Speculative Fiction for Free
June 15, 2006 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Helix is a new Science Fiction magazine on the Internet. Run by managing editor Lawrence Watt-Evans and senior editor William Sanders, Helix is free, with no advertisements or registration. They do accept donations. This follows Watt-Evans's success last year with his Spriggan Experiment, in which he substituted reader donations for the traditional advance from a publisher. The result of that experiment, The Spriggan Mirror will be available from Wild-side Press in September 2006.
posted by notbuddha (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Why is this being published quarterly? Publishing on the Web is not like publishing a periodical. If you have a webpage, you can add something new as soon as you're ready to add something new. There are no deadlines to get something to the printer or to meet a street date. I have a lot of respect for LWE as a writer and editor, but using this kind of print paradigm on the web is kinda pointless.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:09 AM on June 15, 2006

Why does Science imagery always have this sort of look about it? I mean, stars, planets, clocks, all kind of air-brushed in a sub-Yes album art style.

If I was launching an original SF site or mag, I might start by going for a rather more, arty or literary look: y'know something that doesn't scream - hello 14 year old boys this is SF!

But then again I don't read that much SF: perhaps in-depth studies show that SF-cheese is what readers want.

I did read the story about loofahs: it was amusing enough. Although I'm not sure it was actually SF: it just seemed like an oddball take on bathing accessories.
posted by rhymer at 9:36 AM on June 15, 2006

Sorry: first para should read Science Fiction
posted by rhymer at 9:37 AM on June 15, 2006

It seems to be a particularly bad problem with American book covers - anything vaguely SF has to have a tacky picture of a spaceship on the front to let you know it's SF. European covers tend to be a little more designed.
posted by Artw at 9:47 AM on June 15, 2006

Kind of a happy surprise to see Janis Ian, the '60s socially-conscious pop singer, writing sci-fi.
posted by johngoren at 9:59 AM on June 15, 2006

Why is this being published quarterly?

If it was just random updates that you had to constantly go back to site to check for, I would probably forget about it completely. Quarterly updates with maybe an e-mail and some buzz for each issue works better for me. It also allows time for editing, organizing thematic issues, etc.

Kind of a happy surprise to see Janis Ian, the '60s socially-conscious pop singer, writing sci-fi.

There was a not entirely successful anthology of sci-fi stories based on her songs called Stars a few years ago.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:08 AM on June 15, 2006

Personally, I find it distasteful when a magazine publishes the fiction of the staff. (When I was publishing the Fortean Bureau, I published work by people and later added them as staff, in case someone tries to pull a gotchya on me on this point). As far as the publishing schedule, I imagine if they're paying their writers, it's easier for them to pay four times a year? I don't know for sure.

If you're looking for free online speculative fiction magazines, I would recommend Strange Horizons and Ideomancer as well.
Disclaimer: I have appeared in Ideomancer.
posted by JeremyT at 10:12 AM on June 15, 2006

Janis Ian's non-fiction is a lot, lot better. She's been doing some interesting stuff since "Seventeen."

Interesting link, but they do seem a bit in to silly social parody. Not that I mind silly social parody, but reading a lot of Prachett puts one off the less well done stuff.
posted by QIbHom at 11:19 AM on June 15, 2006

Reading a lot of Prachett puts you off Prachett as well in the end, as it all sort of blurs together...
posted by Artw at 11:23 AM on June 15, 2006

I've found Pratchett's latest books to be darker in tone and much more mature, especially the newest Vimes books.
posted by JeremyT at 12:06 PM on June 15, 2006

Agreed, JeremyT. There was kind of an abrupt shift somewhere around The Truth. It took some getting used to, but I really appreciate it now.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:27 PM on June 15, 2006

All the SF online magazines mentioned in this thread look awful and boring. Even the typo doesn't help - or makes you want to read anything online for a longer period of time ...
posted by homodigitalis at 1:44 PM on June 15, 2006

The Vimes books (as opposed to the earlier Watch books) are all a bit "Here's a psycho, working behind the scenes - we defeat him and we're all a little sadder and a little wiser" with the backdrop changing (this time - it's IN THE PAST!). Having read one, you're not going to get much out of reading more, but it's fun to check in with them and see what they're up to.

Helix website is a bit, um, uneasy on the eye. I can't actually see myself enjoying reading there - and I read lots of online stuff. Something about the way the text appears constrained by the twin walls of hard edged black.
posted by Sparx at 2:58 PM on June 15, 2006

You're right, Sparx, that's really horrible design, even besides the Yes album art.

What I'm really amused by is the first line of this post, though: "Helix is a new Science Fiction magazine on the Internet." Internet, capitalized! I feel so 1990s again. It feels light and carefree.

(Alternative response: This magazine, it's on the Internet?)
posted by blacklite at 3:11 PM on June 15, 2006

homodigitalis-- well, what kind of SF do you like? The field has really fractured to a lot of different taste tribes lately.

Sparx-- what I really like about the Vimes books is the arc that the Vimes character takes, into husband, father... I'm absolutely terrified that Pratchett will actually write his death. I've grown ridiculously attached to the man over the years.

Blacklite-- just curious... what's so horrible about the design?
posted by JeremyT at 5:55 PM on June 15, 2006

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