12 February 2006

An Open Letter from David Brin

Yes, that David Brin, famous SciFi author, this was sent from dbrin at baensuniverse com:

Hello friends. David Brin here. You know I seldom use the long list of readers and fans who signed my guestbook at http://www.davidbrin.com/ Just a few notes, maybe twice a year. (My last e-mailing was in November [2005], sent from david_brin_author at sbcglobal net. I hope you got it!)

Well, I’ve decided to make one special use of this list, in order to pass on a special announcement about a new online magazine for science and science fiction.

Yes, it’s been tried online before, and I’ve never been impressed. Those other “e-zines” just never offered enough high quality content (stories and fascinating articles, art, and fun) to seem worth a subscription.

But this time things are very different.

Imagine what such a magazine would have to be like, in order to make you hunger for it, month after month. I think you just envisioned Universe, brought to you by the legendary science fiction impresario, Jim Baen and edited by the inimitable Eric Flint. Certainly, I’ve decided to trust them with some of my latest, first-run stories... and a serialized novel that I’m sure you’ll find to be my funniest ever.

Look over their announcement, below. I hope you’ll think about joining up for the very first exciting issue.

With cordial regards,

David Brin


Dear Science Fiction and Fantasy fan:

We want you to help us save science fiction and fantasy.

No kidding. Read on and we’ll explain. What we want you to do is to become part of something that’s exciting, that’s important, and that’ll change the way science fiction and fantasy are published.

We call it Jim Baen’s Universe. (www.baensuniverse.com)

It looks like a magazine and that’s what it is: an on-line magazine. But we’re paying better rates to authors for short stories than any F&SF magazine has in decades. That will give your favorite authors — from all publishers, not just Baen Books — a financial incentive to write stories aimed at a popular audience and re-establish the connection that used to exist between the magazines and the novel market.

To be a part of this all you have to do is to subscribe to Jim Baen’s Universe. A year’s subscription costs only [USD]$30, and we’ll include a lot of free e-books in the bargain if you subscribe now. Or, better yet, you can become a member of the Universe Club.

So, go to www.baensuniverse.com and learn more... then subscribe!

Why should you do this? Because we think saving short form science fiction and fantasy is necessary to saving the entire F&SF genre. We’re committed to doing that and we think you may be too.

In decades past, it was the size and health of the magazines that allowed new writers a place to be published, gave midlist writers a place to hone their craft, and allowed very popular and well-established writers to move easily from short fiction to novels and back again as they developed their fascinating and imaginative settings. The range of magazine markets also meant that an exceptional story could still be published even if it was beyond the then-boundaries of acceptable SF.

Today, that’s almost completely vanished. The economics of modern paper publishing and distribution have hammered the magazines badly, and the decline of short form SF has hurt the field as a whole. When once science fiction and fantasy was a cheap refuge from reality for bright teenagers, now the ticket to entry is a full-length novel — often enough, at hardcover prices. Instead of getting a peek at the work of half a dozen to a dozen authors, new readers see one — and if that one doesn’t suit their taste, well, there’s always videogames or TV. The genre is aging, and if we don’t do something about it, the SF and fantasy we love could vanish with the Baby Boomers.

We’re changing that by providing a place where popular writers can work in short fiction again at pay rates that make it economically feasible for them. We’re doing it online, at www.baensuniverse.com, because electronic publishing allows us to circumvent the obstacles posed by the paper magazine market and allows us to tap into other ways of financially supporting the magazine. Furthermore, we can make it as big as we want. Anything fits in a virtual magazine, and readers get one heck of a reading experience. On average, an issue of Universe will be twice as long as a paper F&SF magazine.

A lot of authors agree with us. Among those who have already written a story for Universe or have committed to doing so are:

We need more than authors, though; we need readers. We need you!

What we really hope is that Jim Baen’s Universe will be only the first of many on-line SF and fantasy magazines, paying top rates and focusing on stories rather than media news. John W Campbell used to say that the more good SF magazines there were, the healthier the field was. We agree with him — but the revolution starts here, with your chance to join a community dedicated to rescuing short form fantasy and SF.

Not only can you subscribe to Jim Baen’s Universe, you can also join the Universe Club and receive lots of really valuable stuff: e-books, chances to be tuckerized into new books by famous authors, editorially selected bundled novels (unencrypted e-books!) and lots more. Look at the list!

So do join us. Come along as we launch this integral on-line community, and become a part of Jim Baen’s Universe*.

Subscribe now at www.baensuniverse.com.

Eric Flint, editor, Jim Baen’s Universe

* While you’re at it you might want to join “The Bar” on Baen.com. [for free] — Jim Baen

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