Thirty years: A quick appreciation of [I]ASFM

Somtow Sucharitkil. Sharon Webb. John M. Ford. Barry Longyear. Connie Willis.

Also Allen Steele, Lucius Shepard, Nancy Kress, John Varley, Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, James Patrick Kelly, Janet Kagan, Mike Resnick, Octavia Butler, Terry Bisson, Suzy Mckee Charnas, Kim Stanley Robinson, Greg Bear, Pamela Sargent, Kate Wilhelm, Esther M. Friesner, Gardner Dozois.

And don’t forget George Scithers, Kathleen Maloney, Shawna McCarthy, Gardner Dozois (again) and Sheila Williams.

Who they? Will adding Lisa Goldstein, Karen Joy Fowler, and Liz Williams help?

On the way back from Washington Library Association, I was reading the April/May 2007 Asimov’s Science Fiction (originally Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, thus the initialism in the post title). It’s the 30th anniversary issue. It’s also a double issue (this “monthly” appears ten times a year, two of them doubles with double numbering–each double having 230+ pages of tiny SF-magazine type, the equivalent of two full-length novels). It’s a stunner (and might still be available in stores, although it’s probably been replaced by the June issue by now).

The fourth list: Some of the authors in this issue (in addition to Allen Steele, Lucius Shepard, William Barton, Michael Swanwick, Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Jack McDevitt, and Gene Wolfe).

The third? The editors of the magazine over its thirty-year span (all of whom appear in this issue, in brief sequential editorials covering their terms).

The second? Some (not all) of the authors who won Hugos or Nebulas for short fiction published in IASFM–which frequently dominates the novella, novelette, and short story categories of the ballots (not to mention the Hugo for Best Editor: 17 times out of the last 30 years).

Oh, and the first? Authors discovered by the magazine–and that’s only a partial list.

I subscribe to the three science fiction and fantasy magazines that have been around for a while, and typically read them when I’m traveling–but that left such a backlog that I’m reading some at home as well. I’m a decade or more behind on science fiction novels, but I’m reasonably up-to-date on the stellar talents who also write shorter forms, thanks to Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF), and–most of all–Asimov’s. (I probably read two novels a year via Analog‘s serialization. As a matter of policy, Asimov’s doesn’t run serialized novels, saying that there are plenty of markets for book-length SF but very few markets for shorter forms. That leaves one huge loophole: Novels that begin as series of novellas and novelettes, of which there have been more than a few. Since Asimov’s own Foundation trilogy began as a series of novellas and novelettes, it’s not an unreasonable loophole.)

Why the post? Because I’ve been reading Asimov’s since the beginning–quite literally every one of the 376 numbers (it appeared 13 times a year for a while). Even had a collection for a while; I think I gave it away during one of our moves (and certainly don’t have the space to collect!). Thirty years is actually an enormous lifespan for a fiction magazine, particularly given today’s market–none of the three longtimers has healthy circulation, and there’s not really enough advertising to make up the difference. Oh, it’s the youngest of the three–F&SF started in 1949 and Analog began more than 70 years ago (as Astounding), but it’s the only one I’ve continuously read and appreciated. I imagine I’ll subscribe until one of us disappears.

One Response to “Thirty years: A quick appreciation of [I]ASFM”

  1. John Dupuis says:

    Sounds like great fun! I’ve never been one for fiction magazines myself, but I do definitely love keeping up with sf/f/h short fiction via the year’s best collections: Dozois, Hartwell & Cramer for both sf & f, Stephen Jones for horror are all must-haves for me every year. I can’t count the number of new authors I’ve discovered via those collections. I read them during my rather long (1+ hours each way) subway & bus commute, although I’ve fallen behind a little during this sabbatical year.