(Cross-posted at Science Fiction LA. Just ’cause.)
So, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction gave away free review copies to the first twenty people who asked and said they’d write about it. I asked, I got it (and thank you!), I’m writing about it.
1) I was very glad to see that F&SF was sending out these free review copies to average people. Jason Stoddard and I are always yelling that the best way to market good products is to give free samples to loudmouths and encourage them to talk things up. F&SF’s target audience is packed with loudmouths, so they just have to find ‘em and let ‘em go to town. I hope they’ll start pushing copies on io9, SFSignal, and maybe shove a few at Wil Wheaton and John Scalzi.
2) The edition I got did not make me want it. Warren Ellis’s words that magazines are objects that are designed to be wanted ring in my brain every time I see a new rag on the shelf. Anything with the words “fantasy” and “science fiction” will get my attention, but, man, if you want me to part with cash for your words, the container for those words had better kick me in the back of the head.
3) Three stand-out stories gave me that blessed skull-thumping feeling: Geoff Ryman’s “Days of Wonder,” Albert E. Cowdrey’s “Inside Story,” and M. Rickert’s “Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment: One Daughter’s Personal Account.” Rickert’s story, about a future where women who had abortions are capital criminals, scared the crap out of me and got even scarier the more I heard from Sarah Palin.
4) My one complaint (because what kind of blogger would I be unless I complained about something?) is this: everyone in this edition has been published in F&SF before (though if I’m misremembering, I’m happy to print a correction). A double issue would have been a perfect opportunity to rescue someone from the slush pile and introduce a new writer to F&SF’s audience. And I don’t just say this as a collector of rejection slips; I say this as someone who loves new stuff. Give us new authors, guys! Give ‘em a lower rate and put ‘em on your website instead of in print! Make little story origami to hand out at conventions! Make a widget that has nothing but newbs! You can make the Internets work for you, and New And Shiny is the Internets’ currency. Just sayin’.