Most of the time, when I'm fretting about IROSF, I'm fretting about all the features that aren't finished yet, or the editorial workflow tools that aren't quite there, or the ever elusive subscription model that's going to set this thing on an even financial keel. But it's been a long time since I've worried about having enough content to publish an issue.
I remember the early days, when John Frost was scrounging articles from friends, relations, and strangers on the street. We managed to put out our issues, but it took a lot of begging, wheedling, pleading, and cajolery. But then, at some point we didn't really have to do that anymore. With just enough of a profile to count as a worthwhile market for those freelance writers building their name (and bringing in a little beer money), sufficient material came in unsolicited that we were able to plan just about one full issue ahead, at least in some areas.
Now, some categories are more popular than others. There's rarely a shortage of essays, some of which may bleed over into features. Every now and then we find ourselves out of interviews for a month or two, but authors always want to talk to each other, and eventually someone's going to write up the results and send them to us. Preferably with photos.
In the Sub-Genre Spotlight category (also known as Bibliographies), we've been fortunate to have John Joseph Adams setting the standard, and Cynthia Ward taking up the mantle.
But where are all the con reports? I go to a few cons each year, and I see a lot of people there, and yet I don't see a lot of incoming reports. Every now and then I get proposals before a big convention, and then the article doesn't materialize. You know who you are.
Maybe folks are intimidated by the idea of a con report. It's easy. Let's say you're going to OverHereACon. Take a cheap digital camera, or your cell phone camera, or whatever's handy and snap a few pictures of people in compromising positions, a couple of good costumes, and some of OverHereACon's local and/or visiting celebrities. Tell us about the spirit of the convention. What makes OverHereACon different from ThatThereACon? Is it local fans getting rowdy? Or the tourism event of the season? Are you knee deep in gamers? Fighting off drunken Klingons? Or discussing the transmissability of story with some dude in a Hawaiian shirt? What are the good panels to go to? Were there any memorable speeches? Awards? Amusing anecdotes? Give us the big picture, and give us your picture.
Now here's a strange one: reviews and criticism. Criticism is always a little tricky because we want to be serious and thoughtful and significant, but we don't want to swamp the reader in academic jargon. Sometimes it happens, but we aim for some middle ground here. I know what you're going to say: if you want serious criticism post "Calls for Papers" in academic places. It may come to that.
But reviews. Why aren't we getting more reviews these days? Why does this issue only have one review in addition to Lois' terrific short reviews column?
It's probably just one of those tidal things. Low reviews this month, but we'll be up to our ears in them next month. Still, because we want to be up to our ears in reviews—and I mean good, deep, meaty ones that give readers something to think about—we're going to start stepping up our efforts on this front.
If you've written reviews for us before, and are interested in getting assignments, use our Contact Form to send me email letting me know that you're interested, and what kind of material you feel most comfortable with. And if you haven't done so, but think you might like to, then do the same, but add some writing credits. We'll be getting review copies out to those of you who sign up for reviewing duty. IROSF does also get some review copies unsolicited, and I'll be posting a list of them for our reviewers sometime before the next issue. Finally, we're going to try to do theme issues covering books nominated for awards throughout the year.
I mean really, can we call ourselves The Internet Review of Science Fiction if we don't have enough reviews?