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Science Fiction Eye

Entry updated 19 February 2024. Tagged: Publication.

US Amateur Magazine of science-fiction criticism and review. Fifteen issues, Winter [January] 1987 to Fall 1997; edited by Stephen P Brown and Daniel Steffan, and published by the 'Til You Go Blind Cooperative to issue #5 (July 1989); edited and published Brown alone from #6; published from Washington, District of Columbia, to #8, thereafter from Asheville, North Carolina. All issues were letter-size, saddle-stapled, except #3 (March 1988) which was an extravagant large tabloid (14 x 11 in; 356 x 280 mm). This was also the special fiction issue, most if not all of whose stories were specially commissioned. It presented a range of material by Paul Di Filippo, Richard Lupoff, Charles Sheffield, John Shirley and Ian Watson, and the debut story by Kathe Koja. The large format, unfortunately disliked by retailers, was intended to signal an experimental sf magazine that might have an impact, appeal and influence in sf similar to that of Art Spiegelman's (1948-    ) Raw (1980-1991) in Comics.

This intensely lively critical journal, professional in appearance, was at times regarded as the house journal of Cyberpunk, an image it gained because the first issue was a detailed study, or rather "autopsy", of the subject, including Interviews with William Gibson and John Shirley. Its primary contributors continued to be the names most closely associated with the cyberpunk subgenre, especially John Kessel, John Shirley and Bruce Sterling, so it never lost that label even though the magazine was always looking beyond. The second issue (August 1987) had a special section on Philip K Dick and an interview with Lucius Shepard.

Science Fiction Eye was really a magazine for science-fiction radicals, chiefly a new generation of writers aware of how Technology was transforming society and looking at the impact and implications. It covered literature (mostly but not exclusively sf), music, technology, Communications, or whatever was hot on the streets at a given moment, with an agreeable if occasionally irritating air of seeing itself as living on the cutting edge. It was in Science Fiction Eye that Bruce Sterling coined the term Slipstream (July 1989) and it was that type of betwixt-and-between fiction that most interested the magazine.

Its various controversies included a continuing savage attack on Orson Scott Card, and others on Craig Strete and on Scientology. Further contributors included Ferret, Richard Grant, Eileen Gunn, Elizabeth Hand, Richard Kadrey, Charles Platt and Gary Westfahl, and there were features on J G Ballard, Samuel R Delany, Thomas M Disch, Ian McEwan, Christopher Priest, Connie Willis and David Wingrove.

With issue #12 (Summer 1993), Science Fiction Eye incorporated Doug Fratz's Quantum (see Thrust): Fratz then served as a contributing editor, but the personality of Quantum never really made its mark, although the subject matter covered by Science Fiction Eye became even more diverse. Paul Di Filippo provided a regular column considering the borderlands of science fiction including the writings of Ishmael Reed. Bruce Sterling examined the French romantics, whilst Stepan Chapman looked at the role of artist John R Neill in creating the imagery of Oz (see L Frank Baum). Brown found it harder to sustain the magazine, which saw only four issues in its last five years, but it always remained very readable. Science Fiction Eye was never nominated for a Hugo award but it did win three Small Press awards given by Readercon, run by the Small Press Writers and Artists Organization.

Science Fiction Eye was also popular in Japan, where it sold 10% of its print run, which is why the cover included its price not only in US dollars and pounds sterling but in Japanese yen. Takayuku Tatsumi was a regular contributor and even assembled a Japanese edition of the magazine. [MA/PN]


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