Is Short Science Fiction Moving To Original Anthologies?

Illustration for article titled Is Short Science Fiction Moving To Original Anthologies?

Are magazines no longer going to be the source of the best short science fiction? Maybe. Two pieces of news make me wonder.


First of all, Gardner Dozois just announced the table of contents of the next Year's Best SF anthology, and it seems to include a lot of stuff from original anthologies like Eclipse 2, Fast Forward 2, The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Galactic Empires, Fast Ships, Black Sails, Seeds Of Change and others. Maybe I'm on crack, but was there always such a high proportion of the year's best stories from anthologies rather than magazines? (Full list below.)

Meanwhile, the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the source of a few of those best stories, just announced it's going bi-monthly. (Side note: I'm glad "The Political Prisoner" and "Five Thrillers," my faves from last year's F&SF, made it in.) In practice, this move doesn't mean F&SF will get all that much smaller — it'll be doing all double issues, so there will be only about 10 percent less content in 2009. And I get why it's happening — postage costs are shooting up, and this is a way to reach subscribers more cheaply.

But it also seems to bring the magazine closer to being a bimonthly anthology, instead of a magazine. (To me, part of the distinction between magazines and anthologies is the extreme regularity with which magazines appear. Your mileage, as usual, may vary.) More importantly, it seems to be another stage in the slow, lingering death of the print mags: already, their circulations are plummeting, and they claim less rack space in bookstores and newstands. Coming out half as often means you get half as much visibility in retail venues, since few bookstores will keep you on the shelf for two whole months. It means F&SF is resigning itself to servicing its existing subscriber base, instead of trying to reach new readers via retail distribution.

So here's the full TOC of this year's best:

  • TURING’S APPLES, Stephen Baxter (Eclipse 2, ed. Jonathan Strahan)
  • FROM BABEL’S FALL’N GLORY WE FLED, Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s, February 2008)
  • THE GAMBLER, Paolo Bacigalupi (Fast Forward 2, ed. Lou Anders)
  • BOOJUM, Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette (Fast Ships, Black Sails, ed. Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer)
  • THE SIX DIRECTIONS OF SPACE, Alastair Reynolds (Galactic Empires, ed. Gardner Dozois)
  • N-WORDS, Ted Kosmatka (Seeds of Change, ed. John Joseph Adams)
  • AN ELIGIBLE BOY, Ian McDonald (Fast Forward 2, ed. Lou Anders)
  • SHINING ARMOUR, Dominic Green (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume 2, ed. George Mann)
  • THE HERO, Karl Schroeder (Eclipse 2, ed. Jonathan Strahan)
  • EVIL ROBOT MONKEY, Mary Robinette Kowal (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume 2, ed. George Mann)
  • FIVE THRILLERS, Robert Reed (F & SF, April 2008)
  • INCOMERS, Paul McAuley (The Starry Rift, ed. Jonathan Strahan)
  • CRYSTAL NIGHTS, Greg Egan (Interzone, April 2008)
  • THE EGG MAN, Mary Rosenblum (Asimov’s, February 2008)
  • HIS MASTER’S VOICE, Hannu Rajaniemi (Interzone, October 2008)
  • THE POLITICAL PRISONER, Charles Coleman Finlay (F & SF, August 2008)
  • BALANCING ACCOUNTS, James L. Cambias (F & SF, February 2008)
  • SPECIAL ECONOMICS, Maureen McHugh (The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, ed. Ellen Datlow)
  • DAYS OF WONDER, Geoff Ryman (F & SF, October/November 2008)
  • CITY OF THE DEAD, Paul McAuley (Postscripts # 15)
  • THE VOYAGE OUT, Gwyneth Jones (Periphery: Erotic Lesbian Futures, ed. Lynne Jamneck)
  • THE ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY OF LORD GRIMM, Daryl Gregory (Eclipse 2, ed. Jonathan Strahan)
  • G-MEN, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Sideways in Crime, ed. Lou Anders)
  • THE ERDMANN NEXUS, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s, October/November 2008)
  • OLD FRIENDS, Garth Nix (Dreaming Again, ed. Jack Dann)
  • THE RAY-GUN: A LOVE STORY, James Alan Gardner (Asimov’s, February 2008)
  • LESTER YOUNG AND THE JUPITER’S MOONS’ BLUES, Gord Sellar (Asimov’s, July 2008)
  • BUTTERFLY, FALLING AT DAWN, Aliete de Bodard (Interzone, November 2008)
  • THE TEAR, Ian McDonald (Galactic Empires, ed. Gardner Dozois)


If F&SF and Asimovs would realize it's no longer 1950 and update their magazines' look and feel, maybe more people would be tempted to pick them up.

Books are shiny and pretty and fun, and hell yes people judge things by their covers.