As many of you know, I’m fond of Strange Horizons magazine, not in the least (but not only) because it published my very first science fiction story 14 years ago this very week. SH exists largely on a donation-based model, and every year it does a fund drive. We’re in the final week of the fund drive this week, and I’ve invited Niall Harrison, SH’s editor in chief, to pop in and make a case for you sending a little bit of your money in the direction of Strange Horizons. Take it away, Niall!
Greetings, readers of Whatever! I’m the editor-in-chief of Strange Horizons, and I’d like to ask you to consider donating to our annual fund drive. Everyone who donates gets entered into our prize draw, which includes all sorts of books and subscriptions and wonderful things; if you donate more than $10 you’ll get our fifteenth anniversary ebook, including selected stories and poems from our archives, plus a new history of the magazine; if you support via Patreon you can for the first time get monthly ebooks of all of our material; and in addition to making the sixteenth year of Strange Horizons possible, you’ll also be helping to unlock the material in our fund drive special, including a new story by Kelly Link!
I’ve written quite a lot of paragraphs like that in the last few weeks, and part of me still stumbles over “sixteenth year.” I first encountered Strange Horizons in late 2003, I’m pretty sure, as a result of Matt Cheney blogging about some poetry from the magazine. It quickly became a landmark in my online genre space, and I had a fine time with the magazine in 2004. Kameron Hurley’s “Genderbending at the Madhattered” and Alan DeNiro’s “Tetrarchs” are two of the stories that have stuck with me, and much as I loved my Interzone and Asimov’s subscriptions—and loved SCI FICTION, which was at its peak around that time—SH always felt a little more unexpected. They seemed to be publishing a new generation of writers, doing different things.
In 2005, SH advertised for a new reviews editor, and I applied, and was brought on board; and after a few years doing that, at the start of 2011 I took over from Susan Marie Groppi as editor-in-chief, looking after the overall organisation of the magazine.
(It’s since then that my output of “I’d like to ask you to consider donating”-based sentences has really gone through the roof.)
Now here we are in 2015. I feel a little ambushed by the magazine’s fifteenth anniversary. I still feel like a newcomer! But no, I’ve been volunteering my time for ten years (everyone who works on SH is a volunteer), for what is now the longest-running online professional SF magazine. For all of that time we’ve been independent and funded by donations from readers, no advertising or corporate sponsorship. That feels a bit special, the more so because of what the magazine stands for.
Here’s what founding editor Mary Anne Mohanraj had to say about the SF field, and her hopes for Strange Horizons, when it launched:
The writing just gets better and better—the stories are terrific. And in addition to those female characters who started creeping in a few decades ago and now are everywhere, I’m starting to notice some who are (startlingly) not white. That’s rather nice, I have to say. The genre is starting to actually reflect the world I live in. The field is growing and expanding and shifting and changing, and it’s an exciting time to be part of it.
We started this magazine because we wanted to help with that change. We wanted to create a place to showcase some of those new writers, to bring them to the attention of a new international audience—and also to share with you our deep enjoyment of some wonderful established authors.
That goal, to showcase the full potential of SF as a form and a field, is at the heart of everything the magazine has worked at over the last decade and a half. We published early stories (or, in some cases, the first story) by writers like Charlie Jane Anders, N. K. Jemisin, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ken Liu, Nnedi Okorafor, Vandana Singh, and of course our gracious host, to give just a very few examples. The genre is still growing and expanding and shifting and changing today (when is it not?) but in its fifteen years I like to think SH has played its part in bringing the genre a little closer to the world that Mary Anne, and the rest of us, live in.
If I’m here to ask you to consider donating now, though, I should talk about what we’ve been doing lately.
Here are two of this year’s stories, to go with the two older ones I mentioned above. First, S. L. Huang’s “By Degrees and Dilatory Time“, from May, is medical SF—a man has to get new, artificial eyes—and, for me, about the emotional experience of that technological reality; about body image and social expectations, about what changes and what doesn’t. Second, and in contrast, here’s Gabby Reed’s “Glaciers Made You“, from September, a dark slipstream fantasy filled with light and landscape and longing. Both of them bring a writer to the magazine for the first time, bring something new; both of them also feel to me like quintessential SH stories. If they work for you, you might be a Strange Horizons reader, even if you don’t know it yet.
Here are a couple of poems: the evocative “Bodega Dunes” by Carrie Naughton, and the ambitious, dazzling “Season of the Ginzakura” by Ryu Ando. And some essays: Karen Burnham on the evolution of space-based SF, and Paul McAuley on writing solar system stories. And some reviews: Indrapramit Das being underwhelmed by Grasshopper Jungle, and Nina Allan falling in love with Laura van den Berg’s Find Me.
And here, finally, is the fund drive.
Our target for this year is $18,000. Because we’re staffed entirely by volunteers, pretty much all of that (less a small amount for running costs) will go to our contributors, allowing us to publish another year of stories, poems, essays, interviews, and reviews. But at the time of posting, we’ve raised just over two-thirds of that amount, and we have one week left in the fund drive.
We have all of the rewards I mentioned at the start but what this is really about is the fact that we love what we do, we think it’s useful, and we want to keep doing it. So if you enjoy what we do, please consider donating to this year’s fund drive.
P.S. Those of you in the U.S., note that Strange Horizons has 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS—which means your donations to us are tax-deductible.