Annual Summation: 2017

This summation has three parts. The first is a list and slideshow of the magazines Featured Futures covered in 2017, with statistics and lists of the stories read and recommended from them. The second is a list of this blog’s popular posts and most-visited stories, with a pitch for some “underclicked” stories. The third is a note about some non-webzine readings I did for Tangent.

Zines, Readings, and Recs

In 2017, Featured Futures covered these fifteen webzines:

  1. Apex Magazine
  2. Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  3. Clarkesworld Magazine
  4. Compelling Science Fiction
  5. Diabolical Plots
  6. Fantastic Stories of the Imagination (defunct)
  7. Flash Fiction Online
  8. Grievous Angel
  9. Lightspeed
  10. Nature (Futures)
  11. Nightmare
  12. Strange Horizons
  13. Terraform
  14. Tor.com
  15. Uncanny

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I read 509 stories of 2.1 million words from those sources (including a handful of stories from other webzines). Of those 509 stories, 100 received either an honorable mention (50, including two from those others) or a recommendation (50, 26 of which are also noted for having appeared in the “Web’s Best” posts which are linked to in the “Popular Posts” section below). (That there were exactly 100 of 50 and 50 is a bizarre fluke.) The breakdown of total stories, recommendations, and honorable mentions by zines (along with a column of “Web’s Best” selections) was:

          Zine    TS     R    HM  R+HM      R%     HM%   R+HM% | WB
                                                               |
          Apex    36     3     1     4   8.33%   2.78%  11.11% |  3
           BCS    53     6     2     8  11.32%   3.77%  15.09% |  2
  Clarkesworld    46     5     2     7  10.87%   4.35%  15.22% |  3
    Compelling    31     4     7    11  12.90%  22.58%  35.48% |  1
            DP    20     0     0     0   0.00%   0.00%   0.00% |  0
     Fantastic     2     0     0     0   0.00%   0.00%   0.00% |  0
           FFO    32     4     4     8  12.50%  12.50%  25.00% |  2
            GA    29     3     1     4  10.34%   3.45%  13.79% |  0
    Lightspeed    43     5     9    14  11.63%  20.93%  32.56% |  5
        Nature    51     5     7    12   9.80%  13.73%  23.53% |  2
     Nightmare    20     1     2     3   5.00%  10.00%  15.00% |  1
            SH    35     2     1     3   5.71%   2.86%   8.57% |  1
     Terraform    23     1     2     3   4.35%   8.70%  13.04% |  0
       Tor.com    47     7     6    13  14.89%  12.77%  27.66% |  4
       Uncanny    34     4     4     8  11.76%  11.76%  23.53% |  2
                                                               |
         TOTAL   502    50    48    98   9.96%   9.56%  19.52% | 26
                                                               |
         Other     7     0     2     2   0.00%  28.57%  28.57% |  0

The following is the complete list of those noted stories. The alphabet soup at the end indicates the category in the first chunk (SS=short story, NE=novelette, NA=novella), the genre in the second chunk (SF=science fiction, F=fantasy, H=horror, M=mainstream and the tilde (~) indicates my category differs from the webzine’s) and the third chunk is its status (HM=honorable mention, R=recommendation, WB=”Web’s Best” selection, which is a “recommendation plus”). Stories are supposed to be alphabetized by author and then title.

Popular (and Less Popular) Posts and Stories

The top five posts (plus one from the few days this blog was live last year) were:

  1. Web’s Best Science Fiction #1 (2017 Stories)
  2. Collated Contents of the Big Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, with Links!)
  3. Web’s Best Fantasy #1 (2017 Stories)
  4. Summation of Online Fiction: January 2017
  5. Links to Stories the Big SF/F Editors Picked As Their Favorites of 2016
  6. Summation of Online Fiction: August 2017

Even more popular than any post is, of course, the very user-friendly home page (which also throws any individual post stats into question) and the second most popular thing is the List of Webzines page. Even folks who have no interest in this site can make use of it, so that’s not surprising. One thing I’d like to point out, though, is that the relatively new page, List of Professional SF/F/H Magazines (which includes the pro webzines), so far has not been visited like the webzine list but is also generally useful and will be more relevant to this site’s coverage in 2018. Aside from that, I don’t feel like trying to drum up traffic for any overlooked posts/pages but the actual point of this site is to promote good short speculative fiction so I thought paying attention to the story hits would be a good thing to do. The top five visited stories (not clicks on my recommendation posts but clicks out to the stories themselves) were:

  1. Little /^^^\&-” by Eric Schwitzgebel, Clarkesworld #132, September 2017, SF short story
  2. Cease and Desist” by Tyler Young, Nature, 2017-01-18, SF short story
  3. Uncanny Valley” by Greg Egan, Tor.com, 2017-08-09, SF novelette
  4. A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad, Clarkesworld #124, January 2017, SF novelette
  5. This Is for You” by Bruce McAllister, Lightspeed #84, May 2017, SF short story/

All of those were in the Web’s Best Science Fiction which received a relatively massive influx of visitors (hi, Facebook!) and a similar flood of clicks. Particularly glad to see the clicks on the Egan and Prasad which I chose as the bookends because they were the longest, strongest stories and both of which need to win some kind of award for novelette.

I do want to draw attention to some selections from the relatively “underclicked” stories. It’s quite possible that vast numbers of people have seen these stories without Featured Futures being a factor and I just don’t see the clicks here but, relatively speaking, I’d have liked to see them get more hits.

  • Sweetlings” by Lucy Taylor, Tor.com, 2017-05-03, SF novelette
  • The Garbage Doll” by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Nightmare #53, February 2017, horror short story
  • The Dead Father Cookbook” by Ashley Blooms, Strange Horizons, 2017-07-17, fantasy short story
  • Penelope Waits” by Dennis Danvers, Apex #101, October 2017, science fiction short story
  • The Black Clover Equation” by Zach Shephard, Flash Fiction Online, April 2017, fantasy short story

“The Black Clover Equation” is a hilarious apocalypse and takes a comical scientific method into a world of leprechauns and luck, so is fundamentally fantasy. “Sweetlings” takes a horror sensibility into a world of punctuated equilibrium and climate change so, even if compressed and exaggerated to the point of fantasy, is rhetorically science fiction. “The Garbage Doll” is very dark fantasy or actual horror and “The Dead Father Cookbook,” while just plain damn weird, is also kind of a horrific tale if you look at it a certain way. So I’m not generally a fan of genre-fuzz and am not the biggest horror fan and maybe Featured Futures readers aren’t either, but I thought these were all remarkable tales. I have no theory for “Penelope Waits.” It is a fairly conventional SF tale in many ways but is so well done that it seems like it should win some readers. Except for it and “Sweetlings” (which both made the Web’s Best Science Fiction), all of these made Web’s Best Fantasy which was a very popular post but was overwhelmed by the popularity of Web’s Best Science Fiction.

Tangent(ial) Note

The Other 2017 Recommendations post mostly covers this, but I wanted to update it here because I did a late review of Weirdbook #37. That brings the total up to twenty-two reviews for Tangent, thirteen of which weren’t of webzines. The total non-webzine stories read for Tangent is 95 (bringing the overall total to 604 stories). I don’t know the word count but using the average word count of webzine stories (4,198, which is low because printzines, anthologies, and especially chapbook novellas generally have greater average word counts) it’s at least another 400K (bringing the total to over 2.5 million words).

One thing that can be derived from this is that, if fifteen professional webzines and a few Tangent reviews amount to that, and there are dozens of other webzines and dozens or hundreds of other Tangent reviews (and even all that wouldn’t grab every single story), I think it’s safe to say the speculative short fiction market is very healthy – maybe too healthy. And, as there were a handful of significant zines of broad appeal in the 60s-90s along with a few dominant broadcast channels that reached almost everyone, now there’s a cable-ization of short speculative fiction with dozens of markets being read by perhaps niche readerships. This has its good and bad effects but it certainly makes for interesting times and many millions of words a year to read.

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3 thoughts on “Annual Summation: 2017

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