I’ve been a reader of short fiction since I was young, but especially once I graduated from high school in the mid-80’s. Back then, I would pick up issues of Asimov’s from time to time, or (more likely) Omni magazine. How I loved, loved, LOVED Omni! Great science writing, and always great stories by some of the day’s best genre writers. One of my favorite short stories of all time appeared in its pages, the aptly named England Underway, by Terry Bisson. You should consider picking up his anthology of shorts, Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories, there’s some really wonderful work in there, including the title story as well as England Underway. I would say Terry’s writing has deeply informed mine, though I didn’t recognize the connections until recently.
But these days, finding slick, glossy magazines of science writing AND fiction from some of the best authors is nearly impossible. The magazine industry, like the newspaper industry, has been going through an increasingly dire period of declining subscriptions at the same time ad revenue has dried up. It’s a double whammy of financial woes. They were able to pick up some of the slack when Amazon launched an electronic magazine service, but the monopolistic juggernaut recently canceled the service despite its popularity and offered them instead its Kindle Unlimited reading program, where they would have to share a tiny split of a single pot of earnings among themselves and the hundreds of thousands of self-published books that show up every month. It’s another capitalism nightmare.
The Amazon decision already has fall out. Fantasy Magazine, a well respected title that paid authors a pro-rate for their work, has announced they will close later this year. It seems cutting two thirds of their yearly revenue has consequences. Not that Bezos cares. He’s got shareholders to please and penis-shaped rockets to fire off into space.
In the lee of the Amazon decision, consumers have been repeatedly promoting their favorite magazines on social media to try and drive up purchases and subscriptions. As with healthcare in the United States, the solution seems to be “we’ll have to pull them up ourselves if there’s no other way to pay for it.” I, too, engaged in this for a short while, but I felt there had to be a better way. There’s still a lot of magazines, journals and podcasts out there, and not all of them used Amazon services. But many are hard to find unless you know where to look for them.
And hey, it turns out… there’s no single place to find them. No listing for all the currently active genre magazines and podcasts hoping for readers or listeners to find them and generate new revenue so they can stay active. There are several sites, like Submission Grinder, that are great for writers to scan for open venues to sell their works to. But they are not user friendly at all. The few lists that were user friendly were often far out of date.
So… I made it: Speculative Fiction Magazine Subscriptions
This is the first draft of the list. It’s pretty good I think. It has a nice interface, the filters work well. I still need to fully test accessibility, which I’m worried about, especially to ensure screen readers can pick up the titles and descriptions. I’m still adding titles as well as suggestions come in (so, so many suggestions already, it’s very heartening).
And as always, I’m already planning ahead. There are other features I’d like to add, though the tools I’m using may be too limited to include them at this time. I’d like to add a “search” bar so someone can skip using the filters and hone in more narrowly on what they are seeking because the current filters still leave a lot of titles to scan through; or add sub-genre menus to the major genres to again allow narrow targeting of preferences. We’ll see. Just some ideas, nothing concrete yet.
For now, I’m enjoying the surge of site visitors and hoping this resource will provide folks with a way of finding and contributing to the success of short story markets. In this time of bifurcating and trifurcating attention spans, when many feel they don’t have time to read a whole book, it would be great to remind them that the short story is still thriving, and for a few dollars a month they can lose themselves in words and be transported to other worlds entirely.
We might not bring back the greatness of Omni, but we can maybe hold on to the wonderful titles we currently have. Or help people launch new ones knowing it might be more viable (and there might be a Trollbreath Magazine some day in the future, who knows… it might even be glossy).