We all rejoiced when a new Canadian science fiction magazine, AE, raised more than its $10,000 goal through the Kickstarter fundraising platform. A new magazine paying SFWA pro rates isn't to be sneezed at. But we rejoiced too soon.
AE, named for writer A.E. Van Vogt, had lofty goals, as its Kickstarter home page explains:
Without science fiction magazines, science fiction as we know it wouldn't exist. Isaac Asimov once said that, if it weren't for Astounding Science Fiction, he might never have written in the genre at all. Science fiction literature is uniquely suited to the magazine stand. It's a genre that thrives in short stories and novellas. Science fiction magazines have always been the breeding ground of talent and the launching pad of careers.
Our mission is to carry on the great tradition of periodicals like Analog, Asimov's, and Solaris. A.E. Van Vogt, William Gibson, and Spider Robinson are just a few of the great Canadian writers of science fiction who got their start in magazine pages, but there is currently no publication in Canada which meets the professional standards of the SFWA. Help us change that.
And it looked like AE had succeeded, since they'd raised more than their $10,000 goal by the May 15 target date.
But then when the time came to collect on pledges, tragedy struck, as AE explains in a blog update:
If you were following our project closely in the past couple weeks, you're probably aware that more than half of our funding came in the form of a massive eleventh hour pledge from a benevolent stranger. We celebrated, and you celebrated with us.
But after the clock wound down, the pledge collection process kicked into gear. And that crucial pledge didn't clear. We have contacted the backer, as has Kickstarter, politely and with thanks. No response was forthcoming to our inquiry. And as more information has become available, we have been forced to accept that this pledge is not going to come through.
We've been in touch with Yancey Strickler from Kickstarter. Our project is not the only one that has been affected by this backer. Kickstarter has given us the choice of refunding all the pledges to our project, or moving ahead with the money that we did collect.
It was a tough, tough call. We know we could do something great with the nearly $5,000 you have entrusted us with. We could make a stellar issue of AE, even if it was somewhat scaled back from our original vision, and maybe have something left over to keep us going for another issue or two. But that wasn't what you signed up for, and now that we can't fulfill our original promises, we don't want to hold onto your money a second longer than we have to. So we've asked Kickstarter to refund everyone's donations, as if we had never gotten that fateful pledge.
It sounds like all of those donations have already been returned, and AE is trying to figure out its next move. But maybe there's still time for all of us to rally around and support a worthwhile new publishing project.