Is the future of science fiction writing totally dependent on the internet? After looking at the (falling) sales figures for magazines like Analog and Asimov, comic book writer and novelist Warren Ellis argues that it's time for people to realize SF magazines are dead — except online.After summarizing what he perceives as the head-in-the-sand attitude of print magazine editors ("[N]aturally enough, the magazines' various teams appear not to consider anything to be wrong [despite the declining readership]. They'll provide what their remaining audience would seem to want, until they all finally die of old age, and then they'll turn out the lights. And that'll be it for the short-fiction sf print magazine as we know it," he writes), Ellis starts looking at the reasons why online magazines often get ignored by followers of SF fiction:
One of the reasons... is that we associate print magazines with an intelligent curation process overseen by functional salaried adults. That's why so many people still look askance at the online scene as "not proper magazines." The people who believe that got their wish last month, when one of the editors of HELIX SF had his covers pulled as a bigot with clear psychological issues by a disgruntled writer. It gives credence to the bias, unspoken or otherwise, that a print magazine is a job of work and an online magazine can be thrown up by any drooling lunatic with access to the net and a credit card. A fanzine by any other name. Regular readers will know that I like sending traffic to the likes of CLARKESWORLD and FARRAGO'S WAINSCOT etc from time to time. Aside from (patchy, beautiful) McSWEENEY'S, these are the places I look to for short fiction now. No real fireworks yet, no real movement, none of them seem to be really cresting the other in terms of profile, but the best work there has been head and shoulders over pretty much anything I read from ASIMOV'S, F&SF or INTERZONE (with one exception in the latter case) over the last several months... It's time now, I think, to turn attention to the online sf magazines. I personally live in hope that, one day, some of them move from net to print, and create a new generation of paper magazines. But, regardless, it's time to focus on them - on what they do, how they generate revenue, and what their own future is.
But will that future include spam-esque pornbabble, that's what we want to know. SF MAGAZINES: Yes, I'm Here To Ruin Everybody's Day Again [Warren Ellis]