December 30th, 2010

Summary: Clarkesworld Magazine, 2010

Summary: Clarkesworld Magazine, 2010

Clarkesworld Magazine is a monthly online publication. The editors are Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace, though Sean is stepping down at the end of 2010. Two stories are published each month. So, 24 this year, one a novelette, for a total of some 116,000 words, quite a bit more than last year. Clarkesworld publishes a mix of SF and Fantasy, somewhat weighted toward the SF side.

I am reprinting one Clarkesworld story in my Best of the Year anthology, "The Things", by Peter Watts (January), a brilliant, very tense, retelling of the movie The Thing (and by extension, the John W. Campbell story "Who Goes There?") from the alien's point of view. Other strong stories included "Between Two Dragons", by Yoon Ha Lee (April), a war story, about a hero admiral who falls afoul of political machinations (with significant SFnal flourishes); "The Cull", by Robert Reed (September), a dark dark story of a future "station" on a limited Earth, maintained by an AI who "culls" the population as needed; and "The History Within Us", by Matthew Kressel (March), set in a very far future, with a human on a mostly alien habitat trying to maintain memories of human history.

Other very fine stories came from Brenda Cooper, Tobias Buckell, Becca de La Rosa, and Sandra McDonald. It was another excellent year for this site.

Statistics: Clarkesworld, as mentioned, has moved strongly in a science fictional direction.  Last year I had 17 of the stories classified as SF, about 71%, similar to the previous year. Women produced 12 of the stories, exactly half.


Summary: Black Gate, 2010

Summary: Black Gate, 2010

Once again, Black Gate  managed only a single issue in 2010, though also once again one more is nearly ready and presumably will appear early in 2010. It remains a beautiful thick magazine -- and 2010's issue was particularly thick! -- with a strong and successful focus on adventure fantasy, and with a welcome (to me) tropism towards longer stories. The magazine also has a tropism towards series stories, but this issue mostly avoided sequels. This year the one issue includes 19 new stories: 1 novella, 8 novelettes, and 10 shorts (1 short-short), for a total of almost 160,000 words.

I will mention again that I am on the masthead of Black Gate as a Contributing Editor, which means that I contribute a regular column and regular reviews, and also, I suppose, that I meet with Publisher/Editor John O'Neill occasionally and amidst eating and drinking and selling books we chat about the future of the SF industry and so on.

My favorite story this year was Matthew David Surridge's "The Word of Azrael", which will appear in my Best of the Year book. It's a first rate story that manages to both satirize numerous fantasy cliches and to celebrate them. Other strong stories include the novella, Robert J. Howe’s "The Natural History of Calamity", which is basically Urban Fantasy, but with quite a clever central idea, a private detective with a difference: she detects what’s wrong with someone’s "karmic flow", and restores the balance. Also strong was "Devil on the Wind", by Michael Jasper and Jay Lake, concerning a group of magicians whose power arises from their own suicides (and revivals). Add strong work by James Enge, Pete Butler, Alex Kries, and Sylvia Volk -- another very enjoyable issue of an always fun magazine.

5 of 19 stories (26%) are by women, a bit less than usual. Though they have published SF stories in the past, despite the Adventure Fantasy label, this year I don't think any qualified.