Strange Horizons: Why You Should Support It

Back in 2001 a small online science fiction magazine became my very first publisher of my science fiction: Strange Horizons. Then, as now, the magazine was funded by contributions — and right now the magazine is having its annual fund raising drive to generate the budget for the next year. I’m giving SH editor-in-chief some space today to talk about the site and what it does, in the hopes that you’ll see the same value out of it as I do and help keep it going for another year.

(And, why, yes, I have donated!)

Niall Harrison: 

Hi! I’m the editor-in-chief of Strange Horizons, and I’m here to ask for your money, to support what will be our fourteenth full year of publication.

The funny thing about crowdfunding an ongoing venture like SH is that it gets both easier and harder over time. Easier, because you build up a reputation and a community: you become more of a known quantity. Harder because you have to keep and grow that reputation and community. Hence posts like this.

So what does another year of Strange Horizons mean?

It means another year of a magazine committed to new voices. We’re proud to be able to say that we were the first pro sale for writers including Kameron Hurley, NK Jemisin, Mary Robinette Kowal, Justine Larbalestier, Nnedi Okorafor, and Vandana Singh — not to mention my gracious host here. (If you want to see who we’ve added to that list recently, check out “Difference of Opinion” by Meda Kahn, published earlier this month.)

It means another year of a magazine committed to diverse voices. This year we’ve had contributors from Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and Sweden, as well as the UK and US. We’ve published writers of color, queer writers, and non-neurotypical writers. We want to do much more of all of that, because we believe the best sf is written by everybody, that we need a global, inclusive tradition.

It means another year of more than just fiction. We publish new issues each Monday, and in addition to stories (in text and audio) they include poetry, columns by writers such as John Clute, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Genevieve Valentine, interviews and essays, and — if we do say so ourselves — some of the most demanding (if occasionally controversial) criticism in the field.

Since 2000, all of this has been supported by direct donations from our readers. Which is an amazing and humbling thing, to be honest. We are an independent non-profit organisation, and we value that independence — no adverts, no corporate sponsors. We’re also staffed entirely by volunteers, and we don’t have much in the way of overheads: so when you donate, almost all of your money goes directly to paying our contributors. (And if you’re in the US, donations are tax-deductible.)

We also have a few fund drive bonuses. Everyone who donates to Strange Horizons this month gets entered into our prize draw. We’re adding new prizes each week, but so far we have new books by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Christopher Priest, Ann Leckie, and Lavie Tidhar, subscriptions to Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and the Twelve Planets series of collections, knitted toys and emoji translations, and much more. Take a look.

We also have a special issue, with bonus content published throughout the fund drive as we raise money. You can see what’s been released so far here — still to come we have a story by Tiptree Award-winning author Nisi Shawl, and an interview with Helen Oyeyemi, one of Granta’s latest Best of Young British Novelists, plus reviews, poetry and essays.

2013 has been a pretty good year for SH so far. Molly Gloss’s “The Grinnell Method“, which we published last autumn, won the Sturgeon Award for the best sf story of the year. The magazine as a whole was nominated for a Best Semiprozine Hugo. We’ve published (we think) some great work, and have more coming up: stories dealing with imperialism and cultural exchange, stories exploring queer YA experience, stories featuring doomsday machines and giant squid; and next week, a special issue devoted to Indian and Indian-diaspora sf.

We love what we do, and we want to keep doing it.

But we need $11,000 to make it happen. We’ve got two weeks left in this year’s fund drive and we’re about a third of the way to that goal — so if you like what we do, please consider chipping in. Thank you!

15 thoughts on “Strange Horizons: Why You Should Support It

  1. Mr. Harrison,
    Is there a way to subscribe to Strange Horizons via RSS?
    Or is the email subscription the only option?

  2. Hi, Beau — we have RSS feeds for our reviews department and, perhaps more helpfully, for our blog; but not for the rest of the content directly. Our webmasters are working on a new and improved site which will have better RSS, but it’s probably some months away yet.

    John — thanks again for hosting this, and for donating! Both very much appreciated.

    Everyone else — I’ll be keeping an eye on the comments, so if you have any other questions about SH then ask away.

  3. Hmm, given that SH is hosting a blog from someone that thinks authors should be banned from interacting with fans in case they contradict her personally and has now managed to drive one pro-author out of the fan arena (including convention appearances) entirely due to her behaviour, I shall not be donating. Clean up your house Strange Horizons, no cash for you until you do.

  4. MindTheGap — It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I don’t agree with your characterisation of that discussion. For everyone else’s benefit, the piece mentioned is by one of our regular columnists, and can be found here.

  5. You know, it’s not everyday that I fully, 100% agree with one of Scalzi’s blog posts, but in the case of SH, I absolutely do.

    I like a lot of the work you do, and I’ll be urging folks to support your cause.

  6. Just one somewhat off-topic question … I take it (or at least hope) that this is just one more example of British vs. American/Canadian vocabulary usage. Does “queer” not have the derogatory sense over there that it does here? I.e., it’s a totally neutral equivalent to our “gay” or “lesbian”?

  7. @MikeB-Cda – I’m from Southern California, and the word “queer” to describe someone who is gay, seems to have become more neutral in recent years. A friend of mine used it to describe himself when he was coming out to me about 10 years ago. I think it depends on the user’s tone and context. I grew up in the 1980’s and “queer” was used in a more derogatory manner back then.

  8. Wow, MindTheGap, I read that link provided by Niall, and I have to say you did a poor job of representing what that was all about. I don’t agree with the piece in principle (and with some caveats), but what you did was very misleading.

  9. Strange Horizon’s is an awesome publication and I’d love to see it surpass it’s goal. I’ve submitted several times there, and though I’ve yet to be published by them their friendly editorial staff often sends personal responses and replies to queries in a timely manner.

    Oh, and they have awesome fiction and poetry.

  10. Abigail Nussbaum, their Senior Reviews Editor, is absolutely fantastic in the insight and clarity of her reviews – both on SH and on her own blog. Reading her writing makes me enjoy reading books more, and more deeply, than I did before. (Except the bad ones. MAN, does Nussbaum help me pick apart how truly awful those are :P )

    I’ve donated before, and I’ll be donating this time again.

  11. Time zones being what they are, I’m turning in, but totalling up the donations so far, this is already the best day of this year’s fund drive. Sincere thanks to everyone who’s donated (and said nice things in the thread above) — we’re just shy of $1,000 for the day at the moment, which is a huge boost!

    I’ll just note that while we’ve been on air, as it were, we published this week’s issue, which includes a round-table on “Reimagining an anti-oppressive SF/F” moderated by Daniel Jose Older, M. Elizabeth Ginway’s essay “Recent Brazilian Science Fiction and Fantasy Written by Women”, and Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay’s “Recentering Science Fiction and the Fantastic: What would a non-Anglocentric understanding of science fiction and fantasy look like?” — plus new poem, poetry podcast, and reviews. Hope you enjoy it.

  12. @MikeB-Cda:

    Just one somewhat off-topic question … I take it (or at least hope) that this is just one more example of British vs. American/Canadian vocabulary usage. Does “queer” not have the derogatory sense over there that it does here? I.e., it’s a totally neutral equivalent to our “gay” or “lesbian”?

    IMHO, it’s not ‘neutral’ and most definitely CAN be highly derogatory but context matters. It’s used by plenty of GLBTI folks I know to “reclaim” a slur as a self-affirming inclusive umbrella term for all people who don’t fit in the heterosexual cis-gendered box. Personally, it sits about as well with me as describing myself as a ‘nigger,’ but nobody gave me a Tone Police badge.

    When I was working in newspapers, basically, the editorial rule was to avoid using except in directly quoted speech precisely because it is a highly loaded term.

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