For almost as long as they have existed, science fiction and fantasy have provided much more than sweeping novels and grandiose story arcs (as wonderful as those are). Short stories, art, poetry, and more from these genres are plentiful and remarkable, if you know where to look. For years, science fiction and fantasy magazines have provided readers with a wealth of work that falls outside the novel format. The old science fiction and fantasy magazines whose over-the-top covers and bizarre ads we often chuckle at were some of the first to publish names like Heinlein, Asminov, and Butler. Today, some of the best new writers are being published in science fiction and fantasy magazines, which take chances on women, authors of color, and genre innovators who have more trouble breaking into large-scale publishing. The best part about this content, though, might just be how easy it is to access. Try these five science fiction and fantasy magazines to take your reading to the next level.
On Spec – Quarterly, $14.99 – Started by the oldest Sci-fi and Fantasy writer’s group in Canada, On Spec has been publishing new and exciting Canadian talent for years, including the artists who create their covers. The subscription price is a steal, and while free is always great, this money helps them pay well for the content they use. Digital and physical subscriptions are both available.
Shimmer – Bi-Monthly, Free (+) – Shimmer is a physical and digital magazine focused on fantasy (though they do publish some exceptional sci-fi). Shimmer is impressive in its focused approach, pursuing a roster of creators who come from all walks of life and produce works that are as unusual as they are excellent. Most creative pieces they publish are available free online and a subscription gets you access to thoughtful interviews and editorials. (BONUS: Profits from their shop are currently being donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center.)
Try It: Fallow by Ashley Blooms
Strange Horizons – Weekly, Free – Strange Horizons is a weekly online publication that’s been around for quite awhile, and has plenty of awards under it’s belt. They publish everything from short stories and poetry to essays and reviews, as long as it falls under speculative fiction. As a non-profit funded entirely through donations and grants, Strange Horizons provides their entire archive at no cost. Most content is also available in audio format via their podcasts.
Try It: The Last Refuge by Eduardo Goligorsky (Also available in it’s original Spanish.)
Samovar – Quarterly, Free – Samovar is a new quarterly project produced as part of Strange Horizons to showcase translated science fiction and fantasy writing. Only the first issue is out so far, but it has set the bar high for the future. The inaugural issue has stories originally published in Finnish, Pashto, Chinese, and Hebrew. All content is available in it’s original language, too, which is just freaking cool.
Try It: Wither and Blossom by Suvi Kauppila
Uncanny – Bi-Monthly, Free (+) – Uncanny is a leader in the field of science fiction and fantasy magazines, with an ever growing list of awards to boast of. Of special note is their non-fiction, which is just as moving and beautiful as any fiction or poetry. This subscription is the priciest on the list at $23.88, but they pay their creators well and offer the entirety of the magazine for free online a few weeks after subscribers get it. This is definitely a magazine to watch if you want to get a jump on the next big names in science fiction and fantasy.
Try It: City of Villains: Why I Don’t Trust Batman by Sarah Gailey