You begin with a vision percolating quietly in the back of your mind for, say, twenty years.
It's not a unique vision, exactly, but over time you refine it, and technology comes along to make what at first just looks like a money hole into a real possibility.
After a while you begin mentioning bits and pieces of it here and there. You do this casually, so that if they scorn the thought and spit on the notion you will be able to quietly tuck the whole thing away without looking like a fool.
To your surprise, people seem generally enthusiastic. Some are polite, but a few start riffing on your dream, spinning off variations. They even offer to help.
It's as though for years and years you were just riding up the ski lift to the top of the mountain. When you finally reached the top, there was a lot of confused shuffling and milling about as various people, not all of whom are comfortable in skis, try to find the right position at the top of the slope.
But, there is a moment when suddenly you are flying downhill. There's no stopping short of crashing, and there's definitely no going back.
This is that moment, but let's set the metaphor aside now. It's done its job. Here we are, in the midst of a vision. It's not all mine anymore: it's no longer my private little fantasy that I return to when I'm bored grading papers. And, well, it doesn't exactly look like I thought it would.
One thing about a vision, is that it generally comes clothed in glory. There was a day back in early December when I thought we were really ready to do this, and I made various announcements, sent out various invitations, and began to call in the offers of help. With my friends, and fellow volunteers on this labor of love, M. Garcia, Irina, Joe, and bluejack, I settled down to start reading the thousands of submissions we would surely receive, and to refine the technology that would be required to handle the millions of visitors.
You can well imagine that things didn't go like that.
In fact, I am very pleased with this first issue. I think we have an interesting, challenging, diverse, and useful spread of articles. I think the technology is solid, the design—although plain—doesn't interfere with one's reading. But what you are reading today is only a first step.
The Internet Review of Science Fiction remains a work in progress. In my fantasies, I expected to unveil something that would instantly transform the resources available to science fiction, fantasy, and horror fans on the Internet. In reality, although it is a good first step, there is still a long way to go.
When I initially decided to make subscriptions free for the first few months, I figured it was important to be able to give everyone a chance to try us out a bit before making a commitment, even if it is a small one (subscriptions will be $12 / year; $1 / issue). But now I conclude it is also only fair. The product is not finished. Microsoft may be able to get away with selling unfinished software, but we do not have their power of monopoly.
So, as I reset my own expectations, let me also make a commitment to yours: The Internet Review of Science Fiction is not a fly-by night webzine. We are going to be here for the long haul, and we are going to be important. We are going to continue to build useful features that—in addition to growing the most insightful coverage of the literature, the genre, and the culture of science fiction, fantasy, and horror—will eventually be the most useful place on the web for fans, writers, editors, and scholars.