Issue 111 – December 2015


Editor's Desk: Hibernation Mode Activated

Some months knock you around. November was one of those for me. The first week was entirely absorbed by World Fantasy Con in Saratoga Springs. Under normal conditions, this would have been relaxing, but I had just come off preparing the November issue and had to pack books for my table in the dealer’s room. With the van riding nearly on the ground, Sean and I drove up the night before in hopes of getting a jump on setting-up. That weekend simply reinforced how much I want the old bookstore inventory out of my house and my life. Eight years later, I’m still dragging those boxes around. It’s time to find a book dealer and sell the whole thing off.

Despite that, my time outside the dealer’s room was enjoyable. Conversations often drifted towards the industry stuff I've talked about in recent editorials and on Facebook. How do we shift the discussion of short fiction magazines from the goals of just merely surviving to growing into a thriving market? Yes, as the magazine editor, I have a vested interest in that path to financial success, but a good chunk of the buzz in my head was been triggered by the introduction I plan to write for The Best Science Fiction of the Year. I’ve been asked to include a state-of-the-market report in my introduction and plan to take the from-ten-thousand-feet view rather than perform a market-by-market analysis. Suffice it to say, no one has the answers, but there’s no shortage of ideas. I’m still trying to digest it all.

It would have been nice to have had more time to focus on those concepts, but the submission deadline for BSFotY was just a few days later, and naturally, people dropped truckloads of short stories in my inbox in the days leading up to it. My schedule dictated that I dive head-first into the waves and honestly, it almost did me in. I surfaced exhausted, but with Sean’s help I made it back to the shores of sanity with my final list intact. After tracking down all the email addresses I needed, I sent the authors their contracts just before I headed off for Philcon.

Philcon was more like a vacation. I wasn’t a dealer, didn’t make plans outside my list of panels, and just had some fun chatting with people. I knew the month had taken its toll on me when I found myself leaving parties early on Friday night. Normally, I’m a night owl. My body, however, was giving me the warning signs my cardiologists have told me to watch for and listen to. I needed sleep and made sure I got it. In the end, the weekend was a nice balance of relaxing and socializing with fellow SF fans, something I don’t get to do often enough. I ended the weekend by having an extremely interesting conversation with Michael Swanwick about writing short fiction. That will also provide me food for thought for some time to come.

The weekend left me refreshed enough to tie up the loose ends on BSFotY and the December issues of Clarkesworld and Forever. Oh, did I mention that I’ve also accepted the post as interim editor of the SFWA Bulletin and signed contracts for two more anthologies? Yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment, but pushing my limits seems necessary if I want to reach the point where I can quit the day job. (Yes, a day job on top of all that.)

So, with the December issues put to bed, I’m going to crash for a little while. I hope you enjoy them.

Happy holidays!

Author profile

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.

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