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Fifth Di ..., The

Entry updated 26 February 2021. Tagged: Publication.

US low-paying Online Magazine which has been produced by a succession of publishers in various formats. It began as a slim, saddle-stapled, desk-top-published Digest magazine in September 1995, founded by James B Baker (1925-2002) and published bimonthly by Sam's Dot's predecessor company, Pro Mart Publishing, Carmichael, California. Baker wanted his publications to educate, and had Brian A Hopkins as science editor, but although he labelled Fifth Di ... as "adult" it was chiefly aimed at a Young Adult readership, stories in the early issues being fairly basic and using concepts that would be familiar to fans of Star Trek. Baker published his own short serial, "Anthroform" (May-July 1996) set at a time when humans and animals have been genetically engineered to blend with each other. Baker enlarged Fifth Di ... to what he called Pulp format from January 1997, though it was really only a letter-size format, running to 56 pages. Baker had problems acquiring a magazine mailing permit, but found he could mail books at a cheaper book rate, so from June 1998 he converted it to a 170-page spiral-bound volume with material by Don D'Ammassa, Ken Rand and Cathy Buburuz. Two other anthologies followed, Just Because (anth 1998) and Star Anthology (anth 1998) in the same form before Baker decided that the future lay in the internet. The Fifth Di ... was relaunched as an online magazine, reverting to volume 1, number 1, from February 1999, in which form it remained until June 2019; the schedule was bimonthly with six issues per year until 2002 when, after Baker's death, the magazine became quarterly from March 2003, under the editorship of J Alan Erwine, and the company reincorporated as Sam's Dot, with Tyree Campbell in overall charge.

In June 2013, J Alan Erwine took the magazine with him to Nomadic Delirium Press where it continued as before, though with slightly more adult themes, and the addition of a print edition from March 2016. Tyree Campbell reclaimed the magazine in 2020 under Hiraeth Press, when it again returned to the Young Adult market. It passed its one hundredth issue in September 2018, yet remains a little known magazine.

Few of the back issues of The Fifth Di ... are archived and so neither stories nor poems can be read directly. However, from 2000 to at least 2010 the items voted the best by readers in The Fifth Di ... and its companion magazines The Martian Wave and Aoife's Kiss, were collected in an annual print volume, Wondrous Web Worlds. The stories tend to be basic, and written by a fairly regular stable of contributors, including Cathy Buburuz, Lawrence Dagstine, Richard S Levine and Robert N Stephenson, but serve at least as an introduction to the wider world of sf if the readers are prepared to explore. [MA]


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