I’m geekin’ out.
Guys, science fiction and fantasy is bigger and better than ever. Check it out: Almost everybody knows at least something about Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Avatar, Ender’s Game… The list of TV and movies for us genre fans just keeps growing, and I couldn’t be happier.
But some of us (read: me, a couple of years ago) have only heard of the mainstream stuff. While everyone may have seen a “Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine” on the shelf at their local Barnes and Noble—and, as a genre writer, it’s hard not to know about magazines like these that mostly pay pro rates—I’ve decided to illuminate five of the smaller, free-er, better (whoops, is that my bias showing?) literary magazines for fantasy and science fiction writers.
I’m a big proponent of submitting work, especially when you’re just starting out, to the smaller magazines. Support your little startups and get yourself some exposure in the meantime.
Without further ado: Readers, mine this gold in the interwebs infosphere! Almost all these mags are read-for-free! Writers of genre literature: Submit here! Everything has a flat or semi-pro rate on this list!
Five Literary Magazines for the Scifi and Fantasy Writer
Whoops, there goes my bias, showing all over the place again. Fiction Vortex is the first place that bought one of my science fiction stories, and remains to be one of my favorite magazines to read.
Need some proof? Check out this story, about a strange little girl in a strange, lush fantasy world. Not stringent enough for you science fiction fans? How about this one, in which the main character must continued her abhorred father’s work to find sentience in a bunch of wriggly worms.
Yeah. They’re basically awesome.
Bonus: They give out extra moneys for Editor’s Choice picks and a Reader’s Choice poll every month.
I found Kasma through this incredible story, detailing the struggle of a man determined to find out, once and for all, what’s real and what isn’t. After perusing their online catalog for a while, one thought came to mind:
Woah. These guys are serious about serious science fiction, ranging from technology to social issues.
For example, don’t you wish that all creatures great and small could live together in harmony? Yeah. I did too before I read this one.
Bonus: You can flip through stories randomly, making it feel like a fun game to find your favorite!
This is kinda one of the Big Ones—they pay pro payment (6 cents per word, according to SFWA), so I wondered about including Apex because lots of sci-fi writers already know about them. But ultimately I couldn’t exclude one of my favorite magazines.
Apex has been host to greats like Theodora Goss, Saladin Ahmed, Elizabeth Bear, former editor Catherynne M. Valente (I can’t get over how fantastic she is), and a personal favorite of mine, Kelly Link, who wrote “The Constable of Abal.” She looks at ghosts and witches in a way nobody ever has before, twisting tropes and making everything all beautiful.
Apex is brilliant at curating both the light and beautiful and the dark and hair-raising. A more recent story, “Coins for Their Eyes” by Kris Millering, is a wonderful example of a read for darker seasons.
Betwixt is not too old or well-known yet, but it’s well on its way, boasting up-and-coming names in speculative fiction. Their choice in fiction is really beautiful—they go for tight character stories that taste like poetry. Take Sean R. Robinson’s “Madder Root and Rampion.” It’s a lush thicket of savory images—even sporting a great example of how to do second-person POV right!
Or how about Sara Saab’s “Blood Pepper and Brave Meat”? It’s just as rich and even more accessible. Its seven-year-old narrator is worried about all normal things a seven-year-old should worry about—plus watching gladiators fight and selling illegal drugs. She learns a hard lesson about the world and learns to stand up for herself.
Mmm. Speculative-fiction-poetry. My favorite kind of yum.
If fast-paced sci-fi and fantasy genre literature is more your game, check out Fantasy Scroll. Its issues are packed to the gills with interviews (with famous people!) as well as up-and-coming writers on the more traditional side of the genre.
I picked out two firey examples from the latest issue to inflame your fantasy-taste-buds. First, check out “The First First Fire” by Alexander Monteagudo. The bite-sized story chronicles a gentle man and how he comes to protect his village.
Another story with more of a horror lean is “Burn in Me” by Carrie Martin. All I’m sayin’ is, if you’re a firefighter, watch out for fire-demons. What I love about both stories is that they focus tightly around one character’s journey and arc, something that all of us genre writers could do to learn how to write.