Editor's Desk: Nice to Hear from You
Most of the science fiction magazines I read as a kid had a letters to the editor column. People would write in and respond to the stories or articles published in recent issues. There weren’t websites or email addresses, so dropping an envelope in the mail was your only chance to let the editors know what you were thinking. I was part of the silent majority, one of the people who never wrote in.
Clarkesworld is a child of the digital age, born online and with limited print distribution. We’ve never had the need for a letters column. People can post comments on our site or reach out to me via email, but despite the ease of such things over mailing a letter, such interactions remain quite uncommon. These days, most of the responses to a magazine is indirect and happening through social media, podcasts, and blogs. The community is more scattered and that can have the effect of depersonalizing things. It’s neither better nor worse. It’s simply different.
Last month made me notice how much I miss that old-fashioned direct line of communication. It seems as though my editorial struck a chord with readers and inspired many of you to reach out directly with thoughts, advice, and other demonstrations of support or concern. Scattered among the business advice and ideas were birthday wishes and a common theme of a desire to help make everything work for us. It was well-timed and inspired me to undertake a survey—which ended with over a thousand participants—on magazine funding and business models. The comments there built on what the emails started and while at times very blunt, said what needed to be said. Thank you!
Between my birthday, Worldcon, and my inevitable post-Worldcon crash, I haven’t had time to do the full analysis of that data. The preliminary results and all the comments have been interesting and very informative. I’ll likely spend a lot of time this month going over the finer points and using them to shape the direction this magazine will take as it enters into its next decade. I don’t want that to be the end of the discussion though. Please, stay in touch. We love hearing from you.
Normally, I’d end an editorial about here, but as I mentioned, Worldcon was last month. Much of it is a blur, but there are some high points I’d like to quickly mention before I sign-off:
- Congratulations to Naomi Kritzer! Her story “Cat Pictures Please,” from our January 2015 issue, won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story. We’ve had many stories make the ballot, but Naomi is our first Hugo winner and we couldn’t be happier for her.
- This was my fourth Hugo nomination for Best Editor Short Form. This year, I placed third behind Ellen Datlow and Sheila Williams, two amazing editors I’ve long admired. It’s my best finish in this category, so thank you to everyone that voted for me.
- Much to my surprise, the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists (ASFA) presented me with a Chesley Award for Best Art Director. I’m very flattered to have received this honor and am still in shock. Thanks to all the ASFA members!
- I once again had the opportunity to spend time with our colleagues from Storycom and discuss the future of our Chinese translation project. Short version: we’re all very happy to continue working on this and have plans to expand it to some related projects in the near future. More to come!
- Midamericon II was a very well-run convention. Every event has its ups and downs, but the ups far outnumbered the downs. I’ll remember this one quite favorably.
Have a great September and see you next month for the start of Clarkesworld’s 10th anniversary year!
Neil Clarke is the editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, and several anthologies, including the Best Science Fiction of the Year series. He is a ten-time finalist and current winner of the Hugo Award for Best Editor (Short Form), has won the Chesley Award for Best Art Director three times, and received the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award from SFWA in 2019. His latest anthology, New Voices in Chinese Science Fiction (co-edited with Xia Jia and Regina Kanyu Wang), is now available from Clarkesworld Books. He currently lives in NJ with his wife and two sons.