From the publisher’s side of things, there seems to be a general assumption that there are more people writing short fiction than there are consumers reading it (though it’s not a universally held assumption, and may live slightly more in the “gripes” category than reality). At the very least, the ship seems to be sinking…
Warren Ellis recently posted a (hopefully) inflammatory post about Science Fiction Magazine Sales in 2006, data culled primarily from Gardner Dozois’ YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION anthology: Asimov’s at 15k, Analog at 28k, F&SF at 18k, Interzone at 2-3k. ((circulation numbers per issue))
Someone recently said to me, “Well, what could you do to save them?” And I said, well, no-oneâ€™s asking, but thereâ€™s probably about twelve things that could be done. And they said, “Well, maybe, but what I really meant was — why try? Why not just bury them and start anew?”
In a later post, he goes on to further explain something behind the cry of “Why try?”:
ASIMOVâ€™S, ANALOG, F&SF — they donâ€™t think they need saving. I mean, they havenâ€™t changed for years, have they? Theyâ€™re not designed to be wanted because they donâ€™t want to be wanted, not really. They want to be left alone to do their thing, and they donâ€™t want any loud new people in the room.
And backing up a moment, then, more to the purposes of this post…
A few people have asked me what the twelve things that could be done to ‘save’ the sf magazines are. Maybe Iâ€™ll get into that next week, if the time becomes available. Half of them start with this: a magazine is a thing that must be designed to be wanted.
There’s links and trackbacks from the post above that will lead you far through the blogosphere, and there’s good reading just about everywhere. But the purpose of this post is to run a poll to help get a feel for the pulse of the world. If you wouldn’t mind dropping your opinion in this poll, I’d really appreciated it! And secondly, Jason Stoddard recently attacked the problem from a different angle–“What do you most hate about short science fiction?”