My War (Or Not) With the “Big Three”
Got an e-mail today from someone who noticed an oblique reference to me in a recent Analog editorial which, in part, explained why the magazine still doesn’t accept e-mail submissions (I was referred to in it as a “young writer,” which as a middle-aged scribe with two decades of professional writing and publishing experience, I found to be as charming as it was inaccurate). The correspondent wanted to know if there was some sort of war going on between me and the “big three” science fiction magazines, in which I and the editors go after over each other with lead pipes and then laugh at whoever ends up on the ground, bleeding out.
In short: Nah. I have my disagreements with the editors of the “big three” on a couple of things here and there, most famously about their continued and persistent inability to join the 21st century and accept e-mail submissions, and on that particular subject I continue to be rather unimpressed with their arguments regarding why they don’t; the Analog editorial, for example, aside from poorly characterizing the discussion that went on here on the subject, was basically Stanley Schmidt taking the long way around to saying “because I don’t wanna.” That’s fine, and it’s his business, but it’s still not much of an argument, for reasons I’ve noted before.
That said, we’re all grown-ups here, and grown-ups can disagree from time to time. If you think on the basis of these disagreements that I have it in for the “big three,” you’re just silly. Differing opinions about the value of e-mail submissions and other such things aside, at the end of the day they’re pro markets in the genre, their editors are good people passionate about writing and about science fiction and fantasy, and on a month-in, month-out basis, they buy and publish fine work. What’s not to like about any of that? Far from wishing them ill, I want them to thrive and succeed.
When I’m griping about them, it’s not because I want to push them along into the dungheap of history, or because I’m some sort of grinning, loudmouthed fool who likes poking at wasp’s nests just to see what angry things fly out of them. It’s because I want them around, buying the stories of my fellow writers and generally contributing to the health and continuance of our genre, for all of our mutual benefit. “Young writer” cracks aside, after two decades in publishing, in both print and online media, I’m not wholly ignorant on this particular subject. I feel qualified to opine.
So, no: I’m not at war with the “big three,” and I very much doubt their editors feel they’re at war with me. I want them to do a few things differently, and clearly I’m not shy about saying so. They are equally clearly able to agree with me or not. But when all is said and done we all want the same thing: For the magazines to be doing their thing for a nice long time. If that’s a war, it’s a pretty strange one.