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Welcome to the 2016 Strange Horizons fund drive!

If you're a regular reader, you'll know the drill. This is the time of year when we ask you to donate to the magazine, to help fund us for the next twelve months. Strange Horizons is a non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers. We have no advertising and no corporate sponsors: it's your donations that enable us to pay our contributors and to keep publishing each week. This year, we're aiming to raise US$15,000 to keep the magazine going at its current level—and a bit more than that to do some new things. If that's all you need to know, you can find out how to donate on our main fund drive page (thank you!).

But you may also be wondering: what kind of year has Strange Horizons had? And: what are these new things you mention? For answers to these questions, and perhaps others, read on!

The year just gone

The fund drive is a convenient time for those of us working on SHto take stock. How do we assess whether it's been "a good year"? One option is to look at external recognition. We haven't done badly on that front, in 2016. S. L. Huang's "By Degrees and Dilatory Time" was picked up for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016; Kelly Link's "The Game of Smash and Recovery" appeared in a couple of other anthologies, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award to boot (astonishingly, and humblingly, our third Sturgeon win in the last four years). We've got a couple of pieces of non-fiction in Speculative Fiction 2015 (but I don't think I'm meant to tell you which ones, yet, because they've only released the names of contributors so far), and our podcast was nominated for a Parsec Award. The whole magazine was shortlisted for a Hugo, and is on the British Fantasy Awards ballot. Kari Sperring's Matrilines column is also up for a BFA. So that's a range of different groups looking at what we've done and deciding they like it. That's encouraging. Set against that was the reminder offered by the Fireside Report, that our recent record of publishing original fiction by black authors has been appalling. We're stepping up our efforts to improve in that area, and continue to welcome feedback regarding our approach.

Another way of assessing the year is to look back and see what stands out to me personally. Without indulging in too much invidious singling-out of efforts, I'm pleased that we've managed a few more special issues recently, from our small Afro SF, Nalo Hopkinson, and Utopia specials, to our month-long celebration of Queer SF back in July. I was encouraged that our numbers in the SF Count of representation in reviewing are heading in the right direction, even if they're not quite where we want them to be yet. It's been a big year for recruitment: Jane Crowley and Kate Dollarhyde have provided invaluable support as our new Associate Editors, the new Articles team of Gautam Bhatia, Joyce Chng, Joshua Johnson and Eli Lee (all joining Vanessa Rose Phin) have hit the ground running, and just recently we've been delighted to welcome Vajra Chandrasekera into the fiction department. The launch of our Patreon last autumn seems to have been a success, and I think I've finally (with some assistance from Charles Tan) got the hang of making ebooks. And last but very much not least, without wishing to tempt fate, thanks to the patient work of Matt Kressel (I do not think we are easy clients), we are finally—finally!—on the verge of switching to a new website. So for me, on balance, it's been a busy year, and an exciting one, but also a transitional one.

The year to come

So what's next?

If you look at the main fund drive page, you'll see that in addition to our main goal, we've set out the stretch goals that we hope to reach in this fund drive. We'll be telling you a bit more about them over the next few weeks, but the gist is moving into new areas with the fiction we publish.

The first is translations. We have, in theory, been open to the submission of completed translations for years, and have published the odd translated work here and there, but it's an area in which we've long wanted to do more. The trick has been to find a way to do it regularly.

So we're delighted to announce a partnership with the proposed Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy and with University of Leeds's "Reading the Fantastic" project to host Samovar, an imprint of Strange Horizons that will focus on speculative fiction in translation. If we raise US$18,000, we'll publish an inaugural special issue at the end of October, focusing on SF from Spain, to tie in with this year's Eurocon in Barcelona. If we raise US$21,000, we'll be able to make Samovar a regular part of the magazine, with new issues at least twice per year. Samovar will pay 6 cents per word each to authors and translators, and will accept submissions of proposed, partial, and completed translations.

The second area we're hoping you will help us to expand into is interactive fiction. As with translations, this is an area we've been open to, without really necessarily having the in-house skills or experience to make it work. But it turns out—if you didn't already know, that one of our art directors, Tory Hoke, runs a fantastic IF magazine called Sub-Q ,which has published writers such as Yoon Ha Lee, J. Y. Yang, E. Lily Yu, and many more. And so, if we raised US$23,000—our maximum goal this year—we're going to bring Sub-Q in-house at Strange Horizons, to publish special issues twice per year, under a similar model to Samovar. Sub-Q will pay 9 cents per word.

What else do I need to know?

You might also be interested to know that we have a range of tempting rewards on offer to those who donate!

If you want to make a one-off donation, you need to check out the rewards here. You can get ebook back-issues, digital wallpaper of art from the past year, mugs, and t-shirts.

If you prefer to make a recurring donation, you might want to mosy on over to Patreon, where you can support to get ebooks at the end of each month, postcards each year, or a range of other merchandise.

Everyone who donates, of course, gets entry into our traditional prize draw—which already includes books by Nina Allan, Ada Palmer, Sofia Samatar, and Zen Cho, and some knitted monsters, and will have more prizes added each week of the fund drive.

And last but not least, your donations will also help to unlock content from our fund drive special issue, which this year includes poetry by Shweta Naryan and Margaret Wack, criticism by Adam Roberts, Hena Mehta and Samira Nadkarni, an interview with Garth Nix, stories by A. T. Greenblatt and Jenn Grunigen, and more.

About that website

We think the new website will be ready at the end of the fund drive. And it involves a new logo. A new logo that we've decided to put on our merchandise rewards.

Not bad, right?

A final word

If you're a regular reader, not only will you know the drill, you'll know that I always end with a thank you. This year is no different. Look: what it comes down to is, those of us who work on Strange Horizons give up our time to it because we believe it's a valuable space in the world. The work we get to publish in that space is the main reward. But when the fund drive comes around, it's the most tangible reminder we get that parts of the world agree with us, and that's worth an awful lot more than the dollars themselves. To everyone who donates, therefore: thank you. We'll keep trying to make this space better.

Niall Harrison is an independent critic based in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He is a former editor of Strange Horizons, and his writing has also appeared in The New York Review of Science FictionFoundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, The Los Angeles Review of Books and others. He has been a judge for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and a Guest of Honor at the 2023 British National Science Fiction Convention. His collection All These Worlds: Reviews and Essays is available from Briardene Books.
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