(1) LOCUS LIST’S UNEXPECTED TREND. Dave Truesdale on Facebook wonders why so few of the listed stories come from Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF. It is rather surprising.
Over at Locus Online the February Locus Magazine Recommended Reading List for 2020 has been posted. Granting my total count of novellas, novelettes, and short stories might be off by one, it makes no difference to the statistic I am about to reveal.
Of the novellas there are Zero stories from Analog, Asimov’s, or F&SF.
Of the novelettes there are Zero stories from Analog, One story from Asimov’s, and Two stories from F&SF.
Of the short stories there are Zero from Analog, Asimov’s, or F&SF.
Out of 124 stories in three fiction length categories selected by Locus reviewers and a few other outsider recommenders, there are exactly 3 stories selected from what has been traditionally known as the Big Three SF magazines. Offer your own theories as to why this has occurred–and has been occurring with a steady downward slide for a number of years now. They don’t give their fiction away for free is one guess and only a few review copies are sent out to review sites, thus accounting for perhaps fewer number of short fiction recommenders, and although other zines posting online do charge a little bit they are in the distinct minority. So are Locus recommenders reading primarily free magazines, or is there some other reason, maybe one having to do with content? This picture isn’t hanging quite straight and I’d like to know why so miserably few short fiction recommendations coming from Locus have appeared in the pages of Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF. I’m sure their editors and authors would like to know, too. So if you have any ideas…
(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Matthew Kressel and Ellen Datlow will host livestream readings with this month’s authors, Kathleen Jennings and Shveta Thakrar, on YouTube, Wednesday, February 17 at 7 p.m. Eastern. The link will is posted later.
Kathleen Jennings is a writer and illustrator from Australia. In 2020, her debut (illustrated) novella Flyaway was published by Tor.com, and her debut poetry collection Travelogues: Vignettes from Trains in Motion by Brain Jar Press. Her short stories have been published by Tor.com, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and Strange Horizons, among others. She’s currently working on a PhD about contracts in fantasy novels.
Shveta Thakrar is a fantasy writer and full-time believer in magic. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies including Enchanted Living, Uncanny Magazine, A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, and Toil & Trouble. Her debut young adult fantasy novel, Star Daughter, is out now, and her second novel will follow in 2022.
(3) IT’S IN THE RNA. Romantic Novelists’ Association released the shortlists for the 2021 Romantic Novel Awards on February 1. [Via Locus Online.]
The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award:
- Echoes of the Runes, Christina Courtenay, Headline Review
- The Start of Us, Hannah Emery, One More Chapter, HarperCollins
- The Reluctant Witch, Amelia Hopegood, Independently Published
- The Cornish Connection, Amanda James, Independently Published
- Someday in Paris, Olivia Lara, Aria, Head of Zeus
The winners will be announced on March 8.
(4) PLAGIARISM CHARGE. Comic artist and illustrator Adam Ellis alleges the makers of the movie Keratin stole the plot from his comic. Thread starts here.
Newsweek’s article, “Cartoonist Adam Ellis Says Movie ‘Keratin’ Was Plagiarized From His Work”, which is largely composed of Ellis’ tweets, does have this original quote:
“A couple festivals have DMed me and said they’re pulling the film, and the main actor in the film also told me he wasn’t aware that it was plagiarized and he never would’ve signed on if he knew,” Ellis told Newsweek. “It’s hard to know what festivals they submitted to, since the filmmakers haven’t been in contact with me.”
Ellis said that he was not currently pursuing litigation against the filmmakers.
“I’ve also had some lawyers reach out, and I’m keeping my options open, but I’m not interested in legal action at the moment,” Ellis said. “I don’t think it would ultimately lead anywhere, but we’ll see what happens. Mostly I just want the film to be pulled. The story is personal to me and I’m protective of it!”
(5) SHE’S REALLY A WONDER. Adweek Network says the numbers show Wonder Woman 1984 topped Soul in their Christmas Day streaming face-off.
…Nielsen says Wonder Woman 1984 racked up huge audiences on its opening weekend, becoming the biggest feature film in Nielsen’s rankings—and one of the biggest streaming titles of any kind since Nielsen launched its streaming measurement. (THR / Live Feed)
The movie amassed nearly 2.3 billion minutes viewed among U.S. viewers, about 35 percent more than Soul. Previously, Nielsen had said Pixar’s Soul was the most-viewed on its Top 10 streaming ranking for Dec. 21-27, 2020. (Variety)…
(6) BRIEF INTERZONE UPDATE. [Item by PhilRM.] This addendum was posted today on the TTA Press – Interzone page:
UPDATE 1ST FEB: Please be assured that we are addressing the concerns expressed by some subscribers and are seeking confirmation of certain matters. We’ll update again asap. Assuring you of our best efforts at all times…
(7) WE INTERRUPT THIS WANDAVISION. An intriguing mid-season trailer has dropped for Marvel Studios’ WandaVision. John King Tarpinian says of the show, “Really well done, each episode keeps you on your toes.”
(8) BURNS OBIT. Producer and screenwriter Allan Burns died January 30. Deadline’s tribute begins with some of his genre credits:
Allan Burns, a television producer and screenwriter best known for cocreating and cowriting for the television sitcoms The Munsters, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Rhoda, died Saturday at home. He was 85….
His first venture included working in animation for Jay Ward on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Dudley Do-Right, and George of the Jungle. Among his other accomplishments in his early days was creating the Cap’n Crunch cartoon character for Quaker Oats.
Burns formed a writing partnership with Chris Hayward, and the team created The Munsters (1964) and My Mother The Car (1965). They also teamed as story editors for the classic Get Smart.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born February 1, 1874 – Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Two of this gifted poet’s short stories for us are available in English. He worked closely with another strange gifted man, Richard Strauss, writing the words of two fantastic Strauss operas, The Woman without a Shadow and The Egyptian Helen. More about HH here. (Died 1929) [JH]
- Born February 1, 1884 – Yevgeny Zamyatin. Had he only written We it would have been enough for us – maybe; others have taken it as a springboard. Three of his shorter stories and an essay on Wells are in English; We has been Englished nine times. Z’s life was so complicated you might want to look here. (Died 1937) [JH]
- Born February 1, 1908 — George Pal. Let’s see… Producer of Destination Moon (Retro Hugo at Millennium Philcon), When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds (which I love), Conquest of Space (anyone heard of this one?), The Time Machine, Atlantis, the Lost Continent, Tom Thumb, The Time Machine, Atlantis, the Lost Continent, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (another I love)and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze which is not so great. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.) (CE)
- Born February 1, 1936 – Paul Turner. Rooted in Los Angeles, knew and reached many. Promoted a LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Society) building fund, kept at it till the spark caught; LASFS with luckily finite improbability bought a clubhouse; few have. Served a term as Director (as it then was), later President; earned the Evans-Freehafer Award (service); thirty years later, Fan Guest of Honor at Loscon 20. Also promoted conversation. Particular friend of Bill Rotsler. My appreciation here. (Died 2019) [JH]
- Born February 1, 1942 — Terry Jones. Member of Monty Python who was considered the originator of the program’s structure in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also wrote an early draft of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, though little of that draft remains in the final version. (Died 2020.) (CE)
- Born February 1, 1946 — Elisabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who, the most loved of all the Companions among fans. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company (truly awfully done including K-9 himself) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (not bad at all). It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.) (CE)
- Born February 1, 1954 — Bill Mumy, 67. Well I’ll be damned. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. His first genre roles were at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He makes make it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”. Witches are next for him. First he plays an orphaned boy in an episode of Bewitched called “A Vision of Sugar Plums” and then it’s Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” on I Dream of Jeannie, a show he shows he revisits a few years as Darrin the Boy in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him. He’s got a bunch of DC Comics roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. Ahhh Lennier. One of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before our gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series. (CE)
- Born February 1, 1962 – Maryrose Wood, age 59. Ten books for us, two of them with the Duchess of Northumberland (I am not making this up). Was in the original cast of Merrily We Roll Along (the musical, not the Kaufman & Hart play – nor was it with that Prince; another one). Three Richard Rodgers Awards. [JH]
- Born February 1, 1965 — Sherilyn Fenn, 56. Best known for playing as Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks. Her first genre work was in The Wraith as Keri Johnson followed by being Suzi in Zombie High (also known charmingly not as The School That Ate My Brain). Her latest work is Etta in The Magicians series. (CE)
- Born February 1, 1965 — Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and unfortunate fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. Y’ll know what happened to him so I’ll not go into that here. (Died 1993.) (CE)
- Born February 1, 1967 – Meg Cabot, age 54. (Rhymes with “habit”.) Two dozen novels for us, half a dozen shorter stories; eighty books all told. Princess Diaries became two Disney films. Many awards, NY Times top best-sellers, 25 million copies of her books in print worldwide. Married on April Fool’s Day, possibly to spoof her husband, anyway they’re still at it. Works with charities e.g. Make-a-Wish Fdn, United Nations Refugee Agency, Reading is Fundamental, NY Public Libraries. Blogs abut her cats. [JH]
- Born February 1, 1972 – Cristina Jurado, age 49. Editor and translator, SuperSonic. A dozen short stories, half available in English; so are anthologies Spanish Women of Wonder (not its Spanish title) and The Apex Book of World SF vol. 5. “Fandom in Spain” for the Worldcon 75 Souvenir Book, thanks Jukka, Curtis, Charlotte, Vesa. Interviewed (in English) in Three Crows. [JH]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Here’s Bizarro’s take on a police lineup.
(11) NANA NA NA, NANA NA NA. New Atlas reports “Newly discovered ‘nano-chameleon’ is world’s smallest known reptile”.
A tiny new species of chameleon has been discovered, and it seems to be the smallest reptile in the world. Known as Brookesia nana, or the nano-chameleon, the petite species can perch on a fingertip and may have the smallest adult males of any vertebrate….
Daniel P. Dern notes, “I’m sure that, at least with this group, I’m not the only person who instantly thought of the classic Bob & Ray ‘The Komodo Dragon’ bit.”
(12) ANTICIPATION. Before there was social media there were apas. “The circulation of controversy: Mimeography, fanzines and the amateur press association” was a topic presented in 2019 by Will Straw, James McGill Professor of Urban Media Studies at McGill University. It apparently includes a treatment of the 1964 Breendoggle. I could not locate a recording or transcript online.
Abstract: Long before photocopiers and on-line blogs became the tools of fandom, science-fiction fans mastered the art of mimeography and other methods of amateur publishing. Since the late 19th century, amateur printers had grouped together in so-called “amateur press associations” (or “apas”) to distribute their home-made magazines to each other in bundles. The “apa” was a key feature of science fiction fandom by the 1940s. By the 1950s, critics were wondering whether the back-and-forth exchanges which went on inside “apas”, as members used their own magazines to respond to others, was producing unprecedented levels of infighting and souring the atmosphere in science fiction fandom. In the early 1960s, a move to block an accused pedophile from attending the World Science Fiction Convention split science fiction fandom into warring factions, and the heated discursive environment of the amateur press association was seen as one cause of this atmosphere of intense polemic. Drawing on my new research into mimeography, pre-media fandoms and the amateur press association, I will show how systems for the distribution and circulation of fanzines shaped particular climates of dissension.
(13) PRIVATE SATELLITE NEWS. The AP tells how “Maine company successfully launches prototype rocket”.
A Maine company that’s developing a rocket to propel small satellites into space passed its first major test on Sunday.
Brunswick-based bluShift Aerospace launched a 20-foot (6-meter) prototype rocket, hitting an altitude of a little more than 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) in a first run designed to test the rocket’s propulsion and control systems.
It carried a science project by Falmouth High School students that will measure flight metrics such as barometric pressure, a special alloy that’s being tested by a New Hampshire company — and a Dutch dessert called stroopwafel, in an homage to its Amsterdam-based parent company. Organizers of the launch said the items were included to demonstrate the inclusion of a small payload.
The company, which launched from the northern Maine town of Limestone, the site of the former Loring Air Force Base, is one of dozens racing to find affordable ways to launch so-called nano satellites. Some of them, called Cube-Sats, can be as small as 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters….
(14) COLORING INSIDE THE LINES. The Schickele.com Site Map is the best ever says Daniel Dern. It helps that it’s an actual map. The site promotes the performer known as PDQ Bach. And that’s not all he’s known for.
(15) 42. [Item by David Doering.] Slashdot, the propeller-head site similar to F770 in format, in “Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy: New Research Says #42 Really Is Our Number”, cites a new scientific paper (too dense for me to understand) but quotes reader “Informativity” who concludes that the paper says:
Turns out the entire universe is a product of the number 42, specifically 42 times the collection of lm/2t, such that l, m and t are the Planck Units. In a newly published paper, Measurement Quantization Describes the Physical Constants , both the constants and laws of nature are resolved from a simple geometry between two frames of reference, the non-discrete Target Frame of the universe and the discrete Measurement Frame of the observer. Its only and primary connection to our physical reality is a scalar, 42. Forty-two is what defines our universe from say any other version of our universe. So, while Douglas Adams may have just been picking numbers out of the sky when writing Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it turns out he picked the right number, the one that defines … well … everything.
In addition to presenting new descriptions for most of the physical constants (descriptions that don’t reference other physical constants), the paper is also noted for presenting a classical unification of gravity and electromagnetism.
(16) DON’T BE ON THE LOOKOUT. “Texas Department of Public Safety Accidentally Sends Out AMBER Alert for Chucky and Glen Ray” – Yahoo! Entertainment has the story.
The Texas Department of Public Safety generated some attention when it accidentally issued AMBER alerts for two Child’s Play film franchise characters.
On Friday, missing alerts for the Texas Department of Public Safety included the murderous doll, Chucky, and his son, Glen Ray. Glen is described as having a blue shirt and black collar while Chucky is said to be wearing “blue denim overalls with multi-colored striped long sleeve shirt” and “wielding a huge kitchen knife.”
The local NBC affiliate learned that this was actually the result of a test gone wrong. The Department of Public Safety was testing out its server when it accidentally made these faux alerts public.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Hunger Games Sequels Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George takes on the three sequels to The Hunger Games, noting †he capitol is guarded by “really mean Power Rangers” and the plot of the third movie can be summarized as “The rebels compensate for Katniss’s poor acting abilities.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, David Doering, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, PhilRM, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, Danny Sichel, Daniel Dern, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
Lorien Gray: I’d just found fewer and fewer stories were knocking my socks off. They weren’t bad, just okay… I was finding the more interesting stories at other venues. It just seemed to me that they weren’t keeping their fingers on the pulse of the genre.
When the market for science fiction and fantasy stories has gotten so much bigger, it only makes sense that while it used to be the Big 3 print magazines got the majority of submissions and could pick the cream of the crop from them, that is no longer the case. Authors have a much wider choice of venues now. And they know that their story is more likely to be seen and shared by more people if it’s published by a free online fiction venue.
I’ve had subs to Asimov’s and S&SF for the last few years basically so I would have access to all of the novellas for the Novellapalooza (though I occasionally read some of the shorter stories based on enthusiastic recommendations from Filers).
I don’t have a subscription to Analog, because the works from that magazine which were slated onto the ballot in 2015 were so uniformly poor. They don’t publish many novellas (just 3 in 2020 and 3 in 2019), anyway; instead, they publish instalments of series which stand alone very poorly.
This all seems analogous to discussions we’ve had about best fanwriter and best fanzine. I love David Langford’s work and read Ansible every month like clockwork, but Langford/Ansible not getting Hugos every year any more is a sign that the fan writer/fanzine environment is getting stronger, not weaker, and it’s not something that needs remedying. The Yankees went almost fifty years between bursts of World Series dominance – the Big Three may be back in the winners’ circle or a new Big Three might arise (the big three writers of the early days of magazine SF were probably Smith, Hamilton and Weinbaum (or was it Campbell?) but things changed).
Dave Truesdale: Regardless of the reason, what does all of this say of any Recommended Reading List where three of the most revered and historical SF magazines in the SF field are all but ignored?
Locus reviews those magazines. They’re not being ignored. Perhaps they’re just not publishing as much groundbreaking fiction these days, and just because they were the best venues for many years, it doesn’t mean that will never change.
Dave Truesdale: Does any such list maintain the same level of reliability, legitimacy and respectability it has long enjoyed?
Meh, I’ve always thought the importance of the Locus Recommended Reading List has been overrated. It’s always had some real blind spots with regard to novels and novellas (which are the vast majority of my reading).
For example, Joanne M. Harris’ Orfeia (Gollancz) is an absolute 2020 standout and it’s not on their longlist. Sarah Tolmie’s The Fourth Island (Tor.com) is something really special, and it’s not on their list. Instead, they’ve included some (in my opinion) decidedly marginal novellas.
They’ve ignored S.K. Dunstall’s excellent Stars Uncharted and Stars Beyond and Linda Nagata’s fantastic Inverted Frontier novels, and David Wellington’s superb The Last Astronaut – while including several absolute duds on their list every year (don’t even get me started on their continued inclusion of elder authors whose work quality has decidedly declined in recent years).
On my Useful Places For Me To Get Reading Recommendations list, the Locus Recommended Reading List falls halfway between File 770 and the Hugos at the top and the Goodreads Choice Awards and the Dragon Awards at the bottom.
JJ says On my Useful Places For Me To Get Reading Recommendations list, the Locus Recommended Reading List falls halfway between File 770 and the Hugos at the top and the Goodreads Choice Awards and the Dragon Awards at the bottom.
It’s File 770 community and the Hugos for me followed by the Locus reviews. That and the various author email lists that I subscribe to, some of which that I pay for, are sufficient unto the day.
JJ: Even if Nagata’s Inverted Frontier books didn’t made the 2019 Recommended list, they did get Locus reviews from me–and this year, Pacific Storm is on the list.
Russell Letson: Even if Nagata’s Inverted Frontier books didn’t made the 2019 Recommended list, they did get Locus reviews from me – and this year, Pacific Storm is on the list.
I saw that, Russell, and I’m really looking forward to reading it!
Nagata’s book made it to the 2020 list – Pacific Storm, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island) and a few years back she even made it to Nebula nominees for the First Light
I’ve just started reading Analog in 2020 and I’m not in the US, so my view on left/right may be different, but from what I’ve read they are roughly centrist. in 2020 there were stories about smart guns (pro gun control?) school education controlled by sponsors (questioning private enterprise?) and in the Nov-Dec editorial there has been anti-Trump statement, linked to reprint of “Call Him Lord” story by Gordon R. Dickson, but nothing ‘spectacular”.
Regardless of the debatable reasons for the Big Three SF magazines being all but ignored by any Recommended Reading List, it does appear that a free cover charge and ease of access to online zines are heavy motivating factors for stories receiving the nod from reviewers and other recommenders.
Almost all ezines are free and enjoy easy access. Kind of like those young women a lot of guys have known over the years (and especially in college) where being free and easy accounted for their popularity with the boys. With magazines being free and easy accounts for a large part of their popularity too, I suspect. 😉
Dave Truesdale: …
Ugh. Go be a misogynist somewhere else. It’s not okay to do it here.
Give it a rest, already. Just trying to ingest a little humor into the discussion. I think you left your sense of humor on he bedpost overnight.
Tell me where I lied in my factual observation, and then why it was misogynist. Jeez.
Dave Truesdale: Tell me where I lied in my factual observation
You didn’t make a factual observation. You offered an opinion, and then made it offensive with a misogynist comment.
Dave Truesdale, really? A slut-shaming metaphor? If that was meant as humor, I can assure you that the female half of your audience aren’t laughing. At all.
Not many of the male set either. It was gross.
Ugh. Ack and ptui. That sounds like some of the “jokes” my brother makes. Hint: They aren’t really jokes but excuses to say something gross.
Anyway… The Locus short fiction columns review stories from both ezines and the Big Three magazines (as well as anthologies and collections). They often highlight work from ezines, not because the stories are free but because they find those stories to be better..
I’m way behind on my short SF/fantasy and horror, so I can’t post reviews. But from the buzz I read on File 770 and social media, I’m still aware enough to know that the field is changing. And that many fans like the stories on ezines, Tor.com, etc. more. I’m also aware that the credits in anthologies show stories coming from a variety of sources — the Big Three, ezines. literary magazines, etc. That is not a bad thing.
I’m old enough to remember when ezines were laughed at. Pros warned that writers could lose their rights by publishing their stories on a site and that they wouldn’t get much in return. At the time, they were correct. But now, depending on the ezine, that has certainly changed.
Kind of like those young women a lot of guys have known over the years (and especially in college) where being free and easy accounted for their popularity with the boys.
With your emoji, apparently you meant that to be a joke…but it isn’t funny.
You’re a writer. Try again, please.
Kindle Unlimited short stories are free to people with Amazon Prime (which many people do have) – but I haven’t seen a surge in works published there getting on the Locus recommended list.
@Dave Truesdale–That’s the kind of “joke” that hasn’t been considered “funny” by women, or by men who aren’t misogynistic jerks, in a very, very long time. If ever.
Of course, misogynistic jerks used to get a lot more leeway, because there were a lot fewer places women were not either absent, or present in so few numbers that they “didn’t matter,” but most have caught on to the fact that that’s not true anymore.
And while you can miss or overlook the rolled eyes that may greet such “humor” in in-person venues, or not hear negative comments because you’re not listening, I guess it’s a little harder in a text-based setting.
You mean like the guys that think they’re every female’s dream date, even when they’re still learning basic hygiene and social standards?
This would work better if you were actually, you know, funny. Which you weren’t.
Dave’s humour is hard to swallow.
I look at things like the Locus recommendation list as well as the list of works that they have reviewed and just see the result of lots of different filters. Some are simple (i.e. free publications are cheaper for reviewers). Some might be habits (Grimdark Magazine is a personal favorite so it would be easier for me to want to review those stories). Some might even be political to a certain extent. Who knows.
I look at what gets reviewed and what gets recommended and I see some sub-genres and some publication sources that are apparently not being covered. Purposefully broader coverage in reviews and recommendations would support a healthier genre.
I’m not an Analog reader. Haven’t been in years so I can’t comment on those specific assertions relative to recent content.
But I get it. It’s hard to boil the experience down into a quick blurb so they just go with “woke” or “political”. In my experience, the problem is always poor story-telling. The author (or the magazine editor) gets stuck on one specific theme and hammers on it like they are driving a railroad spike into the reader’s head.
Since aspersions were cast at Ayn Rand in the comments of a different post, let me use her as a sort of counterexample. I made it through Atlas Shrugged. She handled some of those underlying themes pretty well. She handled some elements of the story pretty well. But when it came to talking about “the ideal man” for chapter after chapter….man did that book turn into a slog. I can easily see why people that weren’t into objectivism might decide to move onto something else. They were already working on behalf of the author when they get hit with 50 pages of “the ideal man”.
I’ve read books recently that include issues of identity and gender where the author does the work of developing sympathetic characters (or characters that you love to hate, either version works) while using a deft hand with respect to those other issues. I’ve read other books where absolutely no work has been done with respect to character development and/or coherent world-building and I “noped” right out of there when I ran into something that smelled an awful lot like a CRT/gender studies/intersectionality seminar.
I think most readers can swallow a little something disagreeable while reading a story that is otherwise pretty enjoyable. Sort of like scraping tasteless gravy to eat some perfectly cooked garlic mashed potatoes.
Reality simply consists of different points of view. – Margaret Atwood
The only chuckle your attempted “cheap and available” joke got out of me was of the “heh, I can’t believe he went there” variety. As a joke an sich, it falls pretty flat.