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Clarkesworld

Entry updated 30 August 2021. Tagged: Publication.

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US Online Magazine (later with print, ebook and podcast as well as online versions) which has appeared monthly since October 2006. It is published and co-edited by Neil Clarke, in Stirling, New Jersey, under the imprint Wyrm Publishing. The initial editors were Sean Wallace and Nick Mamatas until July 2008, respectively handling solicited fiction and unsolicited fiction/nonfiction; Clarke and Wallace then co-edited until October 2010 and though Wallace theoretically moved on to his own magazine The Dark, he continued an involvement in Clarkesworld and returned as editor from January 2012. Cheryl Morgan was nonfiction editor from January 2009 to November 2011, succeeded by Jason Heller and then Kate Baker.

Although it pays SFWA qualifying rates and has a readership of just over 20,000, Clarkesworld was regarded as a Semiprozine for purposes of the Hugo, and won the award in that category in 2010, 2011 and 2013. It was planned that the contents of each issue would be released as a chapbook, in a 100-copy limited edition, several months after online publication; owing to printing problems this practice lapsed after the first three issues, but the wider availability of POD printing led to its return from January 2013. In addition all of the stories from each year are collected and published in an annual Anthology. The first two of these are Realms: The First Year of Clarkesworld Magazine (anth 2008) and Realms 2: The Second Year of Clarkesworld Magazine (anth 2010), both edited by Sean Wallace and Nick Mamatas, and from Clarkesworld: Year 3 (anth 2013) the editors have been Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace. The series continues. The magazine introduced nonfiction content from issue #13 (October 2007), a regular podcast (fiction only) from issue #21 (June 2008) and an Ebook edition from #43 (April 2010), which is also being applied to back issues. As at the end of 2012, Clarkesworld had an estimated 30,000 unique visitors every month.

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. The most extreme example to date is "Spar" (October 2009 #37) by Kij Johnson, an unpleasant, visceral account of a human and alien trapped in a space lifeboat where the only common denominator seems to be endless Sex. The story won the Nebula award for that year's best short fiction, which not only showed how the "pass along" factor could work, but also demonstrated how liberating the magazine could be. In fact from the second issue, Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia had pushed the boundaries of taste in "The Moby Clitoris of His Beloved" (November 2006). Such stories contrast with the beauty of "The Ape's Wife" (September 2007) by Caitlín R Kiernan, the poignancy of "The River Boy" (January 2008) by Tim Pratt, the ingenuity of "The Sky That Wraps the World Round, Past the Blue and Into the Black" (March 2008) by Jay Lake, the perceptive recursiveness of "After Moreau" (April 2008) by Jeffrey Ford, or the savage intensity of the multi-award nominated "The Things" (January 2010) by Peter Watts, all of which have that "pass along" factor that has made Clarkesworld one of the most exciting online magazines. Further short-story Nebula winners are Aliette de Bodard's "Immersion" (June 2012) and A T Greenblatt's "Give the Family My Love" (February 2019); Naomi Kritzer's "Cat Pictures Please" (January 2015) won a short-story Hugo and Suzanne Palmer's "The Secret Life of Bots" (September 2017) won a novelette Hugo.

From 2011 Neil Clarke began to work extensively with Ken Liu, who provided translations of stories from Chinese sources (see China). In 2014 Clarke entered an agreement with the Storycom International Culture Communication Company to showcase an additional Chinese story in every issue, selecting stories from recommendations by a team of professionals familiar with Chinese sf. The stories began to appear regularly from issue #100 (January 2015) and their publication encouraged submissions from others around the world.

The magazine now has several forms: online, print, ebook and podcast. [MA]

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