Clarkesworld is a freely available online magazine of science fiction and fantasy, edited by Neil Clarke. Clarkesworld has no particular subgenre or thematic focus, but provides a wide variety of stories that vary in topic, tone, and subgenre. Kate Baker hosts, produces, and usually narrates the stories on the podcast–Kate has a very warm and friendly voice and goes out of her way to invite discussion and interaction about the stories, often giving her own reaction right after. She has said she reads the stories cold–not in one take, necessarily, but you are hearing the story the first time she has read it, which I think comes across most clearly in the more emotional stories because the emotion in her voice is fresh and real as she is experiencing the story for the first time as you listen to her telling it. When the magazine was first published in 2006 it provided two new stories per month and reprinted art. Since then it has gradually expanded to six or seven stories every month (a mix of original and reprints) as well as the podcast versions of those stories and non-fiction content. It has also begun an ongoing project to publish more science fiction translated from the Chinese language, tapping into a huge source of science fiction in the huge Chinese market.
Clarkesworld publishes many of my favorite stories in any given year and I hope they last for a very long time to come.
Neil Clarke launched Clarkesworld Magazine in 2006 and has kept it up continuously since then. Clarkesworld has gone on to win both Hugo and Nebula awards in the intervening years. The expansion of content has been very gradual, with non-fiction added after the first year and the podcast added in Issue 21 with “Clockwork Chickadee”–at that time there was only one podcast per month for two published stories.
Clarkesworld has done some of the most impressive fundraising efforts I have seen in science fiction publishing, allowing them to expand more and more. Much of the recent effort has centered around their Patreon page, where donors can choose to donate a few dollars a month to support the magazine. The way they have funded the magazine allows it to remain free to everyone in both text and audio while at the same time offering incentive for more donors and larger donations–because more donors means that Clarkesworld will publish more stories each and every month, and there are plenty of donor incentives for those willing and able to contribute.
This has proved so successful that Clarkesworld is no longer eligible for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine which does not allow magazines whose employees make more than a quarter of any person’s income from the magazine. This is a huge sign of success of the magazine, showing that it is possible to make a living publishing short fiction–it’s certainly not easy, but it’s not impossible.
- “The Magician and LaPlace’s Demon” by Tom Crosshill
- “The Promise of Space” by James Patrick Kelly
- “The Clockwork Soldier” by Ken Liu
- “An Evolutionary Myth” by Bo-Young Kim, translated by Gord Sellar and Jihyun Park
- “All the Painted Stars” by Gwendolyn Clare
- “A Night at the Tarn House” by George R. R. Martin
- “Messenger” by Julia M. Sidorova
- “The Association of the Dead” by Rahul Kanakia
- “A Sweet Calling” by Tony Pi
- “Ether” by Zhang Ran, translated by Carmen Yiling Yan and Ken Liu
- “Five Stages of Grief after the Alien Invasion” by Caroline M. Yoachim
- “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” by Matthew Kressel
- Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer
- “The Book of Phoenix (Excerpted from the Great Book)” by Nnedi Okorafor
- “The Saint of the Sidewalks” by Kat Howard
Next month I will be shining the podcast spotlight on the podcast of the award-winning online magazine Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams and produced by Skyboat Media, Inc. Lightspeed publishes both science and fantasy stories, and publishes one podcast story per week.