories to them, in spite of the dismal word rates and circulations.

    I would hate to speculate about what fraction of hardcopy SF magazine sales are to writers who are keeping up because they want to sell to them.

    Would it be so awful if the genre’s short fiction migrated out of hardcopy? SF is still SF. Magazines are just a delivery mechanism.

  26. Technical Writing Geek says:

    Um, neither of those *novels* were ever published in a *magazine.*

    Both authors started out publishing serials.

    You didn’t notice the point, which is that most of today’s writing is crap, and that’s why the readers aren’t there.

    If literature and sci-fi want to continue existing, they have to get more relevant to their readers’ lives.

  27. Scalzi says:

    Vortex@29:

    “Not sure Heinlein, Merril, Tiptree, Asimov, Bradbury and Pohl and Kornbluth et al. are as apolitical as you seem to suggest.”

    I rather suspect Cory was being sarcastic, there, Vortex.

  28. Mechphisto says:

    By the way, Evo Terra is sadly no longer associated with the Dragon Page. It’s now fully under Michael R. Mennenga and sci-fi author Michael A. Stackpole.

    They’ve been doing a fantastic job over the last several weeks discussing trends in publishing on their show Cover-to-Cover!

    Evo…dunno what he’s doing now, but whatever his next project is I can bet it’s going to be on the forward edge of tech and marketing.

  29. Cory Doctorow says:

    Yes, let us return to that golden age of politics-free sf, written by the likes of Heinlein, Merril, Tiptree, Asimov, Bradbury and Pohl and Kornbluth! Oh, lost, innocent days!

  30. Samurai Gratz says:

    Cory mentioned podcasting as a way of generating interest in printmags, but Escape Pod deserves a shout out here as a viable, standalone, paying distribution model for short SF fiction. I can’t remember the exact stats Steve quoted on his podcast, but at some point, when compared to the SF print magazines, he had something like the second or third highest number of subscribers of any media featuring SF short stories. Seems pretty clear to me that while the print magazine itself may be on its way out as a vehicle, the short story itself is not dead–just reformatted. Escape Pod is quite simply can’t miss short fiction–much of which is reaching a far wider audience now, via Steve’s podcast, than it did when it was originally printed in SF magazines.

    One last thought – Cory has said before that one of the reasons treeware survives in the digital age is because many of us have a fetish, of sorts, for books and magazines. I think this is true. It certainly is for me–I own far more books than I have read, possibly more than I can ever read, (though I am trying,) and I still read Asimov’s in print form in part because the crinkle of the cover and the feel of the pages has a nostalgia for me that is part of the overall experience. Reading stories on my desktop computer or my laptop has yet to come anywhere close to replacing that. Will the next generation, raised on handheld computers in ways those of us even in our thirties weren’t, finally be able to break the “fetish” and embrace ebooks?

  31. MikeRobinson says:

    I’ve bought a subscription to Analog for the last 5 years or so as a Christmas present to my Father-in-law. He loves it, knowing that he’ll get a regular jolt of SF goodness evry month (ish).

    This May it just stopped turning up and despite both of us writing to the subscription email address in the magazine several times neither of us have had a reply.

    This year my father-in-law will be geting a different present :-(

    (any ideas people?)

  32. jmmcdermott says:

    Let’s not forget the very sad state for all literary magazines, not just SFF.

    Heck, I’m lucky if I find five literary magazines counting Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker at my local BnN or Borders.

    Circulation is down everywhere, for everyone.

    Why, I recall the sad day when I found a BnN with more magazines about the care and feeding of Alpacas than they had literary magazines.

    Alpacas. In a major metropolitan area, no less. In the dead center of that area, and the shadow of a giant professional sport-team stadium!

  33. Blue Tyson says:

    2:

    Technical Writng Geek, Charlies Stross’ Accelerando is online, for one, so you can’t be looking very hard.

    and

    25:

    There are plenty of zines if you want, go read some.

    31:

    From what I have been reading, publishers (and large bookshops particularly) are pretty backward on scientific analysis.

    and

    35:

    People are watching Big Brother instead of reading because of the great writing are they? :)

  34. jphilby says:

    It’s not that there’s so much good stuff online to read. The web often seems to be 90% noise.

    And if it’s something *long*, I’d much prefer to read it in printed form. But, short of a subscription, I have to walk/ride to the news venue or the library. Like the Dollar Store, I can get online without dressing up.

    The magazines, like the newspapers, may have gotten into a “groove” and then just kept doing the same thing for decades. Now there’s an evolutionary force. The NYT is struggling; why shouldn’t everyone else? Now that they have to survive in a democratized publishing environment, they need to focus on giving readers an experience soooo good that it’s worth paying for.

    I’m not going to cry too hard for the publishers; they were few and far between before the web came along — and often didn’t treat readers, or writers, with much courtesy. Ever read Ellison’s “Glass Teat”? Television became what it deserved to … a wasteland.

  35. Crash says:

    Regarding the original point, of a putative decline in Analog’s writer quality: has Analog’s pay scale changed over the past decade? If it’s decreased, that would certainly reduce the number and quality of writers available to it.

  36. TrevorQ says:

    “Partly it was the realization that I was getting clipped by and outfit called SynapseConnect who was charging me about $45 per year for Analog’s $33 price. It’d help if Analog didn’t use such a fraudulent subscription racket.”
    posted by tomato farmer

    Actually, we DON’T use them. They’re completely unauthorized, and we frequently run a “PSA” in the mag advising readers not to give out any information to phone solicitors selling subscriptions for just this reason.

    Trevor Quachri
    Managing Editor
    COAL CHUTE … er, ANALOG

  37. Steve D says:

    Sadly, I wonder if the preservation of the short story is as moot an issue as, say, the preservation of the Radio Play. The moment, if it has not passed, is slipping by us… and not surprisingly. The Short Story, like the Radio Play, is a Story-Containing Device that evolved in the popular marketplace to fulfill certain needs from both the packager and the consumer. The Short Story has proved hardier and more versatile than the Radio Play, which was vanquished utterly by the arrival of the Television Serial — a form which the average story consumer agreed was superior in that it did virtually all the radio play could do, with the addition of Pictures.

    The Short Story evolved from the primordial form of “the Tale,” first manifesting as the occasional pieces that would find homes in 19th century newspapers and broadsheets, but finally the form was codified into the Short Story we now know thanks to the peculiar possibilities and necessities of the Victorian era: suddenly a large number of literate consumers were looking for entertainments to kill time during mass transit journeys, such as train rides from the suburbs into London. The Strand and other magazines of its ilk seized on the short story form as one of the ways to fill pages and provide amusement. Over the ensuing decades, the short story proved that it could fulfill other needs and opportunities ably. But now, like the Radio Play, it is quickly being reduced to the province of nostalgic die-hards and aesthetes who cling to the charms of its peculiar qualities — while the consumers in the marketplace at large have found other amusements to fill the brief moments that the Short Story once satisfied.

  38. Domomojo says:

    I love short SF. I have subscribed to Asimov’s twice in the past. Why didn’t I renew either time?

    1. Although I do love short SF, I don’t love it all the time. I like to read other things, both fiction and non. And getting the magazine every month was just too much for me to keep up with. It became a reading burden. I only have so much reading time, and I’m not always in the mood for short SF.

    2. I buy the Dozois yearly collection religiously. I have almost all the volumes up to this years 24. To be honest I got annoyed when there were so many repeats from the year I subscribed. I rather just read the cream up the crop by getting a yearly anthology, instead of the entire year of stories. (I realize by not supporting the magazine I might not have any crop to get the cream out of, but what can I do?)

  39. Kev McVEigh says:

    I’ve been thinking about the various points made about novels serialised in magazines. Mostly these are a throwback to the time when there wasn’t a burgeoning novel market for SF, cheap pulps were as good as it got. Some of these serials were the author’s only way to get that ‘long story’ out. That has long disappeared, should the magazines still be looking at serialised novels at all? Or if they do, given the vanished midlists, maybe they could be reprints of ‘lost gems’ a way of bringing titles briefly back into print?
    Much as I love modern SF I also would love to be able to get my hands on older vanished works without resorting to expensive rare editions, and I can’t be alone in this.

  40. Blue Tyson says:

    One thing on electronic subscriptions – even though similar in price to the US – they are several times cheaper for those in other countries.

    Also, given the hopelessness of the US post office recently and price rises, even more so I imagine.

    They may leave the price the same because Fictionwise like other shops presumably takes a fair percentage to sell them – so an argument for doing it yourself like Baen, who is bimontly, at $6, or $3 a month if you like compared to the $4 or so for Asimov’s etc.

    However, with Fictionwise discounts/sale got mine for about $2 an issue (subscribing is definitely a much better deal than single issues if you want them all). Pretty reasonable, really.

    Seeing an issue at Border’s in print, they are $13.

  41. kennmcd says:

    “Let me know when someone writes online Sci-Fi as good as “Stranger in a Strange Land” or “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” I haven’t see it, with no lack of looking!”
    posted by Technical Writing Geek

    Um, neither of those *novels* were ever published in a *magazine.*
    posted by Cory Doctorow

    Maybe not, Cory. But both Double Star and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress were serialized and both won the Hugo. Just for the record.

  42. rodch says:

    “Contrast this with the online mags, whose stories stay online for months — sometimes forever. ”

    For twenty-few years I bought off the newsstand or subscribed to Analog before giving up because of the cost and unreliability of having dead tree flakes delivered half-way around the planet.

    So when I discovered Fictionwise, I was happy to subscribe. I was still not that happy with the price, but maybe I don’t understand the distribution costs of data vs paper. What really upset me is that my sub started part way through Karl Schroeder’s Sun of Suns, and back issues were unavailable, which is just plain stupid IMHO. Those issues must still be available on Fictionwise’s servers for the people who bought them, so there is zero incremental cost for providing them, but they are no longer for sale because of magazine rules and contracts made up in brick-and-mortar, ink,paper-and-glue days, and so Fictionwise won’t or can’t take my money for them. I cannot see the upside to this policy. It seems to me that all parties – author, reader and reseller would benefit if it was changed.

    Denied the option to buy, I found a “free” copy on the ‘net :(

  43. kaolin fire says:

    Some good ideas in the article, some good ideas and good food for thought in the following discussion. GUD is listening (or trying to, at any rate).

    Greatest Uncommon Denominator: literary + genre short fiction, poetry, and art. $10 print, $3.50 PDF – any issue at your fingertips immediately (once we publish it, at least).

    Here’s our response to the situation:

    The life and times of a startup magazine…

  44. kaolin fire says:

    Some good ideas in the article, some good ideas and good food for thought in the following discussion. GUD is listening (or trying to, at any rate).

    Greatest Uncommon Denominator: literary + genre short fiction, poetry, and art. $10 print, $3.50 PDF – any issue at your fingertips immediately (once we publish it, at least).

    Here’s our take on the state so far:

    The life and times of a startup magazine…

  45. Daniel Warner says:

    It might help if Asimov’s or Analog updated their look. They seem like sad little relics on the magazine shelves in Borders. They look like something that might set off my allergies.

    ANALOG could actually be a cool name for a dead tree, Sci-Fi anthology if it were being handled in a design-forward way.

  46. jjasper says:

    So how much research are publishers doing on new trends, and how to exploit them? Beyond just online sales of the stories?

  47. William C Bonner says:

    I had an analog subscription for years. Then in 2003 I moved, and the process of fixing the mailing address was so hard that it never correctly went through. Six months of subscription never arrived.

    They changed their form factor sometime before that, and the magazine no longer fit in my jeans pocket, which was always a feature in that I’d carry a magazine around with me and read during spare moments.

  48. torpor says:

    @Cory: Yes, let us return to that golden age of politics-free sf, written by the likes of Heinlein, Merril, Tiptree, Asimov, Bradbury and Pohl and Kornbluth! Oh, lost, innocent days!

    Its telling that you can’t name a single non-political sci-fi author in the list ..

  49. Gary Gibson says:

    Just a half-arsed thought, but … given there’s electronic sales for magazines like Analog, couldn’t there be some way of binding those magazines in that form to other sales, of e-readable books sold through the same sites? A bit like those Ace doubles, with a novel by a known author sold back-to-back with one by an unknown author. That way you get, say, a novel plus a current issue of Analog or some other magazine – free. At the very least, might this not possibly draw in newer readers, unfamiliar with the print magazines?

    I can vaguely imagine any number of legal complications, but if devices like the Sony e-paper reader did take off, I can’t help wondering if this might be the way forward.

    On the other hand: as much as I would like to see the magazines continue … I rarely, if ever, buy them nowadays. I used to buy a lot of them. I find a lot of the fiction in the reprint anthologies published over the last several years to be deeply recursive, wildly self-referential – at its worst, a kind of morbid navel-gazing. It felt like a struggle, wading through some of what I was reading, to find the kind of stuff that first got me reading SF.

    On the *other*, other hand … what’s happening with the purported relaunch of Bob Guccione’s Omni? I obsessed over that magazine when I was a kid. I went nuts if I came close to missing an issue. The only other magazine I felt even vaguely so loyal to was Interzone. I recall Richard Morgan talking about reading Omni, too; it was my first taste of cyberpunk and, mixed in with the rest of the articles and interviews (before it got wobbly in its later years), unmissable. It had gigantic sales figures compared to any other magazine that carried sf stories on a regular basis. If Omni came back and had half the boldness of its glory days … then we’d be talking.

  50. tim says:

    “The Short Story has proved hardier and more versatile than the Radio Play, which was vanquished utterly by the arrival of the Television Serial ”

    Um, I guess you don’t listen to the BBC much then. I hear a number of radio plays each week; probably into double digits at a guess. Classics, new stuff, even SF. Right now they’re doing a series of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

  51. Pteryxx says:

    It seems to me that competing for rack space in actual stores is a waste of time, not just for SF but for any magazine that consists of pieces longer than a few hundred words, or that doesn’t have pictures. If new readers don’t come through that route, then why waste issues and transport costs to put them there? I’d gladly pay for an online subscription with an option for paper. For one thing, then my back issues would be searchable!

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