Category Archives: Fantasy Magazine

I Told You So

This isn’t exactly breaking news.  I’ve known about it for a couple of days but had other things I wanted to discuss; I have no idea how long the announcement was been out there.  What am I talking about?  John Joseph Adams’ announcement that Lightspeed and Fantasy were going to merge into a single magazine.  I think the way he’s going about it is smart.  It also falls right in line with what I suggested recently about what should happen if anyone decides to resurrect Realms of Fantasy again.

Specifically, my suggestion to cut back on the nonfiction in the magazine and focus more on the fiction.  If you read his announcement, that’s what Adams is doing with the two magazines.  He’s cut the nonfiction back considerably, while leaving the amount of fiction the same.   Actually that’s only true if you read the magazine online.  If you subscribe, there’s an exclusive novella with each issue.

In other words, here’s a publisher who realizes people read his magazine primarily for the fiction, and furthermore he’s taking steps to ensure they get what they want.  I said this was the smart way to run a fiction magazine when I reviewed the last issue of RoF.  Now that someone with the credentials of John Joseph Adams thinks the same thing and is willing to act on that idea, I’m going to say “I told you so.”

I wish Mr. Adams and his magazine the greatest success.  Oh, and I told you so.

John Joseph Adams Buys Lightspeed and Fantasy Magazines

John Joseph Adams

Prime Books announced today that it is selling both Lightspeed and Fantasy magazines to current editor John Joseph Adams.  The sale is part of the expansion of Prime Books.  Publisher Sean Wallace stated that the book publishing side of his job was taking more and more time.  Adams is a highly respected editor not only of the magazine but of numerous anthologies as well.  Adams issued the following statement:  “It’s an exciting time to be involved in publishing.  Models are changing and so is the readership, and online magazines have a better shot at sustainability than ever have before. I believe the possibilities for growth are tremendous, and I look forward to staying in the vanguard of this new frontier.”

With the announcement last week that Realms of Fantasy was closing again, it’s been an eventful week in sff periodical publishing.  As I promised when I posted about RoF I’ll have more to say about these changes in a post later this week.

Seven Days of Online Fiction, Day 8: Recap

So a week ago today, I acted on this crazy idea I had to look at a different venue for online fiction every day for a week, with as much a focus as possible on fantasy.  I called the project Seven Days of Online Fiction.  It started when I read Karen Burnham’s list of work that had received multiple award nominations this year; most of the short fiction was available online.  (Karen updated the list on Wednesday.) 

I’ve had the opinion for a long time now that what has been appearing online is just as good as what the print magazines have been publishing.  I intentionally left anthologies out of the mix because even the few anthology series that appear regularly have at least a year between volumes and are often trumpeted as Events.  I wanted to look at what was appearing on a consistent basis.

So I managed to read and post for seven days in a row, although the last couple of days were a bit of a strain from a time commitment perspective.  Links to each day are in the sidebar on the right.  The next time I do something like this, I’ll have at least half the posts done before any go live.  Anyway, I thought I would take today, Day 8, if you’ll allow, to look back and see what I’ve learned from this experience.

First, let me review the parameters.  I love science fiction, but I tried to restrict myself to fantasy since that’s the focus of this blog.  There are a number of great sites that specialize in science fiction; needless to say, they weren’t considered.  There are also some sites that publish both science fiction and fantasy.  I had hoped to feature Clarkesworld and Strange Horizons, but the stories in those were science fiction.  At least they appeared to be; I skimmed the first few paragraphs but didn’t have time to read them all the way through if I was to stay on schedule.  I’ll go back and read them at my leisure now that this project is complete.  Because I was looking at the current issues, any stories in the archives were out of bounds. 

Also, I didn’t look at or Subterranean.  These are two of the major hitters.  While accepts unsolicited manuscripts, in their guidelines they discourage submissions from writers who aren’t established pros.  Subterranean, at least last I heard, is by invitation only.  I wanted to see what was showing up by newer writers.

Finally, I restricted myself to venues which had fiction posted for free, which eliminated sites such as Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.  There were a couple of reasons for this.  First, cash flow is incredibly tight at the moment because my wife is recovering from surgery and we’re paying bills on my salary until she goes back to work in a couple of weeks.  Until then, reading material that costs money is a luxury I’m having to do without.  Also,  I wanted anyone who was interested in reading one of the stories I looked at to be able to do so without an outlay of cash.  That’s not to say I think fiction online should be free.  I don’t.  I believe in paying for quality product so the producers of said product can continue to produce.  For the purposes of this project, I wanted it to be as inclusive and convenient as possible to my readers.  If you enjoy the fiction on a site, you should consider contributing or subscribing.

I read a total of10 stories and ranked them on the basis of quality using a binary classification.  Either the quality was high or low.  I classified 8 of them high, although a few were marginal.  I suspect those of you who read the stories took issue with me on some.

The sites I visited were the following (in order):  Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Electric Spec, Ideomancer Speculative Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, Abyss & Apex, and Quantum Muse.  Obviously, I read more than one story from a couple of the venues.  Those were Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Ideomancer, and Electric Spec. For each magazine, I asked one simple question:  If I had never read this magazine before (and in some cases I hadn’t), did I enjoy this story enough to make me want to read more from this particular venue?  The only one where I said “No” was Ideomancer.  Not that the pieces weren’t well written, but there wasn’t much action in them.  One was a Bradbury-esque mood piece.  The other read like something out of an MFA class.  Neither had much in the way of plot, and I found the character development minimal in both.  Probably because characters grow through experiences, especially challenging experiences. 

The others, though, are all sources I’ll go back to.  I’m not sure all of them will become things I’ll read regularly, but they’re worth checking out.  For what it’s worth, I’ll check back in with Ideomancer.  Hopefully you looked at some of these and found a new source of fiction. 

So what’s the significance of Seven Days of Online Fiction?  Not much in the big scheme of things. There was nothing scientific in my methods.  One of the flaws with my approach is that I’m taking a random sample, and it’s quite possible that what I found in any of these magazines was better than average or worse than average.  For the ones I was familiar with, I know that’s not the case, but that’s only three of them.  Second, this was entirely subjective.  What I like, you might not.  A story I think stinks could sweep all the awards it’s eligible for next year.  Then there’s the physical aspect.  Fatigue can make a difference in how a person views a story, as well as what type of day they had at work, etc.

So to summarize, I decided to randomly look at seven different online publications, some familiar, some new, and see what type of quality I could find.  What I found was some good, solid fantasy.  Some better than others.  I also discovered some new writers, writers I’ll keep an eye out for in the future.  And I had a number of enjoyable evenings reading.  And that may be one of the most important things I got from this little exercise.

Seven Days of Online Fiction, Day 5: Fantasy Magazine

Some of you may have been wondering when in this project I would get to Fantasy Magazine, as it’s one of the more high profile online publications.  I’m trying to alternate between venues with which I am familiar and those that are new to me.  The drawback is that what’s new to me might not be new to some of you.  One of the goals of this series is to introduce some new sources of reading material to some of you as well as expand my reading horizons.  For those reasons, I’m not necessarily going to look at the more well-known venues.

Anyway, onto Fantasy Magazine.  This publication started out in print form and made the transition to electronic format a few years ago.  The format of this one is slightly different than the others we’ve looked at so far.  It’s a monthly publication consisting of fiction (2 new and 2 reprints) and various nonfiction features, but they don’t put all the stories up at once, nor do they leave the stories and features up once they’ve been posted.  Instead the contents of the main page rotate on a weekly basis throughout the month, changing on Monday.  Of course, if you don’t want to wait, you can purchase the complete issue in electronic format on the first of the month.  (And if you like this magazine, you should consider doing that to support them.) Once something is rotated off the main page, it is available through the archives..

The story I’m going to look at is “The Devil in Gaylord’s Creek” by Sarah Monette.  This was an enjoyable urban fantasy in a rural setting.  The main character is Morgan, a young lady who happens to be dead.  She travels with her companion Francis.  He’s the replacement companion; the first was eaten in the line of duty. 
So Morgan and Francis are in the small town of Gaylord’s Creek.  Devils can grow in this universe,subsuming people, and there’s one that’s gotten big enough to threaten the entire town.

I’m not sure who Morgan and Francis are working for other than it’s some type of supernatural para-police organization.  Monette tells us Francis works for some sort of organization, but Morgan doesn’t know much about it.  Nor does she wish to.  I, on the other hand, would like to know more.  A lot more.  There’s potential for a series here. 

Monette never gives us more background than is necessary to follow the action or develop the characters.  Morgan’s preferred weapon is a sword named Stella Mortua.  If you don’t know the Latin, you’ll need to read the story to find out what it means.  We don’t know where the sword came from or how it got its name.

The plot was straightforward on this one, so in the interest of avoiding spoilers, I’ll not give you many more details.  The thing I liked best was Morgan’s character and her snarky attitude.  She and Francis aren’t on the best of terms when the tale opens.  By the end their relationship has changed.  And no, it hasn’t turned romantic or sexual.  She’s in her teens, and he’s a middle aged man.  But their relationship does grow as a result of what they experience.

There’s plenty of action.  Morgan and Francis are trying to save the town, after all.  I’d like to know more about Morgan.  We know she’s dead but not a lot about how her previous partner brought her back.  About all we know of her death was that she was beaten to death; by whom and under what circumstances isn’t revealed. 

This was better than average story.  Much better.  The characters acted like real people.  They changed and grew.  Not only did they affect events, but they were affected by them.  There’s enough mystery about the organization Morgan and Francis work for to leave the reader wanting more. 

I’d read Fantasy Magazine before.  Not a great deal, but now that John Joseph Adams had taken over the editorial reigns, I’ll be reading more, especially if the quality is this good.  Applying the same yardstick I’ve applied for Days One, Two, Three, and Four:  if I were not familiar with this publication, would I read more of it based on the story I’ve randomly selected? Definitely.  The editorial page of Fantasy Magazine says they publish all varieties of fantasy.  This story shows they publish the kind of fantasy I would be reading.

Total quality count (high, low), Day 5: 6-2.