Subterranean

Tagged: Publication

US semi-professional magazine which began in print form and gradually migrated to an Online Magazine with a brief overlapping of two separate magazines. The print version was letter size, on quality paper, published and edited by William K. Schafer as an adjunct to Subterranean Press in Burton, Michigan, which had specialized in quality books, mostly horror and the supernatural, and the first issue of the magazine, published in May 2005, also focused on horror. The schedule was roughly every four or five months.

The second issue (October 2005) had a more distinctive sf cover illustrating a tale of Mars, "Bradbury Weather" by Caitlin R Kiernan. With the third issue, and in line with Subterranean's quality book press, Schafer published a limited 150-copy hardcover edition of Subterranean as well as the trade edition which sold out. At this stage Schafer had not considered the internet other than for posting individual stories, but with issue #4 (Summer 2006), guest editor John Scalzi made it available as a PDF on his website, once the print edition had sold through. The readership rocketed and Schafer decided to switch to publication online. The print version of issue #6, compiled in January 2007, was not released until May, but most of the contents appeared in the first online issue, dated Winter 2007, available in March. But that issue also ran a novella by Lucius Shepard acquired by Ellen Datlow for the print issue #7 which she was guest-editing and which did not appear until November 2007. By that time the online edition was appearing on a regular quarterly schedule. The final print issue, #8, had long been compiled but was not released until October 2011. The online edition, though, saw thirty-one issues until Schafer ceased publication in Summer 2014, by which time he felt it was no longer necessary as he was sufficiently busy with the book publication side.

Subterranean is still remembered as primarily a magazine of fantasy and horror, and it won the International Horror Guild award in 2007 as the best such magazine. Three of its stories won the World Fantasy Award and a fourth the Shirley Jackson award; its one Nebula award was for a fantasy, "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen's Window" (Summer 2010) by Rachel Swirsky, who had herself been a Subterranean discovery, debuting in John Scalzi's issue. However, there was a fair quota of science fiction, including "Hesperia and Glory" by Ann Leckie (Summer 2006) – another debut in the Scalzi issue – "The Life Cycle of Software Objects" (Fall 2010) by Ted Chiang, about the lives of artificial creatures; the Majipoor tale "The Tomb of the Pontifex Dvorn" (Winter 2011) by Robert Silverberg; "Mirror, Mirror" (Summer 2011) by Tobias S Buckell, set in a future of augmented reality; "Shaka II" (Fall 2011), in which Mike Resnick explored one of his possible African futures; and "The Weight of History, the Lightness of the Future" (Spring 2012) by Jay Lake, where Aliens have destroyed humanity.

Subterranean was always a class publication and the online edition ran many excellent novellas. A representative anthology is The Best of Subterranean (anth 2017) edited by William Schafer. [MA]

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