Reading the SF Encyclopedia, One Random Entry At A Time: Clarkesworld

The most recent issue of the magazine, October, 2023, #205.

Oooo, the first magazine to pop up during my random survey of SF Encyclopedia entries.

Clarkesworld has been a phenomena in the field, proving, among other things that not only can a professional magazine win a Hugo for Best Semi-Professional magazines, but that a primarily electronically based SF magazine can be both successful and influential on our  field.   (I’m not bitching about Clarkesworld’s Hugo wins.  They’re well-deserved and the magazine qualifies for the definition.  I’m pointing out that the distinction between pro and semi, so far as Hugo Awards are concerned, is a bit of a weird amalgam of early Fannish  sensibilities and more recent practicalities.)

Over the years it has published a number of award winning works and worked with some of the best writers, editors and artists in the field (shoutout to Nick Mamatas, Cheryl Morgan, Sean Wallace, Kate Baker, Jason Heller).

Clarkesworld, and its publisher – Neil Clarke of Wyrm Publishing – have been pretty influential in our field since the magazine’s premiere in 2006, with, among other things, helping to open up the English language market to Chinese science  fiction, highlighting the “AI Problem” and working closely with SFWA on a number of matters.

Clarkewsorld’s SF Enclyclopedia states:

Clarkesworld is open to any form of Speculative Fiction and stories can range from folklore and fable to hard sf and dark horror. In establishing the publication criteria for short fiction, the editorial team believed that to make it easier to read online, stories should be short (originally a 4000-word limit was set but this has since been dropped) and should have a strong “pass along” factor, meaning that each story’s, and thereby the magazine’s, reputation would rapidly be networked. This meant that whilst the stories did not need to be necessarily sensational, they had to be memorable and perhaps take risks.

(Aside:  Locus won this award almost perpetually for over 20 years until rules were changed; some of its wins were for Best Fanzine.  The magazine award categories – professional, semi-professional and fanzine – have continuously dealt with definition and domination issues.  Best Professional magazine was dropped in 1972.).

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