written by David Steffen
Semiprozine is one of those Hugo categories that’s a little hard to understand. They can’t be professional magazines, where professional means that either the magazine provides more than 1/4 the income of any person or is owned/published by an entity that provides more than 1/4 the income to any one person. And it has to pay its contributors or staff in something other than copies of the magazine, or is only available for paid purchase.
As it happens, all five of the semiprozine nominees are magazines that I’ve read before. Here are my rankings of them.
1. Beneath Ceaseless Skies
I am so excited to see BCS get a well-deserved Hugo nomination. They are a great magazine focusing on secondary world fiction. If you like worldbuilding, BCS is a great place. The stories are free to read, and they do audio podcasts of about half of their stories, which is where I get most of their fiction. I’ve submitted to and read BCS from their inception. They’re the newcomer to this batch of markets, but they’ve kept consistent quality throughout their run.
They published one of my favorite stories I’ve heard in years, titled “The Three Feats of Agani” by Christie Yant. I was very disappointed not to see that story on the nomination list.
Clarkesworld seems to be the award season favorite, and there’s no mystery why. My reaction to Clarkesworld stories tends to be a little bi-polar. The stories that I like I absolutely love, but the stories that I dislike I really really dislike. They’re publishing three stories a month these days, and have plans for a reprint section, and possibly a 4th original story as well. Things are going well and they are ever expanding. They podcast every story which makes it easy for me to keep up. “All the Painted Stars” by Gwendolyn Clare was one of my favorite stories of the year.
One of John Joseph Adams editorial efforts, Lightspeed puts out two fantasy and two science fiction stories every month. They’ve consistently drawn some award nominations in the few years since they launched. I listen to every story on the Lightspeed podcast. They have some really good offerings. Check out “Monster, Finder, Shifter” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman.
I have trouble keeping up with Apex’s offerings, because they don’t podcast their stories. But I’ve never been disappointed.
5. Strange Horizons
I hear that Strange Horizons is getting a fiction podcast. I’ll let them build up a few episodes, and then I intend to be a steady listener.