December is a grim season here in Seattle. Because the days are only a few hours long, most people arise in darkness, travel to work in the darkness, and by the return commute it is dark again. During the five or six hours the sun is above the horizon, it has no presence in the sky. Dark grey clouds blanket the earth, from one bank of mountains to the other.
When spring comes to the Pacific Northwest it doesn't come with the explosion of life that seems so miraculous in some other northern climes. It rarely freezes here, and even under these leaden skies, there is a bit of color year round due to flowers that always bloom.
Nonetheless, it is a great relief when the days lengthen and the sun returns. If asked what season is most conducive to renewal and rebirth, it is Spring we look forward to.
But we don't always get to choose our season.
It was just about this time last year that we realized we were going to have to hunt for a new editor in chief for The Internet Review of Science Fiction. Founder John Frost had to bow out due to health and personal issues. This year we are in a similar position. Joy Ralph joined us at the beginning of 2005, but — also due to health reasons — is not currently able to run the show here. We have every hope that she will rebound and rejoin IROSF in some capacity or another, but for now, we are on our own again.
Apparently, "Editor in Chief" is a cursed position. Exhausting two editors in two years is not a desirable track record. Looking at 2006 we can only wonder if asking some poor soul to take up the role would doom him or her to personal crisis or catastrophic illness. Heck, it's not even a paid position. There are no paid positions at IROSF — except for the authors, of course! So, at least for now, we're not going to do it that way.
Instead of asking some noble man or woman to put life and limb at risk over a mere volunteer job, we are going to try a slightly different approach. First of all, I will be coordinating the issues. If you have a beef with the issue, or if something gets lost in the shuffle, talk to me. However, we have some pretty well seasoned section editors at this point, and more in the works. I expect my job will be mostly dotting i's, crossing t's, and doing what I've always done. Except for the reviewing, that is.
Yes, even as we renew our organization, we are renewing the content in some exciting ways. Lois Tilton, long one of the finest reviewers at Tangent Online, will be picking up the short reviews as I put my focus more on the magazine itself. (See my last Short Reviews column in this issue for more on this point.)
Greg Beatty will be joining MaryAnn Johanson, Jay Lake, and Ruth Nestvold in the regular contributor / columnist area. Greg will be focussing specifically on reviewing non-fiction relevant to the genre.
Finally, in early 2006, look for a new component to IROSF: a news section. This will not be part of the monthly issue, but rather a daily — or even more frequent — release of news items relevant to Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.
And, back to the organizational side, we have several new copy editors joining the team. Once we get the rest of our process nailed down, I expect they will help us publish cleaner, better, more timely work. Also, we have Corie Ralston joining us as Editor-at-Large. Because we are an all volunteer group, not every editor has the same amount of time to contribute to every issue, and some sections are naturally "heavier" than others. Corie will be helping us all smooth over those edges.
It's been a difficult Autumn, but even so, even in the very darkest hours of our longest nights, I remain excited about what The Internet Review of Science Fiction, and where it's going. Maybe it's my imagination, but I can almost see the rosy fingers of dawn touching the glacial edge of Mount Rainier.