February 28th, 2010

Summary: Some Miscellaneous sources, 2009

Summary: Some Miscellaneous sources, 2009

Here's some quick looks at a variety of websites and magazines of which I only saw scattered issues this year, or which only published a few stories.

1. Focus

Focus is the British Science Fiction Association magazine for writers. They don't normally publish fiction, but for the BSFA's 50th anniversary they ran a story contest, and the six top entries were published in a Fiction Special issue of Focus. 6 stories (2 novelettes and 4 shorts), about 40,000 words, all the stories were SF and one was by a woman. I was a bit disappointed by the contents, which were mostly undistinguished. Best was "Time's Chariot", by Nina Allan.

2. SF Trails

This is of all things a magazine of Western SF stories. That is, Westerns that are also SF. 7 stories, 2 of them novelettes, a bit more than 40,000 words. Perhaps 4 SF stories? 1 by a woman. Again, on the whole it didn't do much for me. Best were Trent Roman's "The Great Genome Robbery" and Lou Antonelli's "Professor Malakoff's Amazing Ethereal Telegraph".

3. Icarus

A new magazine edited by Steve Berman devoted to SF and Fantasy on gay themes. I saw only the first issue -- I know there have been more. That issue didn't have much new fiction -- only 2 short stories, some 10,000 words, both by men, both fantasies, neither much to my taste.

4. Beyond Centauri

A production of Tyree Campbell's Sam's Dot publishing. Quarterly, but I saw only one issue. Devoted to stories for younger readers. 14 stories, all short, 8 short-shorts, 27,000 words, 5 and half of the writers were women, 6 of the stories were SF. My favorite was Neal Wilgus's "The Street".

5. Shelter of Daylight

Another production of Tyree Campbell's Sam's Dot publishing. Officially it's an anthology, but has the look and feel of a magazine. 14 stories, 1 of them a novelette, 1 a short-short, some 60,000 words, 6 of the writers were women, 5 of the stories were SF. My favorite was Greg McColm's "The Plain of Good and Evil", and there was also good work from Jennifer Rachel Baumer and Zdravka Evtimova.

6. Dark Discoveries

A horror magazine that get regular distribution at my local Barnes and Noble, and which I used to buy and never like. So I finally got wise and stopped buying it. But I did buy the first of three issues this year. 4 stories, about 23,000 words, 1 a novelette, all by men. Don D'Ammassa and Steve Rasnic Tem were the best contributors here.

7. SF Crowsnest

A UK based news webzine run by Stephen Hunt, who has developed something of a reputation as a writer with some steampunkish fantasy novels like The Court of the Air. SF Crowsnest intermittently features fiction, usually (always, in 2009) by Geoff Willmetts. Most of Willmetts' stories are one-joke short-shorts, enjoyable or not depending on whether you like the joke. He also does a series of usually longish stories about a British organization of psis, the Psi-Cops. This year, 5 stories, four short-shorts and one a Psi-Cops novelette, about 15,000 words total.

8. Revolution SF

Revolution SF is a news oriented US based site that also publishes occasional fiction, edited by Steve Wilson and Matthew Bey. They published only four stories this year that I saw, all short, about 20,000 words total, half of them SF, half by women. My favorite was "An Irdish Tale" by Jessica Reisman. Towards the end of the year they appeared to transition to publishing a long serial called ConDorks, so presumably about conventions, though I haven't read it.

9. Quantum Kiss

A site devoted to romantic SF and fantasy. I've liked much of what they've done but this year they seemed to lose momentum. They published only 5 stories, all shorts (1 short-short), all by women, 3 SF. The quality was decent, however, best being probably M. Howard's "A Friendly Wager".

Summary: Cosmos, 2009

Summary: Cosmos, 2009

Cosmos is an Australian popular science magazine that features an SF story in each issue. They also occasionally feature stories on their website (and the website also sometimes reprints stories from the print magazine, a few months later). The fiction editor is Damien Broderick. They are bimonthly, so 6 issues appeared in 2009. Including the stories on the website, there were 9 stories, all short (one short-short), for a total of nearly 30,000 words.

Their fiction is consistently interesting -- always SF, often fairly near future focussed, as befits a popular science magazine in many ways. The most notable 2009 story was Karl Bunker's "Under the Shouting Sky" (August-September), about explorers on Enceladus (a moon of Saturn) who get in trouble but also make a momentous discovery, and must balance survival and science. I also liked a couple of the online stories, Matthew Rotundo's "Fuel", about a father pushing his sons to accept body upgrades for athletic success, and Shelly Li's "Soul Mate", in which people are required to accept the mates chosen for them, a difficult thing for one man in particular, especially given the nature of his mate.

I think 2 of 9 stories were by women, and all of them were SF.