Science fiction used to be a niche market restricted to a small cult following. Back in the day, a sci-fi fan could easily read every novel and short story published in the field each year. A handful of magazines and one or two major conventions could easily accommodate the whole SF scene.
The status quo changed in a big way in the late 70s/early 80s when the Star Wars trilogy blew the lid off of fandom. What had been the tiny domain of a few nerds was suddenly thrown open to everyone. For the first time, it was cool to like science fiction.
You have to actually be from Mars not to notice how every entertainment medium from movies to TV to comics has been turned into a propaganda tool for the ruling class. There's no way they'd let a genre as popular and influential as SF go unscathed.
The major publishing houses were only too willing to cooperate. In the last twenty years or so, dull, socially conscious lectures disguised as adventure stories have gotten most of big publishers' attention to the exclusion of stories that put fun first.
As a result, there's a whole generation of sci-fi fans who've been alienated from their own genre. They're called names for wanting pure, simple entertainment. They're told to take the preachy dreck they're given and like it.
From the dawn of modern publishing, the major houses held all the cards. Readers who wanted their SF fix were at the publishers' mercy. Authors inclined to write the stories that fans wanted had to toe the company line or languish in obscurity.
If you want it done right, do it yourself.
The future of SF looked pretty dire when the Big Five were the only game in town. But just like no one expected the paradigm shift in fandom that was Star Wars, no one in trad publishing saw indie coming.
There have been two landmark innovations that have made indie publishing not only a sustainable model, but a more profitable one, than legacy pub.
Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing gave authors direct access to massive audiences.
Crowd funding freed indie authors from reliance on legacy publishers' resources.
These breakthroughs, and the consequent flourishing of independent publishing, have restored power to its rightful place: with the readers and authors who want to enjoy and tell entertaining stories.
Which brings us to the main topic
Alex Kimball is a science fiction fan who wants to read and tell exciting adventure stories. He saw a whole generation of dispossessed SF fans just like him and decided to take action.
Cirsova, a sword and planet/heroic fantasy pulp 'zine is Alex's love letter to the legions of fans left out in the cold by the declining SF mags and legacy publishers.
In his own words:
Last year I hammered out some sword & planet fiction of my own; rather than spend a year getting rejected by magazines, I figured it would be better investment of my time to start my own semi-pro zine. My focus is on heroic fantasy and adventure science fiction in the vein of Flashing Swords! and Planet Stories.
He graciously sent me a review copy of the first issue, and it does not disappoint!
Do you miss Robert E. Howard style sword and sandal adventures in postapocalyptic worlds?
Do you hunger for alternate history war stories with a touch of magic that don't devolve into lectures on the evils of Western civilization?
Is there a Lovecraft-shaped hole in your life?
How about a daring heist flavored with Japanese folklore?
Cirsova has you covered. In the thrilling first issue, you'll find all of these amazing tales--and more!
Indie publishers need your support.
Entrepreneurs like Alex are working hard to bring you the kinds of stories that legacy publishers won't. Indie publishing gives them the freedom to reach readers directly, but connecting their publications with those readers is a big challenge.
Writers, too need our support. The rates paid by SF magazines haven't changed since Heinlein's day. It's now impossible to earn a living on short story sales alone. Alex Kimball wants to do what he can to improve SF writers' lot:
I wanted to fill a niche both for the readers I've seen complaining about the lack of exciting adventure stories in the main magazines and for the writers who have few markets that pay better than token rates for this brand of SFF.
Cirsova is a godsend for fans who've almost given up on contemporary SF. The first issue proves that tedious message fic, romances with a thin veneer of SF and fantasy, and activism masquerading as entertainment aren't allowed. What you will find inside are genuine adventure tales in the classic style of Howard, Lovecraft, and Campbell.
The first issue is already in the black. If you'd like Alex to keep the fun coming, his Kickstarter page is here.
Indie publishers like Alex Kimball work hard to serve readers. Their success is in your hands. Help ensure that they'll keep on entertaining us for years to come.
Speaking of which, I've been known to do some reader-centric publishing of my own.