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Fireside Magazine

Entry updated 8 March 2021. Tagged: Publication.

US professional Online Magazine available as an ebook by subscription only. It was produced by Brian J White in Boston, Massachusetts. White sought financing via crowdfunding; his intentions were to publish "great stories, regardless of genre". There were three preliminary issues dated Spring, Summer and Winter 2012, which were also downloadable, and which covered the spectrum of speculative fiction, with authors including Ken Liu, Mary Robinette Kowal and Tobias S Buckell, whose "Please Enter to Execute" in the first issue, about Internet vigilantism against scammers, caught the mood of many. White now used the Kickstarter Campaign to fund a year's worth of issues as advance subscriptions and after a brief hiatus, Fireside was relaunched in August 2013 as a monthly and White was sufficiently confident to run a serial, a time-travel conundrum, "The Forever Endeavor" (August 2013-July 2014; 2016) by Chuck Wendig. A second serial followed, "She Wolf and Cub" (October 2014-September 2015) by Lilith Saintcrow which she described as a Cyborg-assassin western and which continued from her earlier story "Maternal Type" (January 2014). From the start Fireside also ran several ultra-short stories each issue (see Flash Fiction), for which the magazine became renowned, and which ranged from the sardonic or macabre, such as "Mice" (August 2013) by Keffy R M Kehrli (August 2013) where food can transform humans (see Metamorphosis) to the evocative Arabian-Nights style fantasy "Death's Garden" (November 2014) by Day Al-Mohamed and the loss of Alien beauty in "Before the Burst" (April 2018) by D A Xiaolin Spires. Most of the short stories can be classified as literary fantasy or horror rather than traditional sf; examples of the latter include the post-apocalyptic End of the World conclusion "He Who Watches" (August 2015) by Alex Shvartsman, and the epitome of an Asimovian Robot murder mystery, "Three Laws" (August 2017) by Andrea Phillips .

Fireside had always promoted two goals, to publish great stories and to pay writers and artists well; incensed by the election of Donald Trump as President in 2016, White added a third goal, "resisting the global rise of fascism and far-right populism, starting with the current occupant of the White House." In fact White had always had a goal, or at least a value, of seeking work by underrepresented sectors of the population and in 2016 he commissioned what came to be called the BlackSpecFic Review, under Cecily Kane, which considered the extent to which black writers were marginalized within the sf community. The report revealed that less than 2% of the stories published in the sf magazines in 2015 were by black writers. White ensured that black writers and people of colour more generally had the opportunity to submit to Fireside and it became one of the key markets. The survey was conducted again for 2016 and 2017 when White was able to demonstrate that over 22% of the stories he published were by black writers. The story for which Fireside best known, because it was nominated for the Nebula Award, is "The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington" (February 2018) by Phenderson Djèlí Clark, the co-founder of Fiyah magazine, and is about the memories evoked by the teeth of slaves (see Slavery) inserted in Washington's dentures. Clark also contributed an illuminating essay, "Imagining the Past: Speculative Fiction and the Recovering of Black History", posted on the Fireside website (22 February 2018). Fireside remains one the leading sf magazines for underrepresented writers. White was succeeded as editor by Julia Rios from September 2017. Fireside was nominated for the Hugo Award as best semiprozine in 2018. [MA]


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