Why Publishing a Magazine is (kinda) Like Running a Con

The background is this:  I’ve been an active (or actively GAFIATED)  science fiction fan for 45 years; I bought the whole Fannish community, ideals, special people, us-against-the-mundane-world, we look to the future and are therefore more enlightened thing hook, line and sinker.

That hook is still buried somewhere deeply in my gut.  I completely internalized it.  It was a Proud, and a lonely, thing, to be a Fan, and that was ok, because we all had each other and the wonderful, much better, futures we imagined to look forward to.

What’s that Shaw quote that was used by Bobby Kennedy (another idealist who, like his older brother, I was encouraged to emulate at a young age):

“Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.”

(That’s not an exact quote, but that’s immaterial to my point here.)  But, yeah.  When it comes to being a Fan, that.

Kennedy also said some other things that could be lifted right from the pages of fannish commentary (if they’d been written by speech writers) like this:

To say that the future will be different from the present is, to science fiction fans scientists, hopelessly self-evident. I observe regretfully that in politics, however, it can be heresy. It can be denounced as radicalism, or branded as subversion. There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed.


What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.

Which brings me to my point for today.

For the past several weeks I’ve been trying to write about the handful of kerfuffles surrounding several conventions – Worldcon76, Origins, ConCarolinas, FanX – and have been failing to do so.

The reason is simple:  I’ve got the upcoming debut of a resurrected science fiction magazine pending, there’s a lot at stake and I’m naturally reluctant to step into controversy that might negatively affect all of that.

This would not be a problem at all if, as some have suggested, I and the website/magazine were on a political crusade, yet one more tentacle on the world-girdling octopus that is the SJW Libtard SF Cabal.  But we’re not.  We’re on a crusade to bring good short science fiction to fans.  All fans.  Because wanting to appeal to the largest possible audience is just plain good common sense.

This is where publishing this magazine becomes like running a convention for fans, ostensibly ALL fans.  Conventions have, or should have, the same general goal of wanting to appeal to the widest possible audience of fans.

These days though, it seems that some folks have forgotten this, along with a host of other fannish concepts that used to bind us together, including the idea that our community is supposed to be above – well above – the petty BS that is the mundane world.  BS like red state-blue state politics.  (Why?  Because in the future, the wonderful, glorious near-edenic future we make possible by believing it is possible, politics are rendered moot through the application of reason and logic.)

I used to be able to have great discussions with fans from all across the political spectrum without rancor, hurted feels or concluding at the end that this person needed to be expunged from existence.  Because we were discussing what was really important – science fiction – and because we accepted each other from the get-go as having validity as fans.  Wearing a convention badge conferred legitimacy all by itself.  Assessments such as wrong-headed, Fugghead, just-don’t-get-it were not substituted for a fannish lable, they were appended to it.

It used to be that Fans tolerated, or ignored or desperately tried to turn a blind eye to unfannish behavior (much to our detriment as we have been learning) because lord knew we felt we needed each and every body posted on the walls of the ghetto to help stem the mundane tide.

No longer though.  The walls have been well and truly breached by both internal and external forces, for both good and ill.  The good?  Increased legitimacy for the genre, wider audiences, more opportunities.  The ill?  Wider audiences and a concurrent dilution of fannish sensibilities, like the idea that we’re doing all of this stuff for the benefit of the community rather than for personal gain, (more precisely, attaining personal gain through works that benefit the community);  that ‘size’ matters more than substance, or that mundane politics are more important than fannish ideals.

Fans have learned over the past several years (nigh on a decade at this point) that tolerance and acceptance can and ought to have limits.  The label of Fan can no longer be allowed to shield behavior that delegitimizes other Fans.  Saying so is not intolerant tolerance, it’s recognizing the original intent of Fannish acceptance.

There’s another way that this publication is (kinda) like some conventions.  Instead of trying to appeal to the widest possible audience, we’ve chosen to be a bit more selective.  We’ve chosen to appeal to Fans, not to those who seek to use fandom as a tool to advance unfannish agendas.


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    1. the publishing landscape has changed much over the years. One reason why magazines “merged” and maintained an title that in reality was no longer active, was because often, publishers purchased space on the racks, through distributors, for the title. In other words, they weren’t purchasing rack space for anything Acme Publishers produced, they were reserving space for the magazine itself – Acme Publisher’s Guide to Catching Road Runners Digest. Amazing’s publisher likely had space for both Amazing and Fanttastic separately and could use both spaces now to sell Amazing Stories combined with Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. Also, lets not forget the poor subscriber; someone with subscriptions to Fantastic and to Amazing could be mollified by having their subscription for Amazing (combined with) extended (though that doesn’t help much when the remaining publication goes to a less frequent publication schedule and then ceases entirely itself….).
      The most complicated one of these I’ve run across is:

      “3 Great Magazines in One
      Startling Stories
      Combined with Thrilling Wonder and Fantastic Story”

      Even without the “3 great…”, it currently remains the longest SF magazine title in the genre’s history.

      1. Perhaps the best magazine related story along somewhat similar lines is Vanguard Science Fiction. edited by James Blish. It’s first issue, which was to be its last as well, offered a special “lifetime subscription”….

  1. Mr. Davidson, I have been reading about another sci fi magazine called “Fantastic Science Fiction” and it was a companion piece to Amazing Stories. Do you also own the rights to it as well, and if so, do you plan on doing anything with it after you get Amazing Stories up and running.

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