Is Asimov's SF Magazine dooooooomed in a new way?

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Joseph Nebus

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Dec 13, 2011, 8:19:24 PM12/13/11
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The January 2012 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine
makes the curious-to-me decision to use a highly-zoomed, cropped-in
version of Michael Whelan's cover for _Foundation And Earth_ as its
art.

Is there a clear thematic reason for this which I've been far
too oblivious to notice, or has the magazine just chosen to use a
25-year-old picture to sell itself?

--
http://nebusresearch.wordpress.com/ Joseph Nebus
Current Entry: Before Drawing a Graph
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Evelyn Leeper

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Dec 13, 2011, 8:28:31 PM12/13/11
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On 12/13/11 8:19 PM, Joseph Nebus wrote:
> The January 2012 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine
> makes the curious-to-me decision to use a highly-zoomed, cropped-in
> version of Michael Whelan's cover for _Foundation And Earth_ as its
> art.
>
> Is there a clear thematic reason for this which I've been far
> too oblivious to notice, or has the magazine just chosen to use a
> 25-year-old picture to sell itself?
>

Is it the 25th anniversary?

--
Evelyn C. Leeper
"I don't want to take my country back, I want to take it forward."

David Goldfarb

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Dec 13, 2011, 8:58:55 PM12/13/11
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In article <jc8tis$l7$1...@reader1.panix.com>,
Joseph Nebus <nebusj-@-rpi-.edu> wrote:
>
> The January 2012 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine
>makes the curious-to-me decision to use a highly-zoomed, cropped-in
>version of Michael Whelan's cover for _Foundation And Earth_ as its
>art.
>
> Is there a clear thematic reason for this which I've been far
>too oblivious to notice, or has the magazine just chosen to use a
>25-year-old picture to sell itself?

The latter. I assume they could get it cheap. It's been the case for
some time now that the cover has actually illustrated an interior story
only a few times a year, with other months getting relatively generic
cover art. (I remember at least one case where the cover was a medieval
painting in the public domain, although there if I recall correctly it
did have some thematic resonance with a story inside.) And interior
illustrations are a thing of the distant past.

Declining circulation, declining art budget.

--
David Goldfarb |"...with very few exceptions, nothing lasts
goldf...@gmail.com | forever; and among those exceptions no thought
gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu | or work of man is numbered." -- Iain M. Banks

Joseph Nebus

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Dec 14, 2011, 4:33:11 PM12/14/11
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In <4ee7fbbf$0$28385$607e...@cv.net> Evelyn Leeper <ele...@optonline.net> writes:

>On 12/13/11 8:19 PM, Joseph Nebus wrote:
>> The January 2012 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine
>> makes the curious-to-me decision to use a highly-zoomed, cropped-in
>> version of Michael Whelan's cover for _Foundation And Earth_ as its
>> art.
>>
>> Is there a clear thematic reason for this which I've been far
>> too oblivious to notice, or has the magazine just chosen to use a
>> 25-year-old picture to sell itself?

>Is it the 25th anniversary?

You know, it might be. I was using 25 years as rough shorthand,
but apparently the edition of _Foundation and Earth_ with that cover was
1987 in make. Hm. I wonder what month.

Joseph Nebus

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Dec 14, 2011, 4:33:49 PM12/14/11
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In <Lw686...@kithrup.com> gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu (David Goldfarb) writes:

>In article <jc8tis$l7$1...@reader1.panix.com>,
>Joseph Nebus <nebusj-@-rpi-.edu> wrote:

>> Is there a clear thematic reason for this which I've been far
>>too oblivious to notice, or has the magazine just chosen to use a
>>25-year-old picture to sell itself?

>The latter. I assume they could get it cheap. It's been the case for
>some time now that the cover has actually illustrated an interior story
>only a few times a year, with other months getting relatively generic
>cover art. (I remember at least one case where the cover was a medieval
>painting in the public domain, although there if I recall correctly it
>did have some thematic resonance with a story inside.) And interior
>illustrations are a thing of the distant past.

>Declining circulation, declining art budget.

Oh, but the magazines must have literally several readers who
aren't just scoping out the magazine as a target to submit their own
short stories.

Walter Bushell

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Dec 14, 2011, 4:57:02 PM12/14/11
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In article <jcb4nt$g5u$2...@reader1.panix.com>,
nebusj-@-rpi-.edu (Joseph Nebus) wrote:

> In <Lw686...@kithrup.com> gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu (David Goldfarb)
> writes:
>
> >In article <jc8tis$l7$1...@reader1.panix.com>,
> >Joseph Nebus <nebusj-@-rpi-.edu> wrote:
>
> >> Is there a clear thematic reason for this which I've been far
> >>too oblivious to notice, or has the magazine just chosen to use a
> >>25-year-old picture to sell itself?
>
> >The latter. I assume they could get it cheap. It's been the case for
> >some time now that the cover has actually illustrated an interior story
> >only a few times a year, with other months getting relatively generic
> >cover art. (I remember at least one case where the cover was a medieval
> >painting in the public domain, although there if I recall correctly it
> >did have some thematic resonance with a story inside.) And interior
> >illustrations are a thing of the distant past.
>
> >Declining circulation, declining art budget.
>
> Oh, but the magazines must have literally several readers who
> aren't just scoping out the magazine as a target to submit their own
> short stories.

Perhaps the people who like science fiction should buy the mags just to
keep them in circulation and offering an entry point for new writers.

--
It is the nature of the human species to reject what is true but unpleasant
and to embrace what is obviously false but comforting. -- H. L. Mencken

Ted Nolan <tednolan>

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Dec 14, 2011, 5:28:32 PM12/14/11
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In article <proto-0037E4....@news.panix.com>,
Walter Bushell <pr...@panix.com> wrote:
>
>Perhaps the people who like science fiction should buy the mags just to
>keep them in circulation and offering an entry point for new writers.
>

Does anyone know if that's actually true anymore? That is, do authors
with no priors show up in IASF or Analog, then show up as regulars there and
then have books come out? It involves research, so I'm not gonna do it :-)
but it seems to me a lot of, possibly most, authors show up as debut
novelists without a short story trail..
--
------
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..

Konrad Gaertner

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Dec 14, 2011, 5:36:47 PM12/14/11
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Walter Bushell wrote:
>
> Perhaps the people who like science fiction should buy the mags just to
> keep them in circulation and offering an entry point for new writers.

That sentence would make more sense if you replace "science" with
"short"; aspiring novellists have no need for magazines.


--
Konrad Gaertner - - - - - - - - - - - - email: kgae...@tx.rr.com
http://kgbooklog.livejournal.com/
"I don't mind hidden depths but I insist that there be a surface."
-- James Nicoll

Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)

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Dec 14, 2011, 7:26:44 PM12/14/11
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On 12/14/11 4:57 PM, Walter Bushell wrote:
> In article<jcb4nt$g5u$2...@reader1.panix.com>,
> nebusj-@-rpi-.edu (Joseph Nebus) wrote:
>
>> In<Lw686...@kithrup.com> gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu (David Goldfarb)
>> writes:
>>
>>> In article<jc8tis$l7$1...@reader1.panix.com>,
>>> Joseph Nebus<nebusj-@-rpi-.edu> wrote:
>>
>>>> Is there a clear thematic reason for this which I've been far
>>>> too oblivious to notice, or has the magazine just chosen to use a
>>>> 25-year-old picture to sell itself?
>>
>>> The latter. I assume they could get it cheap. It's been the case for
>>> some time now that the cover has actually illustrated an interior story
>>> only a few times a year, with other months getting relatively generic
>>> cover art. (I remember at least one case where the cover was a medieval
>>> painting in the public domain, although there if I recall correctly it
>>> did have some thematic resonance with a story inside.) And interior
>>> illustrations are a thing of the distant past.
>>
>>> Declining circulation, declining art budget.
>>
>> Oh, but the magazines must have literally several readers who
>> aren't just scoping out the magazine as a target to submit their own
>> short stories.
>
> Perhaps the people who like science fiction should buy the mags just to
> keep them in circulation and offering an entry point for new writers.
>

In the days I sampled the various mags, off and on, I came to the
conclusion that each issue of even the best mags offered maybe one good
story, on average, and that just wasn't worth the money I spent per
issue. Plus I was never into short stories.

--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;
Website: http://www.grandcentralarena.com Blog:
http://seawasp.livejournal.com

Ted Nolan <tednolan>

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Dec 14, 2011, 7:29:36 PM12/14/11
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In article <jcbes4$c3r$2...@dont-email.me>,
That's as a reader. Did you ever consider trying to sell to them?

Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)

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Dec 14, 2011, 7:35:04 PM12/14/11
to
I tried a few times, but my minimum length exceeds their maximum. I
don't write, in general, anything below about 12,000 words. That's what
happened with the stories that made up _Digital Knight_: I got several
rejections that said everyone in the office loved the story but it was
too long for their publication lengths.

I've managed to go lower than that a few times (notably the short
"scientific medusa" story I posted here some years back) but in general
I work naturally at lengths of novella on up.

slakmagik

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Dec 15, 2011, 1:39:15 AM12/15/11
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["Followup-To:" header set to alt.books.isaac-asimov.]
On 2011-12-14 Wed 16:33:11, Joseph Nebus wrote:
> In <4ee7fbbf$0$28385$607e...@cv.net> Evelyn Leeper <ele...@optonline.net> writes:
>
>>On 12/13/11 8:19 PM, Joseph Nebus wrote:
>>> The January 2012 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine
>>> makes the curious-to-me decision to use a highly-zoomed, cropped-in
>>> version of Michael Whelan's cover for _Foundation And Earth_ as its
>>> art.
>>>
>>> Is there a clear thematic reason for this which I've been far
>>> too oblivious to notice, or has the magazine just chosen to use a
>>> 25-year-old picture to sell itself?
>
>>Is it the 25th anniversary?
>
> You know, it might be. I was using 25 years as rough shorthand,
> but apparently the edition of _Foundation and Earth_ with that cover was
> 1987 in make. Hm. I wonder what month.
>

According to the ISFDB, it looks like August, if I'm looking at the
right one:

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?14446

But the first edition had different art and came out in 1986. I don't
know why art from a paperback reprint would be considered special in a
commemorative sense. That would be commemorating the artist more than
the author, it seems. (Mine is this weird thing, which has the original
jacket art:

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?286824

except mine has a slightly different "gutter code".)

I suspect it just looked good and, as others mentioned, was
(comparatively) cheap.

David Goldfarb

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Dec 15, 2011, 5:19:51 AM12/15/11
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In article <jcb4nt$g5u$2...@reader1.panix.com>,
Joseph Nebus <nebusj-@-rpi-.edu> wrote:
>In <Lw686...@kithrup.com> gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu (David Goldfarb) writes:
>>Declining circulation, declining art budget.
>
> Oh, but the magazines must have literally several readers who
>aren't just scoping out the magazine as a target to submit their own
>short stories.

I know for a fact it has at least one.

--
David Goldfarb | "I am an atheist, myself. A simple faith, but
goldf...@gmail.com | a great comfort to me in these last days."
gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu | -- Lois McMaster Bujold, _Shards of Honor_

jack...@bright.net

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Dec 15, 2011, 6:47:51 AM12/15/11
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Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor) wrote:

>> Perhaps the people who like science fiction should buy the mags just to
>> keep them in circulation and offering an entry point for new writers.
>>
>
> In the days I sampled the various mags, off and on, I came to the
>conclusion that each issue of even the best mags offered maybe one good
>story, on average, and that just wasn't worth the money I spent per
>issue. Plus I was never into short stories.

That's was a known problem even then. I remember a Spider Robinson
book review column on Original Anthologies, he mentions that magazines
try to offset this disadvantage with other features such as *ahem*
book review columns, science columns, something else... convention
schedules?

Yeah, another aspect of doooooming the magazines.

--
-Jack

Joseph Nebus

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Dec 16, 2011, 9:14:19 PM12/16/11
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In <9ksm8g...@mid.individual.net> t...@loft.tnolan.com (Ted Nolan <tednolan>) writes:

>In article <proto-0037E4....@news.panix.com>,
>Walter Bushell <pr...@panix.com> wrote:
>>
>>Perhaps the people who like science fiction should buy the mags just to
>>keep them in circulation and offering an entry point for new writers.

>Does anyone know if that's actually true anymore? That is, do authors
>with no priors show up in IASF or Analog, then show up as regulars there and
>then have books come out? It involves research, so I'm not gonna do it :-)
>but it seems to me a lot of, possibly most, authors show up as debut
>novelists without a short story trail..

Well, the introductions for the January 2012 Asimov's stories
does say that Katherine Marzinsky's 'Recyclable Material' is her first
published story, so that's one new author out of seven short story
writers (the others being Elizabeth Bear, Paul McAuley, Jack McDevitt,
Zachary Jernigan, C W Johnson, and Eric del Carlo).

The 'Next Issue' page says it has a story from 'new author'
D Thomas Minton, which might or might not be a first publication or
just a first-story-in-Asimov's, and 'prolific new author' Ken Liu,
which I suppose means 'new as compared to Rudy Rucker, who's also
appearing next month'. Also to appear are Eileen Gunn, Robert Reed,
Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Bruce McAllister, and Barry Malzberg, several
of whom I believe may be authors familiar from years gone by.

Happily, this is the issue with the 2011 story index, so it's
got a roster of who's appeared. Someone who understands isfdb.org
might be able to use this to sort out how many of the authors are new
talent.
Current Entry: Hopefully, Saying Something True
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Ted Nolan <tednolan>

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Dec 17, 2011, 12:11:44 AM12/17/11
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In article <jcgttq$2fq$1...@reader1.panix.com>,
Well, I wasn't doubting that new writers appear in the magazines. My
question was more on whether they move up the food chain from there.
The old career path(*) was to publish short stories, then maybe a serial
then to graduate out of the magazines into first-publication novels.
It just seems to me that most novelists now appear full-blown with
first-novel as first-sale, bypassing the mags entirely.


(*) "old" but not "original". In the original path there was essentially
no genre novel market.

W. Citoan

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Dec 17, 2011, 3:43:44 PM12/17/11
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Ted Nolan <tednolan> wrote:
> >>Walter Bushell <pr...@panix.com> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> Perhaps the people who like science fiction should buy the mags just to
> >>> keep them in circulation and offering an entry point for new writers.

[snip]

> Well, I wasn't doubting that new writers appear in the magazines. My
> question was more on whether they move up the food chain from there.
> The old career path(*) was to publish short stories, then maybe a
> serial then to graduate out of the magazines into first-publication
> novels. It just seems to me that most novelists now appear full-blown
> with first-novel as first-sale, bypassing the mags entirely.

That's a question I've wondered also as I've seen the above sentiment
over the years. To try and answer it, I downloaded the latest ISFDB
database bump and generated some stats.

The format of the stats is as follows:

DECADE AUTHOR WAS FIRST PUBLISHED:
NOVEL only = # authors with only novels
SHORT only = # authors with only shorts
BOTH with BOTH first = # authors with both & both in first year
BOTH with NOVEL first = # authors with both & novel first
BOTH with SHORT first = # authors with both & short first

The stats include only novels, short fiction, and serials (treated as
SHORT); exclude non-English titles; excludes variants (same work with
title change or pseudonym); and does not differentiate magazines from
anthologies (for where short appeared). It also assumes that while the
ISFDB has errors and omissions, they occur equally in both novels and
shorts at this level of counting.

And the results are:

1930s:
NOVEL only = 191
SHORT only = 1449
BOTH with BOTH first = 29
BOTH with NOVEL first = 71
BOTH with SHORT first = 212

1940s:
NOVEL only = 110
SHORT only = 693
BOTH with BOTH first = 7
BOTH with NOVEL first = 30
BOTH with SHORT first = 118

1950s:
NOVEL only = 330
SHORT only = 1489
BOTH with BOTH first = 26
BOTH with NOVEL first = 67
BOTH with SHORT first = 234

1960s:
NOVEL only = 394
SHORT only = 1301
BOTH with BOTH first = 17
BOTH with NOVEL first = 74
BOTH with SHORT first = 237

1970s:
NOVEL only = 939
SHORT only = 1672
BOTH with BOTH first = 28
BOTH with NOVEL first = 235
BOTH with SHORT first = 396

1980s:
NOVEL only = 1745
SHORT only = 2364
BOTH with BOTH first = 50
BOTH with NOVEL first = 422
BOTH with SHORT first = 498

1990s:
NOVEL only = 2085
SHORT only = 5494
BOTH with BOTH first = 84
BOTH with NOVEL first = 437
BOTH with SHORT first = 725

2000s:
NOVEL only = 5879
SHORT only = 6614
BOTH with BOTH first = 158
BOTH with NOVEL first = 581
BOTH with SHORT first = 625

2010s:
NOVEL only = 3518
SHORT only = 2514
BOTH with BOTH first = 67
BOTH with NOVEL first = 25
BOTH with SHORT first = 24

So, minus bugs, it appears that the magazines, while they may have been
a gateway for new authors, where never a dominant gateway for new novel
authors (for the early decades, novel authors were pretty evenly split
between those who started with novels and with shorts) and starting in
the 1970s, that role has vastly shrunk.

Now, if this could be broken down by sub-genre (the original statement
specified "science fiction") would that change the results any? Not
sure, but that is outside the realm of the scriptable.

- W. Citoan
--
To clip the wings Of their high-flying arbitrary Kings
-- Dryden

Michael A. Terrell

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Dec 17, 2011, 10:36:30 PM12/17/11
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"Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)" wrote:
>
Me, either. It takes time to develop the characters, and short
stories are more like outlines of a story that was never completed. I
also like continuing series that have the same core characters in
various situations.


--
You can't have a sense of humor, if you have no sense.

John M. Gamble

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Dec 18, 2011, 12:40:12 PM12/18/11
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On Dec 16, 11:11 pm, t...@loft.tnolan.com (Ted Nolan <tednolan>)
wrote:
> In article <jcgttq$2f...@reader1.panix.com>,
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Joseph Nebus <nebu...@-rpi-.edu> wrote:
> >In <9ksm8gF49...@mid.individual.net> t...@loft.tnolan.com (Ted Nolan
> ><tednolan>) writes:
>
> >>In article <proto-0037E4.16570214122...@news.panix.com>,
Except that calling that a food chain is misleading. W. Citoan's
table is useful and interesting, but look at the conclusion "So,
minus bugs, it appears that the magazines, while they may have
been a gateway for new authors, [were] never a dominant gateway
for new novel authors."

Writers of novels also wrote short stories, and going by a
comment by Gordon Dickson, a short story could pay rent for
a month in the fifties and sixties, and if I remember an
introduction George R. R. Martin made in one of his collections,
this was true even in the seventies. Writers were not slipping
down a food chain if they wrote a short story after a novel.

The serial wasn't a gateway to the novel, it was a way of
getting novels into magazines, and was found money as far as the
author was concerned (I can think of a few cases where the serial
never made it into book form, but they are the exceptions).
The average serial was three issues long[1], so at best a
magazine could run four novels a year if every issue always had
a serial installment in it, which of course wasn't always the
case. Four-issue serials drop the average number of novels even
further of course, and the occasional two-episode serial wasn't
long enough to be a novel.


1: *Mission of Gravity* was famously four issues long, which is
interesting since Fred Pohl wrote in *The Way The Future Was* he
went to the effort of marking it up in three sections for
Campbell when Campbell rejected it because it didn't divide well
for serialization. Yes, that was nuts.

--john
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