11 April 2005

Argosy Anew

I just received a subscription copy of the third issue of Argosy, a creature I thought to be imaginary for a while. There are days when it's fun to be a pessimist, because you can be pleasantly surprised when good things happen, and the survival of Argosy is a good thing, indeed, because it's a truly unique publication, one of the only places on Earth where a wide variety of fictions can coexist comfortably. It's also beautifully designed and fun to flip through because of the high quality of the paper and printing.

Because of various problems with distribution, Argosy is now billing itself more as a quarterly anthology than as a magazine, which means that the ads have gone away and the price has gone up a bit (making a subscription all the more valuable). The third issue contains eight stories, an essay by William F. Nolan about the death or undeath of John Dillinger, and the first part of John Grant's novel The Dragons of Manhattan. The latter is in place of the novellas that have been included in previous issues -- the format is the same (a separate book that lives alongside the rest of the issue in a slipcase), but this time, instead of getting a complete story, you get the first 100 pages. I loathe serializations with irrational passion, and so will not be reading the novel until I have all the pieces, and the decision to serialize Grant's book is frustrating, because the separate novellas seemed to me to be one of the best innovations of the magazine.

Clarkesworld Books has copies of all of the issues of Argosy, and I'll be curious to see if the new distribution strategy is successful at getting the book/magazine on the shelves of stores, particularly stores that don't specialize in genre fiction. I certainly hope so, and hope Argosy finds a broad audience, because the kind of generous, eclectic vision of the possibilities of fiction that has fueled the project from the start deserves support.

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