Reflections on fantasy, SF, writing, music, technology, life…

David Brin on why 2015 was the best year ever in space

Nautilus is an excellent online science resource I use for writing ideas and I recommend you take a look at it. Each month it publishes a series of articles around a common theme.

This month the theme is “space” and it has published an article titled 2015 Was the Best Year Ever in Space by SF writer David Brin giving his opinion on why last year was the best ever for space exploration. The article includes a few superb photos and videos.

While there are plenty of ideas for writing and about plans for the future, what really appealed to me is the sense of hope for the future the article conveys.

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More musing on SF magazines

Now I have the first paper Asimov’s and Analog magazines that I have seen in a while, it is interesting to compare them physically to F&SF and Interzone.

Interzone has just resized, bringing it down close to the size of the three US magazines. I have found this a great improvement, easier to hold and it takes up so much less “desk space”. The glossy cover and the qualkity matt white paper are pleasant to hold.

The first thing I noticed about Analog and Asimov’s (which are from the same publisher, Dell) is how flimsy the covers are. I remember them as being much more substantial magazines when I last bought them (true it is a decade or more ago!) Very easy to tear and flopping around when reading the magazines. F&SF, by contrast, has a nice stiff cover that makes the physical experience much nicer though the subscription divider card mid-way is a bit of an irritant.

Inside, all three US magazines use a more pulpy quality paper than Interzone. F&SF’s pages are a touch thicker so all in all, better to handle than the slightly larger format Dell magazines.

My conclusion? Ignoring content (perhaps another post?), Interzone’s size change makes it the hads-on winner for me, followed by F&SF. It will take me a while to get used to handling the other two… though I am still happier with them than with the Kindle versions.

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Musing on SF magazines

At the start of the year, in my enthusiasm for my new Kindle, I added several electronic SF magazine subscriptions (Analog, Asimov’s,Clarkesworld and Lightspeed) to my existing paper ones for “Fantasy & Science Fiction” (F&SF) and Interzone, both of which have been running since the 1980’s. So how have they done?

I have cancelled Clarkesworld, which I felt was too reprint-oriented. I have kept up Lightspeed on the Kindle. Asimov’s and Analog I have switched to paper subs. So why did I go counter to the current trend with these two?

    I am a browser of magazines, often flicking through to find stories and articles that interest me even if I intend to read the whole magazine cover to cover eventually. The Kindle is best for reading through.
    I find the Kindle’s indexing / contents listing unhelpful: listing by type – novella, novelette, short – then within these categories, showing the title without the author’s name. I look out for particular authors and like to turn to their stories first.
    Assessing the cost of Analog and Asimov’s, I found a two-year international postal subscription is not that much more than I was paying for the electronic version.
    Unless you consciously “keep” a magazine issue, Amazon deletes it when there are six or seven more recent issues. I like to be able to go to my collection and re-read from time to time (eg: Hugo and Nebula winners, or if I am reading a follow-up in a linked series)
    The content is DRM-protected. I can’t back it up to Calibre to read on my laptop nor can I pass the magazine on to anyone else, such as my daughter who is becoming almost as much as an SF fan as me.

To me it was “no contest” against the Kindle, though I find that great for reading novels and novellas (I am finding some excellent self-published ones I would not otherwise have discovered).

What of the future? Will I find myself a Luddite? Now my wife has an iPad, it will be interesting to check out reading a magazine (in colour) on that (if she’ll let me near it… which is unlikely given her current attachment to it!)


The ubiquitous Ken Liu

On my recent return to the family home in South West France, I was pleased to find waiting for me the latest editions of both “Fantasy & Science Fiction” (September/October 2012) and “Asimov’s SF” (December 2012). Their covers revealed they both contained stories by a writer I have admired for a while, Ken Liu.

Subsequently opening “Analog” (December 2012) which arrived around the same time, the inside listing also showed a short story by Ken Liu. Then, within a week the delayed “Interzone” (September / October 2012) also popped into the letter box to show on the cover a story by none other than Ken Liu.

By this point, as an aspiring yet unpublished writer myself, I confess to feeling a little green with envy that someone – albeit an excellent writer, which could have something to do with it! – could get stories into the current issues of all four print SF magazines I have subscriptions for.

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