Several very wise people advised me, in the comments on yesterday’s post, to give up and move on. And… after much thought I agree. There is really nothing Marvin Kaye (et al.) can say to me at this point that will restore my faith in Kaye’s capabilities as an editor, or my hopes for Weird Tales’ future as a publication. It had a long, often rocky, often problematic history capped by a few years of shining brilliance… followed by a dive off of a sheer cliff into the sea.
RIP, Weird Tales. I’m sorry you had to go this way.
But, as Silvia Moreno-Garcia reminded me, all is not lost! There is a veritable smorgasbord of delicious, socially conscious speculative fiction in the world right now. So as a unicorn chaser, let’s talk about some!
You might’ve heard about how Mary Robinette Kowal, author and former art director for Weird Tales, stepped up to the plate earlier this week and is using her own pocket money to bump Shimmer up to pro rates for fiction. Shimmer’s known for poignant, thoughtful speculative fiction (that means spanning all genres traditionally thought of as SFF) and general progressive wonderfulness.
Greatest Uncommon Denominator (GUD) Magazine is another one I’ve mentioned before. They don’t come out often, but when they do they’re a hefty and satisfying tome of both genre and literary fiction chosen with a great deal of skill. Though not the specific focus, they’ve been known to house some of the most interesting monster-centered stories I’ve encountered. They also have terrific taste in art (I’ve published with them.)
Fireside Magazine‘s one of the new kids in town. Its focus is on story-driven specfic with compelling, unsinkable plots. Some of my favorite people on the internet are involved in this one, but even detaching myself from that I have to say it’s one of my favorite magazines already. They’re only on issue 2 so far, which makes catching up easy.
Crossed Genres has an interesting premise. Every issue takes specfic and crosses it with a different, specific theme – “Lies” and “Bildungsroman” are two examples (full disclosure: yes I have done art for them! I choose well). Also a newly pro-rate market, CG makes a particular effort to showcase marginalized groups and sub-groups in their magazine and anthologies. The ones responsible for ‘Science in my Fiction‘.
Apex Magazine is another one I know some folks at: and they’re all cool. A magazine of fantasy and horror, Apex is a venue that puts focus on marginalized and non-USian voices. Famously, their extremely adult reaction to a certain prominent SF author’s outspoken Islamophobia was to publish an issue dedicated entirely to Muslim writers and artists. I’ve been subscribed for some time, and have never been disappointed.
Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet a collaboration between Kelly Link and Gavin Grant of Small Beer Press. LCRW is strange, amusing, and difficult to categorize – each issue contains everything from specfic to recipes, essays to comics and poetry. Of all of the zines listed here, it has the most zinelike feel to it. It’s even printed on a xerox machine and stapled together like something you’d expect to find in the ‘unclaimed copies’ bin at Office Depot. Consistently one of my favorite magazines out there. Also the only one I know of that offers a subscription plan that includes a chocolate bar with each issue.
If you need some fiction right now, Lightspeed Magazine has got you covered. An amalgamation of fantasy and SF (they recently absorbed Fantasy magazine) Lightspeed hosts a generous portion of its content for free reading on the web. Delia Sherman, Ken Liu, and Linda Nagata are some recent contributors – to give you an idea of their standard of quality. You can also subscribe and toss these awesome folks a few bucks to keep it going.
Clarkesworld is another long-standing and much-loved magazine, with wonderful free content trickling through the website at all times. It’s won more awards than you can shake a book at (the Hugo, Nebula, and Shirley Jackson just to name a few) and even posts audio versions of their stories as an extra bonus.
The Future Fire is another favorite of mine (which.. full disclosure, I’ve made art for) Their entire mission statement is to focus on socially progressive specfic. They’re currently collecting stories for a colonialism-themed anthology of new fiction focusing on the experiences of the colonized called ‘We See a Different Frontier’. Definitely give them a read!
And if you’re a part-time e-reader like myself, it’s always worthwhile to check out the subscriptions section of Weightless books*. Small Beer press, who owns them, is a great source of exciting and reliably conscientious things. Browse around the whole site and see what some other small presses are up to while you’re there.
And if there’s any publication of particular splendor that I’ve missed and you’d like to share in the comments (your own, even) please do! Let’s get the word out: beautiful things do still exist.
UPDATE: Oh! And don’t miss this newer endeavor by Ann Vandermeer and friends, the ones who contributed directly to Weird Tales’ former glory. Weird Fiction Review isn’t a literary zine per se, but it’s still a whole lot of strange, neat things all together in one place, curated by people that can be trusted.
*(Note: Weightless books does carry subscriptions to Weird Tales. They’re offering a chance to swap your subscription to a different magazine for free, though, and I suspect that if Kaye continues down this path they won’t be offering it for much longer.)