Changing of the Guard
By Mary Anne Mohanraj
22 September 2003
I started this editorial while sitting in the bar of the Fairmont Hotel in Toronto, at the 61st WorldCon. I was trying to decide whether to have a chocolate raspberry martini or a slice of chocolate cake drizzled with raspberry sauce, or possibly both. Life as an editor seemed very good indeed.
Clever writers were sitting beside me, trading witty repartee -- at that moment, two of our writers were at the table, David Moles and Greg van Eekhout. Over the course of the convention, I'd talked to many more of the people we've published, in fiction, poetry, articles, art, and reviews -- the ones I'd missed seeing in panels and hallways came to the Sunday Strange Horizons tea party. I'd been accompanied throughout the con by Jed Hartman, our senior fiction editor (who, not long after I started writing this, stole some of my chocolate cake); his company made the entire convention immensely more pleasant. And I was having a terrific time already -- despite some programming snafus, my convention was filled with interesting conversations, exciting ideas, and plenty of friendly writers, artists, and Strange Horizons readers. I've loved going to WorldCon ever since we launched Strange Horizons, in September 2000 -- each year our parties get bigger, our audience grows, and the convention gets more and more fun.
Of course, it's not all cake and pleasant conversation, working as staff at Strange Horizons. It takes more than thirty volunteers to put the magazine out, week after week, month after month -- and now year after year! Take a look at our staff gallery if you get a chance, familiarize yourself with the faces. They're all generous and wonderful volunteers. Our staff put in many hours of work every week, for love of the genre, in order to share with you some of the best writing and art the field has to offer. If you think they're doing a good job, let them know -- the staff are always happy to get e-mail from readers, or you can just post in the forum. Volunteers get paid in praise, and if you have some criticism -- well, send that along too. We're always ready to learn and eager to improve. We'll do our best for you.
Writers and artists, unlike volunteers, prefer to be paid in cash -- of course, they're delighted to get praise too, either in e-mail or on the forum. Thanks again to all of you who make it possible for us to give them that cash, including those of you who donated money during our last fund drive, bringing the fund drive total for our third year of operation to $3000. That's about a fifth of our annual costs, and a very comfortable step along the way to our eventual goal of being financially self-sufficient, funded primarily by small donations from our readers. Please remember that Strange Horizons is a 501(c)(3) non-profit -- your donations are tax-deductible, and while we have fund drives twice a year (the next one is scheduled for November), we're happy to take your money any time, and pass it along to the writers and artists you enjoy every week. We're going to be making another concrete move towards passing that money along -- effective immediately, we're raising our rates for articles to fifty dollars per article. That may not sound like much, but you'd be amazed at how long a hungry writer can survive on fifty dollars' worth of food.
That's not the only new item to announce -- we're also delighted to note that the long-awaited book, Strange Horizons: Year One, collecting some of the best fiction, poetry, articles and reviews from our first year, will be coming out soon from Lethe Press. We're planning to launch it at World Fantasy Convention this year in D.C. (where fiction editors Susan Groppi and Karen Meisner will be hosting our regular tea party as well as co-hosting a book launch party with a variety of fabulous small press folks). So if you're going to the con, be sure to stop by -- and if you can't make it there, don't worry. We'll give you plenty of opportunity to buy it on-site. The profits from the book get split evenly between the authors included and the ongoing operating expenses for Strange Horizons -- wouldn't it make a fabulous holiday gift for you or someone you know who loves spec fic?
We've had a great third year, and we've got lots of exciting stuff planned for the upcoming year. We're planning on implementing a much more interactive forum system, which hopefully will encourage all of you to talk not just to us, but to each other. We have the book coming out, and if it does well, other books will follow. In January, we'll have our second annual Readers' Choice Awards, giving you the opportunity to send a little extra money to your favorite hard-working writers and artists. And there's one more change coming up -- one that isn't quite as full of unmitigated delight as the others. I'm both pleased and a little saddened to announce that I'm going to be stepping down as editor-in-chief of Strange Horizons at the end of this calendar year, and on January 1st, 2004, Susan Groppi (one of our current fiction editors) will be taking charge of the magazine.
Now, I'm not actually planning on going anywhere. I love this magazine with a passion, and I plan on staying plenty involved. This is the second summer I've coordinated the Strange Horizons workshops (in Oregon and New Jersey), and I'm planning on continuing those, as well as hopefully adding a third in the Midwest next year, possibly at the beginner level. I'll still be going to conventions whenever I can, telling everyone I can about how great Strange Horizons is, how enjoyable the magazine is to read every week, and what immense fun it is to work on.
Editing Strange Horizons for the last four years (since we first started planning the magazine in January of 2000) has been the most satisfying project I've ever been involved in. I've met wonderful editors, fascinating writers and artists, and I've gotten to have cake and chocolate martinis with some of the sharpest up-and-coming writers in the field. Editing this magazine has been a pleasure and a privilege, and I wouldn't be stepping down now if I didn't think that the time had come for some fresh blood, some new ideas -- I feel that I've taken Strange Horizons as far as I know how, and I'm confident that Susan's going to do a terrific job of taking it further. And of course, with my new title of Editor Emeritus, you can be sure that I'll be hanging around, pestering her with plenty of (possibly unwanted) advice, and watching with immense pride as she and the staff take the magazine forward into a shining future.
All of us at Strange Horizons thank you for your continuing support -- for reading the magazine, for participating in the forum, and for making every hour we put into this project worthwhile. We're delighted to have you with us as the magazine enters its fourth year, and we hope you'll be with us for many, many years to come. Thank you, and good night.
--Mary Anne Mohanraj, Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2003 Mary Anne Mohanraj