2009: The End of Short Fiction as We Know It

So, 2009 is not shaping up to be a good year for writers or fans of SF/F short fiction. Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine are reducing production to six double (as opposed to twelve single) issues a year, Years Best Fantasy & Horror is closing, Years Best Fantasy is going online, and most shocking of all Realms of Fantasy has announced that April 2009 will be the last issue.

News from Sheila William’s (editor of Asimov’s) is that Dell amagazines (publisher of Asimov’s and Analog) have taken effective cost cutting measures which will ensure the magazines continued publication. Thats good news, but not as good as it could be.

While I hope I am incorrect, it seems likely to me that these will not be the last casualties of 2009. In short, the total economic collapse of the wester world may well to be the final nail in the already well sealed coffin of short fiction magazines.  Pro-zines are going to face at least a year or more of really adverse econmic conditions, while the valiant volunteer producers of the many great semi-pro and amateur zines are going to face their own adverse economic conditions that will likely impact on the time they can put into such hobbyies. Its going to be a tough year for all of us.

But its always darkest before the dawn. My hope and indeed sincere belief is that the SF community that grows out of the ashes of 2009 will be stronger, fitter, better. The model for short fiction in particular has been unhealthy for a looonnnggg time. But in the vacum left behind, enterprising publishers and editors are going to find new models that in the long term will serve readers and writers much better.

That said, if you are reading this and share my love of short stories, I urge you to go and take out subscriptions or donate to your favourite mags. For the price of a DVD you can have a whole year of literary entertainment. Go…go now!


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

4 thoughts on “2009: The End of Short Fiction as We Know It

  1. I’ve been thinking this may well be a good time for writers across all genres to start our own ‘zines, small presses, etc. The payoff may take a while, but who knows what will be brewing underneath?

    Oh, by the way, Damien, I apologise for not introducing myself before – I’m Dan’s friend Karla. It’s nice to meet you.


  2. Nice to meet you Karla. Any friend of Dan’s and all that. I thinkbthe zine space is going to be exciting, and also think writers may well find self publishing more rewarding than it has been to date. May you live in interesting times as they say.


  3. I’ve been a fan of samizdat even since I was about seven and started making my own little books. Pre-‘zines, perhaps. People love little books.

    According to that “what kind of writer should you be?” quiz, I should be a joke writer. I have to say, that does make sense.



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