Jim C. Hines (jimhines) wrote,
Jim C. Hines

The State of Short Fiction

I have too many friends writing too many books. davidjwilliams just saw the mass market release of his novel Mirrored Heavens [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy]. His cat Spartacus introduces the book over on Dave's blog, mentioning it as "Iron Man meets Jason Bourne" and concluding "...my magic food bowl has refilled. And so have Amazon’s stockpile of the book. The two events are clearly related—so keep on buying it, humans!" You can read an interview with Williams here.

In other publishing news, most of my writing circle has already seen that Realms of Fantasy is closing down as of the April 2009 issue. Like most, I'm saddened by this news. Realms was a great market, and it was a huge milestone for me to finally sell them a story. They published three of mine, each time with a beautiful illustration to go with it. I feel especially bad for the staff, who weren't alerted to the closing beforehand.

Some of the responses I've seen grieve for both the loss of a great magazine, which I can understand, and also for the shrinking short fiction market. I'm not as sure about the latter. Markets come and go all the time. I was published in the last issue of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, a pro market from years ago. I remember watching Weird Tales go through several incarnations -- today it seems to be a much stronger market than when I started out. Science Fiction Age, the SF twin brother of Realms, disappeared years ago. (To my great disappointment -- they were another one with lightning-quick turnaround times.)

And that's not counting the shift toward online markets. SciFi.com is gone, but what about places like Clarkesworld, which pays higher than Realms or most other markets. Fantasy Magazine has been going for a while, and now qualifies as a SFWA pro market. Strange Horizons has been chugging along for about as long as I've been submitting. Baen's Universe. Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show.

The short fiction field certainly isn't the same as it was 40 years ago. On the other hand, I'm not seeing the doom and gloom, either. Print magazines are struggling. Some will survive, and others won't. What else is new? But looking at the number of good, professional-paying markets in print and online ... well, it doesn't actually feel all that different than when I started submitting back in '95.

I admit I don't submit a lot of short fiction these days, so it's possible I'm out of touch and don't know what the heck I'm talking about. But I don't think the sky is falling just yet.

Tags: writing
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