End of an Era

Charles Stross writes: This week, Gardner Dozois stepped down as editor of Asimov’s SF Magazine, after about 19 years at the helm. His replacement, Sheila Williams, is already editor there and indeed has worked on Asimov’s for about as long as (if not longer than) Gardner, so it’s not as if things are adrift: Gardner’s simply spent a long time there and wants to spend more time on his own writing. (Lest we forget, not only did he win about fifteen Hugo awards as best editor — he won a couple for his stories, in the dim and distant past.) This news comes less than a month after Dave Pringle announced that he was stepping down as editor of Interzone, after a similar duration. (Interzone is being sold as a going concern to Andy Cox, who will be editing it in parallel with The Third Alternative.)

Why do I get a slight shiver at this news?

Interzone was where I sold my first stories, back in the 80’s, under the editorship of Dave Pringle. Asimov’s SF is where I really broke into the American market after 1999, via Gardner’s auspices. Gardner in the US and Dave in the UK probably published the first short fiction of about 50% of the successful SF writers who came to notice from 1980 onwards! Saying this is the end of an era is, I think, an understatement — it’ll go unnoticed in the mass media, but some of those authors have gone on to have massive effects outside the genre. It’s one of those defining moments that will potentially change the entire shape of our genre, thirty years down the line.

I tend to be more interested in writing my own stuff than reading three or four SF novels a week the way I used to as a teenager, but I’ve certainly read my fair share of Asimov’s mags, having had a subscription on two separate occasions. While I don’t always agree with Mr. Dozois’ choice of short fiction – how is it that I can publish novels and comic books but can’t get a short story in print – I own too many copies of his annual Best Of SF collections not to have some regard for him. Asimov’s may improve, it may decline, but it certainly won’t be the same.