Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On Creating Better Magazines (And Anthologies)

K. Tempest Bradford shares her thoughts on what for her is needed to create better magazines and anthologies. An excerpt from her post at Tor:

A couple of weeks ago at Readercon I was on a panel called “The Future of Magazines.” Actually, I was on the second part of this panel focusing on online magazines since the premise aimed at pitting print and webzines against each other. Granted, when talking about new vs. old models of publishing the divide often does come in the form of print or online, but not always. In my summation I said that the real issue is not print or online, it’s that SF needs better magazines, period.

This ties into the latest iteration of “Oh My God there are no female authors in that anthology, and oh look no writers of color, either” that Arachne pointed to last week. There are more layers to what’s going on with the Mammoth book than just one editor’s massive fail. More than just his failure to find and include women (which he has already attempted to pass off as a matter of taste, the first fallback position of fail-prone editors). More than just his failure to include writers of color (which he has, as far as I know, not attempted to explain away). This anthology, like so many others, like so many magazines, is lacking several other less-obvious minorities: LGBT, non-American/Western European, differently-abled, just to name those that come to mind. Obviously I can’t say for sure that there aren’t any authors in the book that come from those groups, and the reason is that you can’t always tell by the name. But considering the lack of attention paid to the more obvious exclusions, I feel safe in betting that there’s a severe (but perhaps not total) lack of the others, too.

Before you start yelling at me about quotas and affirmative action, let me explain that I do not consider the above as some kind of checklist. Editors need not collect one of each like Pokemon or something. No one is advocating for editors to engage in tokenism. We blew past the point where tokenism was useful about 30 years ago — some genre editors must have missed that memo. What people are advocating for is a change in the way editors think, the way they make decisions, in the way they see their jobs. It is not merely a matter of taste, anymore. It’s a matter of not having a small mind or narrow vision.

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