When I was ten, I was going to visit the stars. Not that year, of course, but in my lifetime, certainly. After all, in the period of my life to that point, we'd started from nothing and we'd just succeeded in landing astronauts on the moon. The planet Mars would be next, and in short order, we'd be breaking the bounds of the solar system, and you could bet I was going to be there. The realization, sometime in my teenage years, that no such thing would happen for anyone in my lifetime, let alone for me, is one of the sadder and more adult moments that I can remember from that time. "Space, the final frontier," was real for me, but not for the American president who promised a moon landing before the end of the decade. For him, and perhaps for most, it was a "space race," an exercise in one-upping the Soviets so that the world would be a safer place for folks named Kennedy to play touch football on the weekends.
You've probably noticed, or you very quickly will if you page through our archives, that even a speculative fiction venue like Strange Horizons rarely speaks of travel to the stars. You might conclude, based on that, I'm a bit out of place here -- and you'd be right. Perhaps you also feel a bit out of place, and in a way I hope so; that's part of what we promised you when Strange Horizons began a year ago. We didn't want Strange Horizons to be a comfortable couch to reminisce about the "golden years" of speculative fiction, but a forum where the best of the new and established voices of the genre continue to challenge you, and where you encounter diverse viewpoints that may not have been a part of your experience. Mary Anne Mohanraj said in our first editorial:
. . . And in addition to those female characters who started creeping in a few decades ago and now are everywhere, I'm starting to notice some who are (startlingly) not white. That's rather nice, I have to say. The genre is starting to actually reflect the world I live in. The field is growing and expanding and shifting and changing, and it's an exciting time to be part of it.
We started this magazine because we wanted to help with that change. We wanted to create a place to showcase some of those new writers, to bring them to the attention of a new international audience -- and also to share with you our deep enjoyment of some wonderful established authors.
After a year of weekly publication, I think we've made at least a considerable down payment on that promise.
Strange Horizons has grown and changed a great deal in our first year, particularly when you consider that we, quite literally, started from nothing. We have a lot more exciting plans as we grow into our second year, and we'll be asking for your help in filling out a reader survey in October so we can understand better who you are, and what entices you to read Strange Horizons.
Some of the changes as we enter our second year are obvious, some more subtle. We've added thumbnail images to the table of contents in each department, and we've added an entirely new music department to the magazine. We'll now have a new poem each week, and there's a brand new method for linking directly to individual pieces and still including them within the magazine frame, and the instructions for that are here. We've also redone a number of things in the archives, with more enhancements to follow. We've had the good fortune to keep most of the first-year pieces in the archives, so they're definitely a treasure worth seeking out. A surprising number of pieces first published here have won awards and high praise, and we've added a new Awards page to showcase the ones we've heard about. And all that is just a good start on the excitement of our second year.
Strange Horizons has an extraordinary, all-volunteer staff that labor exceptionally hard to make my position as managing editor almost unnecessary. While they are, quite literally, a standout team, and certainly not an uneven collection of a few leaders and a great many followers, I do want to take this opportunity to single out two positions for special thanks, because I doubt that we ever acknowledge them enough. We have enjoyed the services of two amazing Webmasters over this first year -- Sean Miller and Will Quale. Sean saw us through the startup of the magazine and did an exceptional job laying all the important groundwork for the basic functions of the magazine. Will has expanded on that base with consistency and with systems that I wouldn't have dreamed could be so smoothly implemented. And in both cases they put up with the real life demands of the position -- deadlines, last minute changes, explanations that someone else's busy life would once again preclude them from their busy life -- with humor and grace. We quite literally would not be here without them.
We have also enjoyed the services of three gifted copy editors -- Paul Schumacher, Mithran Somasundrum, and Chip Sudderth. The fact is, when errors slip through to the final copy, it is most often because they've been unwisely overruled, and not because they've failed to spot the problem. They not only do an amazing job, but write wonderfully entertaining behind-the-scenes email that makes my job a joy -- and no, you aren't ever going to see any of that.
Of course, no anniversary would be complete without a thank you to all of our readers. No question about it, you make all the hard work worth it. We're pretty sure that you're a surprisingly diverse bunch, and we know with certainty that you're persons of taste and intelligence. We enjoy your comments and occasional emails, and even just your quiet reading, and we hope to get to know you just a little better through the survey. We also hope that we have challenged you, and brought you thoughts and ideas that rocked your world, at least a bit.
Last, but certainly not least, let us lay a fundraising pitch on you. Strange Horizons is reader supported, and we unquestionably need your support. Consider what a print magazine this good would run you in a year -- say, $30.00 -- and how much more convenient it is to have us, updated weekly, available 24/7 wherever the Internet can be found! Then visit our support page and send us a birthday present. You know you want to.
Thanks for a great first year -- we hope to be here for many more to come.
Brian Peters is the Managing Editor for Strange Horizons.
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