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Finally an SF Magazine Subscription

Summary: Earlier this year, I decided to get a subscription or two to SF magazines. My last such subscription was to Analog in 1980. After thinking it over and reading a lot of speculative fiction for Chicon 8 and my own purposes, I finally subscribed to Asimov’s Science Fiction. I just finished reading the November-December issue, and I’m glad I subscribed. My overall rating for the short fiction was a robust 3.7/5, or “Very Good”.

The Story: I read a lot of speculative fiction (SF, fantasy, etc) in the junior high, high school and college years. The libraries near me had both books and SFF magazines. I bought SFF novels, anthologies and collections and magazines at library books sales and used book stores. Like many young persons of that age range, I was not very discriminating although I knew what I liked.

My only SFF magazine subscription until recently was to Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact (Analog) from about 1970 to about 1980. I am pretty sure I read all of the issues I received. I missed a few issues while I was in college, as I was not always paying attention to my subscription. I dropped it right before graduating from college, but I don’t remember why.

The last issue of Analog I own is the March 1980 issue. I don’t remember anything about any of the fiction listed. The most interesting story I see in the TOC is “The Lyran Case” (a Lunar Immigration short story) by Barry N. Malzberg and Bill Pronzini. I don’t remember anything about it, but I find the idea of Barry N. Malzberg appearing in Analog rather startling, although not more startling than Harlan Ellison.

Time went on. I got a job as an engineer, married a wonderful woman, became a father with an amazing daughter, retired from a wonderful career as a water resources civil engineer, and here I am. I kept reading speculative fiction books, more SF than anything else. I read mostly novels, but there were certainly anthologies and collections as well. I kept using my local library a lot, but was known to buy new books or buy used books that were more collectible and hard to find.

I started to vote on the Hugo Awards within the last 10 years or so. This required reading a fair amount of short fiction, although I was not typically reading enough recent short fiction to nominate. The breadth of short fiction for the short fiction awards, the short fiction editor, and the semiprozine awards is substantial. Reading for the 1944 and 1945 Retro Hugo Awards lead to reading a lot of short fiction as well.

A few years ago I joined the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Fiction group on Facebook. We read a lot of short fiction, which I enjoy! I also embarked on a few parallel projects to become a more well rounded reader of short fiction, both recent and well remembered older works. See My Imaginary Reading Plan.

Back in May, I found an interesting article on File770 from Gizmodo, “Which Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazines Deserve More Love?” by Linda Codega. This helped me decide to subscribe again to an SF magazine.

I put this on the back burner until after Chicon 8 and my reading of the last of 6 giant doorstop books that survey 20th century SF, Heather Masri’s “Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts”. I heartily recommend reading some or all of these; see my post “A Ton of Science Fiction!“.

On November 10, I pulled the trigger and purchased a digital subscription to Asimov’s Science Fiction. Although I realize that digital is probably a rental in some contexts, I have a stuff issue and I like the easy portability of digital. The November-December issue showed up on my Kindle, and I began to read.

The Results: I quite enjoyed the experience of reading the November-December Asimov’s.

I did not read the poems, which just don’t interest me that much. It’s nothing personal, and I’m glad they are there for those that like them. I did not read the serial “The Court Martial of the Renegat Renegades (Part 2 of 2)” (Diving Universe) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, as I’ll want to read Part 1 first.

My overall rating for the short fiction was 3.7/5, or “Very Good” per my rating scale. There was a nice mix of authors I know and like and authors I am not familiar with. My favorites included:

  1. “Lonely Hill”, a novelette by an author new to me, James Maxey.
  2. “The Empty”, a short story by Ray Nayler, who is very competent and whose fiction I’m seeing a lot of (I’m looking at reading his first novel, “The Mountain in the Sea”, soon).
  3. “Forty-Eight Minutes at the Trainview Café”, a short story by another author new to me, M. Bennardo.

I was pleased to find a Christmas story, as that is an Asimov’s tradition. This was “I’ll Be Moon for Christmas”, a short story by Michèle Laframboise.

I’ll certainly be watching for work by James Maxey and M. Bennardo in the future.

The one story that I was a little disappointed in was Tom Purdom‘s short story, “The Long Revenge of Chenda Sebalko”. It was fun to see a story by Purdom, who published his first SF story in 1957 and who I remembered seeing in Analog in the early 1970s. I liked the characters and the story, but felt it would have worked better at novelette length with more story and detail.

I enjoyed the columns and features, although I am reading Asimov’s for the fiction.

All in all, I’m very pleased and looking forward to the next issues. My thanks to Sheila Williams and all the staff, authors and artists.


One response to “Finally an SF Magazine Subscription”

  1. Nice writeup. The Maxeyand Bennardo were among ny favorites as well. The Maxey story had good Simak vibes.


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