Apart from the excellent Interzone, there is very little short science fiction published in magazines in Britain today; Odyssey folded after a shaky but very promising start, whilst other related fiction magazines, such as The Third Alternative, The Edge, and Back Brain Recluse seem reluctant (or even somewhat embarrassed) to tackle the genre head on, instead specialising in literary surrealism which is occasionally interesting but which will hardly, I believe, be successful in launching the career of a successful British science fiction writer which is, I believe, the primary reason why short fiction is so important in the first place. Anthologies, also, are of little use since recently they generally seem to have featured only authors who are well-known already (for marketing purposes, obviously). Consequently I was very pleased when I first heard of a new science fiction magazine to be launched in February 2000, whose aim was to publish new short fiction that was most certainly of the science fiction genre. The name, ‘Spectrum SF’, was, I thought at the time, slightly tacky, although I since seem to have become used to it, although the other instantly negative opinion I formed about the magazine, that of it’s covers being rather drab and plain (and boring!), still holds to this day. Upon receiving the first issue the first thing I noticed was that the magazine published novellas — quite a treat, since even Interzone doesn’t usually publish these — and serials, and was laid out very professionally internally, with a novel-style format which is very attractive and easy to read. I still didn’t like the cover, but I chose to ignore that at that moment in time. The thing I couldn’t ignore, however, was the fact that the magazine was not open to unsolicited submissions: one of my main reasons for supporting such a magazine had been rendered invalid. The quality of the fiction was, however, high
— most certainly comparable to Interzone (however this was unsurprising since most of the authors featured had appeared in Interzone previously anyway, or were longstanding novelists in their own right). The magazine also featured a very useful reviews section that included numerous reviews of other fiction magazines; unusual indeed, and certainly something to be applauded since usually to see short fiction reviewed it is necessary to buy a specialist magazine such as Zene (and even this features very small press titles only, not all of which are sf-based). As a result, my reaction to this magazine, upon the basis of what I’ve seen so far (three issues had appeared when this review was written), can only be a positive one. I have my reservations about the way in which the magazine might develop (if the editor chooses to retain his current submissions policy, then the magazine might start to stagnate), and I still don’t like the cover, but all in all this is a promising start in a genre, that of written science fiction, much in need of new magazines in Britain. Distribution is unfortunately limited to a handful of bookshops nationwide, but thankfully it is possible to obtain the magazine from the publisher at www.spectrumpublishing.com. I would suggest you do so.