1.21.2004

digesting the times

I think I'll take this one off the comments section and back on to the main s1ngularity blog page. Why? Because THIS strikes me as a real meat and potatoes kind of issue. How do the major genre magazines stack up generally and, more specifically, how do the stack up against the so-called 'small' magazines.

I'm going to start off by nailing my colors to the mast: I think Gardner at Asimov's, Gordon at F&SF and Ellen at SciFiction do an amazing job. The quality of individual issues varies somewhat (or in SciFiction's cases, varies from month-to-month), but the basic constant holds true: these three magazines are the most reliable source of the best short fiction in the field. If you need to see that confirmed, you need only look at the Oct/Nov '03 issues of Asimov's and F&SF. Both contained remarkable stories, and both magazines had other major fiction published during the year. Now, as with anything, there are less remarkable issues, but these three know what they are doing. I will admit to being much less impressed with Analog (which I'm completely tone-deaf to) and that I find Interzone very unreliable, but I also think Realms of Fantasy is steadily improving.

Now, how do the majors stack up against the small 'zines? For the most part, I think they're superior in most ways. The quality of the fiction, the reliability of the bang-for-the-buck that you get etc, is much highter. There are some good small 'zines though - Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Alchemy and such - but they typically don't quite meet the same consistent level of quality as the majors. At least, in my opinion.

As to Gabe's comment: "Is this how things always are in Asimov's, or do they occasionally put out some good stuff? Where's the thrill of the magazine? Where's the excitement in publishing it?" I'd first of all say, that Asimov's does publish some very good stuff. Off the top of my head, Walter Jon Williams's "The Green Leopard Plague", Lucius Shepard's "Only Partly Here", and William Barton's "Off on a Starship" were genuinely terrific and the ongoing "Accelerando" series by Charles Stross has been alternately frustrating and thrilling. I suspect the problem here is either a) modern genre mainstream short fiction isn't to your taste or b) you hit the wrong issue. I'd also add that one of the great dangers for any genre reader is burnout. If you read enough, and lord knows we all have, sometimes it just doesn't have that kick, but sometimes it does.

Oh, and one last thing: does anyone else feel the same way I do about Interzone: that it has seen better days?


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