Strange Horizons fund drive 2011

Paul Raven @ 26-09-2011

If you come to Futurismic for the science fiction side of things (which I hope, even in the temporary absence of an active fiction department, quiet a few of you still do), then you’ve probably at least heard of Strange Horizons, the free-to-air all-online pro-paying market and critical journal of genre fiction.

Better still, I hope you think Strange Horizons is awesome; I’ll say it again, they pay pro rates for quality genre fiction and poetry – some of it award-winning – that costs you nothing to read and doesn’t come accompanied by ugly ads or sponsorships. Heck, they even pay their reviewers and columnists a little bit… and as one of those reviewers, I guess that means you could say I have a horse in the race, so to speak. But I was a reader of SH long before I was a contributor, and it’s one of the venues I’m proudest to write for; if that’s bias, then consider this my full disclosure.

So, if you also think Strange Horizons is awesome – or even just pretty good – they could do with your help. There’s a few weeks left on the annual fund drive, and if you pop over and pitch in a fistful of dollars you’ll be entered into a prize draw, meaning you get a slight sense of anticipation as a side-salad to your blue-plate serving of Supporting A Good Cause.

(There are some epic prizes in there, too: did you know Alastair Reynolds was an artist as well as a writer? Because apparently he’ll draw or paint you a scene from one of his novels! Or you could snag a copy of The Universe Of Things, the latest Gwyneth Jones short fiction collection from Aqueduct Press, which I spent over 3,000 words marvelling overearlier in the year. Or signed novels by Ursula Le Guin, or Adam Roberts, or… look, there’s all sorts of good stuff you could win, go see for yourself.)

Again, to be clear: Strange Horizons has always been free to air, and is run by volunteers. All money donated goes to paying for the physical needs of the site (the specialist technical stuff and webhosting magic) and the excellent, unique and original content it publishes. Please consider sparing a few bucks to keep it that way.


Not-so-new ‘zine on the block: InterNova

Paul Raven @ 29-09-2010

Via the tireless Charles Tan* at the World SF Blog comes news that international sf magazine InterNova has relaunched as a webzine for your free-to-read enjoyment. The new issue includes fiction from Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Croatia, Germany and the UK, two Italian classic reprints and a couple of non-fiction pieces. Get clickin’.

[ * Seriously, the dude’s a force of nature; he’s either the pseudonym of a team of three or more, or has had some sort of elective surgery to remove the part of his brain that tells him when to sleep. ‘Nuff respect. ]


Calling all coders: can you help free webzines make ebook versions?

Paul Raven @ 08-06-2010

K Tempest Bradford has identified a problem that many webzine editors have, but that most of them (myself included) have neither the time, money or 1337 code sk1llz0rz to solve alone: our readers would probably really appreciate downloadable ebook versions of our content, and an easy mechanism for delivery of such.

These are the core issues Tempest has identified thus far:

  1. Relatively easy eBook creation. Though programs like Calibre can create EPUB (and other eBook format) files, Tobias Buckell recently pointed out to me that this is not the optimal solution. He equated it to people using Microsoft Word to create web pages. Yes, the program can do it, but the code it generates is from hell. Not fit for anyone except really clueless newbies. We wouldn’t want that for these eBooks. So a primary aspect is to figure out who or what will generate clean code for EPUB.
  2. How many eBooks? Many online magazines do the monthly or semi-monthly thing, but for those that publish every week, do readers want an eBook for every story, or is one per month good?
  3. Free or Not Free? Many online magazines are free, which is a yay. Should their eBooks be free as well? I am personally in favor of charging a small amount for the files for the convenience of having the eBook format. The fiction will still be free on the website, of course. What are other people’s thoughts on this?
  4. Delivery System. Outfits like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony will deliver magazines to subscribers automatically, but only if you have a device that stays within their ecosystem. Like, if I subscribe to a magazine through B&N but use my Sony Reader to read it, it won’t show up each month on its own, I’d have to download then transfer it. Plus, I imagine that many online magazines would want to sell or make their eBook versions available through independent eBookstores or just from their site. I had an idea that I’d like to be able to embed and deliver eBooks with an RSS feed like you do with podcasts. That way, if you subscribe to the feed, you automatically get the file. It would be nice if this worked with paid eBook files as well. This is where the major coding work comes in. How do you set this kind of thing up? And would you need an accompanying program to then transfer the eBook to your eReader?
  5. Subscriptions or Individual Payments? Going along with the system I described above, will readers want to subscribe up front to many months worth of a magazine or would they be happier just paying per month?

If you’re involved in the clever coding side of things (professionally or otherwise), and/or you’re a regular reader of webzines who’d like to help them out, maybe you could drop a comment over at Tempest’s post so she can coordinate the expertise on offer?

As for here, I’d be interested to hear from the Futurismic regulars: would you be interested in a convenient monthly EPUB bundle of Futurismic content (say the fiction piece, all columns, and a selection of the more popular blog posts)? What device would you read it on? What channels do you use for getting content of this type already? Would you be willing to pay a small fee for that convenience and portability (not to mention a version of the site that would be ad-free)?


Lightspeed launches!

Paul Raven @ 01-06-2010

Wow, that rolled around fast – remember me plugging Prime Books’ experiment in web-based short story genre fiction publishing, Lightspeed Magazine?

Well, it’s here – the Lightspeed site is live (and has a very contemporary and readable look, if you ask me), there’s fiction and non-fiction to read already, and there’s plenty more scheduled to come. So why not pop over there and see what’s on offer?

Of course, it goes without saying that we’d appreciate it if you’d pop back later today for this month’s new piece of Futurismic fiction… you won’t want to miss it, I assure you. 🙂


New sf mag on the block: Lightspeed to launch in 2010

Paul Raven @ 22-10-2009

Via BigDumbObject, some excellent news in the short fiction publishing sphere: Prime Books are launching a new science fiction magazine called Lightspeed in the summer of next year. Fiction editing duties will be handled by John Joseph Adams, who will leave his current assistant editor post at F&SF to take up the reins; non-fiction will be handled by Andrea Kail.

Lightspeed will focus exclusively on science fiction. It will feature all types of sf, from near-future, sociological soft sf, to far-future, star-spanning hard sf, and anything and everything in between. No subject will be considered off-limits, and writers will be encouraged to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope. Each week, they’ll post one piece of fiction and one piece of non-fiction. They’ll debut with four original stories, and then move to two new and two reprint stories each month thereafter (all of the non-fiction will be original).

Lightspeed Magazine

Lightspeed will open to fiction submissions and non-fiction queries on 1 January 2010. Writers’ guidelines are expected to be posted by 1 December 2009. They plan to pay five cents per word for fiction, one hundred dollars per article for non-fiction, and variable amounts for art.

Isn’t launching a print magazine in the sf short fiction domain a mite quixotic in the current climate? Possibly so, but it looks like Prime have thought carefully about ways to make the magazine pay its own way:

[Publisher Sean] Wallace said “The website will be free, but the hope is that the magazine should be making money by its third year, if not sooner, through multiple-revenue streams, including advertising, ebooks, merchandise, and more.”

Three years doesn’t sound like an unreasonable time-frame for a business model to bed in, but things change fast in the content industries these days; hopefully Prime have some smart people at the wheel who can roll with the punches of a fluctuating marketplace. Having John Joseph Adams at the helm is a promising start; I’ve been impressed by the visibility he’s brought to the numerous anthologies he’s edited in recent years, and I think he’s got the enthusiasm and foresight to try new ideas in order to make it work.

Definitely one to watch… and great news for writers, too. More pro-rate markets can never be a bad thing.


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