Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Top Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazines 2018

In 2014, as a beginning writer of science fiction or speculative fiction, with no idea what magazines were well regarded in the industry, I decided to compile a ranked list of magazines based on awards and "best of" placements in the previous ten years. Since people seemed to find it useful or interesting, I've been updating it annually. Below is my list for 2018.

Method and Caveats:

(1.) Only magazines are included (online or in print), not anthologies or standalones.

(2.) I gave each magazine one point for each story nominated for a Hugo, Nebula, Eugie, or World Fantasy Award in the past ten years; one point for each story appearance in any of the Dozois, Horton, Strahan, Clarke, or Adams "Year's Best" anthologies; and half a point for each story appearing in the short story or novelette category of the annual Locus Recommended list.

(3.) I am not attempting to include the horror / dark fantasy genre, except as it appears incidentally on the list.

(4.) Prose only, not poetry.

(5.) I'm not attempting to correct for frequency of publication or length of table of contents.

(6.) I'm also not correcting for a magazine's only having published during part of the ten-year period. Reputations of defunct magazines slowly fade, and sometimes they are restarted. Reputations of new magazines take time to build.

(7.) Lists of this sort do tend to reinforce the prestige hierarchy. I have mixed feelings about that. But since the prestige hierarchy is socially real, I think it's in people's best interest -- especially the best interest of outsiders and newcomers -- if it is common knowledge.

(8.) I take the list down to 1.5 points.

(9.) I welcome corrections.


1. Asimov's (229.5 points)
2. Fantasy & Science Fiction (162.5)
3. Clarkesworld (151.5)
4. Tor.com (147.5)
5. Lightspeed (101) (started 2010)
6. Subterranean (75) (ceased 2014)
7. Analog (53.5)
8. Strange Horizons (46.5)
9. Interzone (43.5)
10. Uncanny (41.5) (started 2014)
11. Beneath Ceaseless Skies (38)
12. Fantasy Magazine (25.5) (merged into Lightspeed 2012, occasional special issues thereafter)
13. Apex (19.5)
14. Nightmare (13.5) (started 2012)
15. Postscripts (11.5) (ceased short fiction in 2014)
16. The New Yorker (8)
17. Realms of Fantasy (7.5) (ceased 2011)
18. Black Static (7)
19. McSweeney's (6)
20t. Electric Velocipede (5.5) (ceased 2013)
20t. Intergalactic Medicine Show (5.5)
20t. Sirenia Digest (5.5)
23t. Conjunctions (5)
23t. Jim Baen's Universe (5) (ceased 2010)
25t. Omni (4.5) (classic science/SF magazine, restarted 2017)
25t. The Dark (4.5) (started 2013)
25t. Tin House (4.5)
28. Helix SF (4) (ceased 2008)
29t. Cosmos (3)
29t. GigaNotoSaurus (3) (started 2010)
29t. Shimmer (3)
29t. Terraform (3) (started 2014)
33t. Beloit Fiction Journal (2.5)
33t. Black Gate (2.5)
33t. Buzzfeed (2.5)
33t. Harper's (2.5)
33t. Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (2.5)
33t. Lone Star Stories (2.5) (ceased 2009)
33t. Matter (2.5) (started 2011)
33t. Slate (2.5)
33t. Weird Tales (2.5) (ceased 2014)
42t. Boston Review (2)
42t. Fireside (2) (started 2012)
42t. Mothership Zeta (2) (started 2015)
45t. Abyss & Apex (1.5)
45t. Daily Science Fiction (1.5) (started 2010)
45t. e-flux journal (1.5)
45t. Flurb (1.5) (ceased 2012)
45t. MIT Technology Review (1.5)


(1.) The New Yorker, Tin House, McSweeney's, Conjunctions, Harper's, Beloit Fiction Journal, and Boston Review are literary magazines that occasionally publish science fiction or fantasy. Cosmos, Slate, Buzzfeed, and MIT Technology Review are popular magazines that have published a little bit of science fiction on the side. e-flux is a wide-ranging arts journal. The remaining magazines focus on the F/SF genre.

(2.) It's also interesting to consider a three-year window. Here are those results, down to six points:

1. Clarkesworld (74)
2. Tor.com (69.5)
3. Asimov's (65)
4. Lightspeed (56.5)
5. Uncanny (41.5)
6. F&SF (39)
7. Beneath Ceaseless Skies (23)
8. Analog (20)
9. Strange Horizons (14)
10. Nightmare (12.5)
11. Interzone (9.5)
12. Apex (6.5)

(3.) Left out of these numbers are some terrific podcast venues such as the Escape Artists' podcasts (Escape Pod, Podcastle, Pseudopod, and Cast of Wonders), Drabblecast, and StarShipSofa. None of these qualify for my list by existing criteria, but podcasts are also important venues.

(4.) Check out Nelson Kingfisher's recent analysis of acceptance rates and response times for most of the magazines above.

(5.) Other lists: The SFWA qualifying markets list is a list of "pro" science fiction and fantasy venues based on pay rates and track records of strong circulation. Ralan.com is a regularly updated list of markets, divided into categories based on pay rate.

[image source; admittedly, it's not the latest issue!]


Laura Pearlman said...

Thanks for putting this together! Is #19 McSweeney's Internet Tendency (the daily humor website) or McSweeney's Quarterly Concern (the quarterly lit mag)?

Paul Fraser said...

Interesting. If you made another list that showed the number of points per issue it would be quite different.