Strange Horizons Friday: I’m Matching Donations

So, Strange Horizons is an online magazine of science fiction and fantasy that pays writers official pro rates (as defined by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), publishes a wide range of fiction and non-fiction about science fiction and fantasy, and goes out of its way to publish new and emerging writers. They’re also a non-profit organization (a real one, with tax-deductible status and everything), and do all that they do through donations from readers and others.

This August is its fund drive month, and its goal is to raise $7,000 by the end of the month. Here it is the 14th, and they’re at $1,565 as I write this, which is more than a little disconcerting to me. I know the people involved with Strange Horizons quite well, and I can assure you that these aren’t people who are taking that donation money and spending it on frivolities. That money goes right out the door to the contributors of the site and to make the site a great place to visit on a daily basis. I’m not even sure the editors pay themselves for all their work, which is kind of insane, but a testament to their dedication to expanding the market for science fiction and fantasy. The site runs lean. So when the folks running it say they need the $7k to keep going, they’re not plumping up their numbers; dude, they need that $7k.

I got my start in the science fiction field through Strange Horizons; it was the first outlet to publish my fiction, and one of the very first to seriously interview me after I published my novel. Between this and the fact that many people I know and respect keep the place going on a daily basis, it’s fair to say that I am a big supporter of the site for personal reasons. But even if they hadn’t published my fiction and even if I didn’t know those who are running it, I would still be a fan of the site, because of what it publishes and because for almost a decade now the site has been a door into fantasy and science fiction that’s unlike any other. It’s a site worth reading, and a cause worth donating to.

I donate a bit every year to Strange Horizons to help keep it going, but this year I want to do something more, both to show my appreciation for the site and the people who run it, and to encourage those of you who read the site to shell out a bit to keep it going — and to encourage those of you who have not been to the site to check it out and consider pitching in for the fund drive. So here’s the deal:

For the day of August 14, 2009, John and Kristine Scalzi will do a one-to-one match for every donation made to Strange Horizons, up to $500.

What does this mean? Well, if you donate $5, we’ll donate $5. Donate $10, we’ll donate $10. And so on. Yes, I’ve already cleared this with Krissy. She’s a fan of Strange Horizons too. And to give the day as many hours as possible, we’ll define it as starting midnight Eastern Time but ending at 11:59:59 Pacific Time, which means that it’s a 27-hour donation day. Which means I’m retroactively covering donations made today before I published this. Because, hey: Friday.

Naturally, a good outcome of this would be $1,000 in the Strange Horizons coffers for the day. What I would say would be an even better outcome, however, is an even larger pile of donations sent along to Strange Horizons, for which my and Krissy’s $500 is just the cherry on the top. Remember all donations to Strange Horizons are tax-deductible for Americans (if you’re not in the US, check with your local government), so hey: Write-off! Can’t beat that.

Here’s Strange Horizons’ 2009 fund drive page, with links to send money via Network for Good and PayPal (or via old fashioned mail, if you are so inclined). Tell everyone you know about this — we’re matching any contribution, not just ones from people who come here. And if you’re seeing this after August 14, well, you know. Donate anyway, please. Strange Horizons is well worth your support.

So to recap:

a) Strange Horizons is awesome;
b) Strange Horizons needs your donations;
c) We’ll match donations today up to $500;
e) And tell your friends to donate too.

Any questions, drop them in the comments. Thanks. And thanks in advance for donating to Strange Horizons today. I was just going to spend that $500 on Red Vines and Coke Zero. This is a much better use of it.

119 Comments on “Strange Horizons Friday: I’m Matching Donations”

  1. Done. Thank you for bringing this to attention!

    Will you want people to forward receipts for purposes of matching?

  2. Done!

    Like the previous comment – thanks for the heads up.

    And good job on ‘giving back’. Your ability and willingness to ‘put your money where your mouth is’ is inspiring

  3. Here’s my bit. Thanks for the heads-up for a good cause.

    Warmest congratulations on the Hugo. I wish I’d been able to catch more of your panels in Montreal; hope to see you at a northeast con sometime soon.

    I never did get out to try the poutine. You?

  4. Yay! I’m donating today anyway as I was waiting for payday, but what a great incentive.

    All of Strange Horizons’ editors are volunteer. 100% volunteer, which makes the fact that they are incredibly detailed and comprehensive editors all the more amazing.

  5. Just to echo what Haddayr said, all the staff is volunteer; the money raised goes almost entirely directly to paying contributors (fiction, poetry, illustration, articles, reviews), with a tiny bit left over for web hosting costs and the like.

    When we founded the magazine, back in 2000, *everyone* told us that we’d never be able to run a SFWA-pro level online magazine for more than a year or two. Strange Horizons is about to hit its nine-year anniversary, publishing a free issue every week.

    It’s still going strong, and will continue — as long as it keeps being supported by the community. So thanks!

  6. SH also bought my first pubbed story, so to say thanks (and to keep one of the coolest markets alive–*so* vital when so many other mags are folding and dissolving away) I’ll donate back what they paid me for my story.

  7. So basically you’re challenging us, your faithful readers, to try and bankrupt you. Is that right?

  8. Suggestion: you might want a link to where you donate. I had to search out on Google. If it’s here, I missed it.

    I donated, and I’d still like to know who Athena is from your earlier tweet today or late yesterday.

  9. Thank you for extending the cut-off time to include us west-coasters. I am totally going to donate but will have to wait until I get home. But now I won’t have to worry about missing the cut-off time.

  10. And once again, John Scalzi proves why he is one of the coolest and classiest authors in the field right now. Well done, sir. (And add another $20 to your total.)

  11. Well, good thing that today was payday at work, eh?

    Thank you for the headsup – it’s definitely in my best interests to help, since I hope to be submitting to magazines like this someday soon!

  12. Oh man, Strange Horizons is so getting some money from me. “Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs” is one of the greatest stories I have ever read, and I’m so glad that they publish things like this.

  13. I just cost you at least one trip to Skyline Chili and a bowl full of that awful mess o’ beans and spaghetti you folks out OH way seem to love so much.

  14. Wow do I feel guilty for not already donating. Thanks for reminding me to support what you like so it does not go away.

    Donation sent.

  15. Another donation sent, and you’re down one more case of Coke Zero.

    “I’m doing my part!” ;)

    By the way, any opinion on Coke Cherry Zero? I’ve always been a fan of Cherry Coke, and it seems pretty good to me…

  16. Also unemployeed, although I did sign a contract two weeks ago, but dug something up.

    Thanks for letting me know of this place in the first place

  17. Wait…wait. Strange Horizons is based out of Dubuque, IA? That’s my hometown. How did I not know this?

    I’ll have to dig up my checkbook after lunch and see if I can send off $25 or so.

  18. John, I just donated $5.00 through Paypal. Confirmation number: 87R89779EJ0614808

    I would donate more but I only have $13 in my Paypal account. It’s an old account from my glory days at Lulu Publishing. I self-published two sff novels in 06-07, banked twenty bucks. I blew the other $7 on porn. Twenty bucks . . . not bad for five months of round-the-clock writing . . . for 150,000 words. Hmm, worked out to .00013/word.

    PS I only do the bidding of Hugo winners, by the way.

    PSS Strange Horizons rejected three of my stories in the early 00’s.

  19. Matt, SH isn’t based out of anywhere in particular — it’s internet-based, and spread out all over. But our tax guy volunteer lives in Dubuque, and kindly handles snail mail for us.

  20. You can thank the Crotchety Old Fan for posting this on his site, otherwise I’d have never known. So you both do good work. I dropped half a C on them, long may they wave.

  21. I have never read the site before, but it looks good, so $20 left my pocket to go to them.

    Thanks for something new for me.

  22. My plot to ruin Scalzi is now $75 closer to fruition.
    (Plagiarism is so bad… but fun…)

  23. This is just a suggestion, and I could certainly be wrong, but it does seem to me that you might have more success doing this on the day after a common US payday, rather than the day before.

    In my case, anyway, I thank you for pointing this out, and I’ll find something to send along after the bills are paid on Sunday. But I feel slightly badly that I can’t do so today and make you a bit poorer into the bargain.

  24. Red:

    A lot depends on when you get paid. Lots of people get paid on Fridays. It was a reasonable chance to take.

    But yes, thanks for planning to contribute in any event!

  25. Your tweet about star gazing and a reference to Athena reminded me of Greek Mythology, hence a twitter reference I made to Edith Hamilton. tnx cmn

  26. Well, I get paid next week, which is before the end of August. I will happily contribute to the furthering of SF/F and the creation of good fiction. I am sad that I can’t do it today, but I think they’ll be happy enough to get my money next week too.

    I am bemused that they’re halfway through the month and not close to halfway to their goal, though. I’ve done fundraisers before, even on a local level, and I am *weirded out* by their lack of success.

    I am off to spread the word!

  27. So I have no disposable income right now. None. But here’s the thing…

    You’re absolutely right about Strange Horizons. I read stories and articles and reviews for free, and I never give it a thought. I don’t read regularly – just drop by from time to time – but still… You’re right. It’s important that we support SH.

    I actually decided today that I’d be giving up coffee – starting tomorrow – so as an added incentive I am off to donate my first working-week’s savings to SH. I’m not very good with math(s), but I reckon that’s (£4 a day for 5 days) about £20. Don’t know what that is in dollars right now, but it probably works out pretty well. :)

    Thanks for doing this, John.


  28. Mousme, I think part of it is just the internet-free thing, as well as the SH folks (self included) not being so good at fund drive self-promotion. What happens most years is that donations trickle in really slowly during fund drive month, making the staff more and more panicked, and then someone does a post near the end of the month saying ‘oh my god, we’re not going to meet the goal this year’, and then word gets around, and there’s a bit rush of donations at the end of the month, and we make the goal.

    What this says to me is that a) we’re sucky at asking for money, and b) people have vague intentions of giving money, but it takes prodding to get them to actually make the donation. :-) But it sure would be nice (and reassuring) to be closer to goal earlier in the month every year.

    If anyone on this board has experience with or interest in fund-raising and wants to help, I’m pretty sure Susan Groppi and the rest of the SH crew would be very glad to take whatever advice/help you can give in this regard! Of course, you’d be an unpaid volunteer along with the rest of the staff… If interested, I think dropping a note to Susan at would be the right way to go.

  29. Done!

    I notice they’re offering to give a mug or T-shirt to anyone who donates $50 or more. I propose we all send our swag to John, because he’s a nice guy and deserves it.

    Seriously though, John, thanks for the pointer to Strange Horizons.

  30. Karen Mahoney, you are officially a hero of the revolution.

    As is, of course, everyone contributing. But donating your coffee savings is very cool.

  31. Here’s a strange horizon. You guys all donated & it’s STILL showing $1585. They need to update it a bit more frequently. Great site, though

  32. Kevin:

    The people at SH also have day jobs and etc, so it’s not an instant thing. I’m sure they will update once they jot up the donations for the day.

  33. John: will you be matching contributions made by check if the check is dated and mailed today? (I’ll send it regardless, but I’m curious.)

    red@48: Retail, or other businesses open on weekends, might be different, but I worked in an office for mumble mumble years, and if payday fell on a weekend, I was paid the preceding Friday.

  34. Just put in…half. So Scalzi’s definitely going to have to pony up the full $500.

  35. Ellen Asher:

    Let the Strange Horizons editor know what your donation was ( and I’m sure they’ll make sure it’s added to today’s tally. I know you’re good for it.

  36. I apologize in advance for costing you $20 worth of Coke Zero… And everyone KNOWS the black vines are better than the red ones… sheesh…

  37. John:

    Today (0814) happens to be my birthday, so I will donate $25.00 to Strange Horizons as a birthday present to myself!

    Congrats on the Hugo!

  38. I’m down for $50. Mebbe when I get brave enough to submit my first short fiction SH will take it. I’d be honored to be in such company.

  39. $25 donated. Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention, I’m glad we can help out.

  40. done!
    you owe 25$ to strange horitzons, dude!
    and that money was for bacon and your last hugo winning book.
    Just joking, your book was in my last amazon order.

  41. Thanks for doing this, John! It was a great excuse for me to get off my procrastinatory butt and donate to SH, which I do enjoy a lot.

    I’ll drink some Coke Zero in your honor.

    – yeff

  42. I just cost you $100, John.

    PayPal Confirmation # 7MS735407K774110X

    Though I’ve never been a short-fiction writer, I have great respect for what STRANGE HORIZONS brings to the genre, and I am proud to support it.

  43. John @ 60. Just saying. Wouldn’t it be nice to add your $50 by paypal or whatever and bing! the total goes up by $50. Surely it should be possible . . . don’t see why it needs human intervention.

  44. Done! Luckily, I hadn’t moved my ‘sold the Worldcon membership’ money out of Paypal yet.

    By the way, red vines were on sale this week, so let me know if you run short.

  45. Posted a link to this Whatever post on my Twitter feed after my donation went through. According to, about a dozen click-throughs so far.

  46. Done! Thanks for the signal boost—I would have hated to miss out.

    I long to meet your wife in person someday, because whenever I read about her on your blog she seems perfectly goddess-like in all her attributes, from tolerance to extraordinary beauty to facility with a bullwhip to lit’ry smarts.

    My own husband calls me “She Who Must Be Taunted” on his blog and in his stage act, so I am twice as jealous, of course.

  47. Thanks for the heads up (Strange Horizons is new to me!). We’re always happy to support quality SF.

  48. Ok, after reading the ‘“Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs” story, I HAD to contribute! Had never heard of Strange Horizons before, and it will now be going in my favorites menu :)

  49. I gave $50 yesterday. Your matching inspired me to donate $50 more just now*. And since this is cash out of pocket for you, I resolve to buy $50 of your novels next time I’m at the bookstore. And yes, I know that’s not the same thing as $50 to Mr. S, but hey, we’re spreading the wealth around.

    (*since we’re probably over the $500 by now, why not “match myself”?)

  50. Great idea, sir. Now you’re out another US$30, but will have a toast of (Cherry) Coke Zero raised unto you.

    Congrats again on your 2nd Rocket. Did you get yet another bent rocket “Hugo Loser” ribbon too?

  51. If you make it to $500, John (and it certainly looks like you will), I think you’ll be morally obliged to post a photo of yourself wearing the “hand-knitted item” that is your thank you present. I can’t wait to see it!

  52. i am donating OUT OF SPITE. to spend your money.


    man, that’ll show you.

  53. I’d not heard of SH either. Thanks for putting them out here. Donating always feels good.

    What’s red vine? Anything like kudzu?

  54. Donation sent. Might mean no dim sum this weekend, but I think it’s bf’s turn to buy anyway.

  55. It’s fun costing Mr Scalzi money. $50

    And when I finally complete some short stories, Strange Horizons will be the first place I hit up.

  56. I was just going to spend that $500 on Red Vines and Coke Zero.

    Jesus, John. It’s hookers and blow.

    Sent my donation.

  57. I’d like to see the $500-based cost/benefit ratio comparison between Red Vines & Coke Zero vs. hookers & blow. Not for Mr. Scalz (no news there), but for everyone else who posts here. Heh.

  58. I’ve written a check for $10 and completed the envelope for mailing first thing in the morning. I’ve emailed the editors with the information just in case your $500 has not yet been reached. I’ve gotten many hours of pleasure while stuck in hotel rooms with Strange Horizons. It’s the least I can do.

  59. Donated. I just wish that PayPal recognized that when you enter “Canada” as your country, forcing you to input a US state as well is sort of counterproductive.

  60. Thank you very much, all of you who’ve donated; tremendously appreciated.

    And thanks especially to the Scalzis. You folks are awesome.

  61. I missed this, but I’ll see what I can do to help. Strange Horizons reviews are some that I respect highly, even when they make me so mad I want to spit. It’s a worthy site that emphasizes quality over quantity, and it needs to stick around.

  62. So up there in Scalzi’s post when he said “What I would say would be an even better outcome, however, is an even larger pile of donations sent along to Strange Horizons, for which my and Krissy’s $500 is just the cherry on the top.” You guys far exceeded any reasonable expectations for that “better outcome.” I’ve just finished doing all the tabulating, and the grand total for the 27-hour Scalzi Challenge period came to $9590. When you add in the matching funds from John and Krissy, that’s just over ten thousand dollars raised.

    I don’t think I can possibly express how much this means to Strange Horizons, and to all of our staff members. We’re going to keep the fund drive open for a while longer in case anyone else wants to donate, but we’ve totally met and passed our overall fundraising goal. I’m totally overwhelmed by the generosity all of you have shown, and totally scared for what might happen if Scalzi ever decides to use his powers for evil.

  63. I donated yesterday and went and checked the donation total first thing this morning. “Wouldn’t it be cool,” I thought “If they got all $7000?”


    What an amazing, amazing thing you’ve done with this matching drive. Thank you, from a fan of short fiction, and someone who just likes to see people helping one another.

    I agree with what’s posted above – I hope you always use your powers for good.

  64. Susan @111: I’m afraid John has used his powers for evil, and I am the result. Ineffectual, derivative evil, but the honest effort is there.


  65. Whateverites Rock: The current update shows “$11655 donated so far!” compared to the $1565 when JS wrote this post…I realize it wasn’t all us, but dayum…I agree, if JS ever decides to use his powers for evil……..

  66. I’d like to see the $500-based cost/benefit ratio comparison between Red Vines & Coke Zero vs. hookers & blow.

    Clearly we need some sort of write-off. Maybe that Scalvi guy would get in on it.

  67. OK, this has got to stop. My “beer budget” for the month is now even less.

    Yesterday I donated to SH, today I purchased the limited edition of Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded from Subterranean Press.

  68. Cyan @102: I haven’t tried the Coke Zero, so the comparison may be lopsided… but in my own experience fifty bucks worth of Red Vines is more fun than five hundred of the other stuff.

    Lasts longer, too. :-)

  69. “…and totally scared for what might happen if Scalzi ever decides to use his powers for evil.”

    Yeah. He could start taping bacon to cats and who *knows* were that will lead.

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