Monday, August 08, 2022

Top Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazines 2022

Since 2014, I've compiled an annual ranking of science fiction and fantasy magazines, based on prominent awards nominations and "best of" placements over the previous ten years. Below is my list for 2022. (For all previous lists, see here.)

[A DALL-E output for "science fiction and fantasy magazine"]


Method and Caveats:

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

(2.) I gave each magazine one point for each story nominated for a Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, 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.

(2a.) Methodological notes for 2022: Starting this year, I swapped the Sturgeon for the Eugie award for all award years 2013-2022. Also, with the death of Dozois in 2018, the [temporary?] cessation of the Strahan anthology, and the delay of the Horton and Clarke anthologies, the 2022 year includes only one new anthology source: Adams 2021. Given the ten-year-window, anthologies still comprise about half the weight of the rankings overall.

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

(8.) I welcome corrections.

(9.) I confess some ambivalence about rankings of this sort. They reinforce the prestige hierarchy, and they compress interesting complexity into a single scale. However, the prestige of a magazine is a socially real phenomenon that deserves to be tracked, especially for the sake of outsiders and newcomers who might not otherwise know what magazines are well regarded by insiders when considering, for example, where to submit.


Results:

1. Tor.com (198 points) 

2. Clarkesworld (185.5) 

3. Asimov's (160.5) 

4. Lightspeed (129) 

5. Fantasy & Science Fiction (127.5) 

6. Uncanny (113) (started 2014) 

7. Beneath Ceaseless Skies (59.5) 

8. Analog (55) 

9. Strange Horizons (46)

10. Subterranean (35) (ceased short fiction 2014) 

11. Nightmare (31.5) 

12. Apex (30) 

13. Interzone (30.5) 

14. Fireside (18.5) 

15. Slate / Future Tense (17.5) 

16. FIYAH (13.5) (started 2017) 

17. The Dark (11.5) 

18. Fantasy Magazine (10) (occasional special issues during the period, fully relaunched in 2020) 

19. The New Yorker (9.5) 

20t. Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (7) 

20t. McSweeney's (7) 

22. Sirenia Digest (6) 

23t. Omni (5.5) (classic magazine, briefly relaunched 2017-2018) 

23t. Tin House (5.5) (ceased short fiction 2019) 

25t. Black Static (5) 

25t. Conjunctions (5) 

25t. Diabolical Plots (5) (started 2015)

25t. Shimmer (5) (ceased 2018) 

29. Terraform (4.5) (started 2014) 

30t. Boston Review (4) 

30t. GigaNotoSaurus (4) 

32. Paris Review (3.5) 

33t. Daily Science Fiction (3) 

33t. Electric Velocipede (3) (ceased 2013) 

33t. Future Science Fiction Digest (3) (started 2018) 

*33t. Galaxy's Edge (3)

33t. Kaleidotrope (3) 

33t. Omenana (3) (started 2014) 

33t. Wired (3)

40t. Anathema (2.5) (started 2017)

40t. B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog (2.5) (started 2014)

40t. Beloit Fiction Journal (2.5) 

40t. Buzzfeed (2.5) 

40t. Matter (2.5) 

40t. Weird Tales (2.5) (classic magazine, off and on throughout the period)

46t. Harper's (2) 

46t. Mothership Zeta (2) (ran 2015-2017) 

*48t khōréō (1.5) (started 2021)

48t. MIT Technology Review (1.5) 

48t. New York Times (1.5) 

48t. Translunar Travelers Lounge (1.5) (started 2019)

[* indicates new to the list this year]

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Comments:

(1.) The New Yorker, McSweeney's, Tin House, Conjunctions, Boston Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Harper's, Matter, and Paris Review are literary magazines that occasionally publish science fiction or fantasy.  Slate and Buzzfeed are popular magazines, and Omni, Wired, and MIT Technology Review are popular science magazines, which publish a bit of science fiction on the side.  The New York Times is a well-known newspaper that ran a series of "Op-Eds from the Future" from 2019-2020.  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. Uncanny (59) 
2. Tor.com (56.5) 
3. Clarkesworld (37.5)
4. F&SF (36)
5. Lightspeed (29)
6. Asimov's (25.5)
7t. Beneath Ceaseless Skies (14) 
7t. Nightmare (14)
9. Analog (11) 
10. Strange Horizons (10.5) 
11. Slate / Future Tense (9) 
12. FIYAH (8.5) 
13. Apex (8) 
14. Fireside (7)

(3.) For the past several years it has been clear that the classic "big three" print magazines -- Asimov's, F&SF, and Analog -- are slowly being displaced in influence by the four leading free online magazines, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Uncanny (all founded 2006-2014).  Contrast this year's ranking with the ranking from 2014, which had Asimov's and F&SF on top by a wide margin.  Presumably, a large part of the explanation is that there are more readers of free online fiction than of paid subscription magazines, which is attractive to authors and probably also helps with voter attention for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

(4.) 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.

(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.

2 comments:

M.A.D. Moore said...

I am unsure of the value of ranking Tor on this list. According to their website they have not been accepting submissions since early 2016. Am I missing something?

Here’s a link to what I see: https://www.tor.com/fiction-submissions-guidelines/

Anonymous said...

I think that you missed a word.

"Tor.com is closed to unsolicited short fiction submissions on an indefinite basis"