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Is it only writers who read SF and Fantasy mags?

Simbelmynë

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Of course I know this isn’t entirely the case, but I wonder what kind of audience is catered to by magazines like Interzone and Asimov’s.

I’m getting more into short stories. Always liked the medium, and as a kid used to enjoy the bit of fiction printed in magazines like White Dwarf and Dungeon/Dragon, having come to fantasy and SF through tabletop gaming as much as through wardrobes or magic rings.

I’ve always dipped into short story collections by the likes of China Mieville, Michael Moorcock and H. P. Lovecraft, but not only have I lately started putting a bit more time into writing my own stories - something I’ve occasionally done a little of since I was a kid - but I’m starting to get as much enjoyment now from some short fiction (both short story collections and stories from a few online mags, as well as listening to the Asimov’s mag podcast) as I do from novels, of which I’ve always read a fair amount.

So as a budding enthusiast of short genre fiction I’m just wondering what the community is like for the current publications. Is there much of a readership beyond professional or aspiring writers? I’m not being cynical - I wouldn’t think it necessarily a bad thing, I just get the feeling that in the era of a magazine like the British publication New Worlds, and certainly back in the pulp era, short fiction mags were much bigger business. And I’m asking more as a reader rather than a writer.

I was also wondering, do readers tend to favour going for collections by their favourite authors, as I’ve done in the past, over reading individual pieces in mags or online?

Lastly, as a Brit I’m considering subscribing to Interzone. Any other subscribers out there? Or perhaps other recommendations?

Cheers
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I used to read a lot of SFF magazines when I was first married (over forty years ago now), because my husband had a fairly large collection. We continued to subscribe or to pick up magazines at the newsstand for a number of years (this was before I was actively doing much writing, so I don't see a correlation), before we both seemed to get addicted pretty much mostly to novels and spent our then meagre income on those ... with only the occasional anthology, and those only when I saw at least two or three favorite authors on the title page. Then I felt that there was a good chance I would enjoy at least those stories, and hoped I would like some of the others, thereby discovering new favorite authors. Or if I knew some of the authors personally (now we are getting into the period after I became serious about my writing and was meeting lots of other writers) then I would and still do buy anthologies. I have also bought a number of collections by authors whose short fiction I admire (in some cases more than their book-length fiction). But no magazines for many years now.

Used to buy Asimov's sometimes and liked the mix of stories, don't know what it is like now, but if it has kept up the same standards than I'd say it's a good choice for a reader who likes a variety of sub-genres and styles. Never did pick up Interzone, I don't think, so can't comment about that at all.
 

AlexH

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I didn't realise there was such a wealth of magazines (particularly online) until I began looking for places to submit short stories. Favourites include Apex Magazine and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

I read stories by multiple authors but have bought since author collections after enjoying particular stories.
 

dannymcg

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No.
I don't write (I tried it once and wasted three years before deleting the lot, drafts, notes, research links etc)

I'm an avid reader of full length and short stories, mainly sci fi but I now and again buy a fantasy work.

There seems to be a shortage of short stories lately, so all you talented writers out there stop wasting time in here and get to work!
 

Simbelmynë

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I didn't realise there was such a wealth of magazines (particularly online) until I began looking for places to submit short stories.
I guess this was my thinking - that it becomes more apparent that these outlets for short fiction exist when you start looking for ways to get your own work published. Not that I've come to enjoy more short stories for this reason only, but there's a wider array of media in the fantasy and SF categories now - films, games, and now more tv than ever - that I suppose short fiction magazines are far from the first port of call for sci fi fans.

Favourites include Apex Magazine and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
I'll check these out.

I'm an avid reader of full length and short stories, mainly sci fi but I now and again buy a fantasy work.

There seems to be a shortage of short stories lately, so all you talented writers out there stop wasting time in here and get to work!
I think sci fi lends itself greatly to the medium. It's shame if there isn't so much out there, but I guess that with digital subscriptions it's now much easier to access publications from other countries.
 

AlexH

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There seems to be a shortage of short stories lately, so all you talented writers out there stop wasting time in here and get to work!
There are more accessible short stories than ever as far as I can tell, unless you mean somewhere in particular.
 

Overread

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I think the problem is that a lot of them don't market themselves heavily. Even some of the "biggest names" are almost unheard of outside of writers circles or very avid readers. Heck just look at Chrons -a place chock full of writers and readers and yet we don't have a "latest issue of XYZ" discussion thread around. I don't think we've even got author subsections for them or such.

Granted I think many of them have very low budgets so they likely don't have all that much room to market, or if the yare marketing they are falling into that problem that many books have which is that TV and other media marketing doesn't appear to be a focus/work/be cost effective/affordable. So its not just a case of limited marketing but also limited resources to market with.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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We have had sub-forums for a few magazines over the years, but only in the publishing section, when someone who worked at the magazine in question dropped in from time to time to keep things up to date. Except I think eventually they each stopped dropping in, which is why their sub-forums disappeared. But perhaps not the kind of thread you mean. However, anyone is free to start a readers's thread for a given issue of a given magazine at any time. That's the best way to find out if there is enough interest from others to keep such threads going and to see if starting more would be worth the time.
 

Alex The G and T

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No.

I never tried to write a SF or F piece longer than 108 words.

I've always been a fan of collections of shorts by favorite authors. I've subscribed to ANALOG since the mid '80's; Asimov's since the mid '90's and The Magazine of SF and F for ten years.

I don't see that the volume of available shorts has waned, but maybe the quality; which may be only a personal opinion. With the retirement of Venerable and Venerated editors, Dozois and Schmidt, I've seen a decline in stories that held my interest. Themes seem trite or too Politically Correct; but maybe I'm just not so much the target audience in my old age.

I actually let ANALOG lapse, this year; Asimov's is on probation. Still loving most of what's in SF and F.
 

Robert Zwilling

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From my viewpoint when I started reading science fiction and fantasy magazines 50 years ago I had no intentions of being a writer and people I knew who were reading the magazines weren't writing either. I went on to randomly write stuff after reading the magazines for 5 years. Started self publishing 6 years ago. Wrote all kinds all things as time went on and read less of the magazines. Subscriptions ran out a long time ago. Picked up stuff now and then from the shelf, but haven't looked for years. Recently looked on line but the prices seemed a bit stiff for me. It might be I spend so much time writing or reading what I have written (lots of poetry, stories in progress) that my interest in the randomness of the magazines has diminished. I am reading a lot of older (used books) mystery and science fiction novels, titles that I pick to read.
 

Simbelmynë

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It seems the audience has definitely diminished over time then, as I thought. I would guess short fiction like that published in the above mentioned magazines would still be of interest to writers though, if less so across the general SF audience in favour of other media.

I don't see that the volume of available shorts has waned, but maybe the quality; which may be only a personal opinion. With the retirement of Venerable and Venerated editors, Dozois and Schmidt, I've seen a decline in stories that held my interest. Themes seem trite or too Politically Correct; but maybe I'm just not so much the target audience in my old age.
I agree that some modern fiction can be overbearingly PC. I can’t think of a specific short to reference, but I’m having this trouble, up to a point, with The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.

Too much political correctness in fiction is like the equivalent to reading a heavily morally Christianised novel from a more religious era. To us it would come across as preachy, but the bible set the moral standard years ago, and some people love to learn the rule book just so they can throw it at people. Fortunately, good art breaks these kinds of shackles, and just is.

But I’ll cease my possibly hypocritical ramblings.
 

AlexH

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I haven't read new fiction I've found to be overbearingly PC - quite the opposite sometimes, with stories about things that probably wouldn't have been published 20-30 years ago. I've read old fiction that would be embarrassing and controversial in today's world, with certain attitudes to gender and race. Fiction is better without that, even if we've lost something in this PC world (and political correctness does get ridiculous at times).
 

Simbelmynë

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I haven’t read enough recent sci fi and fantasy to get a broad enough picture, it’s just that when I have encountered it it’s grated on me.

Totally with you on the misogyny and other embarrassing elements of older SF and fantasy being problematic. It’s the blatancy and laziness of even some of the greats like Robert E Howard (stereotypical Asian villain in skull face) and Larry Niven (female character who appears to enter into the cast of Ringworid mostly to give us lonely, single nerds a bit of boob to fantasise over) which detract from otherwise great stories.

But there is a certain infantilism about the characterisation in the above mentioned Becky Chambers novel, which admittedly I haven’t yet finished, which adds to what feels like quite a socially tame setting. Perhaps this is a little of what Alex meant by the “trite” themes in certain modern stories.
 

Christy13

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I'm not a writer (I am a copyeditor for tabletop RPGs and genre fiction, but I'm not an author or aspiring author). I love short stories! I subscribed to Analog and Asimov's for a substantial number of years. I've been more likely to read short story anthologies, but they are equally likely to be by a single author or a variety of authors.
 
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Brian G Turner

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I'm not a writer (I am a copyeditor for tabletop RPGs and genre fiction, but I'm not an author or aspiring author). I love short stories! I subscribed to Analog and Asimov's for a substantial number of years. I've been more likely to read short story anthologies, but they are equally likely to be by a single author or a variety of authors.
Welcome to the chrons forums @Christy13 . :)
 

AlexH

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William Delman

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I can't speak for others, but I was a reader before I was a writer. I loved DSF, Asimov's, and F&SF. When I started writing, my reading expanded to include some really great publications like The Arcanist, Little Blue Marble, Kraxon, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination (very sadly deceased), Flash Fiction Online, etc. There's a lot of great stuff out there.
 
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