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SF Must Write Its Own Future

Illustration for article titled SF Must Write Its Own Future

You've heard about the death of print sf, but could online outlets for stories of the imagination be just as doomed? Fantasy Magazine has a reality check on the future of speculative fiction.

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Fantasy Magazine started as a print periodical in 2005 and switched to publishing online issues in February of last year, so it's an ideal forum for discussion on the increasing troubles of our speculative fiction providers. Columnist Randy Henderson (whose "Why We Need Scientist Heroes Again" made my io9 implant beep with joy) asks:

What dark forces threaten our pulp magazines? Are online magazines any better off? And how can both print and online magazines stand out and prevail in this crazy wired world of information overload and multimedia mania?

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Those are questions authors, editors, and publishers have struggled with ever since the first geek scribe typed "alt.sf.creative" into her primitive terminal. Sure, Asimov's, F&SF, and Analog are all losing subscribers; hell, you're probably reading this very article on your iPhone. But Henderson points out that it's a magazine's responsibility to adapt to its readers' technology and lifestyles, for better or for worse:

There's plenty of stuff out there to distract us all. Expecting readers to remember to check out your magazine a month or six from now for the next big issue stuffed full of fictiony goodness is asking a bit much. But give those readers a tasty little online snack every day and they’ll constantly drop by and check in on you, kind of like a broke college student.

And he gets right to the heart of the matter with his next bit of advice.

The absolute best thing any speculative fiction magazine can have is outstanding speculative fiction.

... if you sell truly great fiction then readers will buy it. But only if they can trust it will be of the highest quality, they are reminded when it is available, and they can easily find and purchase it for a reasonable price.

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I suppose that's why Fantasy posted a stories of 2008 roundup and poll, with prizes. They're just doing their part to bring speculative fiction further into the future.

Randym Thoughts: On the Future of Speculative Fiction Magazines [Fantasy Magazine]

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DISCUSSION

braak
Chris Braak

That's probably why the best way to do it is to use a model akin to what webcomics do. A kind of a blog that can be supported via merchandise (collected works) and advertising content (haha! Well, in the far future), that presents short stories continually, rather than in monthly batches. That way, people can just tag the site with their RSS feeders.