new pleasures in reading
I’ve said before that I’ve never been a regular subscriber to any magazines — “regular” in the sense of keeping up my subscription for more than a year. (I might have done for Paradox, but they folded.) That’s changed a bit lately, though. First via podcasting: a good deal of my short fiction consumption now comes in via my ears, as I listen to Podcastle (for fantasy) and Escape Pod (for SF), and I strongly suspect the addition of a narrator’s voice has led me to enjoy stories I might have skipped past on the page. Second, as I’ve mentioned before, Beneath Ceaseless Skies has turned out sit squarely in the middle of What I Like when it comes to fantasy, with the result that I’ve become a regular reader.
As a result, I’m discovering heretofore unknown pleasures, that come when you’re a dedicated follower of a particular magazine. It’s like the reverse of Cheers: rather than everybody knowing my name, I know theirs. Certain authors, whose work sits squarely in the middle of What The Editors Like, keep showing up, and so BCS becomes (among other things) “the place that brings me Aliette de Bodard’s stuff.” Since I very much like her work, I bounce a bit in glee when I see a new piece show up there. Sometimes it goes even further, not just an author but an author’s series: Escape Pod has Jeffrey R. DeRego’s Union Dues superhero stories, and BCS has so far published two of Richard Parks’ Heian-period Japanese fantasies, featuring the duo of Yamada and Kenji, the reprobate priest, with a third one on the way. Carried too far, this sort of thing can make a magazine stale — you get the feeling they only ever publish the same dozen people, over and over, and the assurance of a sale makes those dozen lazy in their work — but so far it’s been a source of familiarity and satisfaction for me.
Since I started this by talking about subscriptions, I should mention that both the podcasts and BCS are supported via donations; if you want to toss a few bucks their way, to help ensure they keep putting these stories out, the relevant places to do so are: Podcastle (right-hand sidebar), Escape Pod (ditto), and BCS. (I noted when catching up on stories this weekend that BCS has also added itself to the Kindle Store, in addition to the pdf, mobi, and epub formats of before, if you’re an e-reader type.)
Let’s close with a question: for those of you who are dedicated subscribers to one or more short story sources (print, web, or audio), are there particular authors or story series that are, for you, part of the appeal of that magazine? Conversely, are there any who show up a lot that you skip over automatically, because you know from past experience that they just aren’t your kind of thing?