Editorial & Letters
Planet Magazine Says: Vote Bush/Gamgee in 2004!
Ten Years Before the Masthead
Planet Magazine published its first issue ten years ago this month. The March 1994 issue launched in full color on America Online and some long-departed online services. Despite a modest start and more than a few stumbles along the way, we've managed to stay true to our primary goals. As we wrote in that first issue, we had three key aims:
We've also stayed true to our goal of remaining a free publication that carries no advertising. Despite the lack of revenue and profit, we believe quality has stayed high over the years. As stated in every masthead since our first issue, we do not pay writers or artists (or editors, for that matter), but we've let them keep the rights to their work and helped a number of them move up to paying markets by giving them some early exposure and, we think, additional confidence. We believe this is attractive to many emerging writers and artists, and by keeping the financials simple, we have been able to continue publishing.
So beyond confirming our foresight and wisdom, what else have we accomplished in a decade of publishing?
- We've rocketed from obscurity to nascent cult-niche status in the realm of SF publishing.
- Readership has soared from several friends and relatives per issue to thousands of SF-loving people who simply need to read a good story instead of doing work while at the office.
- We've helped many writers, poets, and artists develop their craft and their confidence. We've provided brief-but-thoughtful critiques and rewrites over the years that most writers and poets have claimed they appreciated.
- We've inspired at least a couple of other SF zines out there (or so the editors have told me).
No doubt there is more we could say. But "The Moire-Tongued Penta-Horned Star Skinks Who Rule" won't let us. So we will leave the in-depth, objective analysis to the legions of future zine-ologists (pronounced "xenologists") who one day will offer such courses as "Planet Magazine and the Early History of Non-Paying Illustrated SF Zines on the Internet: Part I". Part II, of course, will cover the second decade of Planet Magazine and its transition into a political/media/security apparatus under the Star Skink Administration.
Time flies when you're having fun!
Andrew G. McCann
P.S. I want to thank every single writer, poet, and artist who has contributed over the years to Planet Magazine, especially the frequent contributors (and you know who you are). Special thanks to fellow Planet staffers Romeo Esparrago, Ray Dangel, and Tom Wagner.
Letters to the Editor
Dear Editor: Sci Fi Editor, at http://www.scifieditor.com, offers book-editing services and resources for writers and readers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
Blessings and happy new year,
Dear Editor: The second Annual Wooden Rocket Awards -- hosted by SFcrowsnest -- opened for nominations to let you vote for your favourite science fiction and fantasy web sites on the internet. You can vote across 17 award categories for the online science fiction and fantasy genre. Please visit http://www.WoodenRocket.com to vote.
Wooden Rocket Awards
Dear Editor: I find it difficult to find time to read when I have online access. After reading a few issues online, I decided that the quality of the writing made it well worth the effort to find a way to more comfortably read your eZine. My solution has been to make generic PalmDOC PDB files of all 40 issues of Planet Magazine for my personal use.
David W. Gangwisch
[Editor's Note: These files, which were gratefully received, are now uploaded to Planet's web site.]
Dear Editor: While there are countless web sites that list and review science-fiction and fantasy books, regrettably few of them hold the books they review to the same standards a serious book reviewer for a serious literary publication -- say, The New York Times Book Review -- would hold a mainstream book. We operate a site that tries to fill that gap: "Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works", and we invite your readers to visit it (and to send us e-mail comments). The welcome page is at http://greatsfandf.com
Eric Walker, webmaster
Letters to Planet Magazine's Financial Backers
Dear Bush/Soros World Government Working Group: Hey, I set up one of those X-10 networks, which can send computer commands via electric wiring, on my PAN (personal-area network), which is hard-wired into my Scott eVest. Now I can type a command into my "armboard" thirty minutes before arriving at a restaurant, and right on cue my jacket automatically unzips, amid swooshing sounds and flashing lights, as the maitre'd leads me and my blind date to our table. Invariably, she is absolutely repelled by this and leaves, but I don't mind eating alone! And I've met some great guys this way who have similar interests (we're just friends, of course!).
Doug A. Hohle
Dear Sombra Corp.: I see myself as Frodo and my best friend David as Sam, while he sees himself as Frodo and me as Sam. Given your experience with such tricky issues, we ask that you adjudicate on this matter and we pledge to stand by your ruling. By the way, we just saw LotR: Return of the King and it was awesome-tastic! We don't want to give anything away to your readers who haven't seen the film yet, but here's just one little hint -- Hey, Sauron, you got served! Oh, and one more thing, my research has uncovered the fact that former fashion icon Fabio in real life is a Wood Elf, just like me! (Although in my real, real life I'm a Hobbit!)
Straight From The Shire,
[Editor's Ruling: Actually, I'm Frodo and my good friend Leo is Sam. You guys can be Pippin and Merry.]
Dear Short Gray/Tall Gray/Hybrid-Human Galactic Government Task Force: My name is Professor Elephant, and I'm director of NASA. I wanted your readers to be the first to know why we've had so many problems in communicating with our Mars probes over the years. Turns out that our communications network was using the wrong technology. Years earlier, to save money, we cobbled together a comm system for our Mars probes from a patchwork of personal T-Mobile, Cingular, and AT&T Wireless cell-phone contracts that various NASA employees here in Mars Control had signed up for. However, recently, after a cold call from a phone salesman to Control, we upgraded to Verizon Wireless and a single Motorola T730 phone. Everything has worked great since then! The little guys on Mars are coming in clear as a bell! It's true what they say -- Verizon Wireless has the densest network of wireless cells between Mercury and the Asteroid Belt (from Jupiter on out, though, you'd really have to go with Sprint PCS).
Dear Zeta Reticulan/Reptilian One-Universe Forum: I've been wondering whether Planet Magazine is too "gay" (not that anything's wrong with that, as noted in the popular TV show "Seinfeld", currently in syndication on second-tier broadcast networks). And by "too gay" I'm not talking about the content or even the staff. What I'm referring to very specifically is the magazine itself -- I can't help but notice the way Planet sort of "swishes" down into my Web browser whenever I access the site. It's a very pronounced "sinuous" movement. And there also is something just too fastidiously "clean" and inappropriately "witty" in general about the look-and-feel of your magazine. Now I do realize that there are plenty of "straight-acting-in-the-browser" SF&Fantasy gay zines out there -- closeted or not -- so I'm really just talking about your basic "fem " SF&F gay zines that, for example, load GIFs in a sashaying manner. Anyway, I haven't seen any other supposedly hetero-male SF&F-oriented website act like yours. Of course, I'm assuming that Planet is in fact a "male" zine, which I think is a correct assessement given the high level of the male hormone Preposterone (similar to Testosterone, yet absurdly so) on display in your Editorial pages. So I think it's time you got honest with your readers, and... yourselves.
Over and "Out",
Bud I. M. Knott-Gaye
[Editor's Note: Like Ambassador Ryan Seacrest from the planet Metrosex (who also hosts "Alien Idol" on TV), we prefer to dodge the question. However, we would argue that Planet Magazine itself is genderless, which, by the way, is trendy and therefore good. Even so, we can confirm that our web-host's servers are gay -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- which may account for the effects you see whenever you download our magazine. Maybe.]
Dear Howard Dean Bloggers Network: For those of you thinking seriously about inventing a time machine and traveling back to the distant past, I'd advise you to forget it. Seems like a romantic, exciting idea, but it's very dirty and boring back in Ye Olden Times. I know whereof I speak, since I just returned from 1250 AD after inventing my Chrono-Sled and trying it out in Europe. The biggest problem, though, was that I couldn't understand a single word they were saying. God knows what the language was supposed to be, but the drunken, guttural slurring of the local inhabitants made it impossible to comprehend. I was irritated constantly by their mumbling and general stink, and my mood grew foul as I tried to rent an apartment, shop for food, set up a wireless chronobroadband router, etc., and generally live the Dark Ages lifestyle with a bit of elegance. So I was all ready to give up on my time experiment when a crowd of white-lipped villagers surprised me and hacked me to death with crudely forged farming implements. Luckily, I had set up a 30-day auto-chrono-pluck to return me from the past just after I had arrived there. For my next venture, I plan to embark on an archeological expedition to France to dig up my very own splintered bones. What a conversation piece those will be at my dinner parties!
Ty M. Traffler
Dear Gates/Jobs/Torvald Unified-OS Strategy Center: I disagree with the premise stated in a letter published in your last issue that the trend of completely outsourcing white-collar Western jobs to developing nations is inevitable. Surely, the cost/benefit analysis of moving manual-labor jobs like streetsweepers -- many of whom wear white, collared uniforms or jumpsuits -- clearly shows that many, many "white collar" jobs simply cannot be outsourced, and never will be. I hope that puts everyone's fears to rest.
Hope I. Emright
Dear New Mordor Foundry Inc.: Having just read the letter above, I decided to quickly write in before this web page finishes "swish-ily" loading (and in that way get my letter published) and state that I disagree with another premise, which has been stated not in Planet Magazine (yet) but in various movies and TV shows over the years. And that premise is that you can take absolutely any actor at all, shave his head, and he can play Lex Luther. In my opinion, it's just not possible, like total outsourcing. A true Lex does not "quip", and he's certainly not a "dreamboat". He is in fact a sick genius, twisted by bitter resentment against his imagined persecutors into seeking horrific, perpetual vengeance. Believe me, I know what that's like (so you'd better publish this letter). On the other hand, putting any actor into a white, collared jumpsuit can go a long way toward helping him portray Lex -- and he'll always have street-sweeping as a fallback career.
Dear Editor: In the last issue of Planet Magazine, you claimed to be from the future, but less than a picosecond or so. If that's the case, then why haven't you run into your past self, or physically and bizarrely overlapped him, or blown up in a matter/antimatter-like reaction to paradox that rips apart space and time (which I guess hasn't happened), or appear to become twins, or something?
Needing to Know,
[Editors' Note: (Please observe the placement of the apostrophe in the initial word of this line.) They say that two heads are better than one, but what's so much truer is that two head-editors are better than one. Going forward, writers and readers alike can expect every word in Planet to be edited not once, but twice!]
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Planet -- Read It or Leave It! That's right, if you don't like our stories, then why don't you just go and read a North Korean sci-fi zine! See how much you like that! And get a haircut while you're at it.