Science-fiction magazine

A front cover of Imagination, a science-fiction magazine in 1956

A science-fiction magazine is a publication that offers primarily science fiction, either in a hard-copy periodical format or on the Internet.Science-fiction magazines traditionally featured speculative fiction in short story, novelette, novella or (usually serialized) novel form, a format that continues into the present day. Many also contain editorials, book reviews or articles, and some also include stories in the fantasy and horror genres.

History of science-fiction magazines

Malcolm Edwards and Peter Nicholls write that early magazines were not known as science fiction: "if there were any need to differentiate them, the terms scientific romance or 'different stories' might be used, but until the appearance of a magazine specifically devoted to sf there was no need of a label to describe the category. The first specialized English-language pulps with a leaning towards the fantastic were Thrill Book (1919) and Weird Tales (1923), but the editorial policy of both was aimed much more towards weird-occult fiction than towards sf."[1]

Major American science-fiction magazines include Amazing Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. The most influential British science-fiction magazine was New Worlds; newer British SF magazines include Interzone and Polluto. Many science-fiction magazines have been published in languages other than English, but none has gained worldwide recognition or influence in the world of anglophone science fiction.

There is a growing trend toward important work being published first on the Internet, both for reasons of economics and access. A web-only publication can cost as little as one-tenth of the cost of publishing a print magazine, and as a result, some believe[who?] the e-zines are more innovative and take greater risks with material. Moreover, the magazine is internationally accessible, and distribution is not an issue—though obscurity may be. Magazines like Strange Horizons, Ideomancer, InterGalactic Medicine Show, Jim Baen's Universe, and the Australian magazine Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine are examples of successful Internet magazines. (Andromeda provides copies electronically or on paper.)

Web-based magazines tend to favor shorter stories and articles that are easily read on a screen, and many of them pay little or nothing to the authors, thus limiting their universe of contributors. However, multiple web-based magazines are listed as "paying markets" by the SFWA, which means that they pay the "professional" rate of 6c/word or more[2]. These magazines include popular titles such as Strange Horizons, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and Clarkesworld Magazine. The SFWA publishes a list of qualifying magazine and short fiction venues that contains all current web-based qualifying markets.[3]

The World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) awarded a Hugo Award each year to the best science fiction magazine, until that award was changed to one for Best Editor in the early 1970s; the Best Semi-Professional Magazine award can go to either a news-oriented magazine or a small press fiction magazine.

Magazines were the only way to publish science fiction until about 1950, when large mainstream publishers began issuing science fiction books.[4] Today, there are relatively few paper-based science-fiction magazines, and most printed science fiction appears first in book form. Science-fiction magazines began in the United States, but there were several major British magazines and science-fiction magazines that have been published around the world, for example in France and Argentina.