Last issue, I discussed markets that accepted the broad range of fantasy stories. This issue focuses on the science fiction part of the speculative fiction short story market.


Science fiction as a genre is generally accepted to have begun in the late 1800s, unlike modern fantasy which has a much more recent start. Despite its long history, though, the science fiction genre has appeared to be in a decline, especially in the short fiction markets. While the long-standing magazines weigh more on the science fiction side, for years, the majority of new magazines have been fantasy.


That is shifting as we speak with a number of new science fiction short story markets setting up house on the Internet that make their intentions of gaining pro status known. While this does not change the risks in throwing in with a new market, many of these are well supported or come from established small presses, making their standing a little firmer. They are using a mix of advertising, donations, and fee-for-issues plans for financing, making these very interesting times.


Science fiction as a genre spans a range easily as broad as that of fantasy, from alternate history to time travel to contemporary cautionary tales and all the way to outer space. The amount of fantastical ideas versus scientific grounding also varies, with hard science at one end and space opera/science fantasy at the other, with something to appeal to readers of all levels of scientific background.


Because of this range, just like with fantasy markets, reading the guidelines is critical. The two longest standing science fiction markets, Asimov's Science Fiction and Analog Science Fiction and Fact, are commonly known to fall on opposite ends of the scientific grounding equation. Unlike newer markets, however, the information in both their guidelines is relatively vague, so reading the magazines is the best way to get a sense of what they prefer. Ultimately, though, you cannot predict what one editor will see in your story over another, so best to let the editor make that call when a story is not out of the magazine's scope.


You can always try your stories in one of the general speculative fiction markets, but if it is clearly a science fiction story, it can benefit you to try markets looking specifically for that genre because your story has the potential to find a home in any of their open slots as opposed to a mixed market where they could be reserving as many as half of the spaces for other genres. Regardless of what order you choose to submit between general and genre specific, if you're writing science fiction, it's worth finding the markets that are looking for those types of stories.


Here are a few of the science fiction-only markets that I have on my list, including the two mentioned above, along with the reasons I consider them the first stops for any appropriate stories:


Analog Science Fiction and Fact - http://www.analogsf.com/


As I mentioned above, Analog Science Fiction and Fact is one of the mainstays of the science fiction genre. Originally published under the name Astounding, Analog has been on the magazine stands for over sixty-five years, though not under the same editorial staff. While still requiring paper submissions, Analog is expected to switch to an online submission system if the test currently being done by Asimov's for the magazines published by their shared publisher, Dell Magazines, proves successful.


The guidelines are little changed from the mimeographed versions they would send to authors upon request, though the mention of dot-matrix printers is no longer there. They lack the fancy detail provided by the more modern markets with lists of editor quirks and specific examples. Instead, Analog draws its requirements with the broadest of strokes, asking only that the science is both crucial to the plot and plausible at least within the context of the story.


Asimov's Science Fiction - http://www.asimovs.com/


In comparison to Analog, Asimov's Science Fiction magazine is a relative baby with only thirty-three years to its name, still making it one of the older speculative fiction magazines. Asimov's does not try to compete with its sister magazine because the focus is on the human side of science fiction more than the science. While the science must be integral to the plot for Analog, Asimov's is willing to look at stories so fantastical that their only claim to the science fiction label is the backdrop behind them.


Asimov's is doing the pilot program with an online submission system, so its paper submission rules (which do still mention dot matrix) are shunted to the side, but authors are welcome to use either method. Whether that will persist is anyone's guess, but personally, I appreciate the effort to adopt the convenience of the electronic world, especially since I have had to resend a story to Asimov's once because it got lost in the mail (or the reply did), and I got no response. With the online system, your submission is acknowledged within 24 hours and you can watch your manuscript as it goes through the process. This may sound familiar. Asimov's is using the same system created for Clarkesworld. Because of this, I have to add the caution of double checking which market you're sending to so you don't slip up.


So why is Analog heading my list instead of Asimov's? Besides publication history, it's a toss-up between these two. Both are ones that even non-genre readers might recognize, both have a proven track record, and both continue to publish stories and articles that spark my imagination and entertain me. They touch on different aspects of science fiction, which means a story for one won't necessarily be of interest to the other, but again, it's best not to make those judgments for the editors unless you can be sure without a single doubt that the story would not cross between their interest areas.


Lightspeed - http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/


Lightspeed is newcomer on the scene but with a well-known editor. John Joseph Adams revolutionized submission turnaround time in his tenure as the submissions editor for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF) as well as editing a number of successful anthologies. Though Lightspeed is a brand new market, with Adams as editor and the backing of a strong small press, Prime Books, it has much better odds than most magazines just starting out. The only downside is that Adams is not interested in having a second look at manuscripts that crossed his desk at F&SF that have yet to find a home.


Remember, as with all new markets, despite paying pro rates, Lightspeed has to maintain a consistent publication schedule and demonstrate a particular number of readers to be considered SFWA qualifying. Once it does so, though, the earlier stories will also be eligible.


Redstone Science Fiction - http://redstonesciencefiction.com/


Another new market, Redstone, is the brainchild of a writer and reader of science fiction, Michael Ray. While I know nothing more about this market than the interviews I've read and that it appears in the right market sources, the plan Ray and Paul Clemmons put together to take them from new to pro status seems sound, and so far they are living up to it.


These are a good starting point, but don't forget to look at the many other markets available through resources such as Ralan.com and Duotrope. Just remember: start at the top. A story can only be accepted once, and many more editors enjoy discovering new talent than will condemn you for trying.