EDITORIAL
Directions

OK I admit it; I just can't leave it alone. The temptation to tweak, reform, modify and experiment is simply undeniable. I think I made the predictably inaccurate claim back in the primordial slime around Issue Two that experimentation with the design and layout would come to an end and the pupating Eidolon would achieve its final, transcendently perfect form by Issue Four. I now acknowledge that no such form will ever exist. And anyway, what magazine never changes? (Well, there's Analog . . . but no, that's just the stories.)

For that lamentably minute number of you who are likely to be interested; in our ceaseless efforts to improve both the readability and the aesthetics of the magazine, we're now using "real" quote marks, long dashes - like this - our title font has been Avant Garde for three issues now, while our body font becomes 8½ point Garamond with Issue Ten (about the most space-conservative, readable font we can find). While I'm on a useless information kick; we began in New Century Schoolbook but swapped to Palatino seven issues ago. Hey look - I know nobody cares, but it's how I get my thrills. If all this typographic anality contributes to the readability of the magazine, I consider it a win.

A more directly relevant change implemented last issue was the production of two versions of Eidolon; the subscribers' & contributors' edition and the retail edition. For the foreseeable future, the former will feature a black cover and the latter a white (with titling). The internals are identical, so don't make the mistake of buying both (unless, like me, you simply have to collect everything).

Something that's weighed heavily on our minds of late, especially with the inclusion of Leanne Frahm's excellent but very substantial "The Lamadium Affair" in this issue - our longest story to date - is our length restriction. We began with a maximum story length of 6,000 words, raised that to 8,000 at Issue Three and finally settled on 10,000 words at Issue Eight. Along the way, we reluctantly abandoned the idea of serialisation as being unrealistic in a quarterly publication. Leanne's story stretches our stated maximum, and hers is not the first piece we've published to do so. Eidolon has always attempted to be, at least in part, a "writers' magazine", and as such we've aimed for flexibility in favour of the writer wherever possible. It is very difficult to get genre fiction over 5,000 words published in this country (that's Aurealis' limit, and it's fairly typical of other publications), and it's a shame to see good work unpublished for want of a market. Obviously, there's got to be some cut-off point; we're not in the business of publishing novels - at least not in the context of the magazine - and we can't expect to devote more than 20% of our pages to a single story without pissing someone off. As such, it's going to be uncommon for us to publish fiction to our stated limit, and vanishingly rare for us to exceed it. This of course means that unless your piece is first class - which, let's face it, is generally unlikely if you've never seen print before - it's not going to be worth your time, the ecologically disastrous paper consumption or the economically crippling postal charges to send us your latest novella. Nevertheless, we're keeping an open mind.

Also of interest; as of Issue Nine the magazine's account contains more money than the value of outstanding subscriptions. In a sane enterprise, that would seem the natural course, but until now we've always had to subsidise the cost of production from our own pockets. The turnaround means we'll now be paying for artwork as well as fiction, with the rate for both (one story or one piece of artwork) set at A$20. Increasing these rates towards the distant and currently improbable target of perhaps 5 cents a word and A$75 per page of artwork will be our way of offsetting any "profit" from here on in (we've never paid ourselves for our time, and can't really foresee ever doing so). It's likely that rates such as those are millennia away, unless we're awarded the mythical grant we've been trying for these last two years, that is. Our $1500 special advertising grant - which we got in June 1991 - didn't seem to do a great deal of good, so the slow, steady growth we've experienced throughout the life of the magazine will just have to do it. In any case, our philosophy has always been one of cautious, careful expansion, making ennui our only real enemy. Beyond raising our payments, we'll still strive to increase quality (full-colour interiors - ah, I lie awake at night . . .) and keep the subscription price unchanged into perpetuity, but the big gains for you, the readers, will come from our (albeit gradually) increasing ability to attract talented writers and artists.

You may notice there's been a change in the content of our colophon (the sidebar on this Editorial). We'd like to welcome Stephen and Emma Strong to Eidolon as publicists and marketeers. These good folks leapt to the fore in response to our unusual little "Help Wanted" ad in Issue Eight, and have already proved invaluable. Thanks guys!

A couple of matters arising from our last issue: my note following Greg Egan's "Closer" contained two errors. Firstly and most embarrassingly, as Michael Tolley duly notes in his review of Quarantine (see "Fresh Ink"), that novel is not Greg's first. I can only blame the last-minute nature of the note, as although I've never read it, I have indeed leafed through a copy of An Unusual Angle. Secondly, although Steve Pasechnick's Strange Plasma accepted "Closer" before we did, we actually have first publication; something we're particularly pleased about, considering the quality and importance of the piece. On an equally gratifying note, both last issue's "The Seas of Castle Hill Road" by Rick Kennett and this issue's "Ghost Card" by Martin Livings will be listed in the Recommended Reading List of the forthcoming Datlow/Windling The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: 6th Annual Collection. Even more impressively, Gardner Dozois has accepted Greg Egan's "The Extra", first published in Eidolon Issue Two, for reprinting in a future edition of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Congratulations to Rick, Martin and Greg.

Every time I sit down to write an Editorial (far too infrequently for Jonathan's money I might add, as the task falls to him otherwise) I feel compelled to grovel for feedback. Well, this time's no exception. As respondent to, and primary advocate of, the Letters Column, I've come to value just about anything that passes any kind of judgment on the magazine, and see constructive comment as vital in both our planning of the magazine and the development of our authors (or at least those who aren't already so well-established as to feel they don't need it). We may run a survey in a near-future issue in an attempt to quantify both our readership and their tastes. In any case, please let us know what you think, even if it seems entirely trivial, subjective and impulsive.

Still, I expect it'll take more than simply begging to get feedback from you; last issue we changed the cover style, had a problem with the reduction ratio such that some of our text just about slipped into the gutter, we ran a fiction-only issue, our first piece of easily identifiable "fantasy", a sexually explicit story and a piece that must rank with the very best we've ever printed. How many letters? Four. I'm not one to give up easily however, so Issue 11 of Eidolon Wonder Stories will be released next week in five separate editions (standard, broadsheet, clothbound, CD-ROM and limited edition stained-glass), will be entirely devoted to a comparative study of the works of James Blaylock and James Tiptree Jr., and will be distributed free with all Australian community newspapers. Lets see if that gets you writing.

Jeremy G Byrne
Jonathan Strahan





Originally appeared pp. 4-5, Eidolon 10, October 1992.
Copyright © 1992 Eidolon Publications.


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