My favorite theme in fiction is exploring the human condition. By that I mean dealing with the everyday challenges for what it means to be human: survival, relationships, morality, how did we get here, what is the purpose of life. Any story that touches on these and how characters deal with them is my kind of story.
My favorite genre for this theme is science fiction. Not so much the space opera as the “what if”. Like, what would happen if an astronaut was left behind on Mars (The Martian by Andy Weir)? Or, what would happen if a human was raised by aliens and then came back to earth (Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein)? For me the best science fiction takes the trends of today, extrapolates into the future where they could lead, and explores that world through story. Currently, one of the best authors for this is Cory Doctorow (Two examples are Little Brother and Pirate Cinema).
One challenge about contemporary science fiction is that the world changes so fast while publishing takes so long. Once a manuscript has been submitted to a publisher it could take one or two years to get it into the reader’s hands. Consequently, some of the most timely science fiction comes in the form of short fiction (short stories, novelettes, novellas). These often take much less time to get to print. And when they are published online, it takes even less time.
For the past year I have subscribed to and read one of these magazines–Uncanny Magazine. As I thought about what I wanted to read in the new year, I had an idea. What if I focused in 2023 on reading short fiction rather than novels? I am a member of a book club so I would still read novels, just fewer. I decided to go for it. So now I subscribe to an additional five short fiction magazines that publish in three genres–science fiction, fantasy, and horror. These additional magazines are:
- Analog Magazine (print)
- Apex Magazine (ebook)
- Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (print)
- Clarkesworld Magazine (ebook)
- Lightspeed Magazine (ebook)
I have set up a spreadsheet to track all the stories I read in these magazines this year, including a brief summary for each. I will share that in some form here as I go, but I am not sure yet how. Perhaps as a single post as I finish each issue. I am excited about this project and look forward to recording my journey here!