Bewildering Stories Editorial
Don has been very detailed in the BwS news as to the changes you, our faithful readers, have seen over the past year. Since he delved into the technical side, I'll dive into the philosophical side.
Year’s End 2005
Bewildering Stories, as a web-based magazine, is on the cutting edge of something. Y'know, back in the old days, Science Fiction Aficianados, AKA "fans", published and distributed purple, messy, hectographed, fanzines. The work was a labor of love, because Ghod knows there was no money in it. But how things have changed. One of the premier fanzines of all time Ansible still has a print version, but most people read it online. Of course, there is still no money in it.
There has been a big hoo-hah about the "death of the SF short story". It IS true that magazines such as Analog, Asimov's, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction have declining subscriber numbers. But so does Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen, in fact ALL story-oriented print magazines are declining. But does that mean there are no short stories to be found?
NOT AT ALL. There are tens of thousands of the little beasts published EVERY YEAR. On the net. And of course, they vary in quality from the vaguely literate sludge (our first few issues) to some very high quality material, such as Andromeda Spaceways, the lamented SCI-FI e-zine from Ellen Datlow, and Revolutions.
Where do WE fit? Frankly, we're all over the place. We've had any number of stories that are publishable by the big three, but gee, there's NO ROOM, because of any number of reasons. We've published a lot of, well, call 'em "junk". They generally aren't "junk", but they also aren't top tier.
We had a suggestion: Why don't we skim the cream from our submissions and publish a much more "quality" magazine, monthly? We could, you know. But then we'd be like everybody else. Or we could put out a "monthly" magazine, and add a couple of stories every week. Oh, there are all kinds of options.
But no. We (mostly Don...) grind out issue after issue each week, until now we have published 178 issues. And been around for 3 and a half years. Why? The reasons are multiferous and manifold.
I said to the questioner, (with a copy to Don) that one of our purposes is to be the "training wheels" of writing. We bounce stories back to their authors time and time again with suggestions for fixing one problem or another. Sadly, Don also spends much time line-editing, taking a good story with lousy mechanics and fix, fix, fix. Paragraphs? What are those? Punctuation? I have a vague idea, but mostly wrong... And so on.
And because of our "devotion to duty" we've seen growth and story improvement that we wouldn't have believed two years ago. Growth? Well, according to AWSTATS, this December we've had 12376 visitors, not counting robots and webspiders. Those visitors generated 144456 hits, and used up 2.55 GB of bandwidth (the spiders ate another 5.69 GB) and we're not even to the end of the month. That ain't 100,000 visitors per month, but it isn't bad either. We have readers and contributors from all over the world. The UK, Africa, Europe, Asia, India, South America, and of course the U.S. as well. Strangely, many come to read, and THEN submit. And we love it. We usually have at least one NEW author per issue.
Yes we publish a lot, but if we didn't how would those new guys see their works in print? It is quite a boost to see your story out there for the world to see, despite those nay-sayers who say that if a writer CAN be discouraged, he SHOULD be discouraged. We feel that it is OUR duty to help would-be writers to be better writers. So that is somewhat where we've been.
For the future? Well...
If you check out the forum, you'll see there has been some discussion of BwS in print, which we're 90% sure WILL happen. Right now it is just a matter of hammering out the details. I spent an hour on the phone with Don tonight going over what we want, and what we see our first book to be like, with thoughts relating to future books.
Both Asgrimir and Bob Blevins like the idea of "themed" anthologies, so of course, the winning stories from the Time Travel Contest (and we've already had several entries) will be perfect for inclusion in one of our future books. Those contest winners will receive a free copy of a real book with their story there-in, said book also being available from Amazon, bookstores, Barnes and Noble, and where-ever. So THEN you tell your friends "BUY THIS BOOK! I'M IN IT!" Yes, in all caps.
Well, with that, I'm going to close by saying "thank you". Thank you, Don. Thank you, Bob. Thank you, Byron. Thank you Asgrimir. Thank you, Carmen. Thank you, Lou. Thank you, Ian. Thank you, Danielle. Thank you, faceless millions everywhere. I could continue, but I won't because I'm tired. Oh, Jorn, don't go away mad. Or you, Gardner. Or you, Thiel! And as for the rest of you... See you in the forums.
As Don said: Happy New Year to our veterans and new contributors and readers alike!
Copyright © 2005 by Jerry Wright for Bewildering Stories