What is IROSF and where are we going?
A bit of history: Somewhat over a year ago, a fellow named John Frost brought the idea for The Internet Review of Science Fiction to me: I was at that time working on some internet publishing software, and thinking about starting a magazine of some sort. I was mainly thinking along the lines of fiction, but it seems like there are more venues for fiction on the net than there are readers!
John and some acquaintances of his had been thinking about this IROSF for some time. I'll quote from one of his original emails:
... a magazine, of some format or another, but exclusively online, devoted to reviews and criticism of genre fiction, and also the culture of the genre. I'd like to see something that aims for depth rather than breadth. I also imagine something with more international character than you generally see in current critical publications.
I had already been writing reviews of short fiction on my personal web site for some time, so it seemed like there could be a pretty good match here: especially if John and his friends were up for the editorial side.
We launched in January of 2004, and got a lot more initial interest than any of us expected. Not just interest: readers! Positive feedback! Great suggestions!
Some things worked against us, though: John found he had less time to contribute to the magazine than he had hoped (or, that the magazine took more time than he expected). I got involved in a long-running work contract that dramatically reduced my ability to improve the technology as I had originally planned. John's acquaintances had even less time to contribute than he did. They scrambled to get issues out on time, and they succeeded.
Things took a turn for the better in that Summer when John asked if any of our readers might be interested in volunteering, and managed to put together a strong editorial team to replace the founding editors who were fading fast. These are the section editors we have today, and they have done a terrific job, especially considering the unfinished nature of the tools I have provided to assemble an issue.
But a month ago I got word from John that he was not going to be able to continue as editor. So we come to the question: is The Internet Review of Science Fiction a publication that can survive the loss of its founder? What is this publication, at heart?
I sent a note to our readers, and you responded. We have far more offers of help than we know what to do with, and a number of experienced candidates for Editor in Chief. The existing section editors rallied, despite the hectic nature of the season, to complete this issue. In other good news, once the holidays are over, I should be able to devote a couple of near-full-time months to finishing the technology that drives IROSF, getting rid of a number of annoying bugs, delivering a number of long-requested features, and developing the tools that would, hopefully, reduce the logistical burden on editors.
In short, I feel more confident about the future of IROSF than I ever have. I am particularly inspired by the response of readers: having been mostly caught up in my little world of reading short stories, I was unaware that so many people found such value in the magazine. One email, from Matt Hughes, went so far as to revise Voltaire: "If IROSF did not exist it would be necessary to invent it."
So here we are. We have a great team, and we'll soon have a new Fearless Leader. We have enough money to carry on for a while, and hopefully we'll get that subscription system going once we're back on our feet. At this point, all IROSF needs is the continued contribition of thoughtful, insightful reviews and essays, works of criticism and of journalism. But that's no small matter!
We don't know what the future will bring; we never do. But I, for one, am greatly looking forward to seeing how it turns out.